As we finish out this year of 2019, I would like to think we all experienced some personal growth. Now is a great time to consider and plan how 2020 can be even better. Our recently delivered sermon entitled “It Is the Fullness of Time” revealed to us a wonderful truth from God’s Word. That truth stated that we can achieve what God has intended if we align with Him in preparation; purpose and plan. You can view or listen to that lesson at www.barrygjohnsonsr.com/2019-sermons.html.
God is always prepared; He is never caught off guard. God always works with a purpose; He is not aimless having no sense of direction. God has always had a plan; He continues to work it and reveal it through His Son.
If you desire to make 2020 an even better year than 2019 then align yourself with God’s plan; purpose and preparation. The Lord’s plan can only be found in the Bible. God’s purpose is revealed only in His Son. How you prepare is your choice. What you do to make 2020 a better year begins now. Let me suggest you consider adding God to your plans in a significant way.
Come and visit at your earliest opportunity considering the powerful impact of being a part of a Church community that holds the Bible in high regard. It’s teaching when followed will transform you in a way that you’ll experience your best year yet. Not only that but the Bible can secure your eternal destiny unlike anything else available to man. We look forward to meeting you, helping one another to know God’s Will. Together this next year we can grow like no other and help others to do the same. See you soon.
Barry G. Johnson, Sr.
Pulpit Preacher and Evangelist laboring at the Church of Christ which meets in Brookfield, IL
Before we can begin to discuss the whole why does God allow evil debate, we need to have an understanding of what evil is.
While evil is real, it is not a thing. The argument goes like this:
1. God created all things
2. Evil is a thing
3. Therefore, God created evil
Then we get all upset because we want to know how to square the idea of a good God creating evil. The error is found in the second premise, that evil is a thing. Evil is not a thing, even though it is real. Evil does not exist on it's own. It only exists as a lack or deficiency in a good thing.
Evil is like the rust in a car: If you take all of the rust out of the car, you have a better car; if you take the car out of the rust, you have nothing. Evil is like a cut in your finger: If you take the cut out of your finger, you have a better finger; if you take the finger out of your cut, you have nothing. In other words, evil only makes sense against the backdrop of good. That's why we often describe evil as negotiations of good things. We say someone is immoral; unjust; unfair; dishonest, etc.
So evil can't exist unless good exists. But good can't exist unless God exists. In other words, there can be no objective evil unless there is objective good, and there can be no objective good unless God exists. If evil is real - and we all know it is - Then God exists. Therefore the question of evil is better used to prove God's existence rather than disproving His existence.
 - Stealing from God by Frank Turek
By Brian Chilton
Recently, news agencies filled the airwaves and the internet with the news of Stephen Hawking’s last book to be published and released posthumously. The book released on October 16, 2018, is entitled Brief Answers to the Big Questions. Hawking argues through a series of essays why he didn’t think that God existed, did not think it was possible for God to exist, and did not believe in an afterlife. He appeals to quantum mechanics and the bizarre behavior of quantum particles which seemingly appear to pop into existence from nothing to argue his case. However, it should be noted that quantum particles do not really pop into existence from nothing as philosophically understood to be “no-thing.” Rather, quantum particles derive from a quantum vacuum—a very physical thing with very physical properties and processes. Thus, while admittedly I am not a physicist nor a physicist’s son, Hawking’s claim is not honest with the scientific data.
This causes one to ask, do we have good reasons to believe in God’s existence? I would like to propose ten reasons why we can believe that he does. To be forthright, there are many, many more. These represent some of the more popular reasons to believe that there really is a God who transcends reality and a few that I think stand to reason by the very nature of the way the world works.
Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.
Original Blog Source: http://bit.ly/2qcNP6q
Mikel Del Rosario
Do you have to be absolutely certain about something like “God exists” before you can say that you actually know it? Christians who talk about the evidence for God sometimes get frustrated when skeptics challenge a basic premise like “everything that begins to exist has a cause,” by saying that we haven’t explored the entire universe to know if that’s true. Maybe you’ve heard a friend say you can’t actually know anything about God unless you’re absolutely sure about it.
But saying this is an either-or kind of thing is a false dilemma. In this post, I’ll explain why you don’t have to have 100% certainty before you can know that God is real.
No good reason for either-or-thinkingIn Philosophy, saying you have certainty about something means it’s impossible for you to be wrong. So, maybe saying “I exist” is one of the few things that fall into that category. But some skeptics say you can’t really know much about anything at all. Others say your beliefs aren’t justified even if they turn out to be true. For them, we can know almost nothing about God and our world since nobody can be absolutely certain about most things. But the idea that knowing something is the same as being absolutely sure about it turns out to be self-defeating. In fact, even though they say we can’t know much about anything, many seem to think they know enough to correct you if you say you know God is real.
