Saturday, March 31, 2018

What is the Gospel?

The Gospel

It's a term many of us are aware of, and most of us have heard used countless times through out our lives. But what is the Gospel exactly? What is this good news that has been handed down for thousands of years, surviving persecution and the test of time; this message of hope so powerful that untold millions have been willing to lay down their lives so that future generations might hear it?

That you are completely known by God, and are completely loved by Him. No matter who you are, or where you have come from, the creator of the universe knows you by name. He knows everything about you, every detail of who you are, good and bad, and He loves you. But our sin--the bad things we have done--separates us from God and his love and leads to brokenness in our lives and evil in the world around us. People try to fix the brokenness we feel with other things; religion, drugs, alcohol, relationships and possessions, but nothing will ever satisfy the emptiness in our hearts--the longing to be made whole. Ultimately our sins lead us all to death. But God loves you and I so much that He was willing to die in our place so that the death penalty for all our sins would be paid in full--paid with His own blood.

Not only that, He rose from the dead three days later to prove to you and I that He is God and to show us that through faith in Jesus Christ we too can have the assurance--the absolute, beyond a shadow of a doubt promise--that we will live forever with Him when we die. All you have to do is trust Jesus and give him control of your life.

It's not about the good that you do. Eternal life isn't your reward for a good life or religious piety. Salvation is a free gift for those who will simply say yes to it.

That is the Gospel: the message of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ, the savior of man-kind.

So now that you have heard the Gospel, what will you do with it? Will you believe?

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Heart of the Matter

In the wake of the senseless, mass-shooting in Las Vegas this past weekend, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved: the victims and their families, the first-responders and members of law enforcement, the doctors and nurses, and the family of Stephen Paddock who also lost a loved one to this tragedy.

It is at times like these that many of us question how anyone could carry out such a horrendous act of violence. Was it something that could be prevented? Could the government have done something to stop the senseless killing of so many innocent people? Will they be able to prevent future attacks from taking place?

Sadly, I believe that the issue at the core of this most recent act of mass-murder—and indeed all other mass-murders in history—is something that no human institution can control or prevent. It is not a political hot-topic or a difference in ideologies, but rather a spiritual propensity for evil present in every living person: Sin. That is to say, rebellion against God and what He has ordained.

The Bible makes this clear in Jeremiah 17:9 which reads: "the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bade it is?” (New Living Translation)

Likewise, Jesus also taught that evil comes from within a person's heart, not from the outside.

"For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. ..."
~Matthew 15:19-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

That said, the first sin recorded in the Bible was rebellion—choosing to disobey a direct commandment from God. (Genesis 3) When Adam and Eve sinned, they were not only rejecting God, they were also making themselves god in their own minds—trusting their own moral judgment over God's literal word. Rather than continuing to live in a perfect world that God Himself had called "good", they chose instead to let evil and the knowledge thereof into their hearts. Is it any surprise then that the next recorded sin, found in the very next chapter of Genesis, is when Cain murdered his brother Abel? (Genesis 4:1-16)

The Bible makes it very clear: Sin—rebellion against God—leads directly to death and murder. This is why God explicitly condemned murder when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20.

Is it any wonder then that we find ourselves living in a country where acts of mass-murder have become commonplace, when so many Americans seek to remove the Ten Commandments from our courthouses, parks, and other public spaces? Think about it. As a nation, we have worked tirelessly to remove any and all mention of God and His commandments from our country. Rather than relying on the universal law given to all mankind by the only sovereign law-giver, we have instead turned to our own moral judgment for guidance. 
But if the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, then how can we trust our own moral judgment? If truth is whatever you want to make it; human life is meaningless, and we are all "just animals," then what is to stop someone from behaving like an animal by committing mass-murder?

The sad truth of the matter is, that until this nation stops denying the God who says that murder is wrong, we will never see an end to senseless acts of violence. Murder comes from within a person's sinful heart and we are all sinners. (Romans 3:10-18, 3:23) But there is hope for the hopelessness of humanity; a man of sorrows, antiquated with grief—someone who knows all too well the pain that so many are going through. (Isaiah 53

In his speech following the worst mass-shooting in recent history, President Donald Trump said, "In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness."

