Wednesday, November 13, 2019

No One Talks About it Series: Week 5 - Shadows on the Wall


One of the hardest crimes to investigate in this world is when you hear a thump in the other room, and two kids start crying. I’ve heard the thump and walked in with two of my kids crying and both of them swearing up and down it was the other one who caused the problem. I’ve tried to look around for clues, asked probing questions of each of them, but for someone reason children have an innate ability to dream up an alibi that is plausible. That is, until I realized early on in my parenting career, that their all lying and everyone is at fault. Now when this happens, everyone gets in trouble and it doesn’t matter who started it, or caused the most harm.
Truth for us can be one of those ideas that seems to hard to grasp; it’s not like a rock that is physically there. Sure there we can have things that point to the truth, the victim was bludgeoned to death, and look there’s a bat on the ground. But then the case goes to court, and what seems like a simple case of murder, we find out that the perpetrator was actually being attacked by the deceased, and the truth turns out that in fact the victim was defending themselves.
What can seem like undeniable truth, can get clouded, because we do not know all the facts, and when presented with more facts, what we believed was the truth begins to erode. Then we’re left with a sense of being lost, with doubts plaguing our mind.

This idea of trying to know truth is what brings us to our fifth week in our “No One Talks About It Series.” For the last four weeks we have been looking at an ex-worship leader and writer for the church Hillsong, named Marty Sampson, and his instagram post revealing that he is walking away from his Christian faith.

In the first week we addressed Sampson’s topic how no one talks about preachers who fall. We showed this to be untrue, and instead talked about how we need to not only being praying for preachers, but also for each other. Because none of us is immune to temptation, and it is a responsibility of the Church to be in prayer for each other. And when we’re cognizant of temptation, we can be better on guard in our own lives, so that we might not fall as well.
Then in the second week we talked about the idea that not many miracles occur today. And we saw how, though Sampson acknowledged that there were some miracles, the amount wasn’t enough for him. This led us into taking a look at two instances where Jesus was approached with people who wanted more signs and miracles from him. To these people he revealed that no amount of miracles would be enough for someone who simply desired them. So we talked about how, we need to make sure that we are seeking God for who he is, and not for the miracles that he can produce for us. Because if we seek God just for miracles, then he will never satisfy us, but if we seek him for who he is, we will be satisfied with whatever he gives us.
Our third week brought us to the common objection that the Bible is full of contradictions. We then took a website called atheist.org, where fifteen contradictions are given. Then we took time and answered three of those contradictions, showing that every contradiction was due, not to the Scriptures being contradictory towards itself, but rather because we look through a twenty-first century lens at the Bible; not allowing it to be read as it was intended. Then, in a packet of paper, we answered the other twelve supposed contradictions. Showing the Bible is in harmony and is not contradictory.
Finally, last week, we talked about the question, “How can a loving God send people to hell?” In that question we talked about the love of God, and how, on his side of the relationship, his love is boundless and unending, even when we are in rebellion against him. But there is a condition on experiencing his love, and that condition is that we must accept it. And after we understood God’s love and what it meant to accept and reject that love, we talked about hell being the last loving gift of God to a person who has no desire to experience his love. How that when we come to a place of total rejection of God and his love, then we choose for ourselves a place where we do not have to experience God. This means that God sends no one to hell, but rather hell is a free choice given to those who do not desire God.

All this brings us to the fifth reason Sampson gives for why he is walking away from the Christian faith. He says, “I am not in any more. I want genuine truth. Not the ‘I just believe it’ kind of truth.”

There’s two parts to this statement, so this will be a two part response. We’ll tackle the first sentence today and the second next week.
Sampson brings up one of the most ancient desires of man. Biblically speaking, the discovery of and understanding the truth is as old as the first humans. If you have your Bibles, open with me to Genesis chapter 3, where we’ll begin in verse one. It is here that we are given a situation where Eve and Adam are within the garden God created for them. Eve is then approached by a serpent and a conversation ensues. Let’s read through this conversation.

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

Let’s stop right there, where did Eve get this understanding that they were not to eat of the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden? We can say from God, but there is no explicit communication between God and Eve on this subject. On the other hand, we do get an explicit conversation between God and Adam in chapter 2 verse 16. In that verse it reads, “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’”

The command to not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was given by God to Adam, and in the very next verse, we’re told that God then moves forward in making a companion for Adam. So Eve was not involved in the giving of the command, yet she knew it. Now there’s two possibilities on how Eve knew the command: first, God said it again to both of them, or, Adam told Eve. 
I believe it’s the second option, because when Eve retells the command to the serpent, she doesn’t give the tree a name, it’s simply called the tree in the middle of the garden. And then she gives an additional perimeter to not only not eating the fruit, but not even touching the tree. This stipulation to not touch the tree was not in the original command from God to Adam, and sounds more like what an older child would tell their younger sibling to not even go near it, just in case you can get in trouble that way too.

So with this understanding that Even more than likely was given this command through Adam, let’s continue the conversation she has with the serpent.

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Right here, is the moment that truth is challenged. Up to this point Adam and Even simply believed God, no question, no hesitation. God’s command was truth and that was it. But now the truth of God is questioned.
To which we get Eve’s response in verse 6. 

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

In this moment, Eve succumbs to the challenge of God’s truth, and eats the fruit. Now, Adam isn’t off the hook, because he’s right there too, not saying one word. But it’s within this conversation, that we see truth being questioned for the first time in the Bible. Eve states God’s truth to not eat fruit form a certain tree, the serpent questions that truth, and from then on, truth has become something that seems elusive to humanity to this day.

Fast forwarding to about the fourth to fifth century BC, the Greek philosopher Plato began to think deep thoughts about the world. In one of his analogies on truth, he came up with something I’ve shared with you before, called the Cave. 
Within this analogy Plato calls us to our struggle with truth. Within the deep dark cave, sits you and I, chained from foot to head with our bodies contorted to only look at the wall. On the wall, we see black shapes revealing the things of nature to us. We hear the sound of wind, crashing rocks, and other noises that seem to be coming from the shapes on the wall. These, are our truths. From brith to death, all we see are the black shapes on the cave wall. But we don’t know the real truth. The real truth is that the shapes are shadows that dance on the wall, because behind us there is a fire roaring and a puppeteer conducting a show for us. The puppeteer makes the shadows and the sounds we believe are truth, but are really only poor recreations of real nature. 
Plato tells us that we are chained to experience what we believe is truth, but in fact is not. And at the end, Plato tells us that we need someone from outside the cave to come in, break the chains that hold us there, and bring us out into the real world, the real truth.

Four to five centuries later, two men stand speaking to each other, with one of their lives being decided. One is a governor, one is a carpenter.

The governor speaks, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
The carpenter replies, “Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?”
 “Am I a Jew?” The governor replies, “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
The carpenter said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
“You are a king, then!” said the governor.
The carpenter answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
“What is truth?” retorted the governor, and he left the room.

This is the interaction between the carpenter Jesus and the governor Pilate as John records it in the Gospel of John chapter 18, verses 33-38. Pilate, a learned man, sought after truth almost two thousand years ago, just as Marty Sampson, and many others are seeking after truth today. Pilate must have understood Plato’s analogy of the cave, and how we are only seeing shadows of the truth, and when Jesus says that he born to testify to truth, Pilate scoffs, because he believes that truth is elusive to humanity.
But before Pilate scoffs, Jesus had already addressed Plato’s acknowledgement that we need someone from the outside of the cave to release us from our shadowy truth. Jesus tells Pilate, that he came into this world, into this cave to testify to truth, but Pilate is so enamored with his false truth, that he can’t see his Savior, the one who has come to break his chains, standing right in front of him. The one that could provide truth to Pilate goes unseen, by someone who thinks they are looking for truth, but in reality their more interested in shadows.

Just ten chapters before this carpenter and governor meet, Jesus says this about truth, in chapter 8 verses 31 and 32 of John’s Gospel, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus sends us back to Genesis 2:16, when God commanded Adam to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of God and evil. Jesus sends us back to following and obeying the Word of God when it is spoken. Because only in the Word of God, is truth revealed. 
Tomorrow is Veterans Day, and we celebrate those who answer the call to stand between us and the forces of this world that would want to destroy our nation. In the founding of our nation, when the delegates met for the constitutional convention the whole thing was falling apart. Benjamin Franklin, who today is believed to be a deist that bordered on an atheist, at 81 years old stood up and addressed George Washington and the other delegates. 

