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Book Jacket

0736915788
Mass Paperback
144 pages
Mar 2005
Harvest House Publishers

One-Minute Answers: The Evidence for Christianity

by Ralph Muncaster

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt

Excerpt:

Contents

    Everyone Has Questions

    One:
    God and His Actions

    Two:
    Jesus

    Three:
    The Holy Spirit and the Trinity

    Four:
    The Resurrection

    Five:
    Creation vs. Evolution

    Six:
    Manuscript Evidence

    Seven:
    Historical Evidence

    Eight:
    Prophetic Evidence

    Nine:
    Scientific Evidence

    Ten:
    Why God Allows Suffering

    Eleven:
    Bible Difficulties and Apparent Contradictions

    How to Have a Personal Relationship with God

    How to Talk About Jesus

    Further References, Sources, and Reading

    One
    God and His Actions

    1. Is there evidence that God exists?
      Many people proclaim we could never prove the existence of God. Some even use this as an excuse for not believing in God. However, God’s existence can be in essence proven using the same standards of proof that we use every day. In particular, his existence can be proven by definition (similar to the definition proofs used in solving algebraic equations). When God is defined as the Creator of the universe, we are immediately faced with the mutually exclusive alternatives as to whether the universe came about through a random process or by special creation (by God). Now we are in a position to prove mathematically that random evolution is impossible, leaving the existence of God as the only option.

      A second form of proof is probabilistic proof, using statistics. Engineers build bridges and design cars based on probability. Physicists predict eclipses and send people to the moon based on probabilistic equations. The incredible prophecy in the Bible indicates divine inspiration, which can be proven using probability to the same degree that many common laws of physics have been.

      The final form of proof that we use is legal proof. This is used for “one-time” events such as a robbery (or a resurrection). This form of proof, though less reliable than the first two types, requires things like eyewitness testimony and circumstantial evidence—things that are available to analyze, for example, the resurrection of Jesus and his claim to be God in human flesh. See A Skeptic’s Search for God.

    2. How can I trust evidence for a God I can’t see, touch, or feel?
      We can’t see, touch, or feel magnetism either, but we trust it every day of our lives. (It’s responsible for the generation of electricity.) Likewise, we can’t see, touch, or feel gravity—only its effects—yet we know it exists, and we depend on it every day as well (or we’d all be floating off into space). Likewise, we can readily see the evidence of God. Take creation, for instance—the creation of the heavens and the earth and life itself has made God’s existence and qualities obvious since the beginning of time. The Bible says that people are therefore, “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

    3. Isn’t it circular reasoning to use the Bible to prove God with statistical prophecy?
      This is not the case when outside sources are used to prove the divine nature of the Bible’s inspiration beyond doubt.

      First, we know that Old Testament Scripture was written hundreds of years before Christ (we have manuscripts actually written centuries before the time of Jesus—see chapter six). The Bible contains more than 600 specific, historical prophecies—all precisely fulfilled and verified by a variety of historical records (see chapter eight). Some of these prophecies include exact descriptions of amazing events. They also foretell names of people in key roles and even predict the exact years and days of the occurrence of some of the most important Biblical events—hundreds of years in advance. History and archaeology outside the Bible confirm the divine prophecies and insights in the Bible.

      Second, the Bible contains many scientific insights, recorded some 3000 years before science discovered these facts (see chapter nine). Only in the last few centuries have discoveries confirmed these insights into physics, medicine, and other fields.

    4. Why doesn’t God simply reveal himself in a “blaze of glory”?
      First of all, God did reveal himself this way during the formational period of the Israelite nation, while the Old Testament was being written down. At that time, there was no evidence from Jesus, and no Bible such as we have today, to provide evidence. Such demonstrations, therefore, seemed more warranted.

      However, today we have everything that is necessary to believe. As indicated in question 1, we can virtually prove the existence of God using common human standards of proof. Beyond that, God expects us to seek him to build belief, and ultimately to accept him based on faith (Hebrews 11:6).

    5. Do any other holy books provide evidence of God’s involvement?
      The Bible tells us to test everything and “hold onto the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Furthermore, it tells us to use 100-percent-perfect prophecy to know if something is from God (Isaiah 46:10; Deuteronomy 18). The Bible passes this test superbly, with hundreds of specific historical prophecies that have all been fulfilled with no errors. There is no other holy book with significant fulfilled historical prophecy.

