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Some people who loosely associate themselves with the Christian faith but deny its power, and those who want us all to dilute or deny our convictions are becoming easily convinced that Jehovah and Allah are one. So what about it-is the Judeo-Christian God the same as the god of Islam?

The truth which is so conveniently covered over is that Islam vehemently (and in many parts of the world violently) asserts that Allah has no son:

“Allah is only one God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son…” Quran [004.171 ]

“They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them”. Quran [005.073]

In contrast as stark as it could be, the Bible (written centuries before), declared Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. More than that, those who deny the Son are “anti-christ”:

“Such a man is the antichrist-he denies the father and the Son. No-one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:22-23).

Jesus’ relationship to the Father was a clear teaching of Jesus Christ to his disciples:

“…before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58 ESV).

Deny the Son, and you are denying the Father also, and two contradictory statements cannot both be true.

 

WRATH AND MERCY

Sometimes God gets some pretty bad press. Sometimes God is accused of some pretty bad things. In fact, it may be true to say that God has probably taken just about every criticism that could be made about anyone, not to mention the slander, mockery and blasphemy…

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If you’re a follower of the Biblical God, have you ever found yourself questioning God, getting upset with God because you think he’s failed his obligations, or even accusing God of something? I wrote an article once titled, “How to Shout at God and Get Away with it”, in which I confessed to having done all of the above, and suggested that God is big enough to take it.

I predict that if you haven’t done the same, once you’ve been a believer for some time a situation will arrive in which you will find yourself doing one or all of the same. I’m not saying that I hope this will happen to you, but that while life is full of trials in which our faith is tested and honed, such situations are bound-even-designed to test our faith. Don’t believe me? Try reading the book of Job.

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Perhaps you’ve pointed a finger at God even if you aren’t a follower. It’s amazing how much time and effort some people go to to mock and berate a God they don’t even believe exists. Take Richard Dawkins, for example, who said:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

(Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion)

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I could go into a lengthy answer to disprove every single one of Dawkins’ accusations: our God is none of the above, and anyone who can suggest that he is doesn’t know him at all, and is clearly manifesting a deep hatred for him. By the way, how can you know that God does not exist, unless you yourself know everything there is to know about the universe, both seen and unseen? And if you did, you yourself would be God.

There’s no doubt that the Biblical God is indeed “a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28). He is a terror to his enemies who will have no chance of resisting him or of changing his mind. But let’s give the great professor a little slack, and just pretend that God is one of those things that Dawkins accuses him of being: let’s pretend that God is genocidal. The important thing to consider is that God would have every right to be genocidal, if that’s his wish, because he is God. God is God, and we are not. God made all things, and sustains all things. He can do whatever he wants, and we have no right at all to question him. Neither do we have any ability to stop him. He does what he wants, when he wants, for his own reasons.

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Our only reasonable response, therefore, is not to attack and malign our Creator, or to become hateful of him, or to reject him and put him out of our minds. Because if he is all he claims to be, and one look into the night sky tells us that he is, it is an inescapable fact that we will one day have to face up to who he is in all his power and glory. We will have to give an account for how we’ve treated him, how we’ve spoken about him, and what we’ve thought about him.

The miracle of the gospel is that despite the fact that God is that “consuming fire”, as seen in the Old Testament, he has provided a way for us to escape his perfect, terrible justice. By associating ourselves with his son Jesus Christ we pass from being objects of God’s wrath to being objects of his love and mercy:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24 ESV).

 

  

Are we in the United States living in a racist, fascist state? Is the new US government opposed to immigration?

Yesterday, April 18th, I became a citizen of the United States. Granted, I’m white: I’m not going to apologize for that. But of the twenty-three people taking part in the swearing-in ceremony I attended, thirteen countries were represented. The bulk of the immigrants were Hispanic, a few were African, and one was from Iraq, named Mohammed.

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I relate this personal experience because I’m amazed at the number of people I’m coming across who have somehow been convinced that Donald Trump-the great Satan in their eyes-is putting a stop to all immigration.

Just this morning, as I told a few of my work-mates what happened to me yesterday, a young man from Korea joined the conversation, and told me that I’d gained citizenship just  in time, because, according to him, Trump is “…deporting all the immigrants”.

I replied that the only immigrants being deported are those who are illegal and who’ve committed a serious crime. The area I live in is heavily populated with Hispanics, and they are clearly under no threat whatsoever. The only immigrants Trump wanted to “ban”-temporarily-were from six Middle-Eastern countries known to harbor enemies of the West, and sworn to kill as many people as they can by stealth and cowardly surprise.