I would present to you that Jesus is that light—The Light of the World. And if we follow him we won't have to walk in darkness, because we will have the light that leads to eternal life.  (John 8:12)

The heart of the matter is this: Our world is broken and in desperate need of a savior. Jesus is that Savior. If you put your trust in him, believing that he died specifically for you and your sins, and that he rose from the dead three days later proving to the entire world that he is God, then you will be saved. God's spirit will join to your spirit. He will begin to heal your sinful heart and will give you lasting hope and peace. 

"Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land."

~2 Chronicles 7:14 New Living Translation (NLT)

Monday, July 31, 2017

What happened to the Canaanites?

    What happened to the Canaanites? According to Bible, God ordered the children of Israel to annihilate the inhabitants of Canaan, leaving nothing alive. (Deuteronomy 20:15-18)  However, a recent study published in The American Journal of Human Genetics has revealed that modern-day Lebanese share almost 90% of their genome with the ancient Canaanites. This implies that the Canaanites where not wiped out, but in fact continued to live and thrive in the region well into the modern era. Furthermore, many of the articles detailing the recent genetic findings have been keen to point out that there is no evidence that Canaanite cities were ever destroyed or abandoned, according to the most recent archaeological data. 

   Therefore, it would seem that these new developments have at last provided solid evidence in contradiction to the Old Testament, thus disproving the Biblical account and vindicating atheism once and for all. The Bible is debunked at last!

     Or is it?

    According to Deuteronomy 6:10-13, God not only promised to give the Israelites the land of Canaan, but also the cities and houses therein, as well as the crops and other possessions of the Canaanites.

 "The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant..."
~Deuteronomy 6:10-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

    It seems apparent, based on this passage, that we would find little to no archaeological evidence of destruction or long-term abandonment of Canaanite cities for the simple reason that the Israelites occupied the cities immediately after destroying and/or taking possession of everything in them. This is further supported by Joshua chapters 13-23, which record in great detail the division of Canaanite lands, cities, and villages among the Israelite tribes west of the Jordan River.

    That said, there is still the issue of genetics. Scientific data doesn't lie. But neither does the Bible. So if the Israelites destroyed the Canaanites, how can modern people groups share DNA with the ancient inhabitants of Canaan? The answer is simple: The Israelites did not wipe out all of the Canaanites.

   In Joshua 2, the Bible records the story of Rahaba Canaanite prostitute living in Jericho who aided spies sent out ahead of Joshua and the Israelite army. In exchange for her help, the two spies promised to spare Rahab and her family when they took the city. True to their word, they kept their promise in Joshua 6:

   "Meanwhile, Joshua said to the two spies, 'Keep your promise. Go to the prostitute’s house and bring her out, along with all her family.'

   "The men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all the other relatives who were with her. They moved her whole family to a safe place near the camp of Israel.

   "Then the Israelites burned the town and everything in it. Only the things made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron were kept for the treasury of the Lord’s house. So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day."
~Joshua 6:22-25 New Living Translation (NLT)

    After Rahab and her family were spared at Jericho, Rehab married an Israelite man named Salmon. Together they had a son named Boaz (you can read more about him in the book of Ruth) who was not only an ancestor of King David, but also of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1:5) So from a purely genetic standpoint, Jesus Christ himself had traces of Canaanite DNA.

    In addition to sparing Rahab's entire family, the Israelites also inadvertently spared the powerful city-state of Gibeon in Joshua 6, when the leaders of the Gibeonites deceived Joshua into forming an alliance with them, in direct violation of God's commands in Exodus 23:32-33 and Deuteronomy 7:2. This resulted in a coalition of five Canaanite city-states marching against Gibeon and Israel in Joshua 10. However, Joshua and the Israelites proved victorious and lay claim to the entire region.