      The Book of Mormon and the Mormon book Doctrine and Covenants, for example, have failed prophecies (even though they were actually written centuries after the fact anyway). The writings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are filled with failed prophecies. And the Quran has virtually no historical prophecies (the one historical example, Sura 30:24, technically failed according to Muhammad’s own definitions). Other holy books of Eastern religions (Hinduism and Buddhism for example) essentially have no historical prophecy.

    6. Why did God create people?
      Although we can’t know all the reasons why God decided upon creation, the Bible tells us it’s God’s desire for people to love and worship him (2 Kings 17:38-39; Mark 12:30; Revelation 4) and to be in an eternal existence in direct relationship with him (Matthew 7:21-23). The reasons God gave us life on earth are reflected in his greatest commandments (See Mark 12:30-31):

          1. to learn how to love him and worship him
          2. to use the talents and blessings he has provided to help others learn to love and
              worship him
          3. and ultimately, to test our love for him through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as
              Lord and Savior

      Since God’s purpose for us is an eternal relationship with him, he wants to be with “perfect” people that love him. Since God knows that no one is perfect, he provides a means of forgiveness (through the blood sacrifice of Jesus). Life on earth tests our love of him by how we recognize and accept this sacrifice. To prove our love, God gave us free will to make a choice (real love is chosen, not forced). In sum, by providing us life on earth and revealing his nature while giving us a choice to show we really love him, God provides a way to bring people into heaven who really want to love and worship him.

    7. If God wants to be with us eternally, why doesn’t he just come to earth and be with us here?
      God did come to earth—as Jesus—to demonstrate his love for us and teach us exactly how to be with him forever. Eternity is a lot longer than life on earth. And the “new heaven and new earth” (Revelation 21) will be unimaginably nicer than this earth. God exists in a realm beyond time and space, though he can choose to enter it at any time (as he did in the person of Jesus and on other occasions). But God’s purpose for this earth is not eternal. It’s very temporary. His purpose is to provide an opportunity for all of us to know him, follow him, and prove our love for him.

    8. Doesn’t the Bible teach us that love, giving, and service to others are God’s “test” to allow people to enter heaven?
      No. Although God wants us to love, give, and serve others, the ultimate issue is our love for God, demonstrated by our acceptance of his gift to us—Jesus Christ. The entire Bible clarifies this issue by

          1. showing humanity’s separation from him through sin
          2. defining the need for redeeming us from sin by a blood sacrifice (before Jesus,
              animal sacrifice was used)
          3. recounting the provision of Christ (God in human form) as the ultimate and perfect
              blood sacrifice
          4. revealing that only through our belief in and acceptance of Jesus as Lord and
              Savior can we enter heaven (John 3:36; 14:6)

      Understanding this is very simple: God loved us so much that he sacrificed his one and only son in a horrible painful death—even for people that hated him (John 3:16; Romans 5:6-8). By rejecting his display of ultimate love for his Son (who was God in human form), we are blatantly rejecting—and not loving—God.

      The idea that “good” people go to heaven and “bad” people to hell is a human idea. It is not what God says (Ephesians 2:4-8). It would be foolish and arrogant to think we know more than God. All people fall short of God’s perfect holiness and need to be redeemed by grace through Jesus (Romans 3:23-24). So trying to earn our way to heaven by “being good”—something taught by most cults, and even believed by many Christians—is futile.

    9. If love and goodness are not a test for heaven, why does the Bible talk so much about them?
      If we truly love God, our love for others will grow (Ephesians 4:20-24). Consequently, our “goodness” will grow. Jesus also taught that our love for others reflects our love for him as well (John 15:12-14). Certainly God wants our love for him (and others) to flourish. The problem is when some people starting thinking that loving others means they automatically love God—the real God of the Bible. Many such people don’t know the real God at all. The Bible tells us to seek him.

      Frequently, religions that actually reject the one true God teach the importance of love and service. People following false gods are often very sincere in their affection for others, thinking they are serving a real “god.” Yet in reality, they show no love for the God who made them because they are rejecting his essential gift of love to everyone—Jesus.

      The Bible speaks of love for others so much because, once our love for the true God is realized through a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit will inspire increased love for others in us in response to the second greatest commandment. The Bible clarifies that we can recognize the degree of spiritual maturity (for example, a person’s commitment to Jesus) through the “fruit” a person produces— including love for others (Matthew 7:16).

