Forum Posts

Simon Williams
Jul 15, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let’s talk about how Christian’s are supposed to live with the expectation of Christ’s Return: “… not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come.” - 2Th 2:2 The Thessalonian Church was experiencing some pretty intense persecution. So, the idea of the Lord’s return happening immediately had great appeal. However, there was apparently some fear that the Thessalonians had missed the return of the Lord and were actually going through the tribulation themselves. Here, the apostle is assuring his church that they haven’t missed the Return of the Lord and that they had received a false report. Many people throughout church history have confused the teaching of the apostles, that Christ could come at any moment (for believers at the Rapture), with the unbiblical idea that He would come very soon. The first, correct view, is the doctrine of imminence, but the second, incorrect view, involves date setting. “Suddenly” (1Th 5:3) does not mean “immediately”. For example, in the late second century an apocalyptic movement sprung up called “Montanism”. Named after Montanus of Phrygia. And one of the doctrines he taught was that the Heavenly Jerusalem would soon descend near Pepuza in Phrygia. This movement even had the Church Father Tertullian convinced. Eventually, it was formally condemned by Asiatic Synods before 200AD and also, after some hesitation, by Pope Zephyrinus. When we talk about the “imminence” of the Day of the Lord, we’re talking about the complex of events surrounding the second coming, rather than the single event itself, that is imminent. Some theologians think it might be better to speak of this complex as events leading up to Christ’s Return as imminent and the second coming itself as “impending.” So, we Christians are expected to live our lives in hopeful expectation of the Lord’s Return. Not jumping to fear and terror that we have somehow missed the Lord’s Return. We ought to be watchful and alert to the signs of the times (see Mat 25:13). We don’t want to become complacent and fall under the same rebuke the Lord gave to the crowds in Luke 12:56. “You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” So, what are the events of the times that need to take place before the Day of the Lord? Paul elaborates on them in chapter two. And it’s very similar to what we see in Revelation. A kind of antichrist figure is to be revealed on earth before Christ returns; this “lawless person” is ultimately “destined for destruction" (2:3). Exalting himself above every other “so-called god or object of worship”, he will eventually take his seat in God’s Temple in Jerusalem, “declaring himself to be God” (2:4). Paul reminds his readers that he fully informed them of this scenario when he was with them (2:5); moreover, it has obviously not yet occurred, since no one has yet come forward to assume the grandiose role of this antichrist. Paul also indicates that the lawless one is being restrained for the time being, but he will make his appearance, setting in motion the final confrontation between christ and the forces of evil headed by Satan (2:6-12). What do you think about the Lord’s Return? Do you want to sell everything you own right now and climb to a hill top? Or do you think it best to live life as a watchful servant? Living, learning and loving. Looking forward to the long awaited return of the Lord. That’s the camp I’m in. But I’d love to hear what you think! Let us know in this forum! SOURCES: Constable, Thomas. Dr Constable’s Notes On 2 Thessalonians (2021 Edition) (Pg. 17). https://planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/pdf/2thessalonians.pdf Montanism. The Oxford Dictionary Of The Christian Church Edited by F.L. Cross (Pg. 918-919). London Oxford University Press. Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology (3rd Edition) (Pg. 1094-1095) Ehrman, Bart. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction To The Early Christian Writings 2nd Edition) (Pg. 345). Oxford University Press.
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Simon Williams
Jul 13, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Welcome to Tuesday Morning Apologetics (TMA). Let’s talk about the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA): 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. 2. The universe began to exist. 3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. We are continuing our look at the first premise of the KCA. Last week we defended the premise against the Humean challenge that the first premise is unjustified because we can conceive of an object beginning-to-be without a cause. This week we’re going to look at challenges against our ability to even know what a “cause” is. Some could say, and I’ve heard it said, “The whole concept of a ‘cause’, however useful for ordinary purposes, becomes incoherent if you push it far enough.” And that: “Our naive notions of causation are not helpful.” After all, let’s say, completely randomly, that I’m building a birdhouse. Now, it might be pretty clear to some that I’m the cause of that birdhouse’s beginning-to-be. But, perhaps, it would be more accurate to say that my right hand is the cause since it held the saw and the hammer. Although, my left hand steadied the board. So, my left hand is a cause as well. But the nails hold everything in place, therefore, the nails must be a cause for the birdhouse’s existence. Then again, if it wasn’t for my wife’s fondness for birds I wouldn’t be building the birdhouse at all. But isn’t my daughter a cause as well? After all, had she broken her leg this morning I would’ve been at the hospital instead of building a birdhouse. The challenger could go on to say that, regarding our universe, we’re talking about an unimaginably huge number of subatomic particles that have been enmeshed in a vast web of mutual interactions (partly lawful and partly random) over unfathomable extents of space and time. Nothing that ever happens can be assigned a unique "cause." However much we may like to assign causes in daily life, every such assignment is at best an approximation, a simplification, an abstraction. Reality is much more complicated. We are lucky when our approximations are close enough to be useful. And with that, you should be able to see at least three things: First, this is how one can challenge our ability to know what a cause is. Second, challenges like this one are why some people hate philosophy. Third, you might also see why some people think that causation can get pretty tricky. However, most of the confusion tends to be due to foundational assumptions that make simple events appear more complicated than they are. What is a “cause”? Some define a cause as, “a statement of initial conditions sufficient to explain an effect”. On the worldview presented above, we could never exhaustively know what the “initial conditions” were that produced the effect (1) nor when those “initial conditions” became “sufficient” to explain the effect. Therefore, we could never really say that we know the cause of anything. However, and this is so trivially simple that it shouldn’t need to be said, we don’t need to know the placement and states of all particles and energy in the universe in order to ascertain the cause of an effect(2). This notion is especially absurd if the effect in question is all of physical reality. Classically, causality has been understood to fall under four categories: Efficient Cause - that by means of which an effect takes place. Material Cause - the matter or “stuff” of which something is made. Formal Cause - the essence or “whatness” of a thing. (3) Final Cause - that for the sake of which an effect or change is produced. The four causes are completely general (applying throughout our physical world) and are metaphysical (4). We’ll be taking a closer look at these causes and how they relate to our birdhouse example next Tuesday Morning. I hope that this introduction to this new challenge against the first premise is interesting to you. What do you think? Do you think we can come to accurately explain an effect? Or do you think that we must have more/all knowledge in order to really say that we know? Stay tuned for next week’s Tuesday Morning Apologetics as we attempt to remove this challenge against the KCA and continue our defense of the first premise. NOTES: In this case, the effect is the 'birdhouse’s beginning-to-be'. If this were true then we could just kiss science goodbye. Like the “humanness” of Smith, for example. The four causes are applicable beyond our physical world. Even material cause in some cases. SOURCES: Benn S.I. and Peters R.S.. Human Action And The Limitations Of Causal Explanation. Moreland, J.P. and Craig W.L.. Philosophical Foundations For A Christian Worldview (2nd Ed) (Pg. 200). IVP Academic. Feser, Edward. The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism (Pg. 63). St Augustine’s Press.