   "So Joshua conquered the whole region—the kings and people of the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills, and the mountain slopes. He completely destroyed everyone in the land, leaving no survivors, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded. Joshua slaughtered them from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza and from the region around the town of Goshen up to Gibeon. Joshua conquered all these kings and their land in a single campaign, for the Lord, the God of Israel, was fighting for his people."
~Joshua 10:40-42 New Living Translation (NLT)

    However, despite these victories, the Israelites failed to completely drive out the inhabitants of Canaan, as recorded in Joshua 13:1-6.
    "When Joshua was an old man, the Lord said to him, 'You are growing old, and much land remains to be conquered. This is the territory that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and the Geshurites, and the larger territory of the Canaanites, extending from the stream of Shihor on the border of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron. It includes the territory of the five Philistine rulers of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron. The land of the Avvites in the south also remains to be conquered. In the north, the following area has not yet been conquered: all the land of the Canaanites, including Mearah (which belongs to the Sidonians), stretching northward to Aphek on the border of the Amorites; the land of the Gebalites and all of the Lebanon mountain area to the east, from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo-hamath; and all the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, including all the land of the Sidonians.*

    "'I myself will drive these people out of the land ahead of the Israelites. So be sure to give this land to Israel as a special possession, just as I have commanded you.'"
~Joshua 13:1-6 New Living Translation (NLT) [Emphasis Added]

    Following the death of Joshua (Joshua 24:29-31, Judges 2:6-9) the Israelites continued to fight against the people of Canaan, but failed to wipe them out completely. (Judges 1:19-36) Shortly thereafter, the people of Israel abandoned God's commands altogether. (Judges 2:10-15) Instead of wiping out the Canaanites and the other people living in the land, they began to intermarry, adopting both their customs and their gods.

   "So the people of Israel lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and they intermarried with them. Israelite sons married their daughters, and Israelite daughters were given in marriage to their sons. And the Israelites served their gods."
~Judges 3:5-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

   This pattern continues throughout the book of Judges and indeed much of the Old Testament, with Canaanites and people descended from Canaanites mentioned time and time again. Therefore, it is clear from the Biblical text that the Israelites did not succeed in wiping out the Canaanites, and in most cases did exactly the opposite. Thus, even though the Canaanites' cultural identity has been lost to time, their genetics remain in living populations today.

   In conclusion: the presence of Canaanite DNA in living populations does not disprove the Bible in any way, shape, or form, and in fact affirms the validity and reliability of God's Word. 

* (The genetic research team conducted their tests in the Lebanese city of Sidon, the same region mentioned in Joshua 13:6)


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Third Year

"Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
"So Jesus told them this story: 'If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!'
"'Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.'"

~Luke 15:1-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

   Today marks the three year anniversary of The Evidence is Plain: Thoughts and Musings on Christianity. Over the past three years God has been using this blog as a means of delivering His Good News
the Gospel of Jesus Christ all over the world. It has been an interesting journey to say the least, but God has always been there, reaching out, searching for those who are lost, calling them to Himself. 
    It has truly been a blessing to be a part of His work, thus far. But the work is far from over. There are still millions of people who have not yet heard the Good News. And I am eager to see what God will do in the future. 

"And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations
 will hear it; and then the end will come."

~Matthew 24:14 New Living Translation (NLT)


Monday, March 13, 2017

Sacred Marriage

"... For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
 For a husband is the head of his wife as is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
"For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body.
"As the Scriptures say, 'A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
~Ephesians 5:22-33 New Living Translation (NLT)

     All throughout the New Testament, God uses the sacred union of man and wife as an illustration of His love for us who are called by His name. It is a beautiful illustration, and if you grew up in the church you have probably heard it used more times than you can remember. But have you ever stopped to wonder why the authors of the New Testament used marriage as an analogy for the relationship between Christ and the church? If not, that's perfectly fine. I didn't really give it much thought either. Until I married my wife, that is.

     Ever since I was young I had heard it said that men and women think differently. And indeed it is true, the minds of women are complex, multi-tasking machines that can think of multiple concepts, and feel multiple emotions at once; while the male mind is generally much more regimented—we compartmentalize our thoughts and feelings, focusing most, if not all, of our mental energy on a single task or thought until the task is completed or the thought is fully exhausted. We then put it out of our mind and move on to something else.