    10. If believing in and accepting Jesus is all that is required for heaven, couldn’t evil people like Adolf Hitler accept Jesus at the last minute before death?
      Yes. The Bible doesn’t differentiate between degrees of evil (sin) as it relates to forgiveness, and it indicates that everyone has hope regardless of what they have done. It says there is “no condemnation” for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Note the strength of this wording—no condemnation—none. Instead of concerning ourselves about justice for evil people, we can instead be thankful for hope for ourselves and our loved ones.

    11. What is the real nature of God?
      God’s primary attributes are
        • perfect love (1 John 4:16)

        • perfect holiness (Revelation 4:8)

        • perfect justice (2 Thessalonians 1:6)

      It is difficult for us to understand how God could maintain all three of these characteristics at once. For instance, when he destroyed Aaron’s sons because they didn’t exercise proper procedures in his perfectly holy tabernacle (Leviticus 10:1-2), was the punishment perfectly just? Was it perfectly loving? We must realize we are mere humans attempting to understand something that God can control in dimensions beyond time and space. God has eternity and heaven and hell to work with. We can’t know exactly how it all fits together, but we can know his nature and trust him to correctly balance things.

    12. How can God be perfectly just if he would permit someone like Adolf Hitler into heaven if he were to make a “last-minute” confession and accept Jesus?
      Of course it would be an enormous assumption to think such an evil person would suddenly change before death—but suppose he did. Since, as we saw in question 11, God has eternity to work with things incomprehensible to us (heaven and hell), he can account for that which is beyond our comprehension. We tend to think only of the pain of victims and families on earth.

      We might reason out such an issue this way: First, God would show his perfect love by offering forgiveness and grace to a totally undeserving person. Second, the magnitude of evil that someone like Hitler causes is relative to human perception. To God, evil is evil. To his perfect holiness, the evil in any human heart is unacceptable. Yet in his perfect love, he will forgive any and all evil through a person’s acceptance of Jesus. And third, the Bible teaches us that there are rewards to be allotted based on what people have done while on earth (Matthew 16:27). Presumably, a last-minute repentant Hitler-type would be at the bottom of the list.

      Again, instead of worrying about the most evil people and what God would do with them, we should be thankful that God has offered the option of forgiveness to all of us regardless of the extent of our sin.

    13. Does God get angry?
      Yes. In spite of what we sometimes think, anger is not the opposite of love. It sometimes shows love. Several times God showed anger against Moses or the people of Israel (for example, Exodus 32:9-14). And Jesus showed anger as well (Mark 11:15-18, for instance). In every case, anger was directed against sin. Humans get angry for many reasons—most often for selfish ones. Such anger is sinful because instead of being against sin, it’s anger for sin, so to speak. If you need to evaluate a feeling of anger relative to God’s anger, ask yourself if the anger is against sin, or if you’re angry because something didn’t happen the way you or someone else wanted.

    14. If God is loving and forgiving, why would he send “good” people to hell?
      We must remember that human standards are not God’s standards. In comparison to his perfect holiness, even our passing evil thoughts are significant sins. In order to have a perfect heaven, people must be redeemed and sanctified (made holy) through the blood of Jesus. The Bible teaches that everyone falls short of perfect goodness (Romans 3:23) and that God freely justifies us through his grace (Romans 3:24; Titus 3:7).

      Consider also that many total atheists are “good” by human standards. But God tells us that no one is good enough to get to heaven on his or her own (see Ephesians 2:4-8). God’s test is our love for him. And when we simply love him—as we do when accepting Christ—God forgives whatever sins we have committed.

      On the other hand, rejecting God’s love and refusing the necessary redemption so freely given by him demonstrates that a supposedly“good”person is not really good at all. It shows pride, arrogance, and contempt. It indicates that a person is not willing to even take the time to“seek”God (Hebrews 11:6), let alone be subject to the Creator of the entire universe. Even judged by human understanding, would it really be “perfectly just”for God to allowsuch a person—who is totally thumbing his or her nose at God—into the perfect place he has created?

    15. Are any sins unforgivable?
      Yes, but only one specific thing. The Bible calls it “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 12:30-32).

