(Podcast 4.15.18) 30 Days to Jeremiah and Lamentations w. Dr. Gary Yates (Full)

Source: (Podcast 4.15.18) 30 Days to Jeremiah and Lamentations w. Dr. Gary Yates (Full)

The previous version of this podcast had a download error where the entire podcast was not aired. Follow this link to listen to the podcast in its entirety.

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(Podcast 4.13.18) 30 Days to Jeremiah and Lamentations (w. Dr. Gary Yates)

Source: (Podcast 4.13.18) 30 Days to Jeremiah and Lamentations (w. Dr. Gary Yates) Be sure to listen to this week’s edition of The Bellator Christi Podcast. This is one you don’t want to miss as we discuss Dr. Gary Yates’s latest book 30 Days to Jeremiah and Lamentations.

Don’t Be Overcome by Statistics, Overcome Statistics with the Gospel

Source: https://www.christianpost.com/voice/dont-be-overcome-by-statistics-overcome-statistics-with-the-gospel.html

By: Brian G. Chilton | April 10, 2018

Let’s be honest. We in the Christian world are inundated with bad news. We are bombarded with news about how the Millennial Generation is far more unbelieving than Generation X. In full disclosure, I was born at the end of what would make me a Gen-Xer. Nevertheless, pastors especially are concerned with lower numbers of people in their pews, statistics that show that giving is much lower than in times past, and denominational numbers that are dismal. I am identified as a Southern Baptist. I have heard reports that the SBC baptismal rates are the lowest they have been for quite some time.

Hearing these numbers cause great concern. As one who loves peace and security, I find myself asking some questions that are noble, like—”Will the next generation know about Christ? Will there be an evangelical presence in future generation?”, and some questions that are admittedly more selfish, like—“Do I have job security as a pastor? Will I have enough time in ministry to retire? What will I do if I lose my position?”. Be honest. If you are in ministry, you have probably asked similar questions.

However, I have had a statement that the apostle Paul gave the Romans on my mind a lot here lately. Paul wrote, perhaps his magnum opus, to the church in Rome. Roman Christians were facing uncertain days as they were often met with persecution. In AD 49, Emperor Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. The Christian Jews were met with strife over their trust in Christ by fellow Jews. For the Christians left in Rome, they were Gentiles who were bombarded by various other competing worldviews. In the midst of this turmoil, Paul encourages them by saying, “Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).[1] How can these words apply to our situation? First, let’s look at the reactions that people often have when met with opposition.

  1. Reactions to Negative Statistics.

            As an observer of people, I have noticed three negative reactions and one positive to the problems facing the church. We’ll call the three negative reactions the denying mule, the withdrawn ostrich, and the whipped pup, while the positive reaction is noted as the conquering lion.

            The Denying Mule. A mule can be a stubborn animal. If it is content to not do something, it is difficult, if not downright impossible, to get the animal to that thing. In like manner, some Christians will hear the negative statistics that are given and will deny that things are as bad as the statistics portray. Why? It is because the person is content to keep things as they are and is unwilling to change ministerial practices regardless of what may come. This is an unhealthy practice.

            The Withdrawn Ostrich. Ostriches are classically portrayed as sticking their heads in the sand when concerned. I have been told that ostriches do not actually do such a thing. However, for our analogy, we will use the famous scene. For some Christians, they are overly concerned with the bleak news, but they are unwilling are perhaps too afraid to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Therefore, instead of facing the challenges, they withdraw themselves to people like themselves and ignore the outside world. Again, this is an unhealthy practice for the evangelical Christian.

            The Whipped Pup. The third practice is that of a whipped pup. This is likened to an unfortunate puppy who has been met with horrid treatment by even worse people. We have taken in pets before that attach themselves to us, because we treat them well, but are afraid of anyone or anything else. Some Christians are like this whipped pup. They feel defeated and think that there is no hope. They feel anxious and concerned, but do not know how to improve the situation at hand. This too is an unhealthy practice.