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Simon Williams
Jul 08, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let’s talk about the return of Christ: “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters,…” - 2Th 2:1 There are three major doctrines that stand out as universally affirmed by all Christians for two millennia: 1. Jesus Christ will return to the earth. Sometimes called the "Parousia". 2. When Christ returns He will establish or completely manifest the rule and reign of God - the Kingdom of God - that is already at work within history. 3. In the end God will create a new heaven and new earth that will endure forever. Once you start getting into details and specifics, you’ll start to find as many different beliefs regarding Christ’s Return as there are Christians. But there are some general groups that have formed around Christian Eschatology(1). For example: There are four main schools of thought concerning the timing of events and how the events will be fulfilled: Preterist Historicist Idealist Futurist The next major issue involves the nature and timing of the Millennium. The Millennium is a period of one thousand years when Satan is bound and Christ reigns (Rev 20:1-6). Christ’s rule brings unprecedented peace and justice to the earth. The key questions concerning the Millennium include, ‘Are the one thousand years literal or figurative?’; ‘Is the Millennium present or future?’ The following are the three main positions on the Millennium: Amillennial Postmillennial Premillennial Finally, the Rapture will happen in a moment; Jesus will return, collect all living believers from earth, and transport them alive to heaven. The timing of the Rapture is usually described in relation to the Tribulation. In other words, ‘Will the Rapture happen before, during, or after the Tribulation?’ There are three views of the timing of the Rapture: Pre-Tribulation Mid-Tribulation Post-Tribulation There are many who don’t think there will be a Rapture at all. Preterists are amillennial or postmillennial and equate the Rapture with the Second Coming, if they even hold to the idea of a Rapture at all. Historicists can hold to any of the three views of the Millennium and are post-Trib. Idealists are amillennial or postmillennial and are post-Trib. Futurists are predominantly premillennial but can hold to any of the three views of the Rapture. Today we are just presenting these views as existing. There are many books dealing with this subject and they are all worth taking a look at. We will take a more detailed look at these views in a later Theology Thursday. If you have your own view, we’d love to hear about it. What to you think about the Rapture? Do you think it’s gonna happen? What about the Millennium Reign of Christ? Is that future or is that now? Let us know! NOTES: 1) The word “eschatology” is derived from the greek eschatos = “last”; hence, “the doctrine of last things”. A better fitting definition is, “the direction and goal of God’s active covenant faithfulness in and for His created order.” SOURCES: Olson, Roger. The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity and Diversity 2nd Ed. (Pg. 366). IVP Academic. Brower, K.E.. Eschatology. New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (p. 459-464). Inter-Varsity Press. Hitchcock, Mark. The End: Everything You’ll Want to Know About the Apocalypse (Pg. 37-45). Tyndale Momentum
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Simon Williams
Jul 06, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Welcome to Tuesday Morning Apologetics (TMA). Let’s talk about the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA): 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. 2. The universe began to exist. 3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. We are continuing our look at the first premise of the KCA. Last week we talked about how William Lane Craig (WLC) focuses on the first premise as meaning “being cannot come from nonbeing”. We also noted that WLC thinks the truth of the premise is… pretty obvious. So much so that he thinks it’s “somewhat unwise to argue in favor of it, for any proof of the principle is likely to be less obvious than the principle itself.” While most of us are likely to agree with WLC on this one, there are some who think such commitments might be a little premature. What warrant do we actually have to believe that such a principle is true? Perhaps our intuition is biased due to our experience in this physical world. We have grown and matured observing that effects always have causes and, therefore, it only seems intuitive that effects have causes. It only seems intuitively true that being can’t come from nonbeing. J.L. Mackie writes: “As Hume pointed out, we can certainly conceive an uncaused beginning-to-be of an object; if what we can thus conceive is nevertheless in some way impossible, this still requires to be shown.” While WLC might be right in thinking it unwise to argue for the truth of the first premise, that doesn’t mean we can’t defend it. In his response, WLC seems to simply dismiss this Humean reply from Mackie, agreeing with G.E.M. Anscombe that the conceivability of an ‘uncaused beginning-to-be of an object’ doesn't mean that it can hold in reality. Just like it’s possible to conceive of the prime number ‘7’ being the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (like in a cartoon for kids or something), that doesn’t mean that it’s possible for any number to do that in reality. However, I think even that might be conceding too much. Why think that Mackie succeeded in conceiving an uncaused beginning-to-be of an object? After all, it seems undeniable that any concept is conceived by a conceiver. By which I mean to say, Mackie himself was the cause of whatever object he conceived as beginning to be and merely labeled it as “beginning to be without a cause”. Therefore, neither the object nor the event of the object’s beginning-to-be are actually uncaused. Nor is it possible for any object conceived by Mackie to ever have been actually uncaused. As Mackie, necessarily, was the cause for anything that he conceived. He was the cause for both the object and the event of it beginning-to-be; even if they lacked any antecedent causes associated within whatever “world” in which that object began to be. As a matter of fact, when we conceive of such objects it seems that that action would lend at least some justification for believing in creatio ex nihilo (creation from nothing). The creation of the object conceived by Mackie was caused by an act of Mackie’s will. This is very much in line with what God is depicted as doing when He created the heavens and the earth. God’s word being the explicit expression of His will. “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” - Gen 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” - Heb 1:3 “In the beginning was the Word(1), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” - Joh 1:1 For these reasons I think that Mackie's Humean challenge fails to defeat the first premise of the KCA. As a matter of fact, it actually gives us additional warrant for believing in creatio ex nihilo. So, what do you think about this metaphysical principle? The principle that being cannot come from non-being. Have you had to defend it? Do you think that people ought to believe in it? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter. There is still much more to be said about the first premise of the KCA and I hope that this short article helps motivate you to look into these matters. God is good and powerful and He loves each and every one of you very much. NOTE: 1) “Word” here is our translation of the greek word “logos” meaning - “a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea”. It has a deeper meaning than our English “word” usually carries. It is often understood as carrying the power of one’s intellect. SOURCES: See: Philosophical Concerns with the Kalam Cosmological Argument Almeida, Michael. Cosmological Arguments: Cambridge Elements, Philosophy of Religion (p. 36). Cambridge University Press. In this instance Almeida is quoting: Craig, William Lane. The Kalam Cosmological Argument, in Louis Pohman (ed.). Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Publishing. 24-41. Professor Mackie and the Kalam Cosmological Argument. WLC is quoting: Mackie, J. L. The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and against the Existence of God (p. 86). Oxford: Clarendon Press (1982). See: Anscombe, G. E. M. Whatever has a beginning of existence must have a cause: Hume's argument exposed, Analysis XXXIV (1974), 150. See: Feser, Edward. The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism (pg. 105). St Augustine’s Press.