Listen to what he said, “In this situation of this Assembly groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. 
“Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance. I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth that God governs in the affairs of men. 
“And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that ‘except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.
“I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service. (http://www.theconstitutionalistsociety.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Benjamin-Franklin-Constitutional-Convention-Address-on-Prayer.pdf)”

This is just one instances where the founders of our nation realized that only in God is truth found, and we must seek him if we desire truth. And there is no other way to know truth, if we don’t first study the commands of God.

In our society right now, children are being aborted, yet the Scriptures say do not murder (Exodus 20:13).  In our society, love is being used as a justification for sex with anything, same-sex, trans sex, animals, even children, yet Scripture says that sex is for one man and one woman in the bond of marriage (Matthew 19:4-6). In our society, our justice system seems to be corrupted in that sentences are lenient for those who have money, and strict for those who don’t, yet the Scriptures call us to justice that is impartial to a particular party based on wealth or social status (Deuteronomy 16:18-19).

This world can’t find truth because we’re bond in chains looking at shadows of it. But Jesus enters into the cave to release us from our bonds, and tells us that truth is found in his Word. Marty Sampson is seeking genuine truth, but has missed that truth, for shadows on a wall.
We can so easily get into the idea that we, on our own, can discern truth from lies, but the reality is, without God’s Word as our foundation, any shadow of truth can lead us into a realm where truth can’t be discerned. And God’s prescription is simple, we need to know his Word to know truth, and it’s there that we will be set free from shadows, and brought into the light.

My challenge for you this week is to ask yourself, “Am I believing the Word of God as truth, or am I trying to discern truth on my own?” This week, I want to challenge you to read through Jesus’ words in John chapter 8 and 18, asking God to give you a desire for his word, so that you may know the truth.

Let us be people who seek real truth which is found in God’s Word, and not the shadows on the wall. Amen.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

No One Talks About it Series: Week 4 - Hell Is Just Right


This past week, I had the opportunity to be a part of a jury. On Tuesday we spent the whole day selecting the jury, and once we were selected, we were told that the case was scheduled to run until Friday. The next day, I saw why it might take so long when we got started a half hour behind schedule. The rest of the morning was spent listening to the prosecution and defense question two witnesses. Then, after a two hour lunch break, we went into deliberation. From the moment we entered the jury room, everyone was in agreement that neither side did a very good job, but in the end the evidence itself pointed to a guilty charge and that’s where we had to go.
One of the things that I noticed about the whole process, was the excruciating amount of time that was spent in making sure we the jury understood our role in the process. The judge on several occasions re-emphasized the fact that we were to make our decision on the evidence alone, holding no testimony higher than another. It hit home on the painstaking procedures that went into making sure that the defendant was treated with every ounce of innocents that could be afforded. And when the jury met, not one person seemed to want to give the guilty ruling based on their desire to inflict pain, but rather solely based on the evidence. One man spoke up and said, we cannot have an emotional desire to keep this defendant from the guilty verdict, instead, this might be a pathway for them to get the treatment they need. 
Leaving the courtroom after the verdict was announced, there was no doubt in my mind that the jury performed their duty correctly, and with as much compassion as possible, even in giving a guilty judgment.

And, by God’s design, this brings us to this week in our “No One is Talking About It” series, where we are going back into addressing the topics that Marty Sampson, an ex-worship writer and leader of the Hillsong church, presents for why he is walking away from the Christian faith. The topic we’ll be looking at this week is this idea of a loving God sending people to hell. And just like I saw the painstaking work to make sure innocents was afforded in the jury trial, we’ll look at how God takes painstaking steps before someone ends up in hell.

Now in this series we have covered three topics so far. The first topic was about how no one talks about when preachers fall to temptation. We showed this to be untrue, giving several examples both nationally, and personally. And we talked how we need to be praying for pastors, preachers, and each other, because as the Scripture says, there is no temptation that is unique to anyone, but temptation is common for everyone. So, prayer and standing against temptation is what God is calling us to do.
Then in the next week, we talked about miracles. Sampson said that not many miracles are happening. In phrasing it like that, Sampson acknowledges that miracles do happen, but he then falls into a trap that Jesus talked about. When confronted with people that wanted to see a miracle from Jesus, Jesus told them that it wouldn’t be enough. Even the greatest miracle of him rising from the dead, would not be enough for someone who is seeking miracles over seeking God. And so we talked about how God desires us to seek him, rather than seeking what we can get from him.
Finally, in the last time we talked, we tackled the idea that the Bible is full of contradictions. This is a common accusation against the Bible, so we took the fifteen contradictions that are given on the website, atheist.org, and debunked three of them in our talk, and then the other twelve in a packet that was available in the foyer. Through that time, we were able to see that with a little work on our end, we can be assured that the Bible isn’t full of contradictions, but rather the problem lies with us taking verses out of context and trying to make it say things they don’t. 

With that refresher, let’s get into our fourth week answering Marty Sampson’s “No one’s talking about it,”and his reasons for why he is leaving the Christian faith. And as we’ve said before, we’re not trying to pick on, or demean Sampson, but rather, we’re using his words in the public sphere to make sure that we talking about these subjects and are able to answer these objections.

In his instagram post, Sampson’s fourth topic of why he is losing his faith says, “How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place, all ‘coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it.”

What’s the place he is talking about? It’s hell. 

About every three years or so, the youth watch a video called GOSPEL Journey Maui. In the reality show type series, there’s this girl named Racheal, who, out of the gate, tells people that she doesn’t believe in a literal hell. And in reality, there are a lot of people in this world that don’t. I’ve heard people say things like, “God is too loving, and wouldn’t send us to hell,” or “earth is more than enough of a hell for people, so there’s no other hell.”
And in fact, the idea in Sampson’s statement is a long standing theological discussion, that is phrased like this, “Why would a loving God send people to hell, simply because they do not believe in him?”

So let’s talk about these seemingly opposite ideas of God’s love and hell.

First, what is God’s love? Most of the time when we talk about the love of God, we talk about the unconditional love of God. But what if I told you, that nowhere in the Bible is the word unconictiopal mentioned? Just a simple word search of the top English translations reveals that the word unconditional does not appear anywhere in the Bible. In fact, the only time a word like it comes up, is in Genesis 2, where God tells humans they can eat unconditionally from any fruit in the Garden of Eden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (v.16). But even in that case, there is a condition. 
See we misrepresent God’s love, when we talk about it being unconditional. Now, I want to take a moment and stop, because the inevitable question arises, “But doesn’t God love us even when we sin?” And the answer is yes. Romans 5:8, “…While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” John 3:16, “For God loved the world, that he gave his only Son…” Yes, God loves us even in our sin, but if we finish John 3:16 we see that there is a condition on us receiving that love, “…that whoever believes in him shall receive eternal life.”
And the Bible is full of passages pointing to God’s love. Psalm 36:5 says that God’s love for us is vast. The whole book of Hosea and the parable of the Prodigal Son speak to God’s unfailing and steadfast love for us. Verses like 1st Timothy 2:4, and 2 Peter 3:9, tell us that God’s desire is that no one should perish, and all would come to him.
The problem with the topic of love isn’t on God’s side, but rather on our side. To anyone who would accept God’s love, it is open. His love is freely offered by him to everyone. Jesus’ words in Revelation 3:20, “I stand at the door and knock,” reveals how close God’s love is to each of us, with God on the outside of our door and all we have to do simply open it.
But there inlays the condition, the door has to be opened, God’s love has to be accepted. 

If we take the three parables of the lost in Luke 15, we can see a pattern. The first two talk about lost objects. First a lost sheep. One sheep out of a hundred gets lost form the herd, and the shepherd goes and finds it. Then there is great rejoicing. The second parable deals with a lost coin. The woman searches for one lost coin out of ten. When she finds it, she rejoices.
Then there is the third one, the one of the lost son. A father has two sons, with the youngest wanting his inheritance early, and then leaving behind his father’s house and going to squander his new wealth. One day the son returns, and is met by a father that brings him back into his house and rejoices at his son’s return. In each of these parables, we learn about God’s love for us, but in the last one, we learn that to be brought back into the house, the son must make a conscious decision to return. And when he does, the father’s love, which has never stopped, is again experienced by the son.