            The Conquering Lion. The healthy response is likened to a conquering lion. This animal has confidence and faces any circumstance with the attitude and trust that he can make a difference and can see positive things take place. The conquering lion is the attitude the modern Christian needs to have. It may surprise you to know that even the United States has met times where Christianity wasn’t as strong as it was at other times. God would raise up individuals to bring change. Examples include John Wesley, George Whitefield, D. L. Moody, and more recently Billy Graham.

  1. Ways to Overcome Negative Statistics.

            So, how do we overcome the statistics? Rather than placing an unhealthy focus on the statistics, I suggest that we take four attitudes moving forward.

            Power of Prayer. First, we need to remember that there is great power in prayer. Do you think that the power of prayer has ceased? Has God changed? Remember, God does not change, he is the same God that he has always been (Heb. 13:8; Rom. 11:29; and Num. 23:19). God hears our prayers (1 Jn. 5:14). So, if God has not changed and he still hears our prayers, why are we not praying more, asking that God does something great in our lives and in the church to change the direction that we’re going?

            Gospel Focus. We cannot ignore the statistics. However, I do not think we should make statistics our primary focus. Our primary focus should be on Christ and on fulfilling his Great Commission. We cannot control what other people do. However, we can control where we place our focus. What if every Christian and every church took the gospel seriously and tried to share their faith by both their actions and words? Why, we might see another Great Awakening sooner than we thought.

            Divine Trust. Also, we must not be consumed by the negativity all around us. We must trust God in all things and understand that he does have a great plan for us and for all of history. It’s also in Romans that Paul notes that “all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Trust in God and in his direction.

            Genuine Love. Finally, we must not lose the focus we should all have on love. Do we really love the lost? That is a serious question we must ask ourselves. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn. 13:35). Can people see Christ in us by the love we have? If not, we need to first have a revival within ourselves.

 Conclusion

Statistics are important. They serve as a gauge to illustrate the spiritual condition of our time. However, we cannot be consumed by the negative statistics we read and hear. For us to have a revival, no amount of human tactics will do any good. Rather, to have a true revival, God must move. He must move within us as we are the hands and feet of Jesus. So, to borrow Paul’s statement in Romans 12:21: Don’t be overcome by statistics, but overcome statistics with the gospel of Jesus Christ!

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the pastor of Huntsville Baptist Church in Yadkinville, North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

 

 

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman, 2017).

(Podcast 4.9.18) Message: “Messiah’s New Living Kingdom” (Isa. 11:1-16)

Source: (Podcast 4.9.18) Message: “Messiah’s New Living Kingdom” (Isa. 11:1-16) What will the new creation be like? Will animals exist in heaven? Find out on this edition of the Bellator Christi Podcast. Please click on the link to hear the podcast and to leave any comments.

 

Book Review: “Illustrated Bible Survey: An Introduction” (Kline)

This article was originally posted at Book Review: “Illustrated Bible Survey: An Introduction” (Kline) Please leave all comments and replies on the link provided.

By: J. D. Kline | 4/9/18

Ed Hindson and Elmer L. Towns. Illustrated Bible Survey: An Introduction. Revised Edition. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2017. $49.99. 624 pages.

Summary

Hindson and Towns “provide a college-level textbook” that is “ideally suited for undergraduate students, layman and pastors” (see back cover) interested in examining the “authorship, background, message and application” of all sixty-six books of the Bible (Genesis-Revelation) (xi). With this being their purpose for writing, Hindson and Towns brings forth a marvelous study, combining “nearly one hundred years” of teaching experience and a wealth of Biblical knowledge (xi).

Illustrated Bible Survey includes “More than 200 full-color photographs, maps, charts and illustrations” (see back cover) in addition to introductory level treatments of subjects like, “How we Got the Bible” and the important task of “How to Read the Bible” (v). Of course, each chapter closes with a list of helpful resources for further reading and study questions, making this textbook a text to be studied and enjoyed.

