Why the Ancient Christian Record About Jesus Is the Most Reliable

from Cold Case Christianity

What Does Christianity Say About the Nature of JesusWhen we examine ancient history in an attempt to understand the nature of Jesus, we discover there are three separate witness accounts we have to consider. First, of course, are the eyewitness accounts of the New Testament writers. But in addition to these, there are hostile gentile eyewitness accounts of the Greek world and hostile Jewish accounts of antiquity. How are we supposed to know which group we can trust? Let’s examine each group of witnesses using the four part template I employ to evaluate eyewitnesses in my cold-case investigations. We’ll begin by reviewing what the three witness groups say about the nature of Jesus:

Read on at: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/why-the-ancient-christian-record-about-jesus-is-the-most-reliable/#sthash.o9PHWpRk.dpuf

A Critique of Islam (William Lane Craig) – one hour+ video

A Defense for the Tenability of the Kalam Cosmological Argument

from Brian Chilton

Apologetics has assumed an enormous role in the ministry of evangelism in the twenty-first century. However, many still assess apologetics as an invalid enterprise. Some reject any attempt to prove God’s existence. Such would consider apologetic theories to be untenable or invalid. Such a one may be unaware as to the accurate data denoted in the data accessed by philosophers and apologists alike.

Among the more popular apologetics arguments today is the Kalam cosmological argument, an argument that has been theorized and popularized by philosopher William Lane Craig. The argument holds three premises that are as follows: “1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause. 2) The universe began to exist. 3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.”[1] The Kalam argument is succinct and pertinent to building a defensible case for the existence of God. But, is the Kalam argument tenable? If the Kalam cosmological argument can be shown to be a valid and tenable argument, then one could also suggest that apologetics in general is a valid enterprise for use in modern-day evangelism and discipleship.

The intention of this paper will be to demonstrate that the Kalam cosmological argument is a beneficial tool to utilize in order to explicitly defend the existence of God. This paper will accomplish this by evaluating the history of the argument. In addition, the paper will analyze each premise of the argument evaluating recent scientific data and theological understandings from Scripture. If each premise of the so-called argument is sound, then it can be acknowledged that the Kalam cosmological argument is tenable, and is viable for use by the philosopher and apologist. Finally, the paper will investigate and assess the implications of the theory to the modern church.

History of the Kalam Argument

Read on: http://pastorbrianchilton.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/a-defense-for-the-tenability-of-the-kalam-cosmological-argument/

I am the Vine, You are the Branches

from Life Project by Don Merritt 8 Comments

John 15:1-17

Today we continue our study of Jesus’ remarks to the disciples in the Upper Room.  Our passage is one of the best known in all of Scripture in which Jesus uses the illustration of a vine to describe key relationships within the Christian Life.  The text moves to its climax in verse 16 with the word “then” giving us a conditional statement that if our relationships are working together properly, “then” our requests will be granted.

This is the seventh and final “I Am” statement in the Gospel of John, and it is intended as an illustration of the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Church.  Jesus is the vine, the Father is the gardener and the disciples are the branches.  Notice that Jesus points out the fact that in a vine a branch has the function of bearing fruit, and no fruit can be borne by a branch that has been removed from the vine.  His point here is that the disciples must remain in Him in order to accomplish their purpose.  The Father as gardener will remove any branches that do not bear fruit, and prune the ones that do so that they may bear even more fruit… but what is “fruit”?  It is easy to say that He is referring to the making of new disciples, and certainly this is part of the answer.  Considering that the Father will be pruning individual branches as well as the entire vine, however there would seem to be something more involved.  In this case, it would be the removal of sin from our lives so that we will not only build new disciples, but that we would live such a life of love and purity that we would produce even more disciples than before.  One could say that this pruning involves God’s fine-tuning of our spiritual lives so as to bring about maximum growth not only in ourselves but as a result in the entire Christian community.

Here Jesus restates the “I Am’ in verses 5-6 and adds that we must remain in Him or we cannot produce anything.  Consider what happens when we attempt to produce spiritual fruit apart from Christ, entirely on our own… what is the result?  Usually the result is either nothing at all or the entry point for sin and wickedness into the community of believers.  One might even suggest that this is the formula for the development of cults in the extreme case. Much has been made of verse 6 in certain circles, but notice the word “like”.  If we do not remain in Him we are “like” branches that will be cast in the fire.  It did not say that we will be cast in the fire; repentance is an option, and most of us have had our times of straying and then come back to living “in Him”.

Verses 7-8 establish clear linkage between “remaining” and being disciples.  If we remain in Him… we will be seen as His disciples.  Remember that a disciple is one who knows what the Master knows (and my words remain in you) and who does what the Master does (bear fruit).  Thus, if we are His disciples in reality then He will answer our requests for His purpose.  It would go without saying that we wouldn’t be making selfish requests.