And it’s here that we transition from God’s love given to us, to what happens when we reject that love. If we reject God’s love, what is God’s response?
Back in the 14th century a word came into the English language from a Latin word that meant to snatch, or take away by force (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rape; http://latindictionary.wikidot.com/verb:rapere). That word is rape. Now, rape has sense become a term we use for forcible sexual attacks, but in it’s original understanding, it simply meant to take someone or force someone to do something against their will.
Well if God forces those who reject his love to experience his love, that would mean that, in a sense, he would be raping them. And I know that sounds gross and can make us uncomfortable, which it should. 
Because when people say, how can God be loving and send people to hell, what their saying is, how come God can’t force us to experience his love? But that is the original definition of a rapist. Someone forcing another person to do something against their will. 
This is what people miss when talking about God’s love, God isn’t a cosmic rapist. Think about this: God, the only being in the universe that is uncreated. The only being that can speak things into existence. The only being that has complete autonomy. This being gives us created, finite, and flawed beings the opportunity to either reject or accept his love. 
To those who accept, he gives eternal life with him to experience that love.

But what about those who reject? Who keep that door to God’s love closed? What is God going to do with them? Because if he really is love, then he won’t force them into that love. 

Now we’re getting somewhere. But before we can talk about hell, we must talk about what a rejection of God’s love really means. Many people that I’ve encountered, think that rejecting God’s love, just means that you reject following Jesus. That’s part of it, but not the whole. The way the Bible puts forth creation, is that it is out of God’s desire that it even exists. That God calls it perfect in that it reflects his attributes. With humanity being the crown jewel of creation in that we are made in his image. This all means that everything good in this world: joy, peace, kindness, mercy, grace, patience, faithfulness, self-control, beauty, these things are the characteristics and the fingerprints of God himself. When we experience something good, we’re experiencing the goodness that is rooted in God’s love because he desired to create. 
That means the rejection of God’s love, is a rejection of all these good experiences, because you can’t have one without the other. In fact, sin is the rejection of the things of God’s character, which, when we reject God’s character all it brings is pain and destruction. So without the love of God, you don’t have joy, you have sorrow. You don’t have peace, you have strife. You don’t have kindness, you have hatred. To reject God’s love is to embrace those things that are not of God.

So now, what is God’s answer to those who reject his love? It’s one last loving act. In the end, after all his pursuit of us in love, God gives us what we have always desired when we have spurred his love, which is a place where we can experience a total rejection of him. And with that we embrace everything that isn’t of him. All the joy we’ve ever experienced, all the kindness, mercy, peace, and everything that is good, gets rejected as well, because you cannot have those things without God, so when we reject him, we end up rejecting those things as well.

Therefore hell isn’t a place that God sends people, but rather a place for those that desire to reject God. In creating a place where we can receive our desire to be without God, God shows ultimate love. He does not force himself on us, but rather allows us to go our own way into eternity.

I remember hearing a pastor one time say something along theses lines, “Everyone in heaven will want to be there, and likewise, everyone in hell will want to be where they’re at too.”

The reality is this, we can think, like Sampson does, that hell is a destination that we get sent to because we just don’t believe in God. The reality is, God gives us the opportunity to choose our eternal destination. And it all hinges on either embracing God’s love, or rejecting it. 

So what’s embracing God’s love look like? First it’s a realization that God’s right. See God says as a loving Father, that we are in rebellion. We have rejected God’s created goodness by lying, cheating, stealing, lusting, hating, murdering, gossiping, and much more. The Bible calls this sin, and us sinners. And because we have done these things that are not of God, we cannot be with God, because he is all good, and we’re not. At this point, we’ve chosen hell for ourselves, it’s our destination based on our own actions. 
But God shows his love for us when he doesn’t leave us in that rebellion and in that choice. God the Son comes to us as Jesus, lives the good perfect life that we were meant to live, but was then killed. That death was unjustified in that only those who have sinned deserve to die. So Jesus was raised back to life, conquering our sin in the process and giving his perfect life as payment for our sinful one. When we embrace this truth and accept God’s work on our behalf, we are embracing God’s love. We’re that son that makes a conscious choice to return to his father’s house. Then we begin to follow him, spending the rest of our lives allowing him, by the Holy Spirit, to cut out every sin in our lives that is holding out in rebellion against God’s love. That eternal life that we have chosen begins at that decision to accept Jesus as our Savior and when this body fails and we die, God’s eternal love awaits us. 
And what do we do to earn this great gift? Nothing, we simply accept it. No work on our part can make it happen. We can’t earn it by praying enough, doing enough good things for people, listening to enough sermons and Christian music, or even fixing all our bad habits. The only thing we can do, is embrace God’s gift through Jesus for us, and then follow him, doing what he says to do as we are led by his Holy Spirit.

If we have accepted that, then we have made our choice and our life will reflect that. If we haven’t, then there will come a day when that choice will become an eternal one, and we will get our desire to reject God, and as a last loving act, God will release us to our eternal choice. And we will embrace hell.

But what about those who never heard about Jesus? What about those who lived before Jesus? Is hell eternal? What’s it like? There’s a lot more about hell to be talked about. But to answer Marty Sampson’s question about how does a loving God send people to hell, the answer is, he doesn’t. We choose hell, and God being loving, allows us our choice. Hell then is the greatest form of love, to allow a finite being to make an eternal decision, even after being pursued by a infinite loving God.

My challenge for you today, is first, where are you in making this eternal decision? Have you accepted it, or are you rejecting it? Maybe you have more questions, I would be happy to sit with you and talk about them. In fact on Sunday nights, we are starting our sermon discussions to allow these conversations to happen. But we must understand and be honest about where we’re at in our choice to accept or reject the love of God. 
Second, if you have accepted God’s love, are you praying for those who haven’t? Are you sharing God’s love with people? Are you communicating the result of rejecting God’s love with people? I have always loved the imagery of two beggars looking for food. Their clothes are in tatters, they smell, and they look like they haven’t had a bath in weeks. The difference between them, is the Christian has found food and now is eating their fill, and while they eat, they are calling the other beggar to the meal. Christian we need to call people to the meal of the love of God, because there will be a day, when the choice will be made, and the feast will be closed to those who have rejected it.
So seek God this week to bring people into your life that need to hear the Gospel message of Jesus’ loving work to keep us from an eternal hell.

Let us be people full of the love of God, overflowing to those around us, so that they may see that God desires them to be with him in perfect peace, joy, and love for eternity. Amen.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Question: Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen to Good People? Week 4 - Free Choice


3“May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’ 4 That day—may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine on it. 5 May gloom and utter darkness claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm it. 6 That night—may thick darkness seize it; may it not be included among the days of the year nor be entered in any of the months.7 May that night be barren; may no shout of joy be heard in it. 8 May those who curse days curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan. 9 May its morning stars become dark; may it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn, 10 for it did not shut the doors of the womb on me to hide trouble from my eyes. 11 “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb? 12 Why were there knees to receive me and breasts that I might be nursed? 13 For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep and at rest 14 with kings and rulers of the earth, who built for themselves places now lying in ruins, 15 with princes who had gold, who filled their houses with silver. 16 Or why was I not hidden away in the ground like a stillborn child, like an infant who never saw the light of day?
17 There the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest. 18 Captives also enjoy their ease; they no longer hear the slave driver’s shout. 19 The small and the great are there, and the slaves are freed from their owners. 20 “Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, 21 to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, 22 who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? 23 Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in? 24  For sighing has become my daily food; my groans pour out like water. 25 What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. 26 I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

Ever feel like Job? Job lost everything, money, land, children. When we speaks this, he’s sitting in a garbage heap, his body is covered with boils that he’s using broken pottery to scrape against his skin to garner some relief from the pain.
Job’s life has been destroyed within a few months and he has no idea why. And the realities he never finds out. He’s never told, why it has happened, even though he gets to speak with God himself. Now as the reader, we know. We know that God pointed Job out to Satan because of Job’s great devotion to him, and because of that Satan was allowed to destroy this man’s life. But Job never knows about that. Instead he asks the question that we tend to ask when calamity hits us, “Why is this happening to me.”