While similar to The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey, Illustrated Bible Survey: An Introduction, also includes a survey of the Old Testament making this an unprecedented resource for Biblical studies at this level. Moreover, what I found appealing to this text is how the authors include an introductory chapter on both the Old and New Testaments prior to surveying the actual books, giving background (context) to the purpose and nature of the Bible as a whole. The authors even went so far as to provide an important chapter on, “The History Between the Testaments” (v. see also 331-338). The reason I believe this is essential material for learning goes back to how we are to employ proper and sound hermeneutics; or, how we read and interpret the Bible correctly. Knowing this information really brings the Biblical text to life; allowing us to gain new perspectives to the people and culture in which our faith came, in addition to the Biblical texts historical nature and how God revealed Himself to us throughout salvation history. Having this background in mind guides how we properly interpret the Bible as a whole and as individual sections – considering the historical and grammatical context – in drawing contemporary theological conclusions and doctrine.

I would be remiss not to mention the fact that Illustrated Bible Survey was not only authored by two, very knowledgeable and talented Bible teachers, but also edited and reviewed by some of today’s leading Biblical scholars: John Cartwright, Gabriel Etzel, Ben Gutierrez, James A. Boreland, and Gary Yates (one of my heroes). All in all, there are sixteen Biblical scholars who participated and contributed in the making of this Bible survey. In my opinion, this book, alone, gives one eager learner the information necessary to develop and appreciate a greater understanding of the Bible. In fact, for its level of study, this resource is unprecedented in its class and essential reading for any serious student of the Bible. I highly recommend it!

Strengths/Weaknesses

The strengths of this book is the amount of scholarly participation in putting this book together. Yet, the information contained in this book, while challenging, is simple to follow and understand. In this way, I believe that the authors met their goal of writing “a college-level textbook that is accessible to students and layman alike” (xi).

Biblical scholarship has met its fair share of critics over the past century or more to include the rise and influence of the Jesus Seminar. As a result, the reliability of the Bible and its message is often questioned, even drifting erroneously into liberal waters. Illustrated Bible Survey is an answer to those charges made by liberal scholars – who deny its historicity and undermine its claim as God’s revelation – confidently bringing the Bible back to its evangelical roots. As Hindson and Towns rightly proclaim,

For us the Bible is not merely a combination of ancient documents, historical details, and religious information. It is the living Word of God that still speaks to the minds, hearts, and souls of men and women today. It confronts our sin, exposes our selfishness, examines our motives, challenges our presuppositions, calls us to repentance, asks us to believe its incredible claims, stretches our faith, heals our hurts, blesses our hearts, and soothes our souls (xi, xii).

Benefits

The benefits of this text is the fact survey’s the entire Bible. It challenges the student without information overload and bogging the reader down with technical jargon. As a visual learner who gets distracted rather easily, the books aesthetical appeal (color print, maps, charts, etc) is sure to keep the reader engaged and interested, as it did for me, especially through some of the less appealing topics. Moreover, the illustrations are helpful in bringing the ancient world to the reader; adding depth and perspective to the historical nature of the Biblical narrative.

Rating

I give this book a five star rating and encourage every serious Bible student to buy their copy.

About the Author

J. D. Kline is a Hospice Clinical Chaplain and a regular contributor of Bellator Christi.com. Jason graduated with a Master of Divinity from Liberty University and received his Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. He is a full member of the International Society of Christian Apologetics. Jason proudly served his country in the United States Air Force and is a proud husband and father to his wife and three children. His current research involves the soul and how a sound theology of the soul influences the counseling process.

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

(Podcast 4.7.18) 8 Ways God Speaks to Us and the Cautions Against Misusing His Voice

Source: (Podcast 4.7.18) 8 Ways God Speaks to Us and the Cautions Against Misusing His Voice Please leave comments and any replies on the main host site at https://bellatorchristi.com.

