By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
Most people do not feel comfortable with others challenging their worldview. However, those who do challenge the perceptions of others have the greatest influence. Christians face this dilemma with the Great Commission for sharing the gospel with others. Paul expressed,
“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison — that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:3–6 ESV).
As Christians, we want the gospel to challenge people to change their view of God, life, and the world. We want them to believe that Jesus resurrected, repent of their sins, be baptized, and live a faithful life. The apostles were great examples of Christ changing their lives. Likewise, Christians can open discussions about how life has changed, talk about how your personal life was broken and saved by Christ, or initiate conversations by asking others if they pray. These are lighter and easier ways to open doors for sharing the gospel. Little discomfort comes from speaking merely of God who is unknown to most of the world and then opening the door for the gospel.
In some settings, we can bring up America’s unknown God — the Creator who has endowed every person with unalienable rights (Acts 17:22–31). Within the Bible, the apostles evangelized to two types of audiences — the Jews and the Gentiles. Depending upon their view of God, the apostles would speak with skeptical Gentiles concerning their perception of God and then share the gospel, or they would speak to Jews and Jewish converts by sharing the evidence of Jesus’s resurrection upon scriptures and eyewitnesses (Acts 2; 13; 17; 1 Cor 15).
Christians should be wise and pray that they may know how to answer each person. We should consider the settings where we can best talk with others and talk about the gospel. For instance, if your waiter approaches while you are praying, ask him or her if they pray and for what. In any conversation about values in parenting to politics, ask about their standard for right and wrong. In a sports setting, talk about the motivations for playing sports and the significance of sports to life. These conversations openly easy to talking about God. Christians should think with wisdom to advance small talk about their children, their pets, the community, or the weather toward God and then the gospel.
By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
All Christians are creationists meaning that they believe God created the universe (Heb 11:3). However, some have differing beliefs about creation. Many believe in God and yet perceive that the earth is billions of years old.
Along with billions of years, some believers accept the assumption of a “singularity” as a very dense starting point of the expansion of the universe. They also perceive that God created the universe via the expansion from this singularity and then the earth formed 9 billion years later. The obvious conflict with this idea is that Genesis 1:1 declares, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (ESV). The text does not say that God created the heavens in the beginning, and then thousands of millennia later God formed the earth through natural processes.
Attempts to reconcile secular theories of science with biblical perspectives of science have many difficulties. Secular scientists do not consider God. Reasoning and research without recognizing God is scientifically flawed. Such atheistic “science” ignores the first cause of the universe and of life.
Genesis reveals that God created all life and human life within days of “in the beginning” and within an actual six days (Exod 20:11). Jesus attested, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’” (Mark 10:6). Jesus and His apostles taught that God created humans “from the beginning of creation” (Rom 1:20). God’s creation of a mature heavens and earth explains any perception of age, and the Flood accounts for rock layers laid down by water all over the earth. Believers do not need to accept billions of years. Without faith in God’s great miracle of creation, one has little reason to accept Jesus’s miracles especially His resurrection.
Without the Bible, those who believe God and macroevolution undermine the Bible as a moral corrective for the value, rights, and morals of humanity. Genesis teaches great human value as God made humanity in His likeness — His image (Gen 1:26–27). Historically, applied science without the value of human life is dismissive if not harmful and destructive of human life. Furthermore, science without the Bible cannot distinguish the value of human life apart from animal life. Atheistic moral values come from either self, society, or survival instinct. Such standards are not necessarily respective of other societies and nationalities. Without the Genesis account, believers have no standard to respect marriage as God created man and woman for each other (Gen 2:24). Therefore, values are often sexually permission without an objective moral standard for sexuality.
The Genesis account of creation is essential to the Christian faith, human value, marriage, and understanding the cause and order of the universe. Those who trust Christ should trust His words attesting to God’s creation of all things “from the beginning of creation.”
By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
Some beliefs and practices set the church within the Bible apart from most named churches today:
The Resurrection of Jesus attests to His sinlessness and equality with God as Jesus is the fullness of Deity bodily (2 Cor 5:21; Col 2:9). Therefore, the words that Jesus taught and gave to His apostles are without error (John 6:63; 16:12–13; 17:8).
Love is the great quality of Christ’s disciples who are known by their love for God and one another so they keep God’s commands (John 13:35; 14:21–24; 1 John 3:10, 16; 5:1–3). Christ’s followers care for the needy (Acts 2:44–45; 4:34–35; 20:34–35).
The Bible is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching to make the person of God complete unto every good work (2 Tim 3:16–17). The first disciples were devoted to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42). The apostle Paul declared, “Maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you” (1 Cor 11:2b). Jesus spoke against traditions of men that reject God’s commands (Mark 7:1–9).
Baptism was a burial in water immediately done for repentant believers unto the forgiveness of sins and is the moment of salvation (Acts 2:38; 16:32–33; Col 2:12–13; 1 Pet 3:21). Jesus commanded baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit to make disciples (Matt 28:19–20). One baptism is essential to the Christian faith (Eph 4:5).