Jesus spoke to his disciples and said, “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (John 15:20)”
Throughout the Bible, God is never shy about how the world works. In fact God calls the world wicked. Time and time again, God has searched for people who would be righteous, telling one person that he would spare a city if there was even one, but their wasn’t and the city was destroyed.

In the past few weeks, we have talked about the question “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” In that question we found that bad and good are subject to our interpretation, and what we’re really asking is why would God allow those things I believe are bad to happen to me a good person.
But when thinking through this question we realized that in order to understand why God allows bad, we must ask God to tell us what is bad. That’s when we recognized that we aren’t really the good people we think we are, and really nobody is. Because all of us have sinned or done what God says is wrong.
In the end, we talked abbot how the real question is why does God allow us bad people to continue, and to that the answer was simple he loves us.

But God isn’t shy about the evil in the world. He doesn’t turn away from it and doesn’t outright destroy it because of his great love for people.

And this brings us to our final week in this topic of answer the question of why does God allow bad things to happen to good people, or the better question, why does God allow us bad people to continue?

And the answer is, love is based on decision. God loves us because he has decided to love us. But to love him, we too must decide to love him. And when we decide not to love him, our only option is to embrace sin. And when we turn away from God and embrace the sin, bad things happen.
And God could stop it and blot us out, but he doesn’t, because that wouldn’t be love. Every choice we make is an extension of God’s love. That means both good and bad can come out. 
But, couldn’t God stop bad form happening that impacts other people? Like rape and murder, and abuse? Yes, he could, but if he takes one person’s free choice, why not take your’s as well? Where does it stop? We’re all bad. We’re all incapable of being good on our own. Even at our best, we’re still going to hurt others.
So God makes the decision to be the only one who truly loves, and doesn’t just get rid of us, but keeps pursuing us until we no longer can make that free decision to love him.

So in this world, God doesn’t say he will stop the bad, but rather in the bad, he will be with us. He will comfort us, he will help us overcome evil with good.

Love and free choice walk hand in hand. If God wanted us to experience love, he must allow us free choice, but then that means we can embrace bad. But when bad happens he is there, and that’s the promise of Jesus. Jesus shows us God’s great love to push through any boundaries we set up that are evil. And when evil comes, he will be with us. Just as he was with the young man in the Russian army, or the two girls in Pakistan, and the teenage girl at Columbine high school. 

As we end this series on this question of why evil, I want us to know that in the bad God says he will be there. I want to share with you the song Held by Natalie Grant.


And I want to call you to embrace the love of God, because in everything he has worked to show you his deep love.

Question: Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen to Good People? Week 3 - Real Question


41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Jesus overlooked a city that he himself had brought into existence. For thousands of years, as God, Jesus had put his presence in the temple of the city. He had watched the people worship him within it’s walls. Jesus had watched godly men sit on the throne and seen prosperity throughout the region. Jesus had also seen evil men sit on the same throne and bring ruin to the kingdom. Jesus had warned the people about turning away from him; he had sent prophet, after prophet to bring the people back before they destroyed themselves. But they wouldn’t listen, and so the nation was destroyed and never fully recovered. Now four hundred years later, Jesus has coming to give yet another chance to the people, but instead of embracing him, they would crucify him.
Jesus stands on a hill overlooking Jerusalem and he weeps because they would rather embrace their own way of life that leads to death and destruction, rather than embrace God’s life which leads to fulfillment. 

We’ve been talking about this question, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”
In the first week, we dove into the question of what is bad? And we discussed how badness is in the eye of the beholder. Each of us bases what is bad on what is bad for us. Not realizing we are. But because we are basing bad on our own personal idea of what is bad, we cannot definitively call anything bad.
So instead, when we ask God about why he allows bad things to happen, we’re really asking why he allows our perception of bad things to happen to us. That’s when we came to the conclusions that what we really need to be asking is, what is God’s definition of bad? We learned that God’s definition of bad, is anything he didn’t want in his creation. So if we read about something, and yet we see the opposite in our world, that opposite thing is bad; i.e. murder, rape, gossip, lying, being disrespectful and the list goes on.

Then in the second week, we talked about the second part of the question, good people. Just like the bad things, we discussed how we interpret good people based on our own idea of it. Good people are only good because we deem them to be good. But one person’s good person, is another persons’s bad guy. So again, when we ask God about good people, we have to ask him what his definition of a good person would be. Which we found out was a person that none of us are, because  even in our best, we still do good things through selfish reasons. In other words, there really isn’t any good person. So our question, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people, really should be phrased one of two ways: we can phrase it as, why does God allow bad things happen to bad people? or Why does God allow bad people to do bad things in his good creation?
But if we can’t ask the question like that, because that means we have to admit that we’re not the good people we think we are.

But really that’s the question we need to ask. Why does God allow us, who do what he says is evil to continue to live? 

And the answer is pretty simple, God loves us. For thousands of years God worked with a people that would treat him like dirt. They would get themselves into trouble and God would get them out. It was a cycle for hundreds of years, with the purpose of showing us how deep God’s love for us really is.

No matter how many times we hurt him, he still loves us. And that badness we do, God calls it sin. Listen to what one of Jesus’ followers wrote, “6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was to bring us out of our badness, out of our sin and into what it means to be good, what God calls righteous. 

So the answer to the true question we should be asking of “Why does God allow bad people to do bad things in his good creation?”, is he loves us too much to abandon us to ourselves, and he will go to crazy lengths to bring us out of the darkness that we create and into his.

But we have to reject our sin, our badness and accept Jesus’ death on our behalf, that’s brings us into goodness and righteousness. See the result or payment as the Bible puts it, of sin is death. We will pay this penalty not just when we die physically, but when we stand before God and die spiritually. But Jesus pays the penalty in this life of physical death, so that we can experience spiritual life, which begins in this life and continues into the next. God continues to allow our badness, with the desire to save us from it.

There is one more part to this question that will cover next week. But for now we need to struggle with this: Can you accept that you are a sinner, and that even in that God loves you can? This is God’s response to our question, that his love is greater than our sin.

Question: Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen to Good People? Week 2 - Goodness


What does good mean?

We’re asking this question because last week, we talked about what bad is. We talked abbot how when we ask about bad things, we are interpreting bad through our understanding of bad. 
And bad things, tend to be those things that impact us personally. Usually somethings bad because it doe snot sit well with me, or it hurts me in some way. And one person’s bad is not necessarily someone else's. If a person gets robbed it’s bad, but to the robber it might not be.

It’s the same thing with good. One person’s good isn’t necessarily someone else’s good. And so when we ask the question “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people” what is the qualification of a good person? 

Are they selfless? Are they helpful? Are they caring? Are they generous?

Do you know who Mahatma Ghandi is? In the early 1900s he was a civil rights leader who helped get South Africa and India independent of British rule. Many people praise Ghandi as a peaceful man, and hold him up as an example of humanities goodness. But the reality is, he was far from the man he’s remembered as.
First, he was racist toward black Africans. When talking about black Africans he would use the racial slur Kaffirs, which is like saying the “N” word in English. And at the beginning of his civil rights career he wasn’t looking for independence, but rather a higher social standing that was above the black Africans.
Second, it is said that he exploited the young women around him. Having them massage him while naked, and sleep next to him naked. Though he said he did not sleep with them. But it wasn’t just the young girls that Ghandi had naked, but young boys as well. At the Age of 77 Ghandi had two 18 year old girls sleep in his bed.
Ghandi has said that fathers have the right to kill their daughters if the dishonor them. Woman are responsible for sexual assaults carried out on them. And many believe that he was physical abusive to his wife, who eventually died from disease because Ghandi wouldn’t allow her the treatment she needed. (https://allthatsinteresting.com/gandhi-facts-quotes-dark-side#20)
All this, yet people raise Ghandi up as what a good human should be. If Ghandi is the best humanity has to offer, then we’re in trouble.

Yet we tend to think that we are good. That we are at least better than someone else. And the older we get the less we can see the flaws in our own lives. 

That’s just like a guy that comes to Jesus. He’s a young guy that has it all at the time. I want us to read Jesus’ conversation with this right young guy.

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]”
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.