Those who are sowing such lies as the one I mentioned above are sowing hatred and discord. And while I don’t want to have to be another media-basher, the blame lies squarely at the feet of the mainstream media, who have no interest in reporting facts, but only in working to push the collective mind of the nation their way: the warped, false, hateful way.

Thank you Mr. President! You continue to blow out of the water the false, empty claim that you only care for the rich…

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I’ve never purchased my own health insurance in the US-I’ve been blessed with good health, and I haven’t had the money to afford it. So when our last president (you know who) introduced the “affordable care act” and declared that failure to take part and pay for insurance would incur penalties, I didn’t take part, expecting to pay the penalties which I knew would cost less than the premiums. Early plans by some Democrats were to jail those who didn’t comply. And they accuse Trump of being a fascist! To give President Obama credit, I don’t think he intended to enforce that.

This tax season I found on my tax return a question about whether I had purchased health insurance. Expecting to pay Obama’s penalties, I found instead the following notice:

On January 20, 2017 President Trump signed an executive order called, Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal. This executive order allows you to file a tax return without paying a penalty even if the tax family did not have minimum essential cover-age) or show exemptions from coverage. By law taxpayers without coverage and without an exception are subject to a penalty, but because of this order the IRS allows you to instruct the tax software not to calculate it and not to include it in your return.

Thank you President Trump. You continue to fulfill my expectations-a rare accomplishment for a politician…

Here’s the long-awaited third part of my series, “Why I Believe in God”, outlining some of the supporting reasoning behind my faith. There are some believers who think you should “just believe”. Looking for evidence, they say, is “not of faith”, therefore it’s sin. With respect, I disagree…

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Didn’t Jesus reason with his disciples on the road to Emmaus, when he “interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27 ESV)? God created an orderly universe in which facts can be established. Truth is verifiable, and since God is Truth, truth cannot be sinful. Faith and reason go hand in hand.

So here’s my third acronym, designed while I’m in good shape, as a hedge against the days when I will not be. The third acronym, like the second, specifically concerns the God of the Bible.

66 JELL WAST-MUSH! Is it an insect repellant, a conducting lubricant, or hippy face paint? Is it a video game based on Darth Sidious’ ascent to power? No!

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The opening part of my acronym is borrowed from the introduction to Chuck Missler’s radio show (“66/40”), since it succinctly and eloquently captures a profound truth missed by those who ignore the possibility of divine authorship of the Bible:

The Bible contains sixty-six books written by forty different authors over thousands of years, and yet it’s an “integrated message system” from beyond our own time domain.

The Bible wasn’t contrived by one man sitting down on a boring Sunday afternoon, wondering how he could start a new religion and fool everyone. It was experienced, contributed to and recorded by many generations of people from different backgrounds, yet it tells one incredible story: the story of the Messiah and the nation he entered the world in. The Bible claims in many places to be inspired by God himself, and authenticates that claim in ways such as those I’ve outlined in all parts of this series.

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J!

J IS FOR JUSTICE. Biblical justice works beautifully, when it’s applied.

Yes, astute reader, the word “justice” was in my first acronym, but there it referred to the fact that we can only have an innate sense of justice if we are more than animals, and if we’ve been designed and created to love truth and fairness. Here the word “justice” refers more specifically to the Biblical model. God is given a bad rap these days by those who want us all to forget about Him. They say he’s vengeful, hateful, misogynous, and a whole host of other derogatory terms which really do not stand up to honest scrutiny. They ignore the fact that since God is the creator and sustainer of all things, he has every right to do as he pleases: we have no rights but only his mercy and kindness, and we are entirely at his mercy. I’ll outline a few examples.

First, those who claim that God must be vengeful and hateful to have told the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites aren’t looking at the whole picture. God reluctantly commanded the eradication of the Canaanites only after hundreds of years of mercy and patience towards them (Genesis 15:16) because they had descended to such degrading practices as burning their own children as sacrifices to their idols. The time had come for their evil to be stopped, and God has every right to judge.

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Biblical justice is said to be hard in the Old Testament-the time of the Law, and soft in the New: this is seen as a contradiction. The truth is that the “Old Testament God” while setting hard and fast guide lines, showed his mercy in many ways. For example, the establishing of “cities of refuge” (Numbers 35:6-34), where people who had either accidentally killed someone in a fight or an accident, or who were accused of murder falsely, could go to be immune from vengeance. God sent a prophet to a decadent and violent Nineveh because he did not want to judge the city (Jonah 4:10-11), and when Cain killed Abel and feared retribution from his brothers, God put his seal of protection on Cain as an act of love and mercy (Genesis 4:15).