     The difference in the mental processes between men and women has been attributed to the fact that the longitudinal fissure (the deep grove separating the right and left hemispheres of the brain) is much shallower in women, thus allowing the left and right hemispheres of their brains to communicate much more easily than those of their male counterparts. This biological difference is what gives women their incredible multi-tasking abilities, while at the same time granting men the ability to compartmentalize their thoughts and emotions.
    This means that my wife may still be thinking about something long after I've moved on to something else, and that she might continue to dwell on it until the issue is adequately resolved--which may be days, weeks, or sometimes even months later. I, on the other hand, usually seem to forget about things as soon as the conversation is over, because in my mind, the issue is resolved.
     More often than not, this difference in the way our minds work has lead my wife and I into many  late-night conversations, during which my wife has had to patiently explain to me all of the details of when the issue first occurred so that I can go through my mental filing cabinet and remember what it was we were talking about in the first place. Most of the time, when all is said and done, I find out that all she really wanted was a hug and to hear me say: "I love you."

    Even though I knew of these biological and mental differences between men and women, it was not until I was a few months into my marriage that I began to understand their true significance in the grand scheme of things.

    The way that women can remember details and emotions (both negative and positive) long after the events actually happened is very reminiscent of how we all remember every mistake we've ever made. We know we are sinners, and we can easily let ourselves dwell on the shortcomings of our past. Yet God has said that we are loved, that He has forgiven us, and that He no longer remembers our sins after we give our lives to Him. (Psalms 103:12, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8-10 etc.)

    This is one of the reasons I feel that God used marriage as an illustration for His relationship with his people throughout scripture. He loves us unconditionally and has forgiven us through Jesus Christ. He no longer remembers the sins of those who have put their trust in Him because of what Jesus has done for us. We no longer need to dwell on things that have passed, nor do we need to remember the sins God has cleansed us of. We are blameless in His sight, a bride dressed in white waiting for her groom. (Revelation 19:6-9)

     That said, because marriage is a picture of God's love and forgiveness for those who will trust in Him, our enemy the Devil will stop at nothing to destroy marriage—it is an affront to him and his agenda. In the past few decades, he has grown increasingly bold in his attacks against marriage, seeking to destroy families by marring and redefining this symbol of God's love by any means necessary.

    Therefore, we must be willing to stand up and fight to defend this sacred union between husband (man) and wife (woman) by living out our own marriages the way God intended. (Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Peter 3:1-7) We must also remember to pray for one another, and for our own spouses. If your marriage is in danger don't surrender—fight! Divorce is lawful only in the case of marital unfaithfulness, and even then God meant for it to be be used as a last resort, not a quick and easy way out. Giving up on each other is never an option in God's eyes. (Matthew 5:32, Mark 10:1-12, Luke 16:18) So if your marriage is in trouble, don't get a divorceget help, and get help togetherThe last thing you want to do is let your marriage become another notch in the Devil's belt.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Greatest of Missed Opportunities

A few weeks ago, my wife and I had an incredible opportunity to sit down and talk with one of my co-workers about Christ. The young woman I work with was scrolling through her Facebook feed one day when she came across one of the articles I had shared from this blog: What Makes a Person a Christian? She contacted me shortly thereafter and asked if it would be possible to meet and talk more in person.

Now, even though I've been writing articles on Christianity for almost three years, I have rarely engaged people in face-to-face conversations about my faith. In fact, most of the conversations I have had in the past have mostly consisted of me listening to others explain why they don't believing in "organized religion," and have therefore been very one-sided to say the least. Suffice it to say, I initially interpreted this young woman's interest with skepticism. However, I soon realized that she was indeed interested, not only in asking questions about my faith, but also in listening to what I had to say. (When a person arrives at a meeting with notes and questions prepared ahead of time, you know they're interested!)

About halfway through what ended up being a three-hour conversation, we began discussing the topic of salvation and what makes a person right with God. I explained that the Bible teaches us that it isn't about what we can do for God that makes us righteous, but rather what He has done for us; that we are all sinners who can never be good enough to make ourselves right with God, and that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, not by being a good person or reading the bible or going church on Sunday. We also talked about the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25) and how Christians are not saved by the way we live, but rather live the way we do out of a grateful heart because we have been saved. (We follow God out of love and therefore our lives change as a result.)