It all starts with the word good. “Good teacher…” the man asks, and Jesus gives us this strange reply, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
In that reply Jesus says two important things. The first is, the standard by which someone is good is only God. God is the standard by which we can know if something is good or not. And what is that standard? Well, we have to read the first two chapters of the Bible. What is good, is everything God made at the beginning. And because he only made good, it also gives us what is bad. And that is, everything he didn't’ make. 
So first, Jesus tells us the standard of good is only God, and no human has reached that standard.
The second thing that Jesus’ reply tells us is that he accepts the title of Good teacher even though it can only refer to God. In other words, Jesus acknowledging that he is God and is good, because he doesn’t tell the man, “No one is good except God, so don't’ call me God.”
So now, not only do we know that the standard of goodness is God, but Jesus’ life shows us what goodness is, because he is God.

Now here’s the rest of the interaction. The man wants to know what he needs to do, so Jesus goes through the ten commandments. Except Jesus doesn’t, he only goes through the last five. The man says he has done all those things, so Jesus smacks him with the first five. 
See the last five commands all have to do with being good to the people around you. But the first give have to deal with being good as God sees it. Anyone can bee good to people around them, because they can benefit form that, just like this young guy has become rich keeping those last five commandments. But the first five, means that you have to live as God wants you to live. That means you put him first, even as your standard of good. 
When Jesus challenges the young man to get rid of his possessions and follow him (i.e. God), the man turns away. His standard of good was himself, and when he had to move beyond himself it showed that his standard wasn’t good but was based in selfish motivation.

This is why the prophet Isaiah said this, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
In other words, even our best goodness, is nothing to compared to God’s goodness.

So when we ask the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people”, the reality is, are there even any good people? So what is bad? What is good? From a human perspective there’s no concrete answer. But since we’re asking God the question, we have to go with his standard, which means he is the only one who is good, and we’re not.
So really the question is this, “Why does God allow our badness to continue in this world? And when we ask that question, then we can find the answer that God is ready to answer.

And next week, we’ll tackle that. But for now, I want us to think through and struggle with this question of “Am I truthful with myself that I’m not as good as I think I am?” Let’s pray

Question: Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen to Good People? Week 1 - Badness


What constitutes a bad thing? What one person figures is bad, some else might wish they could have. I bet there’s those of us in here would say it’s a bad thing if I was grounded, or had my TV, or phone taken away by a parent. But some people would respond with, I wish I had my parent. 
Some people might get a bad grade in school and think that’s a bad thing. Others wish they could go to school in the first place. Some people might go out to McDonalds or somewhere like it, and think its bad when the employees get their order wrong. Others would like to eat. 

What is our definition of a bad thing. See we ask this question of why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? But that questions itself has a lot of other questions that go with it. Like, what is a bad thing?
To me a bad thing is going to be different than what it is to you, because my situation is different. To me a bad thing would be losing my wife. But since most of you don’t have wives or a spouse, that wouldn’t  be a bad thing to you, because you don’t have it to lose.
Losing a phone might be a bad thing for some of us, but for others they never had a phone so it’s not a bad thing. 
For some people having to buy $20 shoes sucks, because they want those $100 ones so they don’t get made fun of, but there are a lot of people around the world that are wearing hand me down dollar flip-flops because that’s all they can afford.
Marika and I went to Honduras for three months to serve several churches over there. There was an orphanage where the kids were dropped off by their parents, because they couldn’t take care of them anymore. 

When we usually ask this question of why do bad things happen, we tend to view through the lens of what we find is bad. Sure we can probably agree on the big bad things, rape, murder, war. But usually, those are just to mask the bad things that we’ve experience that we wish we didn’t

We’re going to take several weeks and talk about this question, Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people. And in those several weeks we’re going to examine the underlining questions that go into it.
The first one is this, what is a bad thing. Because the reality is, everyone’s definition is a little different, because we based it on our own experience of a bad thing.

So the real question becomes what can we agree on are bad things? 
Let’s start with the biggest ones. Can we all agree murder is bad? But what about killing? See the Bible makes a distinction between the two. Murder is the unjustified taking of a person life, whereas killing is the justified taking of someones life. 
Is there a difference between murder and killing? If someone murders someone, is it ok for them to be killed? Some say yes, because it’s justice, but others say no it’s murder. Both agree that the original action is bad, but don’t agree if the action of killing the murder is bad. 
So though we agree on the overall, we don’t agree on some of the details.

What about rape, can we all agree that rape is bad? Okay, but what if the person that was the raper has a mental diffencency where they don’t understand that’s it bad. Or what if it was consensual sex, but afterward one person decides they didn’t like the experience, and calls the person a rapist? 
Again, once we start getting into the details, they start becoming harder to define what’s good and what’s bad.

One last one, can we agree that pedophilia, or sex with children is bad? So sex between an 45 year old and a 10 year dis bad right? What about an 18 year old and a 15 year old? Legally, ones an adult and ones a child, but I’ve seen a lot of things go around that says that’s ok. There’s a whole organization that pushes for men to be able to have relationships with young boys.

All this to say, what makes something bad is a matter of opinion, even in cases of the biggest ones. 

See when we ask this question of why does God allow bad things to happen to good people, we view bad through the lens of our understanding. But because we’re all different, that understanding and what constitutes something as bad, changes form person to person.

But it goes even deeper than that. To make a judgment call on something being bad in the first place, means there has to be a standard of bad to even measure it against. Why is murder bad in the first place? If I can get something that would make my life better, and all that is standing in my way is a person, why shouldn’t I be able to do that? 
Well the answer is, because it takes away someone’s else’s right to life. It breaks down the security of our society. But all of that can change because every society changes. 

When we base our definition of what is bad on standards that can change, like our personal beliefs or societies standards, then what is bad is arbitrary and in the end meaningless because it is in constant change.

But the answer to what is bad is actually in the third word of the question were asking. God is the answer to what are bad things. We can only begin to ask the question, because God is the standard by which bad is judged against. Murder is only absolutely wrong, because God sets the standard of unjustified killing. Rape is wrong because God sets the standard that people shouldn’t force themselves sexual onto others. Pedophilia is wrong because God sets restrictions on sexual intercourse between married adults.

We can only ask this question of why does God allow bad things, because we already start with the understanding that without God, there is no bad thing, and all things we call bad are an opinion that can change based on our experience and our circumstance.

So the better question is, what does God call bad, and why then does he allow those things to happen? Well answer this question next week. 

But today, my question for you is this, are you struggling with things that you call bad that you don’t want to deal with, or are you struggling with accepting who God is and his work in your life?

See the question of why does God allow bad things to good people, tends not to be a question of the injustices in the world, but rather question of why does God not let me have the life I want. Why can’t my life be perfect and I get everything I want. 
The question tends to have, at it’s root, a struggle between what we want and what God has given us. And we’re upset because what we have, in our eyes, should be better.

In order for us to move forward in this discussion, we must first understand that it is by God’s standard that we have to judge whether something is good or bad, and when we do that, we will have to submit to his authority, and relinquish our own. That is the hard place to be, because then I can’t decided what good or bad is, because it’s not mine to decide. But when we come to this realization, then we can begin to understand what bad truly is and why God allows it.

Because even as Jesus said, “33…In this world you will have trouble…But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Bible Contradictions from www.Atheist.org a Response from Pastor Jeremiah Holcombe


Bible Contradictions from www.Atheist.org
a Response from Pastor Jeremiah Holcombe

What follows are fifteen responses to fifteen contradictions in the Bible as presented by the atheist website, atheist.org. The original resource page is, https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/biblical-contradictions/.

My desire in this response to accurately respond to the presented contradictions in a concise, clear, and biblical way. If you have questions, please email me at jeremiahholcombe@gmail.com, or give me a call at 928-916-9571, or simply talk with me. I pray that you will be blessed through this.

On a side note, I have tried my best to correct my spelling and grammar, but I’m sure there were things that slipped by me. I have not on the other hand tried to correct the grammar or the spelling of the atheist website and instead opted to copy and paste it directly form the site. I have structured this paper with the title of the proposed contradiction, the copied atheist information and then my response.