The “New Testament God” actually warns of the same ultimate judgment upon his enemies as the OT God did, but extends his mercy to its greatest extent by making a way for anyone willing to respond to escape that ultimate judgment, through the sacrificial death of his own Son. Jesus forgave the adulteress, the thief on the cross, and Paul who had persecuted Christians to the death.

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Through the gospel of Jesus Christ God’s love and mercy are clearly seen to be available to all of us-until the final Judgment. The same love is supposed to be seen in his followers, by way of forgiveness, mercy, kindness, compassion and so on, without negating the fact that wrong is still wrong and must be corrected, disciplined or even judged if not repented of. Love and mercy come first-consequences only follow if there is no change in our hearts. This is real love and fairness. I would say it’s fairer that any human system of judgment. If the police catch you breaking into a bank once, you’re going to prison, and the judge isn’t going to forget your crime even if you say you’re sorry and that you won’t do it again.

However, our judicial system is based on the Biblical notion that some things are wrong and that other people are to be protected from criminals: you pay for your crime. How many other “animals” have such a system?

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E-L

The Bible adequately Explains the meaning of Life, and the origin and reason for evil, suffering and death. Without claiming to have all the answers (I do not), I wrote about these extensively in a recent post, “The Meaning of Death” and in an eight part series I wrote called “Why Do We Suffer?”

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L is for Literature. The Bible has been seen by millions over many centuries as the apex of all literature, and more copies of it have been printed and sold than any other book despite the endless attempts to eradicate it. Again, it claims to be the inspired Word of God: his message to humanity. So many examples could be picked, but here’s a well-known one:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

He leadeth me beside still waters.

He restoreth my soul:

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…” (Psalm 23: 1-4).

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WA

The Bible tells the stories of “warts-and-all” characters. If the Bible were written by men to draw converts to a club or religion its central characters would all be faultless, unfailing supermen. There is no attempt to whitewash the sins of its heroes and heroines: we hear about their weaknesses as well as their triumphs and their righteous acts.

As examples, read about God’s mercy towards Cain who killed his brother Abel. Read how Abram lied about his wife being his sister in order to save his own skin. Jacob deceived his father and essentially robbed his brother of his inheritance. Moses fell into a bad temper a few times. Elijah, the powerful and bold prophet, was afraid of a female ruler and fell into a depression. David had an innocent man killed and committed adultery. His family was “dysfunctional” because of his many relationships and, his bad example, and his inability to control his step-children.

In the New Testament Peter, the most enthusiastic disciple of Jesus, denied him in his hour of need, and Paul and Barnabas fell out during their missionary journey together.

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ST IS FOR STORIES.  Though the Bible was written by many different authors over a long period of time, it has several central themes running all the way through it, including both testaments. The most significant is the story of the Fall of man and God’s plan of redemption-his commitment to providing salvation for humans who would otherwise be beyond his perfection and holiness. The first mention of the gospel, known as the “proto-evangelion” appears immediately after the Fall (Genesis 3:15), and the gospel message continues all the way to the end of Revelation.

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M IS FOR MORALITY. The Bible’s brand of morality is hated by the secularist, the atheist, the polytheist, the pluralist, the evolutionist, the Universalist, the existentialist, and just about every other “ist”, yet it’s loved by those who’ve accepted God’s mercy. God’s standards of right and wrong were loosely followed by Western culture until the last few decades. They are the “glue” which will hold everyone together, and they worked as far as they were followed. God’s plan for human relationships reflect true love and commitment. It included love and commitment within families; faithfulness within marriage; the recognition that each life-including the unborn-is to be protected and valued; honor and dedication towards community; religion and country, and the rejection of all that threatens the moral fiber of society and all that God said he hated. How dramatically things have moved in the opposite direction.

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U

U IS FOR UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is one of unconditional love from God to us-available for anyone who will accept it. This is not a human idea or quality: it’s entirely divine.

S

S IS FOR SIN. The Bible exposes man’s true nature. Yes, this one was in the first acronym also. But more specifically, the Bible describes the origin of sin, its effects and consequences, and its remedy. The answers the Bible gives are, for me, adequate, believable, true to life and beautiful in the light they shine on the human condition.

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H IS FOR HOPE. The Bible not only describes man’s condition but provides the answer for it. It offers hope for everyone, not just for this life, but for eternity. Please see my post on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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