In this podcast, host Brian Chilton gives 8 ways that God speaks to us today, while cautioning individuals against misusing his voice to do something that God has not cleared one to do.

  1. By Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16).
  2. By the Spirit (Jn. 14:17, 26; 1 Cor. 3:16).

Strong impressions and examples of these spiritual impressions.

  1. By Jesus (Jn. 10:27).

Sheep hear his voice.

  1. By creation (Rom. 1:20).
  2. By other believers (Philip and Ethiopian eunuch, Ac. 8:26-40).
  3. By circumstances (Rev. 3:8).
  4. By dreams and visions (Jo. 2:28-29).
  5. By his voice (Mt. 3:17; Jn. 12:28).

(c) 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

The 40 Days of Easter

Originally posted at: The 40 Days of Easter

By: Brian G. Chilton | April 2, 2018

Easter is my favorite holiday. It is nice because of the warming weather, the blooming of flowers, the greening of the grass, and the growth of leaves on the trees. Everything looks dead during the winter, but everything seems to come to life around Easter.

            The best reason for my love of Easter is that it is the holiest day of the year for Christians. Easter represents the day that Jesus physically and literally rose from the dead. While I am Southern Baptist, I personally practice liturgical spiritual disciplines. I credit Dr. T. Perry Hildreth, professor at Gardner-Webb, for turning me to these practices. That is to say, I have a cross in my prayer garden that bears cloths representing the colors of the church year. The green cloth represents ordinary time when no special occasion is celebrated. Red is used for Pentecost, Holy Week, and special church days. Purple is used during the time of lent. I personally use blue for Advent (the time before Christmas) although purple is the standard color. White is used for Christmas and the Easter season.

Interestingly, the white cloth does not remain on the cross only for Easter. It remains on the cross for 40 days. Why? Jesus just did not appear to his disciples on one day. He appeared to them numerous times over the course of 40 days!!! The following marks a chronological listing of Jesus’s resurrected appearances over this time. While skeptics claim that these appearances are irreconcilable in their descriptions, I do not see how that is the case. While Jesus most certainly appeared to many more people than Scripture indicates, a strong case for Jesus’s resurrection can be made by the numerous individuals who saw Jesus alive after his death over the course of 40 days.