Think about it. The hyper-skeptical view is that you can’t say you know that God exists unless it’s impossible for you to be wrong about it. But is there any good reason to say that knowledge is the same as certainty? No. For example, I know that I’m writing this post on my computer. But it’s possible that I’m just dreaming about it. Still, does the mere fact that it’s possible that I’m dreaming means that I can’t know that I’m using my computer? Of course not.
Skeptics think they know something you don’t when they say you’re wrongThe thing is, skeptics, do claim to know certain things. For example, “Since we can’t go back in time to watch the big bang, we can’t know that the universe had a beginning” or “since we haven’t yet discovered every possible naturalistic option, we can’t know that God caused the universe.” These are actually claims to know something. But how do they know that?
Some skeptics have told me that in order for you to know something, you have to be 100% sure that you know it. But can’t you know something even if you aren’t entirely sure that you know it? Sure you can. For example, imagine that you memorized all the correct answers to the review questions in your textbook for class. Even if you’re not sure what questions will be on the quiz, you have a pretty good guess that some of them will be. Unbeknownst to you, every single one of those questions you studied actually make up the entirety of next week’s quiz.
In this scenario, you would actually know all the answers to the questions on next week’s quiz. You’d know the answers to a quiz you haven’t taken yet—even if you don’t realize that you actually know the answers! Turns out, you don’t have to be 100% sure (or even aware) that you know something in order for you to actually know it.
If the evidence for God’s existence seems compelling to you, there’s no need to be shy or tentative about your beliefs. You don’t have to have 100% certainty before you can know that God is real.
Mikel Del Rosario helps Christians explain their faith with courage and compassion. He is a doctoral student in the New Testament department at Dallas Theological Seminary. Mikel teaches Christian Apologetics and World Religion at William Jessup University. He is the author of Accessible Apologetics and has published over 20 journal articles on apologetics and cultural engagement with his mentor, Dr. Darrell Bock. Mikel holds an M.A. in Christian Apologetics with highest honors from Biola University and a Master of Theology (Th.M) from Dallas Theological Seminary where he serves as Cultural Engagement Manager at the Hendricks Center and a host of the Table Podcast. Visit his Web site at ApologeticsGuy.com.
Original Blog Source: http://bit.ly/2TOqFVg
J. BRIAN HUFFLING DISCUSSION WITH DR. MICHAEL SHERMER ON GOD AND EVIL
I am not going to recount the whole debate. I am simply going to discuss some of the most important points and issues. (For those interested, Michael has a podcast of the debate/issue.)
What is ‘Evil’?
Michael was asked by the moderator, Adam Tucker (his thoughts on the discussion are here), to define what he meant by ‘evil.’ He said that evil is the intentional harm of a sentient being. There is no such thing, he said, of an entity that is evil, such as evil spirits, or anything that is pure evil.
I largely agree. Following Augustine, I hold that evil is simply the privation of good. In other words, evil is the corruption of a good thing. The classic example is blindness in the eye. The eye should have a certain power (sight) that it does not. It is lacking and is corrupted. Thus, it is physically evil. Then there is a moral evil. This happens when a person lacks virtues. Overall, though, Michael and I basically agree on what evil is and that there is no existing thing that is pure evil. For Christians, to exist is to somehow be like God, which is good. Further, following Aquinas, good seeks its perfection. Thus, there is a contradiction with an existing evil. Evil really has no goal or purpose in itself. Thus, an existing thing that is somehow good since it has being (in a sense like God) and that seeks its perfection cannot be pure evil.
At this point, we discussed the problem of evil and what it is exactly.
The Problem of Evil Briefly Stated
There are basically 2 forms of the problem of evil: the deductive form and the inductive form. The deductive form is also called the logical argument from evil and argues that the co-existence of the classical view of God and evil are logically impossible. This is the argument Michael used (from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy):
1. If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
2. If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.
3. If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.
4. If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.
5. Evil exists.
6. If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn’t know when evil exists or doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil.
7. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.
This argument makes several assumptions. The most problematic in my view is that God is morally perfect. Many, if not most, Christian theologians take it for granted that God is morally perfect. However, I would argue that God is not the kind of being to be moral. That is not to say he is not good; he is just not morally good. I have written that God is not a moral being. I have also written that God’s goodness does not depend on what he does, but what he is. How does this relate to the problem of evil? If it is indeed the case that God is not a moral being with obligations to man, it makes all the difference in the world. I will not rewrite the articles above on God, morality, and goodness. I will summarize those positions here as they relate to the problem of evil.