After we had discussed these things for about an hour or so she said something that really struck me. She said: "This makes a lot of sense … I feel like this is how things are supposed to be. But why haven't I heard this before? I'm 26 years old and no one has ever explained it (Christianity) to me like this. It's so simple! Why isn't anyone talking about this?"

It was a very good question, and to be quite honest, it was not one that I was prepared for. Here was a young woman who had grown up in small town America, surrounded by churches and Christians, and yet had never heard the Gospel—the Good News about Jesus Christ.

After thinking about it for a moment, I said at last, "I'm not sure ... I guess a lot of it has to do with our culture. People assume that others don't want to talk about religion, so often times we just keep it to ourselves."

Sadly, I feel that too often this is indeed the case. We who have been entrusted with sharing the Good News about Jesus Christ to the whole world fall silent when it comes to those closest to us. We feel that people living in our culture today don't want to hear about God. But I now feel that nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, there will be those in our lives who will oppose the truth. But there will also be those like this young woman who not only want to talk about "religion," but also want to hear the truth of what God has done for them. Like the Bible says:

 "For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, 'Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.' Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'
"But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, 'How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!'"
~Romans 10:10-15 New Living Translation (NLT)

The greatest of missed opportunities is the opportunity standing right in front of us—the unsaved people God has placed in our lives. But be encouraged Christian; God is with us! His spirit is going before us to prepare the way for His Gospel. The harvest is ripe, but the workers are few, and we all need to be willing to go into the fields and do the work God has planned for us. (Matthew 9:35-38)

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Go Therefore

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Of Church and State

"Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

"Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority."
~Romans 13:1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

"Dear friends, I warn you as 'temporary residents and foreigners' to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

"For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

"It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king."
~1 Peter 2:11-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

There has been much said these past few weeks in regards to the recent election of President Donald J. Trump. Some Americans are outraged; others are overjoyed, while still others are cautiously optimistic. Yet in the midst of all the hysteria and rancor one thing remains certain: God is in control. He has a plan, and what He has planned will come to pass whether we want it to or not.

That being said and regardless of your opinions on the new President of the United States, if you call yourself a Follower of Christ then you are duty-bound to pray for our leaders and respect them. Whether they are godly or godless, they are still God's anointed. (1 Timothy 2:1-6, 1 Samuel 24, 1 Samuel 26)

When the Apostles Paul and Peter wrote about submitting to the authorities in the scriptures, they were speaking to people suffering horrific persecution under the Roman Empire. At that time, calling yourself a Christian would undoubtedly result in arrest, torture, and death. Yet even in the face of injustice, the early Church was told to submit to the authorities, to pray for them, and to show them respect.

Ultimately both Apostles would lose their life as a result of the gospel—Paul was beheaded in prison and Peter was crucified—yet they never denied Christ, nor did they rescind God's Word.

Therefore, as Followers of Christ, we are to submit to those God has appointed to rule over us. We are to pray for them and show them proper respect as God's anointed, regardless of how we feel about them.

That said; let us be mindful of the words we speak. For Jesus himself said, "... If you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell ... I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak." (Mathew 5:22, 12:36 New Living Translation)

"Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. " 
~1 Thessalonians 4:1 New Living Translation (NLT)

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tax the Church?

Once again it is the political season here in the United States, and with only one week remaining until the 2016 elections there has been much talk of values, presidential candidates, and amendments to our national and state constitutions. One particular topic that I have had the privilege of debating lately has been the issue of whether or not the Church should be taxed.

Currently, churches in America are classified as non-profit organizations, and are therefore tax-exempt. However, since the Church is often viewed as a "religious institution," there are many who feel that the government should revoke the Church's non-profit status. These individuals often believe that it is wrong for any religion to take their money, to which I would agree. According to the Bible, tithes and offerings are just that—offerings. That is to say, they are meant to be voluntary, not mandatory. (I go over this in greater detail in my previous article: Money and the Church

That being said and contrary to popular belief, most churches are not government funded; they are funded by the donations of their members, not your tax dollars. Which is why I find it so fascinating that those who are the strongest advocates for taxing churches often times have never stepped foot in a church themselves, much less given a tithe or donation to the church. Ergo: Their money is not going to the churchor any religious institution for that matter. Which begs the question: Why do people care so much what other people do with their own money, when it's really none of our concern? If our neighbors want to donate to their church then that's completely up to them. What right do we have to tell them they can't or shouldn't do what they feel lead to do?

