Welcome to tomthinking.com Saturday, April 20 2019 @ 02:13 PM UTC

Sometimes Jesus Didn't Mean What He Said

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Recently, someone wrote to me after reading my article on "Preach It Teach It," Teleportation Is Not A Spiritual Gift. He wrote to ask me if I was familiar with John 14:12 where Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do.” The implication of the question was that when Jesus said this, couldn’t it apply to teleportation? This question actually brings up other passages where Jesus seems to tell us that Christians will do remarkable things if they have enough faith to believe—things like moving mountains (Matthew 17:20), withering trees (Matthew 21:18-22), make trees fly (Luke 17:6), walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33), or even controlling the weather (James 5:17), all by faith. There is only one problem with this line of reasoning. In the nearly 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth, no one has ever moved a mountain, instantly withered a tree, made a tree fly, or walked on water. So, what is going on here? If we are Christians and believe in Jesus, the cross, and the resurrection, why can’t we do these things? Is this a matter of, as some would say, faulty faith?

Answers To An Atheist's 20 Challenges

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Author Armin Navabi of Atheist Republic has authored a short book entitled, Why There Is No God. The book offers rebuttals to 20 questions or proofs for God's existence.

Some of the rebuttals are well formulated, but ultimately each falls short in making the case for God's non-existence. This section of my website is my armchair attempt to provide counter-arguments to Navabi's ascertains.

Navabi is a former Muslim of Iranian decent. In the introduction to his book he explains his journey from devout Muslim to equally devout atheist. Being familiar with Islam myself, I easily noticed how Navabi's arguments apply to Allah as revealed in the Quran. While he applies these 20 questions to God in general, his main targets are Islam and Christianity. My responses to Navabi's challenges are written from an evangelical perspective.


Sometimes You Just Need The Basics

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Have You Heard Of The Four Spiritual Laws?

  1. God loves you and created you to know Him personally.

(references contained on this Home Page are linked to the actual verses from the Bible, and should be read in context wherever possible.) 

God's Love 

"God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). 

God's Plan 

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3, NIV). What prevents us from knowing God personally?

 

The Problem Of Evil

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How can a good God exist if evil exist? This question has plagued mankind for centuries. The Bible assumes that both God exists and evil exists. But if God is all-loving and good, as well as all-powerful, how can he let evil exist.


On this page are several treatments to the aforementioned problem. Specifically, we approach the problem of evil by looking at God’s nature, God’s will, and God’s sovereignty. Most importantly, some of these answers will not seem emotionally satisfying. But they are treatments which approach the truth of God’s existence, and our existence and attempt to come up with a balance by recognizing that, yes, God exists and evil exists, and these two ideas do not cancel each other out.


If you’d like to talk further about this difficulty, after reading these treatments, please feel free to contact me at the email link on this page.

When We Repent, God Relents

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Does God change his mind? The answer is a yes and no. There are decrees that God makes that are unchangeable. God never changes his mind about these things. No amount of prayer or pleading will get God to change his mind. Probably the best example are moral values and decrees. If you pray and ask God to change his mind about adultery, or lying, or stealing, or blasphemy, you can be completely assured that he will not change his mind about these things. They are wrong and will always be wrong. These are fixed decisions by God.

 

Finding The Trinity In The Old Testament

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One of the most difficult doctrines of Christianity to fathom is the doctrine of the Trinity. Too many people have trouble getting their minds around the concept that there is one God who exists as three persons. Yet, the New Testament seems clear in this portrayal of God’s nature. But what about the Old Testament? Why doesn’t the Old Testament clearly teach the doctrine of the Trinity?


It may surprise you to learn that, in fact, we do find elements of the Trinity in the Old Testament, though not spelled out as clearly as is found in the New Testament. So, let’s camp for a while in the Old Testament and see how God reveals himself.


First, let’s lay an explanatory foundation. In its revelation of God, the Bible uses something we call progressive revelation. This means that God does not reveal all of himself at one time, rather, God reveals himself over time, long periods of time, slowly revealing his true nature. This does not mean that God hides truth from us. Rather, God reveals truth as he enables us to handle it. We do the same thing with our children. When they are younger we don’t tell our kids everything about us. There is only so much that a child can handle or understand. But over many years our children learn more and more to the point where what they know of us when they are older far exceeds what they knew when they were younger. This is also true of God’s nature in the Bible. Written over thousands of years, the Bible slowly reveals more and more about God until we come to the knowledge we have today. But, we still don’t have a comprehensive picture of God today. There is still more of himself that he waits to reveal to us when we finally enter his presence in Heaven.


