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Why Does God Withhold Information From Us?

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Here’s a baffling question for those who read the Bible. Why didn't God tell Jacob that his son, Joseph was still alive? Jacob languished for years in mourning for what he thought was a dead son. At any time during his faithful service to a God, God could have spoken to his servant, Jacob, and told him the truth. Why didn’t he?

 

Now, I can think of a number of reasons why God remained silent on this issue. If God told Jacob then he would have likely discovered the truth of what his other 10 sons had done in selling a Joseph into slavery. There’s no telling what Jacob might have done.

 

Second, Jacob could have prematurely gone to Egypt, which would have blown the family’s need for time to work repentance in the hearts of Joseph’s brothers.

 

Third, before he was sold into slavery, Joseph had a prophetic dream that he would rule over his family. That fate might have been put in jeopardy if Jacob had discovered the truth.

 

But I think there’s a more important reason, which I’ll reveal in a moment.

 

Here’s an equally baffling question. Why didn't Joseph send word to his father that he was alive and ruling in Egypt? I find this question to be harder than the first. Once Joseph had solidified his hold on power, what prevented him from sending a messenger to his father with the good news that he was alive and well? But he didn’t do this. In fact, Joseph believed he would never see his family again. Remember what Joseph said at the birth of his son, Manasseh, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father's family” (Genesis 41:51).

 

Of course, all of this brings up a much deeper question. Why does God allow people to believe anything that isn't true at all? After all, most people on the earth who die, die never knowing the truth about Jesus. Why does God permit this? I’d like present seven possible reasons why this may be so.

 

The Historical Reliability of the Bible

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This article is the outline notes for a TV episode of "Together Through The Bible,"my weekly Bible study program that aired on Eagle TV in Mongolia. You can watch the full video of the study here: 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_DZqz7bBnQ

 

As a collection of religious texts the Bible speaks to many issues of philosophy and morality. Like many religious texts, its claims may be compared to any other religion or teaching and be dismissed or embraced. However, there are two things unique about the Bible and its claims that other religions and philosophies do not possess. 

  1. The Bible is a book of verifiable history, claiming to outline, in real history, in real time, God’s interaction with man.
  2. The Bible presents future historythat can be verified upholding the reliability of its claims.

Unlike many other religious texts, which only claim to present the philosophy of a respected teacher, the Bible claims absolute authority as the inspired Word of the One and Only Living God. Such an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence to support it. While this short study will not present all of the evidences, it will provide you with a guide for examining the internal claims and evidences of the Bible, to help you understand the reliability of its text. This guide will also help you examine your own faith and knowledge of God’s Word.

 

Is the Bible historically reliable? Does the Bible provide any internal evidence for its extraordinary claims? Is there a way to provide a test of biblical text to discover its accuracy and reliability?

 

Let us ask these questions in a more personal way.

 

Is your faith reliable? Can your life provide evidences for the extraordinary claims of Christianity? Can you test the application of God’s Word in your own life to discover its reliability—and your own?

 

Jesus & Homosexuality: Silent, Supportive, or Sin?

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(This article was originally posted in May 2012.)
 
Since President Obama recently came out in support of gay marriage a number of editorials have made arguments in favor of gay marriage from the Bible. Specifically, there have been three assertions made about the Bible and homosexuality that to the normal Christian seem to be a stretch of biblical logic. In a nutshell, those arguments are:
  • Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, he never condemned it
  • The Bible condemns eating shellfish, and wearing clothes of two different fabrics, along with homosexuality, how then can we take it seriously?
  • Paul taught mistaken views about homosexuality. We should follow Jesus' teachings, not Paul
For the purposes of this article the issue before us is not whether gay marriage should be legal or considered a human right. The issue here is whether or not the above statements regarding the Bible and homosexuality have any merit. It is one thing to argue for gay marriage as a right based upon history, politics, and biology. It is another thing altogether to argue for gay marriage or so called gay rights by using the Bible as a supportive document. Does the Bible support the modern idea of gay rights? Let's find out by answering the three challenges above.
 

Love Is Not A Valid Excuse For Sin

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Love is often used in the same breadth with judge, as in we should not judge, but just love people. But, biblically speaking, we are unable to love without making a judgment.

I Corinthians 13:6 tells us plainly that, "[Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth." What is wrongdoing? Wrongdoing is sin, transgression, iniquity, trespass, etc.

Jesus never said to love and never judge. That is a fallacy made by people who want to look better than others by taking part in the PC era where everyone must accept everyone else's lifestyle without criticism. But Jesus never meant it that way.

Ask Tom: Is There A Demon Around Every Corner?

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Dear Tom: “What are your thoughts on people always attributing bad circumstances as an attack by Satan?” - Anne


Anne, thank you for asking me about this. What you’ve asked falls under the heading of spiritual warfare. Angels and demons are real entities. One serves God and the other rebels against him. The scripture would seem to indicate that angels and demons are at work all around us. However, does that mean that every bad circumstance is an attack from the enemy? Let me dig into this by asking four additional questions that your original question also implies:


  1. Is every unpleasant thing caused by a demon?
  2. What does it mean to be “under attack” by the enemy?
  3. Doesn’t fighting principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12) mean that there are demons everywhere? 
  4. Can I order a demon to be bound?

