(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.

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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.

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

Would God Save Killer Nikolas Cruz?

As originally posted on The Christian Post. The original article can be found at https://www.christianpost.com/voice/would-god-save-killer-nikolas-cruz.html.

Anytime we face a time where great evil has been committed, I am often asked as a pastor if God can forgive the perpetrator of such an evil act. In this case, the perpetrator is Nikolas Cruz. The crime was Cruz’s merciless school shooting at Marjory Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The victims were the seventeen individuals who were killed. Would God forgive Cruz if he truly repented and asked Christ for salvation? What about serial killers? Rapists? The answer in all cases is, yes. Some have held, “Well, that doesn’t seem fair!” How could God forgive someone like Cruz? To answer this question, four theological issues need to be considered.

  1. No one deserves salvation.

First, one must understand an important truth. No person deserves salvation. The apostle Paul made it clear, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, CSB). Everyone since the time of Adam, save Christ alone, are sinners. With that in mind, let us ask the question again. Does Nikolas Cruz deserve God’s forgiveness? Absolutely not! But, neither do I and neither do you. It is only by God’s grace that one can be forgiven.

  1. All sin is condemnable.

Second, one must remember that all sin is condemnable. It is a popular notion to qualify certain sins as greater than others. While this is true in one sense, in another it is not. In Romans, the Paul states that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23, CSB). Thus, any sin leads to death. God is absolutely holy (Lev. 11:44; Rev. 4:8). Any sin is punishable in God’s sight. Jesus tells us that the sins of the mind are just as condemnable to the sins of action, as such mental sins comes from the heart and can lead to atrocious acts. Lust is the same as adultery (Matt. 5:27-30) and hate is the same as murder (Matt. 5:21-26). There are sins of commission—things we do and shouldn’t, and sins of omission—things we don’t do and should (James 4:17). So, how is your life looking right now according to God’s standards? Mine…not so great.

  1. God’s compassion allows for salvation.

Third, one must understand that it is by God’s compassion and love that any of us are allowed to be saved. Salvation is not achieved; rather, it is received. Paul notes, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not of works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9, CSB). God can save anyone he pleases. When individuals claim that Cruz and the like cannot be saved, the desire is for justice. But, if God delivered nothing but justice, no one would be saved. We really don’t want judgment. We want grace. God has given us that grace through his Son who died on a cross so that anyone who receives his grace would be saved (Jn. 3:16).

  1. True salvation brings about complete transformation.

The fourth point may seem out of place, but it really isn’t. True salvation brings about true transformation. Perhaps, the root of the problem is a false understanding of salvation itself. By that, I mean to say that some may think that a person can half-heartedly say, “I’m sorry” and be forgiven without being truly apologetic. It’s like a kid who is caught grabbing a cookie and is apologetic only because he was caught. Most likely, he would do it again if given the opportunity. But, biblical salvation is not like that. The Greek term metanoia is used for repentance in the NT. Metanoia indicates that a person has a change in their mindset, change in their heart, and a change in their actions. Jesus makes it clear that a person who has been saved will produce fruit (Matt. 7:18-23). Could it be that our questions pertaining to the salvation of evil-doers reflects a cultural Christianity that has been inundated with easy believism?

 

As believers, we need to pray for Nikolas Cruz. I realize that may be difficult in light of the heinous crimes that he committed. However, what if those we have faulted said the same about us? While our crimes are probably not as bad as Cruz’s, sin is still sin, and all sin leads to hell. Perhaps the question has been shaped wrong. Rather, than asking why God would save those who have committed great acts of evil, maybe we should be asking why God would choose to save any of us at all. God was not forced to offer the world salvation through his Son, Jesus. It was truly an act of love that God himself bore the penalty for our sins so that we could have life in and through him. As we continue to pray for the families of Parkland, Florida, let us not fail to pray for the salvation of Nikolas Cruz.

 

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.

 

Q&A: Biblical Reliability and Hebrews 6:4-8

This article was originally posted at https://bellatorchristi.com/2018/03/05/qa-biblical-reliability-and-hebrews-64-6/ Please go there to leave any comments or questions.

By: Brian G. Chilton | March 5, 2018.

The following is a question submitted to Bellator Christi.com. If you would like to submit a question, fill out the form at https://bellatorchristi.com/submit-a-question-to-bellator-christi/ and your question may be featured on a future article or podcast.