Let’s keep this mind as we search the Old Testament for references to the Trinity. In fact, let’s start at the beginning. 

 

The Key To Finding Purpose In Life

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There has to be more to life than just the daily grind of work and personal entertainment. Life should have meaning and purpose. But where do we find it? I’d like to suggest the the first place we can find what we are looking for is in the first chapter of the Bible’s book of Genesis. It’s in something we call the Cultural Mandate. 


Just what is the Cultural Mandate?

 

If we want to understand what the book of Genesis is all about and how it applies to us, if we want to understand its themes and what they mean for us, then we have to understand the passage in Genesis which sets the stage for everything that comes after it and that sheds light on everything that comes before it. That passage is Genesis 1:28. We call this little passage of scripture, the Cultural Mandate. 

 

Would Jesus Go For The Headshot?

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I recently repurchased, at a very low rate, a couple of old PC games that I used to play years ago. The games were first person shooters. I used to have hours of fun playing these games, killing my opponents, and going for the headshot. I wanted to see if I would enjoy the games as much as I used to. I rarely play games anymore, as they bore me since with most games it's just the same thing over and over again. I usually prefer reading or some other more constructive activity. The few games that I do play are the nonviolent variety.

I discovered that I didn't like playing those old games anymore, specifically because they were so violent. It reminded me of a question I asked myself long ago about such games.

"Would Jesus go for the headshot?"

It was then that I began to re-evaluate my entertainment choices, asking the question, "Do my entertainment choices please Jesus?"

I'm not interested in a debate over R rated films or TV-MA programs or violent video games. What I'm interested in is what my entertainment choices build into my life. Once you've seen something you can't simply "unsee" it.

Studies have shown that there is no causal connection between entertainment choices and violent or criminal behavior. According to the Entertainment Software Association, "Numerous authorities have examined the scientific record and found that it does not establish any causal link between media content and real-life violence."(1) According to another study, "The research showed that there is no evidence that violent video games are positively correlated to real-world crime rates."(2)

Hitting the Sink

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What was your first car? Was it a muscle car, a sport car, a truck? Or maybe like me it was a Toyota station wagon (yes, they made them once). My first car was a 1972 Toyota Corona Mark II. It wasn’t exactly what a 16-year old boy would want, but my parents helped me buy it, and it was mine.
Before my dad handed me the keys to my car he sat me down to give me some advice. He was always good with cars and took extra special care of his. He expected me to do the same. I wanted to take care of my car. So when dad sat me down to give me some instructions, I listened. Yes, I listened. But the first thing he told me was so obvious that in my know-it-all attitude I thought it was dumb. He said, “Tom, whatever you do, don’t get into an accident. Not even a little fender bender. Because if you do, your car will never be the same.”
Right dad. Okay. 

The Will of God

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What is the will of God for your life? Just that question alone can open up a Pandora’s Box of trouble. Religions are filled with the idea of man serving a deity according to that deity’s will. The mainline Muslim believes in Allah’s will to destroy the unbeliever in Islam. Some Christian movements teach it is God’s will that His servants have no material want or be materially successful. Even the non-religious may subscribe to a kind of destiny, where impersonal fate prescribes a role in life, instead of a knowable Creator.
I once knew a woman who claimed that God told her during her first pregnancy that she would have a boy. It was God’s will. Delivery time came and she had a boy. During her second pregnancy she said God told her she would have girl. Delivery time came and she had another boy. She felt quite foolish, as her assumptions about God’s will lead her to say some silly things. It made her look bad, but not as bad as some take the will of God.
Famed American TV preacher Oral Roberts once taught it was God’s will for him to raise $8 million from his TV audience. He claimed that if the money didn’t come in that God would kill him. Oral said some pretty stupid things that made not only himself and his organization look bad, it made a lot of people look at the Church of Jesus Christ and perceive it as mythological foolishness.
Many Christians have given up their homes, livelihoods, even their liberties and lives believing that God has spoken to them about a direction their lives should take. They say things like, “It is God’s will for me to _________.” You fill in the blank. Many go on to do noble works—missionaries, pastors, mercy ministries, and so on. Others seem to stumble along, even making strange pronouncements about what God’s will is for them or their associates.