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Simon Williams
Jul 01, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let’s talk about Prayer: “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” - 2Th 1:11 Prayer is an extremely important, if often overlooked, aspect of our christian walk. However, when we read the Bible it’s hard to miss the large place given to it in its pages. As with many topics that can be found in the Bible, an enormous study can be done regarding the topic of prayer. For this week’s Theology Thursday, we will simply focus on the intercessory aspect of prayer. That is, praying on behalf of someone else. In 2Th 1:11, Paul says that he constantly prays for the Thessalonians. And this shouldn’t be surprising as he seems to pray for the other churches as well (i.e. Eph 1:16, 3:14; Col 1:3). He also exhorts for intercessions to be made for others (1Ti 2:1). It’s not just Paul of course. You’ll also see James encouraging Christians to: “… confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” - Jam 5:16 Intercessory prayer is a key feature for fulfilling the Law of Christ. As prayer is one way in which we can “carry each other’s burdens” (Gal 6:2). In fact, Samuel considered it a sin for him to cease praying for disobedient Israel (1Sa 12:23). On top of that, the Lord Jesus Christ made intercessory prayers as well: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” - Luk 22:31-32 With all the tremendous examples given to show the importance of intercessory prayer, it may come as a surprise that some Christians (and non-christians) have come to think that it’s not important. That it’s unnecessary or serves no purpose. The reason for that opinion is because some have been confronted with the notion of God’s absolute sovereignty. Which seems to be at odds with intercessory prayer. After all, if God has a plan based on His exhaustive foreknowledge that is sure to come about (Act 2:23) and if God declares the end from the beginning (Isa 46:10), then what God has planned will come to pass with or without our prayers, right? For who can resist His will (Rom 9:19)? So, then intercessory prayer has no purpose. As a reminder, Theology Thursdays are meant to provide short introductions to topics like these. So, we don’t have enough space to tackle harmonizing intercessory prayer and God’s sovereignty. But there’s generally a few ways Christians go about answering this problem: The purpose of intercessory prayer is to alter our own mindsets and to help us grow in our faith and trust in God. As well as strengthen our relationship with God and others (Rom 12:2). God is sovereign but He isn’t so set in His plan(s) that He can’t alter it/them occasionally to accommodate His beloved children (Luk 11:11-13). God has middle knowledge and He knows what people would do in any situation and took their intercessory prayers (among other things) into consideration when He decided which world to actualize (Mat 11:20-24). Well, I hope that this has whet your appetite for looking into these matters. What are your thoughts on intercessory prayer? Are you going to follow the example of the apostles, prophets and Christ? Or do you think God’s sovereignty provides you with sufficient justification to sin against Him and your fellow man by not doing it? (I might’ve worded those questions a little biasedly…) We’d love to hear what you think! SOURCES: Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology 3rd Edition (pg. 378-379). BakerAcademic Theissen, Henry. Lectures in Systematic Theology (pg. 396-399). Eerdmans Publishing Company 1951. Laing, John. Middle Knowledge: Human Freedom in Divine Sovereignty (pg. 283-317) Sproul, RC. St Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Romans (pg. 327-331). Crossway.
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Simon Williams
Jun 29, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Welcome to Tuesday Morning Apologetics (TMA). Let’s talk about the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA): 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. 2. The universe began to exist. 3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. The first premise of the KCA is one that William Lane Craig (WLC) considers it to be virtually undeniable for any sincere seeker of truth. In some places he even calls it “obviously true”, famously describing “something coming into being from nothing” as “worse than magic”. After all, as he likes to say, at least with magic you have the magician! (Seriously, it’s one of his favorite things to say when he talks about the KCA) Therefore, he doesn’t actually spend much time defending the first premise.(1) And it seems that he isn’t alone when it comes to the “obviousness” of this belief. The philosopher J.P. Moreland says: “The principle that something does not come from nothing without a cause is a reasonable one.” Even an atheist like James Fodor seems to agree with the first premise when he says things like, “I would go further and say it does not even make sense to say that being (or anything at all) can ‘come from’ non-being, for the use of the phrase ‘come from’ implies the existence of something out of which something else can come, much as the word ‘pop’ implies something into which a thing can pop.” But here’s the thing. Atheists like Fodor will say something like that and actually reject the first premise of the KCA. And it’s not that they are being hypocritical and they’re not talking out of both sides of their mouths. It comes from a difference in what WLC is trying to say and what the first premise can be interpreted as saying. It boils down to the wording of the premise itself. WLC is focused on the metaphysical principle that “being cannot come from non-being”. However, a statement like “whatever begins to exist has a cause” can be interpreted to include events. And while Moreland claims that the principle is “especially true with regard to events” because “events have a definite beginning and end, and do not happen without something causing them”, people like Fodor will dispute that. They like to think that the “event” of the universe is one that requires no cause and they back this up by pointing to what they think are other “events” that occur without causes. Such as the random decay of radioactive nuclides. Or the spontaneous appearance of virtual particles. Other people will even go so far in attacking the first premise as to say that "nothing actually begins to exist”. They try to justify this claim from a couple different angles: First, some will say that energy (like electromagnetic waves) never began to exist and everything is energy (E=mc^2). In this way they attack “begins to exist” by focusing on the “exist” part. If everything is energy and energy can neither be created nor destroyed then that means energy has always existed. Therefore, everything has always existed. Second, some will argue that time itself is constituted in such a way that all events are equally real, therefore, there is no such thing as “begin” in the ontological sense. These types focus on attacking the “begins” part of “begins to exist”. You can and will find people who use both positions at the same time when rejecting the first premise of the first argument we are taking a look at. Well, I hope that this initial look has been useful to you. This is not meant to be an exhaustive look at the first premise in one shot. I’m banking on us having a potentially infinite number of weeks to really dive into this information. Haha! Please let us know what you think about the first premise of the KCA. Have you ever been challenged on it? What have you said to defend it in your discussions and debates? We’d love to hear about it! NOTES: 1) Although, later on we’ll see that Dr Craig goes to great length to defend this idea in other areas of his philosophy. SOURCES: Craig, William Lane. On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (p. 75). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition. Craig, William Lane and Sinclair, James D.. The Kalam Cosmological Argument, The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (p. 182). Blackwell Publishing. Moreland, J.P.. Scaling the Secular City: A defense of Christianity (p. 38). Baker Books. Fodor, James. Unreasonable Faith: How William Lane Craig Overstates the Case for Christianity (p. 120). Hypatia Press. Kindle Edition. Philosophical Concerns with the Kalam Cosmological Argument