Question:

Dear Brian,

“I have a question that has been deeply troubling me for a while now, and I would like to ask someone with a better understanding of God and the Bible. I read on crossexamined.org that when you were “called into the gospel ministry at 16 years of age” but “left the faith in 2000 due to personal issues and doubts that he had pertaining to the reliability of the faith”. You also said that you “did not completely become an atheist, [but you] did become what [you call] a “theist-leaning-agnostic”. The link to the article I am quoting is https://crossexamined.org/7-reasons-came-back-christian-faith/ . This spoke directly to me because I found myself in a similar situation recently. You see, I was having a lot of doubt about the reliability of the Gospels (mainly, I was concerned that they could have been a myth) and for a couple of days, I called myself an agnostic (I said things along the lines of “I can’t know whether or not the Bible is true!” and “I don’t trust the Bible!” even though I desperately wanted to believe that Christianity was true). After I found that there was a book that dealt with this specific doubt, I immediately wanted to call myself a Christian again. Then I read Hebrews 6:4-6, however, I became afraid that this is impossible. Could you please explain to me the meaning of this passage and tell me whether or not you dealt with this specific problem and, if you did, how?”

-Rachel.

Response:

Rachel,

Thank you for your question. I would like to respond to your question in two parts. First, you are correct. I was in the camp of a theist-leaning-agnostic for some time. I was negatively impacted by the work of the Jesus Seminar, particularly their book The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say? The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus. Most troubling was the fact that no one could seem to offer a reasonable response to the Seminar’s charges.

However, I later came to realize that there was good historical basis for the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. Many documents outside the Bible (both from the Christian community and the non-Christian community) verify the core details of Jesus’s life. Liberty University professor extraordinaire Gary Habermas has argued that five minimal facts of Jesus’s life can be proven: 1) Jesus died by crucifixion (verified by i) Josephus, Jewish Historian Antiquities 18, chapter 3; ii) Tacitus, Roman Historian Annals 15.44; iii) Lucian of Samsota, Greek satirical writer, The Works of Lucian, Vol. IV “The Death of Peregrin” (scroll down to 11); iv) Mara Bar-Serapion, A Letter of Mara, Son of Serapion (scroll down to just after footnote 19); v) and the Talmud); 2) the disciples had real experiences with whom they though was the risen Jesus; 3) the lives of the apostles were radically transformed; 4) the core gospel message was taught very early after Jesus’s crucifixion; 5) and that James and Paul were radically transformed after Jesus’s resurrection even though they were formerly skeptics.

From there, I learned that due to the over 24,000 documents of the NT, with over 5,000 of them dating between the first three centuries, and numerous citations from early Christian writers, the NT can be verified with a certainty greater than 99.5%. Couple this with notion that the church had no power to gain, no money to make, and advocated sexual purity outside marriage and fidelity within marriage in lieu of the fact that these devout Jewish believers would leave behind certain aspects of their former way of living, there are no reasons why the early church would want to make this stuff up. They literally had nothing to gain on this side of eternity. So, in my opinion, the evidence is clear cut. The NT is reliable.

Second, you mentioned some confusion over Hebrews 6:4-6. Let me first quote the passage before engaging it. The writer of Hebrews notes that “it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, who shared in the Holy Spirit, who tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away. This is because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding him up to contempt” (Heb. 6:4-6, CSB).

The writer of Hebrews is directing this letter to Jewish Christians who are thinking about adopting their former ways of life within Judaism. They were not necessarily going to reject Christ. Rather, they were tempted to add regulations to their own Christian beliefs. Others may have been tempted to reject their faith altogether. There are at least four interpretations to these verses as they are quite controversial.

1. The fallen were disingenuous Christians who had rejected Jesus and reverted to Judaism.

2. The fallen were individuals who had heard the gospel but had not become true believers.

3. The fallen were those who were not progressing towards maturity, addressing sanctification rather than justification.

4. The fallen teaching is a rhetorical device describing the possibility rather than the reality. 

The first interpretation does not seem to hold because of the confidence that the writer holds in salvation (Heb. 6:9). The second likewise does not seem to hold because the language of “those who were once enlightened” indicates those who were saved. Likewise, the third does not hold because the writer is describing the salvific experience. Therefore, of the views presented, it seems like the writer of Hebrews is using a rhetorical device as he describes a possible scenario, but not one found in reality. The writer of Hebrews, whomever it was, was a person of great intellectual prowess. In the end, Hebrews is actually arguing for a person’s assurance of salvation. Just as it would be impossible for a person to recrucify Christ, it is impossible to “renew to repentance those who were once enlightened” because the person has already been enlightened.

To summarize, Rachel, I would say that if you placed your faith and trust in Christ and have received his salvation, making him the Lord of your life, then you are saved. We all have moments of doubt, even John the Baptist did (Matt. 11:3). But, Christ will take us, doubts and all, and shape us into the person he wants us to be by his marvelous grace. Rest in his assurance and find peace in his promises.

 

Blessings,

 

Brian G. Chilton

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.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.