Tag Archives: Christ

SINCERE SEEKER?

Hello all. It has been quite a while since I have written anything. Today, I received the email below and the Spirit strongly encouraged me to share with you today. This is from the website Reasonable Faith and it is the Question of the Week. The author of the answer is Dr. Craig and he welcomes any questions you may have about Christianity, etc. Below the answer I have included a link to his website and the link to submit a question.

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What about the Sincere Seeker?

Hello Sir,

I have read a big deal of your work and I am really inspired by you and your work.

But there is this one question that greatly troubles me; I always had it in mind since I was very young but having solved a lot of questions, I am concerned about this simple question that I am not able to solve or find a satisfactory answer from a scholar.

I need your views on why God will send people to hell on the basis of their Religious beliefs. A person who sincerely researches on Religion and Theology trying to find if a God exists and if so, what Religion and fails to identify the right Religion, why is he to be punished? A person arrogantly denying the right Religion while knowing the truth might deserve to be punished somehow but what about the one trying his best but failing.

You might say that its natural for one to find the right Religion if pursued honestly … but there need to be stronger arguments supporting this idea; because it doesn’t sound like all the people moving away from Religion were dishonest.

How would you respond to a hypothetical condition of a person sincerely failing?

Thanks in advance.

Muhammad
Pakistan

Dr. Craig responds:

Your question is a good one, Muhammad, and I’ve addressed it in a number of places, most recently in my Defenders lectures “Excursus on Natural Theology,” parts 1-4. I’d really encourage you to listen to or to read those lectures, since they will fully explain my perspective.

The problem with your question is that it assumes a purely humanistic, and perhaps even naturalistic, point of view with respect to finding the knowledge of God. It takes for granted that it’s basically up to us to figure out which religion is true. But whatever other religions may teach, this is not the point of view of Christianity. If God were to abandon us to our own intelligence and ingenuity to work out whether or not He exists, He would be a very cruel God indeed. As one of the students in my Defenders class remarked, getting into heaven should not be like getting into Harvard! But God has not abandoned us. The Bible teaches that God loves us and so by His Holy Spirit seeks to draw people to Himself. The self-authenticating witness of God’s Spirit will enable, not only believers, but also sincere seekers to come to a knowledge of God.

Therefore, if a person ultimately fails to come to faith in Christ, it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties with the faith. At root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God’s Holy Spirit on his heart. Now this convicting power and drawing of the Holy Spirit may take time. It may take years in order for the unbeliever to finally come to Christ. Nevertheless, no one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments or evidence; he fails to become a Christian because he rejects God. But anyone who does respond to the drawing of God’s Spirit with an open mind and an open heart can know with assurance that Christianity is true, because God’s Spirit will convict him that it is true.

Look at the words of Jesus in John 7:16-17:

My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me; if any man’s will is to do His will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
Here Jesus says that if anyone is truly seeking God, if his will is to do God’s will, then he will know that Jesus’ teaching is from God rather than just his personal opinion. Jesus is affirming here that if anyone truly wants God’s will – is truly seeking God – then he will come to know that Jesus’ teaching truly is from God.

So in answer to your questions: “A person who sincerely researches on Religion and Theology trying to find if a God exists and if so, what Religion” will come to find the true God and the right religion, just as Jesus promised, because the Holy Spirit of God will guide his search and draw him to Himself. Only the person who resists the convicting power of the Holy Spirit will remain in unbelief. Such a person willfully thrusts the grace of God from him and so separates himself from God. It’s not that God “will send people to hell on the basis of their Religious beliefs.” Their false beliefs are, rather, symptomatic of their estrangement from God. God wants to save them and tries to draw them to repentance and faith, but they refuse to come and so find themselves wandering in error. So I deny your “hypothetical condition of a person sincerely failing.” If Christianity is true, then there is no ultimate (lifelong), nonculpable unbelief.

You respond, “You might say that its natural for one to find the right Religion if pursued honestly … but there need to be stronger arguments supporting this idea; because it doesn’t sound like all the people moving away from Religion were dishonest.” You seem to be saying that there is ultimate (lifelong), nonculpable unbelief, and so one needs stronger arguments to support the truth of Christianity.

Now I don’t think we’re in a good position to say with any confidence that there is ultimate (lifelong), nonculpable unbelief, Muhammad. First, as I say, God’s drawing of a person may take time, years even, so that we can’t say of someone who is moving away from God that that’s where he’ll end up. (Read the many testimonials we receive from ex-unbelievers who for many years were moving away from God.) It is particularly the case that many Muslims go through a phase of atheism after shedding Islam before they come to Christ.

Moreover, we’re not really in a position to read a person’s heart or deepest motivations. Sin is incredibly deceitful, and we have an amazing ability to rationalize things so as to justify our behavior. Read C. S. Lewis’ provocative The Great Divorce about the self-justifying rationalizations of people in hell. If we can convince ourselves that our obstacles to faith are intellectual rather than moral or emotional that makes our unbelief respectable in our own eyes and in the eyes of others. How do you know what lies in the heart of a person who resists the drawing and conviction of the Holy Spirit until the end of his life?