  1. Mary Magdalene: Early Easter morning (Jn. 20:11-18). First, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. Mary was not the ideal choice if one was wanting to invent a story for two reasons: Mary was a woman, and Mary had at one time been demonically possessed (Lk. 8:2). The testimony of women wasn’t trusted in antiquity. Add the fact that Mary had something in her past, that makes a bizarre and in fact embarrassing claim for the church, something that holds great historical and apologetic weight. In his infinite wisdom, Jesus appeared to a woman who had faithfully served him despite whatever it was in her past.
  2. Women at the Tomb: Early Easter morning (Matt. 28:8-10). It appears that the women first accompanied Mary Magdalene. The women went to tell Peter and John. Peter and John came with Mary back to the tomb (Jn. 20:3-10). Perhaps the women stayed back as Peter, John, and Mary Magdalene stepped into the tomb. After Peter and John left, Jesus appeared to Mary, and then to the other women at the tomb. Again, this would have been an embarrassing fact for the early church. Jesus first appeared to women instead of the men.
  3. Peter: Early to mid-day Easter (Lk. 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5). Luke 24:34 and 1 Corinthians 15:5 both indicate that Jesus met with Peter in a private meeting sometime between Jesus’s appearance to the women at the tomb and his later appearances to the disciples at Emmaus and his primary disciples. Notice especially the language of Luke 24:34. When the disciples heard from the Emmaus disciples, they said, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then they began to describe what had happened on the road . . .” (Lk. 24:34). 1 Corinthians 15:5 also notes that Jesus met privately with Peter, named by his Aramaic name Cephas (1 Cor. 15:5), before meeting with the disciples.
  4. The Emmaus Disciples: Late Easter afternoon (Lk. 24:13-32). Later in the day on Easter, Jesus appeared to two disciples walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Some believe that these two disciples may have been a married couple with only the husband, Cleopas (Lk. 24:18) being named. They did not realize that it was Jesus until they welcomed him into their home. They then ran back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples.
  5. The Eleven w/out Thomas: Easter evening (Lk. 24:36-49; Jn. 20:19-23). Luke 24 and John 20 indicate that Jesus met with the disciples later in the evening. Can you imagine what was going through the disciples’ minds as they heard reports of Jesus appearing to people, yet they had not seen him themselves? They had to wait awhile before they could see Jesus for themselves. Thomas was not present. This is a major question I have concerning Thomas: Where was he? Was he pursuing other work since Jesus had died? He was gone for nearly a week. Where was he? Where did he go?
  6. The Eleven w/Thomas: Next Sunday after Easter (Jn. 20:24-29). Thomas had heard the reports that Jesus had risen. He did not believe them. He would not believe unless he saw Jesus for himself. He would the next Sunday as Jesus appeared to the disciples with Thomas in their presence. Thomas no longer denied Jesus’s resurrection. He believed.
  7. 500 or More at One Time (1 Cor. 15:6). It could be that this meeting is the same as number 11 on our list. However, we do not have enough evidence to know when this gathering took place. Suffice to say, Jesus appeared to a large gathering of disciples. He was seen of over 500 disciples at one time. Personally, since only men were numbered in antiquity, I think you see the same effect with this number that you would with the feeding of the 5,000. I think it is possible that there were 1,500 or even perhaps 2,000 that witnessed the risen Jesus at this encounter.
  8. James and Perhaps Other Family Members (1 Cor. 15:7). James had a private meeting with his risen brother. I think it is strongly probable that Jesus also met with his other family members at this time.
  9. Reinstatement of Peter: The Meeting with the Seven (Jn. 21:1-23). The disciples went back to Galilee for a period before they were to go back to Jerusalem for the ascension and Pentecost. During an intimate meeting near the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus reinstated Peter before six other individuals.
  10. 72 Apostles Implied (1 Cor. 15:7). In 1 Corinthians 15:7, a distinction is made between Jesus’s appearance to the Twelve (1 Cor. 15:5) and his appearance to “all the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:7). Jesus had twelve disciples, but he also had a larger body of disciples outside of the twelve. Luke notes that Jesus appointed “seventy-two others, and he sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself was a bout to go” (Lk. 10:10). I think this means that Jesus appeared to all the seventy-two disciples that he had previously commissioned while in Galilee.
  11. Great Commission Gathering (Matt. 28:16-20). Some people confuse the Great Commission gathering with the ascension. This is simply not the case. The ascension transpired on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Jesus’s meeting with the disciples, and most likely many others, when he gave the Great Commission happened while they were in Galilee (Matt. 28:16), thereby making this occurrence different than the ascension event.
  12. Ascension (Ac. 1:1-11). Jesus’s final public post-resurrection event happened at his ascension. Being that the ascension happened in the bustling town of Jerusalem on a prominent mount in the area, it would be difficult to ascertain just how many people witnessed the ascension of Jesus.
  13. Appearance to Paul (Ac. 9:1-9). Lastly, Jesus appeared after his ascension to Paul. Saul Paul was a man who was an antagonist to the Christian faith. However, the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to Paul transformed him from a skeptic to a passionate communicator of Christian truth.

 

So, what apologetic truths can be found from these appearances? A lot! But, to simplify, we see that Jesus’s post-resurrection appearances:

  1. Had embarrassing factors (seen first by women).
  2. Transformed skeptics into believers (Thomas, James, and Paul).
  3. Was not a one-time event but witnessed by many over the course of 40 days.
  4. Was publicly seen by multiple people which dispels any rumors of hallucinations.
  5. Allowed those who were weak to become strong in their faith that Jesus had risen (e.g., Peter).