That being said, some would argue that tithes and offerings are just a way for religion to rob people. However, as stated before, these offerings are voluntary, and are usually a small percentage of what a person actually makes. (The word "Tithe" literally means "One-tenth.") Furthermore, since churches are classified as non-profit organizations, this means that any tithe or offering given to a church automatically becomes tax-deductible. This means that anyone who gives money to their church can claim that money as a tax write-off, just as they would any other donation to a charity or non-profit organization. (This is of course a poor reason to donate to your church, but it is a valid argument against taxing churches.)

Additionally, many people base their tithe on their gross income. That is to say, their ten-percent tithe comes out of their income before taxes. This means that if the government begins to tax the Church, they will literally be taxing Christians twice; once when they tax our income, and again when they tax our churches. 

In short, stripping the Church of its non-profit status will essentially turn Christians into a cash-cow for government spending. The government would be able to tax Christian's twice, while at the same time penalize people who donate to their local churches by invalidating the tax-deductible status of the aforementioned donations. Thus the government would be able to use a person's faith to their advantage, doubling the tax revenue from Christians without having to give any of it back as a tax return. Not only is this course immoral and unethical, it is also a blatant violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

That being said, I hope you will consider the facts and weigh all the evidence before casting your vote this political season.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Debunked: Jesus vs. Mithras


1) Born of a virgin

2) Born in a cave/stable. Was placed in a manger. Birth heralded by angles and a star in the east. Was visited by three magi. 

3) Worshiped by his followers on Sunday, "The Lords Day" instead of on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

 Had twelve disciples.

5) Was a child-teacher in the Temple at age 12.

6) Had a 3 year ministry as a traveling teacher. Preached a "Sermon on the Mount," was Transfigured.

7) Performed many miracles, cast out demons, raised the dead, and walked on water, etc.

8) Crucified between two criminals, buried for three days, rose from the dead.

9) Called by many Messianic titles. ie. "the Lamb of God," "Messiah", "The way, the truth, and the life," "Son of Man," "God's Son." etc.

10) Came to die sacrificially in order to fulfill the Law for the redemption of mankind. 


1)  Born out of a rock. Not only was he not "virgin born", he was not even born of a living thing.

2) As stated above, Mithras was not born. Therefore there was no manger, star, or magi in any of the Mithra narratives. However, his followers did celebrate his "birth" on December 25th. That being said, Christ's birth most likely occurred some time between late spring and early autumn, based on scriptural evidence. (ie. shepherds staying with their flocks in open pasture overnight.) It was not until the mid 330s AD that "Christmas" began to be celebrated on December 25th. 

3) Mithras was worshiped on Sunday only by members of the Roman Mithraic traditions in the cult's later years, (ca. 155-300 AD) well after New Testament times and the establishment of Christianity. 

4)  There is no mention of any disciples in Mithraic tradition. However there is one depiction of him surrounded by the twelve signs of the Zodiac Calendar. That being said, this iconography and indeed the Cult of Mithra itself, originated in post-Christian times, and therefore did not inspire the depiction of Christ and his disciples. Rather, the founders of Mithraism plagiarized themes and existing iconography found in Christianity, and incorporated them into their "Mystery Cult."  

5) Was never a child-teacher. In fact, there is no mention of him being a teacher at all. 

6) Had no ministry to speak of. 

7) Mithras undoubtedly performed many miracles, like any ancient deity. However there is virtually no record of any such miracles ever being preformed. The few miracles and "great deeds" we do know of however, do not coincide with any miracle preformed by Jesus Christ.  

8) There is no evidence in any Mithraic tradition of Mithras ever dying, much less a crucifixion. The only evidence of an alleged "resurrection" is recorded by the ancient historian Tertullian, who records that members of the Mythras Cult reenacted resurrection scenes as part of their secretive rituals. But this took place long after Christianity had been established. (ca. 150-240 AD ) That being said, we know more about the post-Christian practices of the Cult of Mithras than we do their actual beliefs!