      It is the deliberate, continuous, and ultimate refusal to acknowledge God’s power in Christ through the Holy Spirit. This happens in someone with an irreversibly hardened heart—someone who will never ask for forgiveness.

      In other words, this is an intentional and deliberate ignoring of the prompting of the Holy Spirit—forever denying his work. Anyone who has been exposed to the truth will have the Holy Spirit encouraging him or her to believe and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Complete and ultimate rejection of this prompting is the one and only “unforgivable sin.” All other sins, no matter how horrible, can be forgiven through Jesus.

      Some Christians are quite frightened of the “unforgivable sin,” wondering if they have committed it. In general, people who have such a fear have it because they already know Jesus and understand the consequences of being separated from him. In such a case, there is nothing to fear since their acceptance of Jesus demonstrates their receptivity to the Holy Spirit (rather than blasphemy).

    16. Is God loving or judging?
      God is both loving and judging. The Bible tells us of his love throughout—he expressed his enormous love through forgiveness and provisions, even after his people intentionally disobeyed him. Most importantly, God expressed infinite love by coming to earth in human form as Jesus Christ and dying the most painful death to fulfill the perfect sacrifice. Humans typically understand sacrifice as a means of redemption (for example, paying a penalty when you’ve done something wrong). Imagine how great the sacrifice must be for all of human sins for all time.

      However, it would be against God’s nature to ignore sin by not judging it. It would not be just, and we know God is just (see Exodus 23:1-9; Matthew 23:23, Luke 18:7; Romans 3:26). We also know God is ultimate love. So how do we reconcile a just (judging) God, requiring sacrifice, with an infinitely loving God? An infinitely loving God would sacrifice even himself in a horrible way to pay the judgment of sin upon others—even for those who hate him. That’s what Jesus did.

    17. Doesn’t the Old Testament reveal a “judging” God who is different from the New Testament’s apparently “loving” God?
      God is consistent and unchangeable (Hebrews 6:17). But people tend to perceive the God of the Old Testament as more “judging” because the judgments of the Old Testament are openly demonstrated in time. Therefore they are very readily understood by (and are relevant to) humans. For example, many of God’s judgments in the Old Testament involve the physical destruction of cities and people.

      In the New Testament, God’s judgment points more to the eternal judgment Jesus spoke of extensively. People tend not to be so affected by the idea of eternal judgment because it’s beyond their experience. However, that shouldn’t prevent us from understanding that eternal judgment is far more significant than the temporary physical judgment experienced by people in the Old Testament. A close comparison of judgment in both testaments finds them to be comparable and compatible.

      Likewise, one finds great evidence of God’s love in both the Old and New Testaments. Again, it’s only a perception that there is more “love” in the New Testament because in it Jesus (and others) expressed teaching about love in words. In the Old Testament, God’s great expressions of love came through many of his actions, from the delivery of the Israelites, to the provision of daily manna, to continual forgiveness time after time in spite of their disobedience. See Examine the Evidence, pages 491-494.

    18. Does God punish people?
      Yes. There are many examples in both the Old and New Testaments of God punishing people. The Old Testament deals with God’s purpose of the teaching of his ways (according to the culture the Hebrews knew). Often his teaching required what we consider today to be radical and severe punishment. The Bible makes it very clear that a good father punishes his children to teach them (Proverbs 3:11-12). God’s dealings in the Old Testament were to teach not only the people of Israel, but us today (via the Bible).

      Throughout the Bible, God also gave people repeated opportunities to repent and achieve forgiveness. In fact, if you are reading this and have not yet accepted Jesus, no matter how great your past sin is, the fact that you are still alive exemplifies God’s amazing fairness in giving you this additional chance to show you love him.

    19. Does God say we can’t have fun?
      God invented fun! But God created “pure and holy fun”—great-tasting food, beautiful scenery, and inspiring music. Some people equate sin with fun, and so the misconception exists that God is against fun because God is against sin. Humans, tempted by Satan, deformed God’s perfect plan. Rather than enjoy food as God intended, many started eating to excess (gluttony). Many, for further examples, began drinking to excess (drunkenness) and started having sex improperly (adultery). So humans have corrupted God’s pure and perfect plan of fun.

     


    Excerpted from One-Minute Answers—The Evidence for Christianity by Ralph O. Muncaster. Copyright © 2005 by Ralph O. Muncaster. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.