1) The Sabbath Day
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” — Exodus 20:8

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” — Romans 14:5

Response:
The implication of putting these two verse next to each other is to say, how can God make the Sabbath more important, when Paul is saying that no day is more important than the other. 
This is a common practice of not only non-Christians, but of Christians too. We try proof texting the Bible, instead of reading the context of the passage. In Romans 14:5, Paul is dealing with people who are judging each other in Christian practice. The Jewish Christians were saying that people had to worship on Saturday the seventh day of the week, whereas the Gentile Christians began worshiping on Sunday the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Paul is actually referring back to a teaching of Jesus in Mark chapter 2 verse 23 to chapter 3 verse 6, where Jesus tells us what the Sabbath is. The Sabbath is not a specific day to be tied to, but rather a time God set aside for people to worship him and be refreshed. 
In Exodus 20:8 were not told that Saturday is the Sabbath, but rather it says in context of the very next verse, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” 
Did you catch that, you work six days, then the seventh day is the Sabbath. So if you work Monday through Saturday, Sunday is an acceptable day. If you work Sunday through Friday, Saturday is an acceptable Sabbath day. Paul is not saying that we should have a Sabbath and therefore not elevate it above any other day, but rather, not to elevate any other day above one thinking that you can only have a Sabbath on a particular day.
Context is king when we’re trying to understand seemingly contradictory passages in the Bible, and as we saw here, when we look at the context of each passage, we can see their in harmony, and not contradictory.

2) The Permanence of Earth
“… the earth abideth for ever.” — Ecclesiastes 1:4

“… the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” — 2Peter 3:10

Response:
To begin, Ecclesiastes is one of those books, where if you try to pick out individual verses and make a theological frame work around said verses, you’re most likely going to miss the point. Case in point, by only quoting the last five words of the Ecclesiastes 1:4, we miss the context in what the earth is being compared to. The full verse reads, “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” By reading the verse in it’s entirety we can see that it is talking about the cycle of humanity and death, whereas the earth remains.
Second, at the beginning of the book of Ecclesiastes, the writers literally says, “2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” or as a more modern translation puts it, “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” In other words, the man writing is wiring in lament, meaning he is looking at the world around him as if he has been defeated. In philosophical terms, he is showing more of a nihilistic worldview, than a biblical worldview.
Finally, the Hebrew word, “olam” (o-lawn) doesn’t literally mean infinte. Rather, what it means is a long duration of time. In the modern vernacular, we use this same idea when teenagers say, “It’s been like, forever.” (Did you just read that in a valley girl voice?) The teenager doesn’t literally mean forever, but rather it’s been a long time. 
Therefore when Peter in his second letter says, that the earth shall be burned up, he is not contradicting Ecclesiastes 1:4, because there is nothing to contradict.
 
3) Seeing God
“… I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” — Genesis 32:30

“No man hath seen God at any time…”– John 1:18

Response:
John’s words in the opening of his Gospel of Jesus’ life, are very pointed in communicating that Jesus isn’t just some other man, but in fact God himself. The whole verse of John 1:18 reads, “ No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” John believes, and wants to believe that Jesus is no mere man, but God himself.
But if no one has ever seen God, except God the Son, how then can Jacob in Genesis 32:30 write that he saw him face to face? And not only Jacob, but Moses had several mentions of seeing God face to face (Exodus 33:4; Numbers 12:8 & 14:14; Deuteronomy 34:10), and the same goes with Gideon (Judges 6:22).
Now in our modern world, we have things like FaceTime, which is an Apple program where two people can communicate with each other through video chat. The idea of a face to face meeting means that both of you are able to see each other. The problem with interpreting passages of the Bible, is that we tend to interpret them through the lens of our own world, instead of allowing the world in which it was written in to clarify it’s meaning. 
The simple answer here is, phrase face to face, did not mean physical sight, but rather a personal relationship. In her article on this very subject, Mary Fairchild writes, “In this verse (speaking of Exodus 33:4), ‘face to face’ is a figure of speech, a descriptive phrase that is not to be taken literally. It cannot be, for God does not have a face. Instead, it means that God and Moses shared a deep friendship. (https://www.learnreligions.com/face-of-god-bible-4169506)”

When we are allow the context of the world that the Bible was written in interpret the passages first, then we can better understand and implement the words of Scripture into our own lives. 

4) Human Sacrifice
“… Thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God…” — Leviticus 18:21

[In Judges, though, the tale of Jephthah, who led the Israelites against the Ammonoites, is being told. Being fearful of defeat, this good religious man sought to guarantee victory by getting god firmly on his side. So he prayed to god] “… If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering” — Judges 11:30-31

[The terms were acceptable to god — remember, he is supposed to be omniscient and know the future — so he gave victory to Jephthah, and the first whatsoever that greeted him upon his glorious return was his daughter, as god surely knew would happen, if god is god. True to his vow, the general made a human sacrifice of his only child to god!] — Judges 11:29-34

Response:
The first passage from Leviticus 18:21 deals with God’s desire that the Israelite people not sacrifice their children as the Canaanite people were doing. It was a horrible practice where a large statue of a human boar hybrid with a furnace in it’s belly would be lit. Then on the outstretched arms of the statue, children would be placed and burned alive. God didn’t want child sacrifice. 
The second passage from Joshua 11:30-31, seems to go against this idea of no child sacrifice, because Jephthah ends up sacrificing his daughter to win a battle.

Here’s the problem with the passage, the language of the passage in Judges is unclear. With some putting forth that he didn’t sacrifice her, but because of the emphasis on her being a virgin later on in the passage, that what actually happen was that he dedicated her to the service of the Lord where she would be unable to marry.
But let’s say, that Jephthah did kill his daughter and sacrificed her to God after the battle was won. There are problems with that too, first the Spirit of God descending on Jephthah at the beginning of the passage in verse 29 is contrasted with his vow in verse 30 & 31. We know of Jephthah’s backstory, that he had non-Jewish roots. A vow like this is more pagan than Jewish. And nowhere in the passage do we a confirmation that it was because of the vow that the victory was won. 
Instead, the passage seems to indicate that God had already secured the victory because he had given Jephthah his Spirit. But Jephthah wanted to secure it himself and offered a sacrifice. But this was him speaking hastily and out of ignorance. Therefore Jephthah’s joy in winning the battle, is broken with his sorrow at his own hasty vow. 
This passage makes Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 really cut deep, “33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (33-37)”
Jephthah’s vow was evil, because he was trying to win the victory on his own terms and it cost him his daughter.

5) The Power of God
“… with God all things are possible.” — Matthew 19:26

“…The LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” — Judges 1:19

Response:
When Jesus spoke the words, “with God all things are possible,” the context we are given is dealing with a person’s eternal destination. Jesus was responding to the disciples question, “Who then can be saved?(v.25)” This question came because Jesus told the disciples, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (v.24)” In other words, it is possible for God to bring even a rich person into his kingdom.

By comparing this discussion about eternal life, with that of a physical battle we see context of both passages ripped away. In the case for Judges 1:19, the context tells us that the tribe of Judah, one of the twelve of Israel, was battling all over their region. Victory after victory was won. When we come to verse 19, we’re told that again Judah was able to achieve overall victory. But there were some of Judah’s enemies who remained, this is because they had more advanced weapons. 
Does this point to God not being powerful enough? No, God gave the people of Judah the victory, and they had conquered the land. Yet in other places in Scripture, like in the very next chapter (2:20-21), the people of Israel were breaking the commands and covenant with God.
God is powerful, yet he works with us to bring about victory, and will not be a participating force in something that is not in his will. 

6) Personal Injury
“…thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. ” — Exodus 21:23-25

“…ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” — Matthew 5:39

Response:
When comparing the Old Testament to the New Testament one of the most common missteps in interpretation is taking each out of it’s context. The whole of the Bible is written as a pathway. Creation to Fall, Fall to Plan, Plan to Israel, Israel to Messiah, Messiah to Return. The path from the opening pages of Genesis culminates in Jesus’ arrival, death and resurrection and then finally his return at the end. 
In God’s dealing with Israel, they were to be a special people separated for God’s work (Exodus 19:6). A par to this separation was a theocratic government that was to be set up. In the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, we are given that governmental structure. One of these laws was that of Exodus 21:23-25. In ancient times and in vernal human nature, when someone was wronged, they not only received what was stolen, they also received compensation. We see this in places like Arabia, where a thief lost their hand in compensation for their crime. Yet, God called his people to not compound punishment, but rather have the punishment equal to the crime. 