I believe that Jesus appeared to many others during this period. Jesus’s resurrection was not a hallucination. His appearance was not a one-time showing. The fact that Jesus appeared after his resurrection as he did verifies that Jesus had indeed defeated death. This is something that we should not only celebrate for the forty days of Easter, but 365 days a year!

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the pastor of Huntsville Baptist Church in Yadkinville, North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

(Podcast 3.30.18) 9 Reasons, Plus One, Why I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus

Source: (Podcast 3.30.18) 9 Reasons, Plus One, Why I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus

On this edition of The Bellator Christi Podcast, I share 9 reasons why I came to believe that the resurrection of Jesus is a real historical event. I add a 10th reason in the midst. See if you can find out what the 10th reason is by listening.

(Podcast 3.27.18) Message: “Will Heaven Be Boring?” (Isa. 65:17-25)

Source: (Podcast 3.27.18) Message: “Will Heaven Be Boring?” (Isa. 65:17-25)

Will heaven be boring? Listen to this message given by Brian Chilton to find out how exciting heaven will be.

(Podcast 3.27.18) Message: “Questions about NDEs” (2 Cor. 12:1-10)

Source: (Podcast 3.27.18) Message: “Questions about NDEs” (2 Cor. 12:1-10)

Check out Brian’s message on near-death experiences (NDEs) by clicking the link above.

Book Review: “The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey”

Source: Book Review: “The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey”

Check out the latest from BellatorChristi.com by clicking the above link. In this article, Jason D. Kline gives a book review of The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey. 

5 Reasons Why I Believe in God

Source: 5 Reasons Why I Believe in God Please follow the previous link to Bellator Christi.com to post comments or replies.

By: Brian G. Chilton | March 21, 2018

Last week, notable physicist Stephen Hawking died. Hawking was known for his brilliant work as a physicist, especially working with black holes, the big bang, and for his exploration of the so-called Theory of Everything (a theory that is purported to hold the glue to the four major laws of the universe). In addition, Hawking was known for one additional thing: his atheism. This has led many people to inquire, “Why does it seem that so many notable scientists are atheists?” While I do not believe that all notable scientists are atheistic in their worldview, this does lead one to ask if there are any good reasons for believing in God’s existence.

 

While I do not claim to hold the brilliance of Hawking, I was one who was led into the mire of agnosticism earlier in life. Tampering with a theistic-leaning-agnosticism, I was open to the idea that God could exist, I only didn’t know if there were good reasons for accepting God’s existence. Furthermore, if God existed, I wasn’t sure that one could know that God was personable and that he could be known in any certain religion. While the latter questions are things I will cover in later articles, suffice it for now, one needs to ask, “Are there good reasons for believing in God?” Among other issues, five major arguments or evidences, if you will, led me to a strong belief in God’s existence. Counting down from the fifth to the first, the following are the issues that led me to become a strong theist.

 

#5: Moral Argument

If you really think deeply about it, isn’t is strange that the strongest proponents for social change and ethical behavior are those who do not hold to God’s existence? I am certainly not saying that Christians have not led for social change. Charles Spurgeon and John Wesley both vocally opposed slavery. Nevertheless, it is strange that atheists fight for social change because their worldview does not support objective morality. I am not saying that atheists cannot be good people. I have known many fantastic people who adhere to atheism. I am saying that atheism cannot sustain objective morality because if God does not exist, then all of humanity is nothing but random molecules in motion.

 

If morality is objective—that is, there are things that can be considered right and wrong, then there must be an objective lawgiver. In essence, I have described the moral argument. Think about a speed limit sign. You are driving down the road and you see a sign with the big numbers 35 on the white rectangular sign. You may not agree that the speed limit should be 35 miles-per-hour. Nevertheless, some lawgiver did. The sign did not magically appear. Rather, someone decided that the particular stretch of road upon which you are traveling should only maintain that speed. If there are morals, then someone must have set them in place. In addition, morality points to the importance of life. All of this is only true if God exists.

