Our God Is Real!

October 30, 2015

What if you were given a school assignment on critical thinking? Your assignment is to review a list of statements and mark them as factual claim, common assertion, or opinion. Statements include things like George Washington was the first president and people who wear glasses are smart. But one statement arrests your attention: There is a God. How would you mark it?

According to a recent news report, a Texas middle-schooler was faced with this choice. She marked “There is a God” as fact. According to allegations, she was told that she would fail the assignment unless she changed her answer, because God is not real. What would you do?

Since the news story broke, the school district has released a statement saying that the assignment was intended to spur critical thinking and was not intended to question religious beliefs of students. They further admitted, “… still this does not excuse the fact that this ungraded activity was ill-conceived and because of that, its intent had been misconstrued.”

What do we make of this news story? I’m well aware that not everyone believes in God. Yet, I believe there is sufficient evidence to prove the existence of God. So is God a fact or not? A lot depends on our working definition for fact. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as “a thing that is indisputably the case.” Obviously, a dispute does exist, and some people deny the existence of God. However, the Merriam-Webster 3rd Unabridged Dictionary states a fact is “something that has actual existence … the reality of events or things the actual occurrence or existence of which is to be determined by evidence.” Clearly English usage allows us to say that the existence of God is a fact even if it is a disputed fact.

What lessons do we learn from this news story? First, I’m reminded of Peter’s instruction in 1 Peter 3:14-16:

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:14–16, ESV)

We need to be prepared to make a defense of our faith.

Second, we need to be willing to take a stand for our faith. Jesus warns us: “

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32–33, ESV)

Taking a stand for our faith is not optional. These two lessons are imperative because our God is real!

What Difference Does Creation Make?

October 26, 2015

Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli is a good basic Christian apologetics book. It provides twenty arguments for the existence of God, and as their subtitle says hundreds of answers to crucial questions. They have a footnote in the book on the importance of belief in creation.* What difference does it make to us if we believe in creation or not?

It makes a difference in our concept of God. If God is the creator of the universe, then certain things must follow. God is omnipotent, that is, he is all powerful or infinitely powerful. That last statement — infinitely powerful — needs to sink into modern minds. He must also be omniscient and infinitely wise. To create the universe includes its design, laws, and structures. Scientists are beginning to realize how many parameters must be just so for life to exist. God is also a great artist. We see tremendous beauty in the world around us. God must also be generous. God is all-sufficient. He had no necessity to create. Creation is a gift.

It makes a difference in our view of nature. Science grew up in the theistic West, not the pantheistic East. The reasons are simple. The Judeo-Christian view of God means that the universe is intelligible and orderly. We can observe, experiment, and understand. This view of creation also means that the universe is real. You may be taking that for granted, but Hinduism teaches that the world around us is an illusion perceived by an unenlightened consciousness. The Bible’s view of creation also means that the material world is good. Yes, there is moral evil in it, but the material world is to be enjoyed with thanksgiving being the creation of a good God.

It makes a difference in our concept of what it means to be human. If we are God’s creation, we owe our existence to him. We have no rights over against God; God has rights over us. That’s a humbling position, which is why human beings sometimes resist it. But this view of ourselves also means that our lives have meaning and purpose. If everything has evolved by blind chance, then there is no absolute meaning. Further, if God is our creator, then we owe God everything. Nothing is our own. We are obligated to use everything that we have in a way that will glorify him.

As Kreeft and Tacelli write, “No idea in the history of human thought has ever made more difference than the idea of Creation.”*

*Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 105–106.

Listening to the Bible

October 16, 2015

I want the Bible to be a regular part of our lives, yet some have a struggle reading. It may be that when they sit down to read, they fall asleep. It may be they have difficulty reading. It may be that they are just more action oriented and have trouble settling down with a book.

God has always intended scriptures to be heard as well as read. The Law of Moses specified that the law was to be read in the hearing of the people every seven years (Deuteronomy 31:10-11). Ezra read aloud the law to the people who came out of Babylonian captivity (Nehemiah 8). Paul wanted his letters read to the churches (Colossians 4:16 and 1Thessalonians 5:27), and Revelation has a blessing on the one who hears the book read (Revelation 1:3). Here are some resources for finding audio Bibles.

Online — biblegateway.com

BibleGateway has a number of audio Bible translations available: ESV, NASB, KJV, NIV, etc. They also have audio Bibles in a number of languages including Spanish. Cost: Free.

Apps (Android and iOS)
Bible.is (produced by faithcomesbyhearing.org) Multiple audio Bible translations are available as well as multiple languages including Spanish. The app allows for audio Bibles to be downloaded to the device so that the user isn’t streaming from the Internet. Cost: Free.

Bible (YouVersion by LifeChurch.tv). Multiple audio Bible translations are available as well as multiple languages including Spanish. The app allows Bible texts to be downloaded, but the audio must stream from the Internet. The app allows the user to vary the speed of the recording. Multiple reading plans are available. Cost: Free.

ESV Bible (by Crossway). The app provides the ESV text for free. The text is downloaded to your device, but the audio Bible must stream from the Internet. The app allows the user to vary the speed of the recording. Multiple reading plans are available. Cost: Free.

Logos (from FaithLife). The app is free, the ESV audio Bible is free, but the ESV text is $9.99. The audio Bible streams from the Internet. The app allows the user to vary the speed of the recording. Multiple reading plans are available.

Downloaded Audio Files
Audible has a number of Bible translations available in their audible book collection (audible.com). mp3 audio file downloads of the Bible can be found at a number of places. Here’s two suggestions.

ESV at Crossway.org

Bibles read by Max MacLean (multiple translations available)

The Bible on CDs
Cassette tapes have gone the way of the VCR. You may find some Bible tapes around used, but they would be difficult to impossible to find new. Even audio CDs are giving way to CDs in mp3 format. The reason for this is simple. The mp3 format takes less space, so the entire Bible can be placed on about 7 CDs versus 64 CDs in the standard CD audio format. This means there will be a big cost difference between these two formats ($35 for mp3 CDs and about $70 for standard audio format CDs). Most modern CD players will also play CDs in the mp3 format, but check your device to make certain. Audio Bibles on CDs can easily be found for the KJV, ESV, and NIV. They can usually be found at our local bookstores as well as online places like Amazon.com and Christianbooks.com.

Of the various audio Bible formats available, those online and in apps are easier to navigate to particular books and chapters. With mp3 and CD Bibles the track names are often not helpful in finding a particular Bible location. They may however be easier for some users, and if you are listening through the entire Old Testament or New Testament, the navigation issue may not be a problem.

Some people like to listen to the Bible as they do other things (like doing chores or driving to work). Others enjoy listening to the Bible with the text in front of them. Regardless, recordings of the Bible are a great way of immersing ourselves in the Word. Given all the things that we listen to in our world, maybe it’s time for us to include listening to the Bible.