The Assembly is when churches in the Bible gathered to break bread for the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 10:16–17; 11: cf. 1 Cor 16:1–2). The whole congregation came together not for people to display gifts for a show but for the congregation to praise God and to edify one another with encouragement (1 Cor 14; Heb 2:12; 10:24–25). In assembly, the congregation sang making melody with one voice, with intelligible words, and without musical instruments (1 Cor 14:15; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16).
Leadership in biblical churches was made of men as God created man first and gave man the role of servant leaders in the church and the home (Eph 5:23–24; 1 Tim 2:13–14). In the Bible, elders were pastors who led each church (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:1–3). The apostles helped appoint elders in each church who were men that met specific qualifications (Acts 14:23; 1 Tim 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9).
Marriage consists of one man and one woman for life. Jesus taught this by God’s creation of male and female to become one flesh (Mark 10:6–9; cf. Gen 2:24). Jesus allowed divorce and remarriage upon sex outside of marriage (Matt 5:32; 19:9; 1 Cor 7:10–11).
By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
One of the most asked questions about God is “Who created God?” No one should think of God as just another person like the man down the street or some “man in the sky” whose judgments are merely opinions. By asking “Who created God?”, a person needs to first comprehend the definition of God.
According to the Bible, God is personal, eternal, and the Creator of the universe. The Bible declares, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). The statement “In the beginning, God” claims that God is eternal and exists without cause. The Bible depicted God revealing His identity for Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exod 3:14). How can God exist without a cause? Why does God’s existence exclude God from having a cause?
The universe must have a first cause to begin. Without a first cause, infinite time would need to exist in the past. Infinite time in the past is an absurdity that scholars know as an “infinite regress.” An infinite past is impossible, because infinite time would require that the present now would never come to exist. The present now shows the necessity for “the beginning” and the first cause is reasonably God who “created the heavens and the earth.” While infinite time in the universe is absurd, eternity beyond the universe is necessary for God as the first cause.
As far as humanity can observe, everything within the universe had a beginning, and everything that begins has a cause. Whatever has a beginning has a cause. The universe began. Therefore, the universe has a cause. Cosmologists observe the decrease of usable energy in the universe and the spreading out of galaxies in an expanding universe as demonstrating that the universe began. When one rewinds these events in time, the conclusion is that the universe had a beginning. As Moses recorded in Genesis 1:1; time, energy, space, and matter has a first cause — God.
The first cause of the universe must exist beyond the universe and explain the constant balance of the laws of the universe. One may consider possible causes of the universe such as a mindless multiverse generator or a flux in a timeless void (i.e. changes in nothingness). However, inventing possibilities is limitless and is thus faulty reasoning. For example, one may suppose that a computer fell down some stairs and the impacts upon the computer wrote this article. That is possible but not probable. Many possibilities exist, few options are plausible, and one option has the greatest explanatory power.
The universe had a beginning and must have a first cause that is uncaused. The Bible revealed, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” From where did God come? God declared, “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god” (Isa 44:6b). God is eternal, uncaused, and has no creator.
By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
Children cannot realize the temptations that a teenager faces. Teenagers cannot understand the temptations that adults must address. As Christians grow older, temptations that were never a threat become threats as hearts have become strong in opposing old temptations while oblivious and hardened to give into others (cf. Titus 2:1–8).
When a believer first becomes a Christian, they are often unprepared to confront temptations. Each person faces temptations by their own lusts and desires (Jas 1:14–15). The world has no hope of self-control as Paul revealed, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom 7:15 ESV). Furthermore, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Cor 10:13).
Jesus has been tempted in every way like man and yet without sin (Heb 4:15). He is able to help those who are tempted. God promised always to make a way of escape so that the Christian can endure (1 Cor 10:12–13). To live a holy life, Peter instructed Christians to prepare their minds by setting one’s hope fully on the grace revealed at Christ’s coming (1 Pet 1:13). Peter emphasized that Christians are to be holy in all conduct as God is holy (1 Pet 1:15–16). God ransomed the faithful from futile ways by the blood of Jesus Christ who is without spot or blemish (1:17–20). For each person to have faith and hope in God, God resurrected Jesus from the dead (1:21). God’s holiness as seen in Jesus Christ is the standard for Christians to live holy lives. That means that people must know their God who came in the flesh and realize His holy nature as the standard of morality and virtue.
God has provided instruction for confronting and enduring temptations. Jesus told His apostles to pray not to enter to temptation (Matt 6:13; 26:41; Mark 14:38). By the Spirit of God, Paul directed Christians to put off the old self that is corrupt through deceitful desires and be renewed in the spirit of the mind to put on the new self (Eph 4:22–23). The new self is one that is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:24). Furthermore, to help confront sin, Paul taught to put on Christ by making no provision for the flesh (Rom 13:13–14). Evidently, one who surrounds themselves with temptations will struggle to keep their mind and spirit committed to holy living (1 Cor 15:33; 2 Cor 6:14). The Scriptures teach the faithful to flee temptations (1 Cor 6:18; 1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 2:22).
When Christians are ready to face temptations, their training is complete in these acts of righteousness having put on the armor of God (Eph 6:10–20). The Christian’s strength to confront comes from God (Eph 6:10–11). God has given the faithful an armor of truth, righteousness, gospel, faith, salvation, the word, and prayer to withstand evil. God has prepared a way of escape to endure temptations.