When the work of God moves to Messiah, Jesus speaks the words of Matthew 5:39, calling the people, not into a government system, but rather into individual responses. On an individual level, we are to overcome evil with good, so personal injury needs to take a back seat to seeking goodness. 
As we see God moving the Israelite people away from seeking vengeance in their judicial law, we see God move his people away from vengeance even further through Jesus.

7) Circumcision
“This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.” — Genesis 17:10

“…if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” — Galatians 5:2

Response:
Many people miss what a covenant is. If we skip over what a covenant, then we miss the intention of what follows. A covenant is a legal agreement between two parties. In the case of the covenant between Abraham and God, and then later God and Israel, a sign of this legal agreement was the physical act of circumcision. Even though the physical act of circumcision was used, the covenant between God and Abraham was different than that of the covenant of God and Israel. 
The Abrahamic covenant had as it’s goal the building of a nation, through both many descendants and with land. This covenant is fulfilled by God in the time of Joshua. 
The Sinai covenant had as it’s goal the people of Israel being a separate people group who conducted their nation by the leading of God. 
When we come to the New Testament we actually see a God make a new covenant. This covenant is not made to be physical, with descendants or nations, but with the individual. The physical sign is not a mark on the body, but rather a mark on the life. 
So when Paul speaks in Galatians 5:2, he is saying that a physical circumcision does you no good, but rather it is the inward circumcision of the heart and the life application of such. 
8) Incest
“Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of this mother…” — Deuteronomy 27:22

“And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter…it is a wicked thing….” — Leviticus 20:17

[But what was god’s reaction to Abraham, who married his sister — his father’s daughter?] See Genesis 20:11-12

“And God said unto Abraham, As for Sara thy wife…I bless her, and give thee a son also of her…” — Genesis 17:15-16

Response:
In the Mosaic Law, the Bible is very clear on who not to have intercourse with. The terms used form the above passages are “lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.” That’s very specific. In modern language we would say, a biological sibling. Because this is so clear we do not need to go any further.
But the question is, is this the same relationship that Abraham had with his wife Sara? The answer is yes, Sara is Abraham’s half-sister. So doesn’t this mean that incest is okay with God?
Here’s the problem, Abraham and Sara are married before God called Abraham to follow him (Genesis 12). God did not resolve this marriage, why? Could it be that they made a marriage covenant and covenants are important? Just because Abraham did something outside of God’s design, does that mean he can no longer use Abraham?
In the passage referenced, Genesis 20:11-12, Abraham also lies, does this mean that God approves, even though in Exodus 20:16, God tells the people that shall not lie?
Here’s the reality, God uses us in our sinful ways, Abraham did a lot wrong, that God had to move him beyond. When giving his law for the people to follow, 400+ years later, God sets forth what he expects form his people. When God made a covenant with Abraham, he agreed to be his God even with all the baggage that came with it. 
This is an encouragement to us that even with all the sin we’ve committed, God will work with us to bring us to him.



9) Trusting God

“A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD…” — Proverbs 12:2

Now consider the case of Job. After commissioning Satan to ruin Job financially and to slaughter his shepherds and children to win a petty bet with Satan. God asked Satan: “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.” — Job 2:3

Response:
Comparing these two passages misses the point of the book of Job. In the opening pages of Job we learn of a meeting between God and Satan. (There’s not enough time to go into the theological ramifications of this part). In this meeting Satan has roamed the world, and God brings up “my servant Job.” Satan responds that he only follows God because God gives him everything, to which God says, “all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.”
So all of Job’s family and finances are taken away, yet Job continues to follow God. Then we are told in the second chapter that again Satan arrives and God references Job. This time Satan responds with, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” Making the argument that people only follow until their own lives are on the line.
God then allows Satan to do whatever he wants just shy of killing Job. We then spend the next forty chapters hearing Job and his friends go back and forth of why bad things have occurred to Job. Job don’t understand because as far as he’s concerned he’s done nothing wrong; whereas his friends say there must be something he did.
We as the audience know that it’s not Job’s fault. 
Why would God do this? Is it so we would trust him, or could it be that the whole book of Job is to attack the ancient idea that if you have wealth and prosperity then you are blessed by God, and if you don’t that means you have sinned? The reality is, Job’s story is to relay several theological points: First, bad things happen that are out of control, and yes we need to trust God. Second, we can question our circumstances and bring our griefs to God. Third, God is not checked out in the process and knows exactly what’s going on. Fourth, There is a reason behind everything, we just might not know it. Fifth, just because you are wealthy or poor is not a reflection on your situation with God. Finally, God isn’t going to give us more than we can endure.

God’s interaction with Satan and Job isn’t petty, but rather given to us so that when we enter into the harsh times of life, we can trust that there is a God who is in control.

10) The Holy Lifestyle
“Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart…” — Ecclesiastes 9:7

“…they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not…” — 1 Corinthians 7:30

Response:
To tell you the truth, with just two out of context verses, it’s hard to understand what is actually being said here. So what follows is my interpretation of what point the website is trying to make.

In Ecclesiastes 9 the writer, the writer is musing about death and how it awaits us all. To him, the end result for the righteous and the wicked is the same, the grave. So the writer tells us that we need to go and enjoy this life. The rest of verse 7 that is left off says, “for God now accepteth thy works.” 
If we simply leave the book in chapter 9, we might walk away from it with the understanding that we should embrace this life and as verse 9 says, “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.”
But the book doesn’t end in chapter 9 and it’s conclusions, but rather in chapter 12:13-14, “13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
At the end of Ecclesiastes, the writer calls us to following God, because there will be a judgment at the end. This fits perfectly with what is said in the New Testament book Hebrews, where in chapter 9 verse 27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”

Now as for 1st Corinthians 7:30, it actually calls us to the same idea. Is it saying that we shouldn’t rejoice? No, because then in chapter 12 verse 26, the call to rejoice would be inconstant. Rather the point of the passage begins with marriage, and whether a person should get married. Paul’s stance is the ministry is more important than marriage, but he doesn’t condemn it either. Rather, when we get to verse 30, the book ends of verse 29 and the end of verse 31 are important. Verse 29 reads, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short…” Whereas verse 31 reads, “And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.”
Paul’s whole emphasis is that we would be working for the kingdom and not concern ourselves with the pleasure of the world. 

Now why would this atheist website use these verses when talking about a holy lifestyle? I couldn’t tell you. Ecclesiastes is ultimately calling us to that lifestyle, and so is 1st Corinthians. 

What I believe the point in using these two verses is the focus on “rejoice”. In the Ecclesiastes verse it says to merriment, while in the 1st Corinthians verse it says “rejoiced not”. I do not believe that this was thought through when it was put together. 
The Bible is perfectly consistent in calling followers of God to a Holy lifestyle, and these two passages do nothing to contradict that.

11) Punishing Crime
“The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father…” — Ezekiel 18:20

“I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation…” — Exodus 20:5

Response:
When trying to understand the Bible, it is best to read it in the order of it’s revelation. First and foremost, Exodus come before Ezekiel, and so, when we seek to interpret the passages we need to read them in order. Not, as we see from the atheist website, where the more recent revelation is given first.
Why is this important? Because of the following: God speaks and says, “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation…” The emphasis that the website is putting on here is where is God visits iniquity of the fathers on the children three and four generations away. 
And this is true, but the question arises, if the father sinned and the children do not, will they still be judged for the father’s sin?

Fast forward several hundred years to the time of Ezekiel and we get that very theological answer. God is responding specifically to a proverb that is going around Israel. 18:1-2, “The word of the Lord came unto me again, saying, 2 What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?”
The meaning of the proverb is an attack on the justice of God. The Israelites were saying that God is not fulfilling his side of his covenant and justice isn’t being served.
God responds by saying that, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.(v.4)” For the next chapter, God speaks in detail about the righteous father and the wicked son, and the wicked father and righteous son. 
God lets us know that if the father is wicked, yet the son sees that and decides not to follow his fathers footsteps, and instead chooses righteousness, then the sins of the father will not be on the son (v.14ff).
So, Scripture interprets Scripture. God will judge those generations that continue in the sins of the father (Exodus 20:5), but for the generation that sees the wickedness and turns from it, God will not continue the judgement (Ezekiel 18:20). Reading the Bible as a whole, and not cherry picking passages is what we need to fully understand what is being talked about within it’s pages.