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Simon Williams
Jun 24, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let’s talk about the types of punishment for sinners: “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,…” - 2Th 1:9 Hell is one of the hardest doctrines taught by Christianity. People have spent much time trying to reconcile the idea of a perfectly loving God with the horror of eternal and everlasting pain and anguish. Where there is “wailing and gnashing of teeth”; where the “fire is not quenched” and where the “worms that eat them do not die.” In the ninth chapter of Mark, the Lord makes it perfectly clear that Hell is not a place you want to go. To some, the description of of Hell as being a place of eternal conscious torment lies in such stark contrast to the God of Love that they reject the notion all together. In doing so the christian is left with a couple of options: 1. Universalism 2. Annihilationism As this week’s title suggests, we’ll be focusing on Annihilationism. There are a few different types of Annihilationism. The first one we’ll describe is pure mortalism. This one is really rare among Christians as it rejects the notion that humans have a soul capable of surviving the death of the body. So when we die, we all just cease to exist. Although there are pantheistic variants that will say that upon death we are restored to unconscious unity with God (Who, some will argue, is also unconscious). Otherwise, there is no afterlife. And that’s no fun for anyone. Seeing how annihilation of some kind is unavoidable (if pure mortalism were true), we shouldn’t spend much time considering it. That and the fact that it directly contradicts scripture at almost every turn is another good reason to simply reject it. The second one is called conditional immortality. This one is similar to pure mortalism in that death is the end of the line. However. God will resurrect Christians and give them eternal life. The unrighteous are simply allowed to pass out of existence. Conditional immortality is also pretty rare among Christians as the Bible pretty clearly teaches that both the righteous and unrighteous will be resurrected unto judgement. (See Jhn 5:29 and Rev 20:11-15) The final one is usually just called annihilationism and is by far the most common type. Here, the idea is that Hell is a place of limited conscious punishment. On this view, the unrighteous are resurrected for judgment, confined to Hell, and there punished and annihilated. The reason why we are talking about annihilation in this post is because some people will argue that 2Th 1:9 teaches it. That’s because of its reference to the destruction of the wicked. Other verses used in defense of annihilationism are Phi 3:19; 1Th 5:3 and 2Pe 3:7. Besides these scriptural references and the apparent inconsistency of eternal conscious punishment with the love of God, annihilationists will argue that there is injustice involved in the disproportion between sins committed in time and a punishment that is eternal. They would fell remiss in failing to mention the fact that the continuing presence of evil creatures in God’s universe will eternally mar the perfection of a universe that God created to reflect His glory. And that’s hard to reconcile with verses like 1Co 15:28; Eph 1:10; Phi 2:10-11; and Col 1:20. As a cherry on top some will note, “Besides, you actually won't find a biblical reference to ‘eternal conscious punishment’; in Rev 14:11 ‘eternal’ refers only to the smoke of the torment of God’s enemies, not to the torment itself, and in 20:10 it is the symbols of hostility to God who are tormented for ever.” While annihilationism is the most common view among the three discussed, it’s still a minority view among Christians. Although, it’s becoming more popular. So. What do you think about annihilationism? Is this an acceptable form of "mercy killing" for God? Do you think it has sound biblical support? If not, how do you reconcile a Loving God with Hell? Perhaps you think the human soul is indestructible, so annihilation is impossible. As always, we’d love to hear what you think on this matter! SOURCES: Johnston, P.S.. Hell. New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (p. 543-544). Inter-Varsity Press. Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology 3rd Edition (pg. 1089 and 1126). BakerAcademic. Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (p. 1150). Zondervan. Olson, Roger. The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity and Diversity 2nd Edition (p. 359-360). InterVarsity Press. Thiessen, Henry. Lectures in Systematic Theology (p. 228). Eerdmans Publishing Company 1951.
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Simon Williams
Jun 22, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Welcome to our first week of Tuesday Morning Apologetics (TMA). This is going to be a weekly occurrence and the goal for it is to provide you with information about the various arguments for the existence of God. I’ll also be defending these arguments at certain stages as well. Additionally, I’ll be presenting these arguments whether I believe they are good or not. Don’t worry, I’ll let you know if I don’t think they are good. But I don’t plan to give my opinion right off the bat. I’ll just present them the best I can and I hope that you will decide whether or not you think they are any good before I give my opinion on them. For this first week I thought we’d start with the first argument I learned for the existence of God. The Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA). I think that most modern Apologists have probably started their journey learning this argument. Most of us first heard this argument professionally from Dr William Lane Craig (WLC), founder of the online ministry, Reasonable Faith. After all, he is the foremost Christian debater and defender of the KCA today. While WLC is the main defender of the argument today, the KCA is actually a very old argument. Back in 11th and 12th centuries AD, a muslim named Al-Ghazali started developing an argument for the existence of God. He eventually wrote a withering critique against the views of greek philosophers entitled, The Incoherence of the Philosophers. In this book, he argues that the idea of a beginningless universe is absurd. The universe must have a beginning, he declares, and since nothing begins to exist without a cause, there must be a transcendent Creator of the universe. The KCA runs as follows: 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. 2. The universe began to exist. 3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. Right off the bat, some of the people who think the argument is sound will claim that it doesn’t argue for the existence of God. Only that the universe, if it began to exist, has some kind of cause. That cause could be God or it could be something else. More likely, they say, it's something else. But later on we’ll see why this argument is, in fact, intended to show the existence of God. As it stands, you can probably see why this argument is so popular. It’s short and pretty easy to memorize. The premises (1. and 2.) seem intuitively true and the conclusion (3.) follows naturally. Even better, this argument is a deductive one. Meaning that if the premises are true, then the conclusion follows necessarily. So, the person who rejects the argument needs to refute the premises and, at first glance, that seems pretty tough to do. Although the premises seem like they are intuitive and don’t need defending, there’s still plenty to be said about them and we’ll be going through all that in later posts. I hope you’re excited for this new addition to NECAministry online content. So, what do you think about the KCA? Is it a sound argument or is it riddled with unjustified biases? Does it actually show that God exists or perhaps just some entity named Rick? Please feel free to comment below and ask questions! SOURCES: Craig, William. Reasonable Faith 3rd Edition (pg.111). Crossway Craig, William Lane. On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (p. 74). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.