9) Was not called by any Messianic titles except for "mediator." However, unlike Jesus, Mithras did not mediate on behalf of sinners, but rather between the squabbling gods of good and evil in Zoroastrianism. That being said, Mithras was a sun-god, and therefore was often associated with the sign Leo in astrology. So one could argue that he does have some connection with lion iconography, though he is never once referred to as "the lion and the lamb."

10) Mithras did not die sacrificially. Nor did he die for the redemption of mankind. In fact, Mithras did not die at all. The only time Mithras did anything to "save humanity" was when he killed a mythological bull (the Tauroctony), which later became the source of all life on earth. Furthermore, according to Mithraic tradition, when Mithras' time on earth had ended, he returned to paradise in a chariot, alive and well. He was not buried, and did not rise from the dead.


Jesus is not based on Mithras.

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Is Jesus a myth?

What is Mithraism?

Related Articles on this Blog:

Debunked: Jesus vs. Horus

Mythology and the Messiah

Friday, September 16, 2016

Debunked: Jesus vs. Horus


1) Born of a virgin.

2) Born in a cave/stable. Was placed in a manger. Birth heralded by angles and a star in the east. Was visited by three magi. 

3) Was baptized at age 30 by John the Baptizer. John the Baptizer was later beheaded.

4) Had twelve disciples.

5) Was a child-teacher in the Temple at age 12.

6) Had a 3 year ministry as a traveling teacher. Preached a "Sermon on the Mount," and was Transfigured.

7) Performed many miracles, cast out demons, raised the dead, and walked on water.

8) Crucified between two criminals, buried for three days, rose from the dead.

9) Called by many Messianic Titles. ie. "The Lamb of God," "Messiah", "The way, the truth, and the life," "Son of Man," "God's Son." etc.

10) Came to die sacrificially in order to fulfill the Law for the redemption of mankind. 


1) Was born out of a sexual union between Isis (the name "Isis-Meri" is not found anywhere in Egyptian mythology) and Osiris. He was not "born of a virgin."

2) Was born in a swamp on the Nile Delta. There is no mention of angles, a manger, magi, or star in any Horus narrative.

3) Was never baptized. No one named "Anup the Baptizer" exists in Horus Mythology.

4)  Had four regular disciples, (Heru-Shemsu) sixteen temporary followers (mentioned only once) and an indeterminate number of followers who joined him in battle at one point in the narrative. (Mesnui) He did not have twelve disciples. 

5) No effort is made in the narrative to give us continuous, chronological information on Horus' childhood. He did not teach in any temple at age 12.

6) Had no ministry. He never preached a "Sermon on the Mount", and was never Transfigured.  

7) Performed some miracles (like all ancient gods) but never cast out demons, raised the dead, or walk on water at any point in the ancient narrative.

8) Was never crucified. In fact, in most of the Egyptian myths, Horus never "died" at all. He lost an eye in a battle with his uncle Set in one account, and merged with Re/Ra (the Sun God) in another. In this account Horus "dies" and is "reborn" each day with the setting and rising of the sun. 
Another, more obscure version of the story says that Horus was killed, cut into pieces and thrown into the Nile. His mother Isis then sends a crocodile to retrieve the pieces of his corpse which she then sews back together and reanimates with magic. (Much like the Osiris myth.) That being said, there is no crucifixion, three-day burial, or resurrection to be found in any Horus narrative.

9) No Messianic Title was ever used in regard to Horus. ie. "The way, the truth, and the life," "Messiah," "Lamb of God," "Son of Man," etc. He was instead known as the "Great God," "Master of Heaven," "Chief of Powers," and "Avenger of his Father." (Osiris)
(The Egyptian word "krst" means "Burial" and is not a title at all. While the word "isua" which supposedly means "Holly Child" dose not even exist in ancient Egyptian, and is therefore not found in any of the Horus myths.)

10) There was no Egyptian "Law" for Horus to fulfill. He did not die sacrificially, if he even died at all (see 8.)


Jesus is not based on Horus.

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