 

#4: Consciousness Argument (NDEs).

Consciousness argues for God’s existence, especially if the mind is shown to be separate from the body. That is, if there is an immaterial self (otherwise known as the soul), then spiritual entities exist. The mounting evidence in favor of near-death experiences (i.e., NDEs) demonstrates the reality of the spiritual self. While space does not allow for me to fully engage with this issue here, plenty of material is available which describes the reality of these experiences and how it demolishes the concept of materialism (i.e., the idea that only the physical world exists and nothing else). While NDEs do not necessarily prove the existence of God, it does show that the idea of the Holy Spirit, angels, demons, and the like are not as far-fetched as the skeptic might think.

 

#3: Design (or Teleological) Argument.

My dad used to have a saying that went, “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, and flies like a duck; then chances are likely that you are looking at a duck.” The more I learn about the universe, the more I understand how much intricate design the universe possesses. The universe is full of design. Everything from the way gravity and the universal forces operate[1] to the vastness of the universe itself[2] illustrate not only the design found in the universe, but that the universe was designed to support sentient beings like us. If something appears to be designed, then it is logical to infer that its design and structure came from a designer.

 

#2: Cosmological Argument.

The idea of causal relationship is at the center of science. That is, every effect must have an underlying cause. This is the heartbeat of science. Yet, this heartbeat seemingly flatlines with the atheist notion that the universe somehow spontaneously created itself. Cosmological arguments for God indicate that if the universe had a beginning, then it is rational to imply that a Creator brought forth creation into existence. For creation to bring itself into existence, creation must be considered to be a conscious self-existent thing. How so? Anytime a process of decisional action is placed upon a certain thing, that thing is anthropomorphized. That is to say, we make that thing alive. Evolutionists often do this with the process of evolution itself with claims like “Evolution decided this or that.” But, how can a mindless process decide anything?

 

William Lane Craig has popularized a brilliant argument called the kalam cosmological argument which goes as follows:

“1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2) The universe began to exist.

3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.”[3]

“But, wait,” one may infer, “if there is a multiverse, doesn’t this get around the problem?” Unfortunately, for the materialist, the Borg-Vilenkin-Guth theorem “closed the door on that possibility.”[4] All physical universes, including a multiverse, must have a finite past, meaning that even a multiverse must have a beginning. Thus, one is left with one of two possibilities: either eternal non-existent nothingness (which means the absence of anything including vacuums) brought about something from nothing, or an eternal Someone brought something from nothing. For me, the latter is MUCH more intellectually satisfying.

 

#1: Information Argument

The last argument is not an official argument. Rather, it is something I call the information argument. It came to me that any process or program must contain information. Information requires a programmer. The universe contains programs and processes that require information. Therefore, the universe must have a Programmer—that is, God. I am not an evolutionist. Nevertheless, even if evolution were true, it seems to me that this process could not have created itself. How does mindless nothingness come up with anything anyhow? It is nothing and it is impersonal. So, how does mindless nothingness do anything? It can’t. Consider the information found in DNA, and the information found in the processes and programs of the universe. To claim that it came from nothing and no one and simply arranged itself would be like Luigi telling Mario that their virtual world needed no programmers. It is utterly absurd!

 

A cumulative case considering these five pieces of information and many more show—at least to my mind—the absolute necessity of God. I have to agree with Anselm of Canterbury in his 1078 work Proslogion that God is that which nothing greater can be conceived. How true!

Notes

[1] Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton: Crossway, 2004), 98-110.

[2] Hugh Ross argues that even the vastness of the universe is important for two reasons: the production of life-essential elements and the rate of expansion. See Hugh Ross, Why the Universe is the Way It is (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 33-34.

[3] William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd ed (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 111.

[4] Ibid., 150.

 About the Author

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian is full member of the International Society of Christian Apologetics and the Christian Apologetics Alliance. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the pastor of Huntsville Baptist Church in Yadkinville, North Carolina.

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