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Simon Williams
Jun 17, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let’s talk about the second coming of Christ: “… and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” - 2Th 1:7 The second coming of Christ is depicted in the Bible as a definite event. Even if when and how exactly the events of Christ’s return are to occur is… kind of ambiguous. Still, Christians ought not to doubt that Christ will return and we should be eagerly looking forward to the event. The focus of this week’s Theology Thursday, 2Th1:7, shows that the second coming of the Lord will give relief to those in the Church who are troubled. How will God, through Christ, give relief (1)? In verse 6 we read: “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you…” God is going to rescue His captive people from the hands of the ungodly. “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” (2Th 1:8) For Christians, the second coming of Christ will feel like being rescued from a war camp or a prison camp. It will be terrifying for the guards, but glorious relief for the imprisoned. Some Christians will surely feel this effect more strongly than others, depending on how much persecution they have actually experienced. In this way, Christ’s second coming constitutes a warning for the ungodly. The word translated “revealed” is “apocalupsis” in the greek. It’s an “unveiling” which points to the removal of that which now obstructs our vision of Christ. Often, atheists and other non-Christians will require us to give them some kind of proof that would compel them to believe that Christianity is true. The Second Coming of Christ will do exactly that. Unfortunately by then, it will be too late. But, for now, the Lord tarries. For He has gone away to heaven to prepare an eternal dwelling for believers. We do not know the precise nature of this activity, but it’s apparent that He is readying a place where believers will fellowship with him: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” - Jhn 14:2-3 What do you think about the Lord’s return? Are you eagerly awaiting for it? Does it give you comfort? Or does it fill you with fear or anxiety? How you answer might be an indication as to whether you’re a prisoner or a guard. You don’t want to be a guard. NOTES: Both God and the Lord Jesus are agents of the judgement on the wicked (2Th 1:6, 7-8) and both are involved in the salvation and preservation of believers (2Th 2:13). SOURCES: Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology 3rd Edition (pg. 1089 and 1126). BakerAcademic Theissen, Henry. Lectures in Systematic Theology (pg. 444). Eerdmans Publishing Company 1951. Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (pg. 597). Eerdmans Publishing Co - A. Kindle Edition. Marshall, I.H.. Thessalonians. New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (pg. 327). InterVarsity Press, USA.
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Simon Williams
Jun 10, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let’s talk about the human composition: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” - 1Th 5:23 Most Christians tend to be dichotomists with regard to the human composition. That is, they think humans have a body and a soul. Personally, I tend to lean towards a “Conditional Tri-Unity” view of humanity. Even though it’s generally seen to be a precarious construct... Oh well. By “Conditional Tru-Unity” I mean that we humans are made in the image of God as a triune entity. That is; our body, spirit, and soul mirrors Father, Spirit, and Son (It’s not that our body mirrors the Father. I just mean the human composition mirrors the Trinity as a whole). Our soul, in particular, is also made in the image of God in that it mirrors the Persons of the Trinity. So, our soul provides us with cognition, volition, free will, identity, etc. While the spirit is the “breath of life” (Gen 2:7). Our body, spirit, and soul were designed by God to operate in perfect unison, but only if everything is functioning right, i.e. no sin. Therefore, only Adam and Eve have experienced this perfect unity. But after the Fall, when sin entered into the world, the unity was damaged as Adam and Eve’s spirits died to God (Gen 2:17) and came alive to sin (Eph 2:2) [their bodies and souls also became enslaved to sin (Jhn 8:34)]. But even after the Fall, the unity wasn’t completely destroyed. That’s why it’s very difficult to distinguish mental states (products of the soul) from brain states (products of the body). After the Fall, humans are born spiritually alive to God but their body and soul are enslaved to sin (Exd 21:4). But when we sin, which is our natural inclination (1Co 2:14) as slaves to sin, our spirit dies to God and becomes alive to sin. This view has the benefit of having a lot of explanatory scope regarding the teachings in the Bible: First, it explains why the Lord Jesus says we must be "born again". Again is the key word because we were already born alive but have since died to God and must now die to sin and become alive (born) again to God. That explains how Paul can say, “Once I was alive…” in Rom 7:9. Second, it explains how humans are responsible for sin entering into the world (Rom 5:12). Since our souls are made in the image of God, we bear the ability of Agent Causation. We can create “ex nihilo” like God (obviously not to same grand scale). But, we can create “ex nihilo” within ourselves desires and decisions in accordance with who we are as a person. This is how Adam and Eve could and would sin without God creating that desire for them. They created the desire and decision to disobey God within themselves, thus causing sin to come alive in them and in this world. Third, it explains our bondage to sin, continued struggle with sin after being born again and how we will be victorious over sin as expressed in Romans chapters 5-8. Because after being born again we become spiritually alive to God and our soul is set free from its bondage to sin (Luk 4:18). Therefore, we are now able to choose the things of God. But our body is still enslaved to sin and still in need of redemption (this is why Paul exhorts against being “fleshly”). Which will happen at the final resurrection. (see Rom 8:23, Eph 1:14, Phi 3:20,21, 1Th 4:14-17, and 1Jo 3:2). But until then, we are exhorted not to allow sin to reign in our body (Rom 6:12) and to don the armor of God (Eph 6:13-17) and resist our old master, Sin [whose champion is Satan] (Jam 4:7, 1Pe 5:8,9). What do you think about the human composition? Do you think we are just physical beings or do you think we only have a soul. Or perhaps you think the spirit and the soul are the same thing? Let us know! SOURCES: Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 256). Eerdmans Publishing Co - A. Kindle Edition. Bruce, F. F. 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Word Biblical Commentary series (p. 130). Waco: Word Books, 1982.