As I said in the debate, J. L. Mackie, a notorious atheist of the twentieth century, said that if one gives up a premise in the problem of evil as just laid out, then the problem doesn’t arise (see The Problem of Evil edited by Adams and Adams, page 1). This is exactly what I said we need to do. There are certain assertions/assumptions that have to be made in order for this argument (the problem of evil) to work. I argue that the assertion that God is a morally perfect being is false. If we take that out of the problem, the problem falls.
I am not suggesting this simply to get out of this argument. There are really good reasons for not thinking that God is a moral being, at least in the sense we normally mean when referring to humans being moral. When we say a person is moral, we mean that he behaves well and as he should. In other words, there is a prescribed way in which men are supposed to behave. If they do, they are moral. If they don’t, they are immoral.
I am arguing that God has no prescribed way in which he should behave. There are no obligations imposing on God. God transcends the category of morality like he transcends time and space. Morality is a created category wrapped up in what it means to be a human. Without created beings to live up to some objective standard that God has created him to live up to, there is no moral law.
If this is correct, then God is not a moral being and thus cannot be a morally perfect being. But this is the linchpin of the logical problem of evil as Michael has argued. Once this assertion is removed, as Mackie says, there simply is no logical problem of evil. There is no contradiction with an omnipotent, omniscient being existing alongside of evil. Thus, the problem of evil does not even arise.
All of this is to say that God has no obligation to how he orchestrates the universe. To say that God is morally obligated means that he has to treat his creation in a certain way. This is the basic thrust of the problem of evil. To put it another way, as Michael did at one point, the problem of evil boils down to this: “If God really does exist I would expect the universe to be different/better.” The assumption here is that God should operate the way we think he should. He doesn’t. The inference is that he doesn’t exist.
Again, if we take away the assumption/assertion that God is morally perfect then the problem of evil not only fails, it never gets off the ground. (Please remember we are talking about the academic/philosophical issue of evil and not the emotional/pastoral concern.)
This is not to say God is not good; he is just not morally good. He is metaphysically good and perfect. Given our definition of evil, this just means God lacks nothing. His existence is perfect and cannot be corrupted.
The story of Job illustrates my point that God is not obligated to treat his creatures in any certain way. In the opening chapters of Job God basically dares Satan to attack Job. God maintains to Satan that Job will not curse him (God). Satan agrees. The only caveat is that Satan cannot touch Job. Job’s family (except his wife) is killed, and he loses all of his many possessions. Yet he does not curse God. God gives Satan another chance, but this time Satan can inflict Job with disease; although he cannot kill him. Job is inflicted with sores and physical issues. Still, he does not curse God.
Job’s friends show up and stay with Job, silent, for a week. For many chapters after this Job’s friends argue about what Job did to bring this judgment upon him. They maintain that God would not do this without some (just) cause. Job maintained his innocence and wanted to take God to court and try him for being unjust.
At the end of the book, God shows up. Does he try to explain to Job why he did what he did? Does he offer a theodicy or defense for his actions? No. He basically asks Job where he was when God made all of the wonders of the world. Job cannot answer and repents. In short, God does not try to get off the hook, as it were. Rather he says, “I’m God, and you are not.”
I think this illustrates my point that God does not have to act in any certain way with his people. He is not unjust in dealing with Job the way he did. However, let’s put a human in the place of God and Satan in this story. If a human did to Job what God and Satan did, we would almost certainly say the human would be unjust. However, we would not, presumably, say that God is unjust. Why? Because he’s God. There is no standard by which to judge him. God transcends morality and yet is still perfectly good.
Philosophy vs. Science
This above point is one that I could not get Michael to acknowledge. He did not want to stray from his scientific position. (By ‘scientific’ I mean the modern sense of the word to refer to the natural sciences like biology and chemistry. This should be contrasted with the historical sense of a discipline’s conclusions being demonstrated via first principles and logic. In this latter sense, philosophy and theology were considered sciences.) This is unfortunate because the issues of God and evil are inherently philosophical. As I have written, natural science alone cannot demonstrate God’s existence. Thus, to adequately deal with the issues of the discussion we have to delve into philosophy. Michael would have none of it.
Michael’s main point here is that if God is not measurable, then we can’t know he exists. As I pointed out this is a category mistake as God is not a material being. Thus, even if he did exist, we could not measure him–which Michael acknowledged.
Throughout the debate, Michael approached the issue from the point of view of natural science. I approached it from philosophy. In short, the questions of God’s existence and evil cannot be decided by natural science since they are not physical things in the natural world to be studied: God is not a being in nature and evil is a description of the nature of being (a philosophical concept).