Furthermore, I do think that we have good reasons for supposing that Christianity is true. First, there is the witness of the Holy Spirit. It can be an intrinsic defeater of the defeaters brought against it. Second, there are good evidences for the truth of Christianity, particularly for the historicity of the radical personal claims and resurrection of Jesus, whereby God vindicated those claims.

You did not disclose, Muhammad, whether you are one of these sincere seekers after the true faith. If you are, then here’s what I would encourage you to do. Begin to read the Gospels and ask yourself whether Jesus of Nazareth could really be who he claimed to be. In your prayers, ask God, whoever He is, to show you the truth about Jesus, whether he spoke the truth from God or was just giving his own opinion. Look at the work of Christian philosophers and biblical scholars, such as you will find at this website. Watch on YouTube some of the debates which I have had with both Muslim scholars and unbelievers and ask yourself which way the evidence points. If you are truly seeking God, then I believe you will come to know the truth.
Have a Question for Dr. Craig? Submit it here.
To read more questions / answers, visit the Q & A Archive.

 

May God Richly bless and keep you all in His tender care.  After all, He does call you His beloved!

The Song – God So Loved The World – Charles Billingsley

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ADORATION OF THE SHEPHERDS

Interestingly enough, I went looking for a picture  that spoke of … Rembrandt’s “The Adoration of the Shepherds”.  I found several different ones and not one that I thought was the one mentioned in a devotional I read recently.  However, they are all magnificent.  It brought to mind a dear friend of mine down in Beaumont, Texas.  I used to work at Lamar University in the Art Department.  I was the Art Department Secretary and my office was in the Art Gallery and what a wonderful place to have your desk.  I was in the midst of the exhibits all the time.  My friend Lynne Lokensgard was the Art Historian among many other things.  Dr. Lokensgard was always one to ask anything about art.  She had studied art and the history or art for many, many year and I would love to ask her about this and see where she directs me.  I may just have to give her a call.  I learned a lot working there in the midst of all of the magnificent art that was in their collection. There are so many memories from that time in my life that there are too many to recount here.  However, I know I can pick up the phone and relive many of them with my friend Lynne.  2-the_adoration_of_the_shepherds

I am not sure why I told you all of that except to say there is so much to be enjoyed by the arts.  The wonderful styles of the artists and the different depictions of a scene can be so varied.  One thing is for sure though… when you see the scene at the manger with the baby Jesus you will always see the area around Him flooded with light.  He is the Light of the world for sure.  He has been since He entered this earth in the body of a human baby.

You may have a lot of darkness surrounding your life at this time… I think we all do at one time or another.  There is One who can bring light to that darkness and illuminate the way so you can have the Peace and Comfort of Christ that the Bible speaks of.  Yes He is rememberjesus-lammet-og-lc3b8vened at this time as a baby in the manger but like Max Lucado says, don’t keep Him there.  Experience the saving power and grace of Jesus Christ as He is meant to be.  Our Savior, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Our Friend, Wonderful One and so many more names.  Mainly He is the One who loves you so much and left heaven to be with us.  To light the Way to The Father!  He is the Light of the world!  Let Him be your light today! 

I love the prophets of the Old Testament.  The foretelling of the Christ child by Isaiah is wonderful!

 Isaiah 9:6-7

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

The song – Rejoice Emmanuel

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A Type of Christ

As I said in yesterday’s post, I gave the Berean’s point of view on who they believe Melchizedek is in Genesis, Psalm and Hebrews.  They believe Melchizedek is Christ.  However, I have found an interesting sermon on another point of view of who this mysterious individual is.

It is quite late tonight and I cannot possible do justice to any scripture study tonight so I am including the link to the wonderful sermon of John MacArthur.  This is his point of view of who he believes Melchizedek is.  If you feel like reading a great sermon on this mysterious individual in Genesis, Psalm and Hebrews, here is the link to John’s sermon – “A Type of Christ“.Melchizedek_Abraham
I will be back tomorrow, God willing, so until tomorrow… always  remember God loves you and is waiting to hear from you.  He calls you His beloved!

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MY YOKE IS EASY

Have you ever seen two animals, either horses or cows or oxen, yoked?  These animals of burden seem to be pulling with all their might to accomplish whatever they have been yoked for.  Click here for the actual definition of YokEquallyYokede. To me it seems that it would be a task to get the yoke that fits both animals the same way and then to get the yoke on the animal.  Not that it would be difficult to fit on an animal that stood perfectly still but they don’t usually stand perfectly still – right?.  Nonetheless, yokes are used throughout the world for different things.  Some for plowing fields, some for pulling carts, and then the most famous yokes (as far as I’m concerned) are the Clydesdales.  Those yokes are big, soft, padded yokes that fit over these beautiful horses.  The Clydesdales, as you know, are a team of 8 huge horses that pull together.  clydesdales1I love horses, as some of you already know.  Those yokes seem to be such a wonderful adornment for these beautiful animals.  And with 8 pulling at the same time it can’t be that hard to do – but of course I have never been a Clydesdale so I wouldn’t really “know”.