Jesus now introduces a second analogy to illustrate this relationship, and that is the relationship between the Father and the Son.  The illustration is Father/Son is the same relationship that is between Son/disciple.  The Father has loved the Son, and the Son has responded with love and obedience.  Therefore, since the Son has loved us, we must respond with obedience. To remain in His love is to have our joy made complete.

Going one step further now in 12-13, Jesus tells us exactly what obedience looks like: “Love one another as I have loved you.”  This is the command He is talking about, and as we saw a few sections back, this means putting others ahead of ourselves: always.  The Christian life has no room for self!  Verse 13 goes still further when Jesus mentions that the greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends.  In His case this meant the cross.  In our case, who knows the future?  One thing is clear however, to lay down our life of selfishness is paramount.

There is an interesting contrast between “servant” and “friend” in the last 3  verses, one that is even stronger than the NIV gives us, for the Greek word rendered “servant” (doulos) is the word for “slave”.  The contrast is clear: A slave is an inferior relationship while a friend is an equalrelationship.  Don’t get crazy just yet, for this equality is entirely conditional.  Go and bear fruit.  Love one another.  These are the conditions, and realize that the first will not happen until we accomplish the second.  Then the Father will grant whatever we ask.  This is the conditional nature of the Christian life, and the challenge before us today.  As our culture continues to crumble and the church falters what will we do? We will remain in Him, love one another and bear fruit!

Christ Is Like Sunlight

John Piper

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature. (Hebrews 1:3)

Jesus relates to God the way radiance relates to glory, or the way the rays of sunlight relate to the sun.

Keep in mind that every analogy between God and natural things is imperfect and will distort if you press it. Nevertheless, consider for example,

  1. There is no time that the sun exists without the beams of radiance. They cannot be separated. The radiance is co-eternal with the glory. Christ is co-eternal with God the Father.
  2. The radiance is the glory radiating out. It is not essentially different from the glory. Christ is God standing forth as separate but not essentially different from the Father.
  3. Thus the radiance is eternally begotten, as it were, by the glory — not created or made. If you put a solar-activated calculator in the sunlight, numbers appear on the face of the calculator. These, you could say, are created or made by the sun, but they are not what the sun is. But the rays of the sun are an extension of the sun. So Christ is eternally begotten of the Father, but not made or created.
  4. We see the sun by means of seeing the rays of the sun. So we see God the Father by seeing Jesus. The rays of the sun arrive here about eight seconds after they leave the sun, and the round ball of fire that we see in the sky is the image — the exact representation — of the sun; not because it is a painting of the sun, but because it is the sun streaming forth in its radiance.

So I commend this great Person to you that you might trust in him and love him and worship him. He is alive and sitting at the right hand of God with all power and authority and will one day come in great glory. He has that exalted place because he is himself God the Son.

41 Quotes from Michael Green’s “Evangelism in the Early Church”

from Matt Capps blog

GreenIn seminary I was introduced to Michael Green as part of my reading in an independent study on evangelism with Dr. John Hammett at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Green is a British theologian, Anglican priest, Christian apologist and author of more than 50 books. Green’s last appointment was Senior Research Fellow and Head of Evangelism and Apologetics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford in 1997. If you are unfamiliar with Green, here is an introduction to his classic book Evangelism in the Early Church.

Read them at http://mattcapps.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/41-quotes-from-michael-greens-evangelism-in-the-early-church/

One Anthem

from Tony Reinke

This may be my favorite quote from the pen of Hannah More (1745–1833), the poet, reformer, and abolitionist. I found it in The Works of Hannah More (New York; Harper & Bros., 1846), 1:434:

What a triumph for the humble Christian to be assured, that ‘the high and lofty One which inhabiteth eternity,’ condescends at the same time to dwell in the heart of the contrite — in his heart! To know that God is the God of his life, to know that he is even invited to take the Lord for his God. To close with God’s offers, to accept his invitations, to receive God as his portion, must surely be more pleasing to our heavenly Father, than separating our happiness from his glory.

To disconnect our interests from his goodness, is at once to detract from his perfections, and to obscure the brightness of our own hopes. The declarations of inspired writers are confirmed by the authority of the heavenly hosts. They proclaim that the glory of God and the happiness of his creatures, so far from interfering, are connected with each other. We know but of one anthem composed and sung by angels, and this most harmoniously combines ‘the glory of God in the highest with peace on earth and good will to men.’ …

This God is our God — God, even our own God, shall bless us. How delightful the appropriation! To glorify him as being in himself consummate excellence, and to love him from the feeling that this excellence is directed to our felicity! Here modesty would be ingratitude; disinterestedness rebellion.

This is a beautiful description of what we now call Christian Hedonism.

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