Misunderstanding Spiritual Warfare

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For many years I, like you, have heard numerous messages and read many text that all tell us an important truth about spiritual warfare. We have been told that Satan’s objective is to steal from us, kill us, and destroy us. The reference comes from John 10:10 when Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees. Granted that we have heard this interpretation from many teachers over many decades but we rarely ask this all important question: Is it true?
I’d like to propose what many might consider a radical idea. Let me state it up front. Then you can stone me. Then I’ll pick up where I left off and explain myself. Got your rocks ready? Here goes.
John 10:10 is not about us. 
If we don’t want to misunderstand spiritual warfare then we have to recognize that our simplistic understanding of John 10:10 is not exactly right. You see, when we think that John 10:10 is about Satan stealing, killing, and destroying us we are taking the focus off of what Jesus actually said and placing the focus of our attention in this passage on us, instead of on Jesus, where it belongs. Think about it for a moment as I explain what most people think of when they read John 10:10.
I’ve taught this passage many times over the years and when I do I stand before a group with marker and giant pad at the ready. I ask everyone what it is that Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy. Every time I’ve taught this the answers are always the same. We write them down. People say things like, he wants to steal my joy, he wants to rob me of my family, he wants to destroy the church, he wants to destroy my faith or my job, he wants to kill me so I can’t serve God, he wants to rob me of my money or blessings, and so on. Often there is a long list of things that people say Satan wants to steal from us or destroy. Now, do you see the thread that runs through all of these answers? It’s right there. The focus is…”me.” It’s then that I draw a big red X over everyone’s answers.

When Your Faith Isn't Public, It's Not Likely To Be Private Either

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When your faith isn’t public, it’s not likely to be private either.

Let me explain.

The notion of a “private faith” is a very western, even a very American idea. We’ve all heard someone say, “My faith is a private matter between me and God.” This is usually used as a reason why someone doesn’t share their faith or live a Christian testimony openly.

Yet, in my experience, I’ve never known a person who used this excuse with me that was actually walking with God.

I Was A Heretic Last Week, But Now I’m Better

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For the last few months I’ve been exploring the topic of human origins looking to solve challenges that skeptics hold about Cain’s wife, Cain’s city, and his parents, Adam and Eve. I’m not going to spell out here the details that I was uncovering, suffice it to say that my exploration of this topic ended up with me an inch away from the status of a heretic. I might be a little hard on myself, but, considering how much I hate to be wrong, it’s a big deal for me.


I was exploring the topic of origins looking for evidence in the Bible to support the idea that God created humans other than and in addition to Adam and Eve. I was exploring this because I was looking for answers to some interpretive challenges in Genesis 1-3 and found that the idea of God creating other people who were not in special relationship with him, solved some problems that we encounter in the text. For instance, how many kids did Adam and Eve have? Who occupied Cain’s city? If incest is forbidden, who did Cain marry? And other questions. 


I found myself developing a theology about origins where these questions were easily answered by an interpretation of Genesis 1:27 that, “Them,” in that passage referred to many people and not simply the first couple of Adam and Eve. Starting there I found it was also easy to build a theological model based upon what scripture didn’t say as well as what it did say. Which is essentially to make scripture say something that it never really said at all, just through silence. And my solution to these interpretive challenges made everything very easy. And that, right there, should have been a warning to me. Scripture can be simple, but it’s not always easy.


Basically, I did six things. As you read this list, ask yourself, have you done these in your reading of scripture?

 

Evolution vs. Intelligent Design: Philosophy or History?

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I’m  wondering how much of the creation/evolution debate is caught up in the labels of “Evolution,” “Creation,” and “Intelligent Design.” I say this because of the popularly understood notions of what these labels mean. While you personally may not regard evolution as beginning with the idea that God does not (or must not) exist the published works indicate that the evolutionary idea propagated in public schools does begin from that starting point. I think for most Evangelicals this is where the rub gets raw. Most of us do not object to the teaching of evolution as a theory to explain the process of life or even origins (though we disagree), rather we object to teaching evolution as a finally proven conclusion with no room for another possibility, or leaving out the possibility that the evidence could point to a Designer.
 

The commonly understood ideas of “Creation” or “Intelligent Design,” for those who have not explored the topic beyond reading the general press reports, gravitates toward 6-day creation positions, Young Earth vs. Old Earth, miraculous intervention (spontaneous creation by an outside force) and so on. In point of fact, Intelligent Design is not necessarily about any of these issues. Intelligent Design is about whether observation of the evidence can lead to a conclusion that creation is the result of an intelligent agent. Or in the case of some, whether the observation can lead to a conclusion that the process of evolution apart from an intelligent agent is the best explanation. Even some in the Intelligent Design movement still regard evolution as the best scientific explanation for the process of creation, but not its origins.

In the whole debate of whether or not Intelligent Design is science, let’s remove the preconceptions that seem to go along with the terms Evolution, Creation, and Intelligent Design. In fact, let’s remove those labels all together and simply place all of these issues under the banner of “Origins.” Possible questions could then be:

The Jaw-Dropping Peace of God

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Have you ever heard a Christian say they have decided to do something or not do something and that they “have a peace about it?” “Peace” is one of those Christianese terms that is sometimes used in the context of decision-making as a test for God’s will. Often when a Christian says, “I have peace about this or that,” they mean that they take that particular thing to be God’s will for them. Every Christian I’ve gotten to know over a length of time, no matter what country or culture they are from seems to have this universal catch-phrase in common. “Peace” is used as a barometer to determine the right thing to do in a given situation. Many go so far as to say, “God has given me a real peace about it.” (As opposed to him giving a false peace?)
In my Christian experience I’ve sometimes taken to using the peace barometer to aid decision-making. Rather, I should say that I used to do that. I don’t do it anymore because, uh, well, because…
I don’t have a peace about it.
;-)
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