Theology Thursday | 1Th 5:23 | The Human Composition content media
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Simon Williams
Jun 03, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let’s talk about enforcing the Law of Christ: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” - 1Th 5:11 In the blog post, The Law of Christ, we talked about what the Law of Christ actually is and why it’s important. For this Theology Thursday I thought it would be a good idea to talk a little bit about how that law is applied in the church. As a reminder, the Law of Christ is essentially: To love as Christ loved. (See Jhn 13:34, 15:12) Because it’s a law, that means that it ought to be enforced. But how does that look? How do we enforce a law like, “Love as Christ loved”? Here lies an important difference between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches. The former virtually claims authority to enact laws that are binding on the conscience, and the transgression of which carries with it the same penalty that is annexed to any breach of the divine law. The latter disclaim any such authority to Christ, the true King of the Church. However, they maintain the right to enforce the law of Christ. They claim nothing more than a ministerial or declarative power, they regard the law as binding only because it’s backed by the authority of Christ, and apply no other punishments than those which He has sanctioned. What “punishments” have been established by Jesus? Is it imprisonment? Is it to be burned at the stake? In Mat 18:15-20, Jesus tells us how we are to enforce His law. The most extreme being in verse 17. We read: “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a gentile or a tax collector.” It’s important to note that Jesus said, “as you would”. Jesus is talking to His disciples prior to their conversion. This is also prior to them receiving the revelation that the gentiles were to inherit salvation along with the Jews (see Acts Chapters 10 and 11). The fact that the gentiles were to inherit salvation was huge change in the thought process of the early Jewish Christians (Act 11:18). Prior to that, Peter expresses how the Jews were to associate with gentiles: “He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile.” - Act 10:28 So… Not at all. And that’s how they treated tax collectors as well; even though tax collectors were fellow Jews.(1) 1Th 5:11 exhorts the church to love as Christ by "encouraging one another” and to hold each other accountable to this type of love by “building each other up”. Each member of the body of Christ processes the power and bears the responsibility to enforce the Law of Christ. The strongest punishment from a Christian being not to associate with that person. This type of enforcement can be seen in passages such as 1Co 5:9, 11 and 2Th 3:14. Sorry Calvin, but you can’t burn people at the stake. Even if they don’t believe that Jesus is consubstantial with the Father. So, what do you think? Have you ever had to enforce the Law of Christ? Do you have a small, close knit group of brothers or sisters in Christ that you encourage? Don’t forget that we aren’t meant to go through this alone. NOTES: (1) The Roman system of taxation was frequently characterized by “tax farming” where an individual would bid to collect taxes for the Roman government throughout an entire district and then add a surcharge or commission (often exorbitant) which they kept for themselves as their profit. The tax collectors referred to in the NT were generally not the holders of these tax contracts themselves, but hired subordinates who were often local residents. Since these tax collectors worked for Rome (even indirectly), they were viewed as traitors to their own people and were not well liked. In addition, the system offered many opportunities for dishonesty and greed, both of which were often associated with local tax collectors. SOURCES: Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 511). Eerdmans Publishing Co - A. Kindle Edition. https://netbible.org/bible/Matthew+5, Note 59
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Simon Williams
May 27, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let's Talk about how Christ died: “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.” - 1Th 5:10 Last week we talked about how Christians ought to be awake and alert for the coming of the Lord. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be left behind if you’re caught unawares. The Greek word translated “asleep” in this week's verse (1Th 5:10) is from the same root as the one translated “sleep” in verse 6 where the reference is to spiritual lethargy. It is a different one from the word translated “asleep” in 4:13, 14, and 15 where the reference is to physical death. God will snatch away all Christians whether watchful or un-watchful at the Rapture. This week, I want to talk briefly about the death of Christ. We speak of the death of Christ as a “work” that He performed, because it resulted from a definite choice on His part, when He could have avoided it. It is a “work” also because of what it accomplished for the beneficiaries of that death. This usage of the term “work” is clearly justified by the Biblical conception of the purpose and meaning of Christ’s death. “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” - Jesus (Jhn 10:17-18) When Jesus says that no one takes His life from Him but that he lays it down willingly, it sounds like Jesus was talking about committing suicide. In fact, this kind of talk previously caused people to think Jesus had meant exactly that (Jhn 8:22). But, of course, He didn’t (Jhn 8:37, 40). Death by crucifixion offers someone the unique opportunity to choose when they will die. What do I mean by that? Well, the cause of death from crucifixion is actually asphyxiation. The way the body is nailed to the cross makes it necessary for the victim to push themselves up with their legs, using the nails in their feet as a kind of “platform” to allow the ribcage enough space for them to inhale. Then they collapse back down due to the agony in their feet. That is how they would breath every excruciating breath. That’s also why the guards were ordered to break the legs of the thieves (Jhn 19:31) instead of, perhaps, stabbing them to death. Breaking the legs stops the procedure I mentioned. No standing on that nail “platform” means no breathing. Breaking the legs would speed up the type of death that crucifixion was meant to bring about. Asphyxiation. However, the victim of crucifixion could simply choose not to draw their next breath. Jesus could choose not to prolong His life. “Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last.” - Mar 15:37 (see also Luk 23:46) Jesus didn’t commit suicide because of the circumstances of His execution. At the same time, no one took His life because He willingly gave it up (Jhn 19:33). Ironically, Roman crucifixion is the only kind of public execution at that time that would allow Jesus to make such a claim in its fullest and most significant fashion. So! What do you think about the Lord’s death? Does it have significance to you? Does it pull at your emotions? Perhaps it makes you feel grateful and loved? Let us know in the comments! As always, we’d love to hear from you! SOURCES: See Thomas R. Edgar, “The Meaning of ‘Sleep’ in 1 Thessalonians 5:10 Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 22:4 (December 1979):345-49. https://netbible.org/bible/1+Thessalonians+5 (Constable’s notes on 1Th 5:9-10) Thiessen, Henry. Lectures in Systematic Theology (pg. 312). Eerdmans Publishing Company 1951.
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Simon Williams
May 20, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let's talk about being woke: “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.” -1Th 5:6 The coming of Christ is the great incentive to Biblical Christianity. A sincere belief in this doctrine has had much to do with orthodoxy; for those who have entertained this hope most heartily and intelligently have never denied the deity of Christ, nor disputed the infallibility of the Bible, nor declined from the faith that was once delivered to the saints. But that is not all. The acceptance of this truth also inspires watchfulness and constancy. God has removed us from Satan’s kingdom of darkness and placed us into God’s kingdom of light (cf. Col 1:13). “Darkness” was a common negative figure in antiquity. In the Old and New Testaments it describes those who are ignorant of or opposed to the Lord (cf. Job 22:9-11; Psa 82:5; Pro 4:19; Isa 60:1-3; Rom 13:12; 1Co 4:5; 2Co 4:4-6; 6:14; Col 1:13; 1Pe 2:9). Paul exhorted the Thessalonians therefore to remain alert (watchful) and sober (self-possessed), not asleep (insensible) to things that God has revealed. To some people in today’s America, the idea of being “Woke” has taken on a negative connotation. It seems like some kind of post-millienial slogan to which the appropriate reaction is a massive eye roll. But the idea of being emotionally, intellectually, historically and, yes, spiritually alert and aware is a very old metaphor. Christians should endeavor to become more alert and aware of God, first and foremost. But also, much time must be spent on introspection and being aware of our own spiritual condition in relation to that of Jesus’ (2Co 10:12). We don’t need to interpret the exhortation to "watch" as an exhortation to scan the heavens for immediate signs of the Lord's appearance. We should rather see in it an admonition to be awake, to be alert, to be prepared, to be active in the work of the Lord, or we could be overtaken by sudden calamity. So. Are you woke? Or are you asleep? Let us know what you think about this wakefulness that the Christian is supposed to exhibit. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” - Jesus Christ SOURCES: Thiessen, Henry. Lectures in Systematic Theology (pg. 444). Eerdmans Publishing Company 1951. https://netbible.org/bible/1+Thessalonians+5 (Constable’s notes on 1Th 5:4-6) Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 599). Eerdmans Publishing Co - A. Kindle Edition.