12) Temptation
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” — James 1:13

“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham…” — Genesis 22:1




Response:
These are obviously contradictory, because in the Genesis passage it clearly states that God tempted Abraham, but in the James passage, it says God cannot tempt.
But here’s the thing, the website is purposefully using the King James Version of the Bible. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, and I’m not going to condemn anyone that uses that version of the Bible. In fact if you want to memorize the Bible, the King James is probably the best one to memorize, because it is so poetic. But the problem with the King James is that is was translated just over 400 years ago. The English language has changed, and so a more modern English translation for our vernacular should be used when discussing contradictions. 
Case in point, if you take the top four English translations, New International, New American Standard, English Standard, and even the New King James version, every single one of the them translates Genesis 22:1 not as tempted Abraham, but rather tested him.
But what if they’re lying to try and cover up a contradiction? Well, what does the Hebrew say? Well the Hebrew word is “nasah” (nawsaw), which means to get or try someone. In other words, the modern translations correctly translate the word tested, because back when the King James version was translated, they understood the difference, but since language changes over time, we need more precise words to help us understand the meanings of words.
But what’s the difference between a testing of God and a temptation? Simply, God tests us to build us up in the faith, whereas the enemies of God tempt us to break relationship with him. Can we be tested and tempted at the same time? Yes, Joshua himself said of his brothers selling him into slavery said in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” And the reverse is true as well.

13) Family Relationships
“Honor thy father and thy mother…”– Exodus 20:12

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. ” — Luke 14:26



Response:
The Exodus passage is pretty straight forward in it’s emphasis, respect for parents. In fact the whole of the verse emphasizes that to have a good life, a person must honor their parents. But one of the things that is missed when quoting this verse out of context and comparing it to a verse like Luke 14:26, is the fact that this verse follows: a command on having no other gods before the God of Israel, no idols, honoring God’s name, and setting aside a day for communion with God.
Five commands about following God and putting him before everything else come before honoring parents. So with that understanding we can now see that Jesus’ words in Luke 14:26 make sense. Especially when we understand that the Greek word “miseĆ³” (mis-eh’-o), that we translate as hate, has the additional meaning of “love less” or “esteem less”. Just as the command to honor our parents comes after a greater emphasis on honoring God, so to must our devotion to everything in this world come after our devotion to God.
This is a consistent teaching from Exodus 20 all the way to Luke 14.

14) Resurrection of the Dead
“…he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. ” — Job 7:9

“…the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth….” — John 5:28-29

Response:
When reading the book of Job, we must first understand that Job’s words are from a distressed and grieving man. He is struggling with his world that has crashed all around him and he is using what he can observation about the world to help him cope. When we come to chapter 7, Job begins to speak about life, saying things like, “My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope. (v.6)”, and “O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good.”
And later in the chapter, Job admits that what he is saying is in anguish, “Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
So we have to watch how we interpret this grieving and distressed man’s words. In verse 9, Job is looking at death as the end, there is no hope afterward.
This is why Jesus’ words of John 5 are so important. Job sees death and it’s the end, like so many people today, but to God death is nothing. In fact, on one occasion Jesus called death sleep (Mark 5:41). 
Job is a reflection of us when we are down with no hope, but what Job did right, was he continued to go back to God and when God speaks in the end, Job says, “Then Job answered the Lord, and said, 2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.”
In the end, Job trusts God, because on in him is there hope. Not just for this life, but for the life to come.

15) The End of the World
“Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. ” — Matthew 16:28

“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. ” — Luke 21:32-33

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” — Romans 13:11-12

“Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” — James 5:8

“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” — 1 John 2:18

“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” — 1 Peter 4:7

These words were written between 1800 and 1900 years ago and were meant to warn and prepare the first Christians for the immediate end of the world. Some words are those supposedly straight out of the mouth of the “Son of God.” The world did not end 1800 or 1900 years ago. All that generation passed away without any of the things foretold coming to pass. No amount of prayer brought it about; nor ever so much patience and belief and sober living. The world went on, as usual, indifferent to the spoutings of yet another batch of doomsday prophets with visions of messiahs dancing in their deluded brains. The world, by surviving, makes the above passages contradictions.

Response: 
Out of all of the topics presented so far, this is the most detailed. Whereas the ones before it simply gave verses and perhaps a brief commentary, this final one is where the it seems the author wants to be the most vocal. Except this is not a supposed contradiction within the Bible as were the previous topics.
No, this has to do with fulfilled prophecy, and when dealing with prophecy, we have to take a step back and analyze the word usage given. But before we get into that, I want to emphasize that this is not a biblical contradiction in the same vein as the rest of the discussion thus far. So in reality, we have been given fourteen topics on supposed contradictions and one topic on fulfilled/unfulfilled prophecy. 

With that understanding out of the way, let us begin to analyze and understand the verses given.

The first two verses given are both from Jesus, which I appreciate, because the verses following would his disciples’ interpretation of his words.
In Matthew 16 four things happen: first, Jesus is asked to give a miraculous sign, which he says will be the sign of Jonah. This references Jonah’s three days in the belly of the fish and then spit up on shore, which parallels Jesus’ three days in the grave and resurrection. Second, Jesus tells his disciples to not be like those who desired miraculous signs over Jesus himself. Third, Peter confesses that Jesus is the awaited Messiah of Israel and Jesus says that on that understanding the Church will be built. And finally, Jesus predicts his death, to which Peter rebukes him, and Jesus tells him that for people to gain life, Jesus must die and be resurrected.
It is in this context that Jesus says starting in verse 27, “ For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
There are three interpretations here, the one the atheist website is putting forth, one that links what happens follows this, and the one that I will put forth.
The first one is simply that Jesus is talking about when he returns in his second coming. I do not believe this interpretation is true because of Jesus’ talk about those standing there seeing Jesus in his kingdom.
The second is Jesus is talking about the transfiguration that happens right after this. I do not believe this to be the case, because Jesus’ talk about angels.
I believe that a third interpretation covers both objects that I have raised with the previous two. Jesus is speaking of his resurrection. This incorporates Jesus’ words about how some of the disciples would be seeing it (we know Judas did not). This also incorporates the angles, who are seen at both his gravesite (Matt. 28:5) and when he is taken into heaven (Acts 1:10-11). This would also be in keeping with Jesus’ words about his kingdom not being of this world, but of the spirit (John 18:36). Instead, Jesus’ kingdom begins with the Church and has it’s fulfillment in his second coming.

Moving on to Luke 21:32-33, we find a parallel passage in Matthew 24. In both passages, Jesus is asked when will the temple be destroyed and the end will come. In both passages, Jesus gives a list of events that will happen. In verse 21-24, were told that Jerusalem will be surrounded and trampled upon. This happened in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. Then we are told at the end of verse 24 that Gentiles will continue to trample on it until the time has been fulfilled. 
With that, everything afterward comes after AD 70. That is when we are told that at some future date, all sorts of things will begin to happen and then the end will come. When we arrive at verse 32, and the words, “…this  generation…”, Jesus is not talking abbot the generation of the first disciples, but of those who have seen all that he has just said that occurs after AD 70.  Which, we are still in the time of the Gentiles from verse 24.

The verses from Romans 13:11-12, James 5:8, 1 John 2:18, and 1 Peter 4:7 would all be keeping with Jesus’ final words in Luke 21:34-36, “34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
Jesus’ disciples did not know when any of this would come. Would the time of the Gentiles be a tomorrow and then be there for a year, or would it be a hundred years from now? They didn’t know, so they were prepared as Jesus told them they should be for it to happen at any moment. And we should be too. We could go further into the times that have happened and if you would like to do just that, a link to my blog where I delve a little deeper in this issues.



Each of us needs to be prepared for the day of Jesus’ return. True is has not yet occurred, but what we are seeing in our world today, points to us moving closer to the day when the Savior of the world will come, and on that day there will be both great rejoicing and great sorrow.



My Conclusion: 
In my own conclusion, if you struggle with contradictions in the Bible, I would implore you to begin by simply reading it in it’s context. The majority of what we’ve covered today is simple context reading. To both Christians and non-Christian, do not base what you believe on one verse, but rather the whole of the Word of God together. I have found that it is more cohesive and deeper than anything else. I pray that this has blessed you, with both information, and a greater understanding of the harmony of the Bible.