Michael offered a lot of red herrings. I will not deal with those here as they are, well, red herrings.
The problem of evil is not a problem concerning God’s existence if God is not a moral being. Further, questions of God’s existence and evil are inherently philosophical. If you are interested in this topic, I recommend Brian Davies’ The Reality of God and the Problem of Evil.
A Ministry for every member. A Commission for each congregant. What is it that you would like to see the church do better or be more involved in? Leading your own ministry could be the answer. Wish the church did more for seniors? Then open a website or social media account where you can tackle that very segment of the church.
Foundations are open up all the time, where individuals and groups have stated interests to tackle a certain belief. Some see poverty as an issue then start a foundation to tackle poverty the way they think will be successful. Others might see literacy as an issue, so they open a foundation to improve literacy and by connection improve the world. What if you started a ministry that would assist the church in her mission to make disciples. Then you could put your touch on an area of the church that would benefit from your passion to see improvement. Wish the church did more with our youth? Open a website that attacks the issue of your passion. When people operate in their passions success is easier achieved.
That’s the power behind starting your own website or social media page. Let’s help one another by building each other up, supporting efforts that benefit the Lord’s Body in this way. This approach can engage every member right where they are made to serve. The potential to have members labor in their love of work, building excitement that can be highly contagious. Join me and investigate how you can effect the area of church work that is a matter of your heart and mind.
What if the church encouraged and supported one another to develop personal businesses? Let’s call them Ministries because what I’m suggesting are personal businesses whose main purpose is the church itself. In other words what if, we helped each other start websites and social media venues whose purpose for being was to Evangelize the world. These business/ ministries are not about making money there about making disciples. Many churches put out great material week in and week out. The building church model limits the exposure of the Gospel when we fail to take it outside of the walls.
I just preached a sermon entitled, “Don’t Wait for the Lost to Come to You”. In that lesson I labored to make the point that the world did not come to God. God came to the world in the person Jesus. There are ways we can emulate that example. God’s sovereignty set up humanity by having men gather in synagogues where Jesus and the Apostles went to preach the Good News. Looking back, it sure seems to me that God was setting man up for the Word to be preached. It was the fullness of time, tailor made for the Gospel to explode. I see that man once again is being set up by the digital world. People are gathering in communities all over the internet. Why can’t the church go to those communities and sow the seed that is God’s Word? One simple way of doing this is to open Facebook Pages; Twitter accounts and Websites that repost the great material that many churches already produce.
An individual may want to focus in on an aspect of the preaching and teaching that comes out of their congregation and spread it out to their friends. Then by multiplication through the audience of each member the seed can be broadcast out into the world. There are many approaches and variations of this idea for spreading the Good News. Creativity and a desire to share what many have already experienced in the love of Christ can make this a monumental effort which can be scaled to serve any congregations needs. Join us to see what you can do to evangelize your world.
The question needs to be asked about the future of the Church. Where will we be five, ten; twenty years from now? Also what role will we play in making sure it is a healthy prosperous future? Do the citizens of the Church of Christ consider Personal Evangelism to be optional?
Over the next several months there will be suggestions for participating in personal evangelism. There must be ways for us to insert ourselves into the workings of the Church. This viable lively body that belongs to our Lord functions well when her members participate in her being. Strong active members make for a strong body. As members of that body, ask yourself do you participate in the health of the body.
Let's begin this series of encouragements by taking a good look at ourselves and preparing for the opportunities that will be presented to increase the health of the Church. What is your answer, is personal evangelism optional?
Let me take this opportunity to clarify what the Church of Christ in Brookfield's Vision is for 2017 as far as it goes in choosing the book of Acts as a text for 2017. We will find the vision in Luke 1:4 (NIV)
4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
We are presenting the Book of Acts that our membership may be certain of the things they have studied. Luke through inspiration of the Spirit lays out for us the work and mission of the Church. It is wise for us to heed this teaching of the Spirit of God and equip and edify the Saints in it's Doctrine. As we go through Acts there are several themes we will be able to present to the hearers of this oracle of life.
There are 8 themes I would like to share with you...
1. World Mission
2. Providence of God
3. Power of the Holy Spirit
4. Restored Israel
5. Inclusive Gospel
6. Faithful Witnesses
7. Relationship to the World
8. Triumph of the Gospel
Not to be overwhelming let me break these down once a week over the next eight weeks. I will post a blog giving you a little more information on each theme of Acts and you then can use it for your edification.
May we encourage the Church towards more faithfulness and fellowship in the community of His Saints.
Grace and Blessings,
Barry G Johnson, Sr.