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Simon Williams
May 13, 2021
In Christianity Forum
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” -1Th 4:16 According to this scripture, when the Lord descends from heaven, the dead in Christ will be raised. Jesus is “the resurrection and the life”; he that believes on him, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever lives and believes on Him shall never die. (Jhn 11:25,26). “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1Co 15:53). A more complete representation of Paul’s explanation in 1 Thessalonians is that the souls of those who have died and gone to be with Christ will come back and be joined with their bodies upon Christ’s return, for Christ will bring them with Him: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1Th 4:14). But here Paul affirms not only that God will bring with Christ those who have died; he also affirms that “the dead in Christ will rise first.” So these believers who have died with Christ are also raised up to meet Christ. This only makes sense if it is the souls of believers who have gone into Christ’s presence who return with Him, and if it is their bodies that are raised from the dead to be joined together with their souls, and then to ascend to be with Christ. “At the rapture the soul and body, which “falls asleep” at death, will be reunited. The separation of body from spirit will be forever reversed. … the Lord will bring the perfected spirit of each believer from heaven when He comes, and the body of each believer will be raised up incorruptible, immortal, and imperishable to meet his or her spirit in the air and be united forever.” - Mark Hitchcock What do you think about this hope of the Christian faith? Does it give you comfort that you will see your loved ones in Christ again? What about coming of the kingdom that will ultimately restore peace and tranquility to the earth at long last? And, of course, there is much more to be said. But we’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Be encouraged to comment below! SOURCES: Thiessen, Henry. Lectures in Systematic Theology (pg. 452). Eerdmans Publishing Company 1951. Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology (Pg. 829). Zondervan. Hitchcock, Mark. The End: Everything You’ll Want to Know About the Apocalypse (pg. 125, 126). Tyndale Momentum.
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Simon Williams
May 06, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let's talk about the Resurrection: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” -1Th 4:14 By Christ’s resurrection provision has been made for the personal realization of the salvation which He has provided, in His bestowal of repentance, forgiveness, regeneration, and the Holy Spirit (Jhn 16:7; Act 2:33, 3:26, 5:31; 1Pe 1:3). His resurrection is made the basis of assurance to the believer that all necessary power for life and service is available to him (Eph 1:18-20, 4:8). If God could raise Jesus from the dead, He is able to supply all the needs of the believer (cf. Phi 3:10). Paul further tells us that the resurrection of Christ is a guarantee that our bodies too will be raised from the dead (Jhn 5:28, 29, 6:40; Act 4:2; Rom 8:11; 1Co 15:20-23; 2Co 4:14; 1Th 4:14). The resurrection of Christ is the basis for the believer’s hope and confidence. Although the context of 1Th 4:14 does not explicitly mention the general resurrection, Peter at the beginning of his first epistle ties the new birth and the living hope of the believer to Christ’s resurrection and then looks to the second coming when genuine faith will result in praise, glory, and honor (1Pe 1:3-9). The resurrection of Christ had a threefold significance: It constituted a declaration of the Father that the last enemy had been vanquished, the penalty paid, and the condition on which life was promised, met. It symbolized what was destined to happen to the members of Christ's mystical body (The Church) in their justification, spiritual birth, and future blessed resurrection, (Rom 6:4,5,9; 1C. 6:14, 15:20-22; 2Co 4:10,11,14; Col 2:12; 1Th 4:14). It is also connected instrumentally with their justification, regeneration, and final resurrection, (Rom 4:25; 5:10; Eph 1:20). The resurrection of Jesus is the most significant event that has ever happened. There is so much tied into it that we haven't even scratched the surface here. What do you think about the Christian hope? Does the Lord’s resurrection have meaning to you? Are you excited for the day that you will once again be united with your loved ones? Let us know what you think about the prospect of being resurrected unto glory. Thanks and God bless! SOURCES: Thiessen, Henry. Lectures in Systematic Theology (pg. 337). Eerdmans Publishing Company 1951 Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology 3rd edition (pg. 1098). BakerAcademic Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (pp. 289-290). Eerdmans Publishing Co - A. Kindle Edition.
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Simon Williams
Apr 29, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let's talk about death: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” -1Th 4:13 Why are we talking about death when this verse explicitly says, “asleep”? Simply because that’s what the context seems to indicate. Please remember to read the verses that we are focusing on in their proper context. Jesus and His disciples also frequently referred to physical death as “sleep”. Physical death is the separation of soul and body. It is represented in the Scriptures as a part of the penalty of sin. This is the most natural meaning of Gen 2:17, 3:19; Num 16:29, 27:3. The prayer of Moses and the prayer of Hezekiah recognize the penal character of death. The same thing is true in the New Testament. For the Christian, however, death is no longer a penalty, since Christ has endured death as at the penalty of sin. To him it becomes a sleep as to the body and a gateway as to the soul through which he enters into full communion with the Lord (2Co 5:8; Phi 1:21, 23;, 1Th 4:13,14; Mar 5:39). Spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God. I mention this now just to point out that there is some nuance in Christianity in relation to death and how it is to be understood. We will focus more on spiritual death in another Theology Thursday. It should be noted that the definition that we have for physical death (separation of soul and body) doesn’t seem to really grasp all that physical death is. In order to do that we must include something like, “as well as a cessation of biological function”. All this also brings up an interesting question: Were humans created mortal or immortal? It appears that physical death is linked to the fall in some clear way. Genesis 3:19 would seem to be not a statement of what is the case and has been the case from creation, but a pronouncement of a new situation: “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Further, Paul’s theme in 1 Corinthians 15 is that physical death has been defeated through Christ’s resurrection. Paul says: “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” If in the end of all things God is going to restore all things (Act 3:21) and if humans are to be immortal in the end, then it seems that humans were initially created without the intention of dying physically nor spiritually. Welp. What do you think? Is death all there is or do you think God has something else in mind? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Thanks and God bless! SOURCES: Thiessen, Henry. Lectures in Systematic Theology (p. 271). Eerdmans Publishing Co. Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology (p. 558-559). BakerAcademic.