I know, from looking at pictures, that when two animals are unequally yoked it creates a big problem. The animals that are yoked together should be about the same size, shape, etc. to get the ultimate pulling effect. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you have one smaller than the other it defeats the whole purpose of yoking them together. The same goes for relationships but that is another topic altogether.

However, I do know of one yoke that is easy.  I know Jesus Christ my Savior and He promises us that His yoke is easy in Matthew 11:28-30.  I would much rather be yoked to Him and have Him help me pull the daily burden of living in this world than me do it on my own.  I have tried doing “it” on my own.  It is not easy at all.  slide-12-2-300x225

I know there are probably many of you out there trying to do the daily grind on your own and it’s difficult at best!  I have done the same thing. I have learned though that if you turn it all over to God and let Him help you carry that burden it is a much easier load.  Yoke yourself to the Savior and He will lift that heavy load and walk with you through whatever you are going through.  He wants to do this.  He asks us to take His yoke upon us and walk together in this life.  Read or listen to His Word and see how He loves us so much and how He wants a relationship with you.

265981aa6ab069bf4db6f8d429fa3afeI challenge you today to talk to God about the things that burden you. Things that weigh you down and keep you from having fullness of joy. God promises to help us in all that we go through in life. Call on Him today. He wants to give you His fullness of joy – every day! After all, you are His beloved!

The Song – Thrive – Casting Crowns

 The Video – Thrive – Casting Crowns

 

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THE JEWEL ON BLACK VELVET

rainy_day_out_window-9509My Mother loves rainy days.  She likes the storm clouds and the sound of the rain.  I do love the rainy days and the rain we had the other day had all of us so excited.  Mom saw the beautiful rainbow out the window and we both ran out in the yard – back then front – to get a better look. Rainbow_1574 It was so beautiful.  Bright jewel tone colors against the dark clouds.  Such a beautiful reminder of God’s promise to never again destroy the earth with a flood.  I love the scripture that talks about that … Genesis 9:13-23 

“13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Some time back Pastor Brad spoke of a different kind of darkness other than storm clouds.  He spoke of the black velvet that jewelry stores display those beautifulDiamonds on black diamonds and precious jewels on.  He said a sales person at the store he was in said something like this… “The black background shows of the brilliance of the jewel.”  Then he went on to preach about how the sin in our lives is dark and covers us with a dark oppressiveness.  Those were not his exact words but the thought is the same.  He preached on Romans 1:18-32 – God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness.  It was a wonderful 2513337-brilliant-diamond-on-black-backgroundreminder, not necessarily only about the sin in our lives but the beauty of Jesus Christ against the backdrop of the darkness of our sin and unrighteousness.  Just like the jewel against the black velvet, when you accept Jesus into your life His brilliance is unmistakably bright and ever so beautiful against the darkness of our sin.  I really loved that analogy.  Jesus Christ shines so beautifully in a Christian’s life and can cover all the darkness of our sin if we accept Him into our heart and ask for forgiveness.

Another comparison is how beautiful and brilliant the rainbow was the other day after the dark thunderstorm. Mom said the colors kept getting more intense and bright after the rains left.   In a Christian’s life, at least in mine, the love of Christ seems to intensify over time. 8_977Actually, I believe this is a truer statement… His love was intense and strong from the beginning and we, over time, learn to accept more of His love in different ways.  As we grow into the Christian walk we discover the newness of God in Christ every day.  Just like the scripture says…His mercies are new every morning.  I love that scripture.  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23.

I can tell you that my walk with Him has changed tremendously! As I have said in previous posts, I have always known of Jesus and God and even the Holy Spirit. It hasn’t been until the last few years that I have really – REALLY – experienced His mercy, grace, goodness and forgiveness. Well, that was always there, I guess I have just learned how to receive it with a humble heart and be amazed at how wonderful our God truly is! He is such a Brilliant Jewel against such a sinful and dark life that I led. He shines so beautifully and has washed me clean … as white as snow.  Agony_of_Christ_by_rocha The intimate relationship that I have with Jesus now is so incredible. I want to share it with the world! That is one of the reasons I write this blog every day! I could go on and on about how wonderful He is and how He has changed my life! Until we come to Him with a truly repentant heart we will never experience the deep love and mercy and grace that He wants to give us.  I have had so many things in my life that He has covered with his love and mercy and grace.  The walk just keeps getting sweeter as time goes on and I wonder, from time to time, how He is going to show me, today, how He loves me. You know what? He always does, without fail! Every day, He reminds me and shows me how much He loves me and is so glad that I am one of His children!princeofpeace13_thumb1

Jesus wants that intimate relationship with you also. He wants to show you His mercies and His loving kindness.  The love of Jesus never fails and He is waiting to walk with you too!  He loves you and wants to walk with you during your day.  Walking with Jesus each day will drastically change your life! Invite Him into your day today and see how He can change your life for the better! He loves you that much! After all, you are His beloved!

The Song – Great is Your Mercy – Don Moen