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Simon Williams
Apr 22, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let's talk about when God calls us: "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life" - 1Th 4:7 Last week we talked about Sanctification. And that's no surprise because in this letter Paul was driving at the general principle that God’s purpose for all Christians is not impurity but purity. It is a life set apart from sin unto holiness. The call of God is related to Sanctification and is often seen as the first step. Scripture seems to indicate that God has an external call and an internal call for His people. The internal call, also called the "effectual call", is an act of God the Father, speaking through the human proclamation of the gospel, in which he summons people to himself in such a way that they respond in saving faith. The internal call of God has, but is not limited to, the following characteristics: It is a calling by the Word, savingly applied by the operation of the Holy Spirit, 1Co 1:23,24; 1Pe 2:9. it is a powerful calling, that is, a calling that is effectual unto salvation, Act 13:48; 1Co 1:23,24. it is without repentance, that is, it is a call that is not subject to change and that is never withdrawn, Rom 11:29. God's internal calling calls us to the great goal to which the Holy Spirit is leading the elect, and, consequently also to the intermediate stages on the way to this final destiny. It is a calling to the fellowship of Jesus Christ, 1Co 1:9; to inherit blessing, 1Pe 3:9; to liberty, Gal 5:13; to peace, 1Co 7:15; to holiness, 1Th 4:7; to one hope, Eph 4:4; to eternal life, 1Ti 6:12; and to God's kingdom and glory, 1Th 2:12. Do you remember when God called you? How did you feel when you accept Christ? Did you feel a panicked tug to resist? Or was it like falling into bed after a hard day? Let us know! Love to hear about your thoughts on God's internal call. SOURCES: https://netbible.org/bible/1+Thessalonians+4 (Constable's Notes on 1Th 4:7) Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (pp. 397-398). Eerdmans Publishing Co - A. Kindle Edition. Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology (p.693). Zondervan.
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Simon Williams
Apr 15, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let's talk about Sanctification: "and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints." - 1Th 3:12,13 Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives. Holiness is to be separate or set-apart from the world. Sin and Death reign in this current world (Rom 5:12-21). And many people today are happy, or not-so-happy, citizens of Sin and Death. The citizens of the Kingdom of God do not fall in those categories. We are sojourners in this world (1Pe 2:11) and ambassadors of the Kingdom of God (2Co 5:20). But we haven't always been that way. Before we were born-again we too were citizens of Sin and Death. But now that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God our process of becoming freer from Sin and Death necessarily means that we are becoming more and more separate from the citizens of Sin and Death. That's why Paul stresses that those whom God has called to be His people are therefore to separate themselves from unclean things and be perfectly holy (2Co 6:14-7:1). One way that the process of sanctification progresses is through the increase of the love that christians have and express to all people. So, though we are markedly separate from the citizens of Sin and Death by our behavior and our allegiance, that doesn't mean that we don't love them or don't care about them. But this type of love is not something that we, as those initially owned and raised under the reign of Sin and Death and being inherently imperfect and limited beings, are capable of achieving on our own. We need the God of Love to make the increase in love happen for us. The pure and righteous love for God which, if truly in us, must overflow to His creation. Sin causes separation from God. But the love of God causes separation from Sin and Death. That is the death of Death in the Christian's life (1Pe 2:24) as we wait for the final death of Death (Rev 20:14). What do you think about the sanctification process? Do you appreciate how you differ from the world around you? Do you feel it happening in your life? In what ways does God help you to become holier? Love to hear anything you have to say about this matter! SOURCES: Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology (p. 476). Zondervan. Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology (p. 257). BakerAcademic. Theissen, Henry. Lectures in Systematic Theology (p. 380-381). Eerdmans Publishing Company. https://www.blueletterbible.org
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Simon Williams
Apr 09, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let's talk about Satan: "For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain." - 1Th 3:5 In a previous Theology Thursday we mentioned that, like God (since Satan is an imitator of God), Satan has various names that express a quality of character, or a method of operation, or both. In the above verse we see such a name. The Tempter This name indicates his constant purpose and endeavor to incite man to sin. He presents the most plausible excuses and suggests the most striking advantages for sinning. Tempting humans is one of the main tactics he uses in his opposition to God and the work of Christ. This type of tactic is shown in the temptation of Jesus, the parable of the weeds (Mat 13:24-30), and in the sin of Judas (Luk 22:3). For Paul, Satan can use sexual desire to cause unfaithfulness (1Co 7:5), but while there is a real possibility of failure on the part of the individual, comfort can be taken in God's being faithful and not allowing believers to be tempted beyond what they can endure (1Co 10:13). "Count it all you when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing this that the trial of your faith worth patience." What happens to you when you fall into temptation? How do you resist the honeyed words of Satan? What do you think about The Tempter? Please let us know! SOURCE: Thiessen, Henry. Lectures in Systematic Theology (p. 203). Eerdmans Publishing Co Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology 3rd Edition (p. 417). Baker Publishing Group New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (p. 815). InterVarsity Press
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Simon Williams
Mar 25, 2021
In Christianity Forum
Let's talk about the second coming of Christ: "For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?" -1Th 2:19 The second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most highly anticipated event in a Christian's life. Many believe it marks the end of the Church age and is the beginning of Christ's millennial rule. Several terms are used to designate the future coming of Jesus Christ. The term "parousia" is the most common of these. It means in the first place simply "presence," but also serves to designate a coming preceding a presence. The latter is the common meaning of the term, when it is used in connection with the return of Jesus Christ. The various facets of this future visit are defined by the contexts in which parousia appears. In this instance it is Jesus’ examination of his servants subsequent to his coming for them (4:15-17) that is in view. The formerly pagan Thessalonians probably understood the parousia of Christ in terms of the visits of the imperial rulers of Rome. These rulers were increasingly being thought of as the manifestations of deities who required elaborate ceremonies and honors when they visited the various cities of the Empire. Paul at this time evidently expected his ministry to end with the return of Christ rather than by his own death. This is one of many evidences that Paul and the other early Christians believed in the imminent return of Christ. Nothing had to occur before His return. This perspective also strongly suggests that Paul believed in the pretribulational rapture of the church. So. What do you think about the Lord's return? Do it impact the way you go about your life and interactions with other people? Does it give you a sense of joy? Perhaps, even, a sense of dread? Let us know! SOURCES: Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 296). Eerdmans Publishing Co - A. Kindle Edition. Constable's Notes, from netbible.org
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Simon Williams

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