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Thursday, January 30, 2014

"If a soul is non-physical and the human body is physical, how does a soul stay in our bodies?"

I had a friend at college who was a big Star Trek fan (Bigger than I am. His room was decorated in Klingon.) He loved to ask the question, "What happens to the soul when someone is beamed down to a planet?" That is, if the body were dissolved into atoms, what would happen to the soul? There are a lot of questions about the soul's relationship to the body. 
Is the soul a part of the body or is it completely separate? Does the body die when the soul leaves or does the soul leave when the body dies? Does someone who is brain dead, but still on life support still have a soul? I was in the room when my wife's grandmother passed away and tried to see some evidence of the soul leaving, but couldn't. Some scientists even tried to measure the mass of a body before and after death to determine the physical mass of the soul. Unfortunately, the reason we know very little about the physical makeup of the soul because the soul is not physical. The soul is supernatural. It is the immortal part of ourselves. The soul doesn't die. The soul is what separates humans from animals.
We do know that the soul is corporeal. It has a shape and can be recognized. (Revelation 6:9) Apparently, our souls look like ourselves.(1 Samuel 28:14) And one day, our souls will be reunited with our bodies to either be rewarded in Heaven or punished in Hell.
How does the soul stay in the body? The Bible doesn't say. All we can say is because God allows it. When God decides to take it away, we die.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Has Satan Twisted the Bible

Another question from the internet

"I have often heard from many believers that even Satan has a presence in the church, which is why even in church people can still have impure thoughts. If Satan can find his way in the church, how do Christians know that Satan didn't find his way into the Bible and twist the whole book?"

See this post for why I believe we can trust the Bible. As far as Christians having impure thoughts even in church; If a Christian has an impure thought, it is not Satan's fault. People have impure thoughts because of their own sinful 
nature. Satan cannot put himself into a Christian's mind. Satan can set up situations to tempt people to sin, but a person sins by himself. He can always choose not to give in to the temptation. (James 1:13-16)
By the way, I do believe that some versions of the Bible have been "twisted." (e.g. the New World Translation used by Jehovah's Witnesses)


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I'm now a member of Bible Gateway

Bible Gateway is a great site for Bible study. You can read the Bible in many translations, study individual verses, and read many different Bible Study Blogs (like this one.)
From themselves

BibleGateway.com, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, is the most visited Christian website with 130-140 million views per month, 637,000+ Facebook fans, 60,000+ consistent blog readers, and 44,000+ Twitter followers. Founded in 1993, it’s the original multilingual online Bible resource. It empowers global users to freely read, search, study, compare, and share the Bible in 70+ languages and 180+ versions, using their desktops, laptops, tablets, ereaders, or smartphones.

Check it out.

Where is the Devil?

Another question from internet skeptic sites. 

If god (sic) cast the devil into hell and hell is a place for eternal punishment from which even god cannot grant a pardon, then why do the preachers tell us the devil is walking up and down the hallways of high schools tempting 
teenagers to do drugs and have premarital sex? A warden who allows his prisoners the freedom to go out and kill and rape would be terminated for incompetence.

Answer

After reading that last sentence, I'm tempted to say something about prison furlough programs but I won't.


The simple answer is because, contrary to popular belief, Satan has not been cast into Hell, yet. He won't be sent to Hell until just before Judgement Day. (Revelation 20:10) Satan was cast to Earth. (Revelation 12:9) So, he could be 
roaming the halls of our high schools.

But, actually, Satan himself probably doesn't mess with too many people, himself. He is too busy accusing people before God. (Job 1) However, he does have a large (but not infinite) number of demons who do much of his tempting 
for him. Also remember, people are tempted when they are already led away by their own desires. (James 1:13-14) Demons may set up a situation, but people sin by their own choice. Satan doesn't need to tempt people. Their own sinful nature does that for him.

Another thing to remember about Hell is that it was not meant for man. It was intended to be a place of punishment only for Satan and his follower angels. (Matthew 25:41) Man only goes there because, by rejecting Christ's gift of Salvation, he chooses to side with the devil.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Do You Know Jesus?

The reason this ministry exists is to tell others about Jesus. Because, in the long run, it doesn't matter what you believe about creation. It doesn't matter what you believe about science, abortion, then end times or anything else. All that matters is, do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

In the beginning, God made Adam and Eve. (Genesis 1:27, 2:7, 2:22) He told them they could do whatever they wanted except eat from one particular tree.(Genesis 2:17)  After listening to Satan, they chose to eat from the tree anyway. (Genesis 3:6) Please notice; their sin wasn't eating the fruit, it was that they disobeyed God. That's all that sin is, disobeying God.

Since God is perfect, he can't tolerate sinfulness in his presence. Man has to do something to pay for his sin. Since the consequence of sin is death, (Romans 6:23) something has to die to make up for man's sin. God started a sacrificial system to do this. However, sacrificing animals doesn't really cover man's sin because the animal is incapable of sin itself. The only one who can die for a human's sin is another human. The problem is that all humans have their own sins for which to die. I can't die for your sin because I have my own sin to die for. The only acceptable sacrifice would be a human who had never sinned himself. But all humans have sinned (Romans 3:23) so it seems there is no hope of making up with God.

Knowing this, God already had a plan. He would come to the world himself as a human to be the sacrifice. Temporarily setting aside some of his Godly attributes, God came to Earth as the man Jesus. Jesus was born as a human, lived as a human, and experienced human emotion and feelings, including pain and temptation. He taught us about the way God wants us to live. He taught us that God judges our intents, not our actions. (Matthew 5)

Jesus allowed himself to be killed in the most horrific and painful way man has ever devised as the sacrifice for our sins. But three days later, he physically and bodily rose from the dead to show his power over death and as a promise that, one day, we will live forever as well in resurrected perfect bodies.

Do you want to live forever? All it takes is to receive this gift from God. We can't earn our way into Heaven. There is nothing we can do that is so good that God must let us into Heaven for our actions. But also, there is nothing so bad that we can do that God can't forgive us if we repent and ask forgiveness. God wants us to be with him forever. But to do so, we must admit that we can't make it on our own. We must agree with God that we are sinners and repent of 
our sins. That means to turn away from our bad actions and thoughts and honestly try not to sin again. (John 8:10-11) We must believe that Christ died for our sins and accept his death as our sacrifice. We must accept Christ as our savior and Lord. That means we must ask Jesus to enter our lives and rule over us. We must be willing to submit to the authority of Christ and follow his lead in our lives.

Simply pray a prayer like this and be honest about it.

Father,

I know I am a sinner. I know I've done things that displease you. Right now I want to repent of my sins. I want to turn my life around and follow your lead. I believe that Christ died for my sins. I accept his sacrifice as payment for my sins. Please come into my life as my savior and Lord. Please help me to follow your instructions. Thank you for hearing me and saving me.

In the name of Jesus, Amen.

If you prayed that prayer and meant it, congratulations, you are now part of God's family. You are an adopted child of God and heir to his richness. And, I, and many others, will see you in Heaven someday.

Now for the awful truth. You are still going to commit sins. Being saved doesn't make you perfect, and it doesn't mean your life will suddenly become a bed of roses. But it does mean that you can always pray for help. You can trust God to hear you. You are also part of a worldwide family of Christians. I highly recommend that you become involved in a local church. Tell the pastor of your decision to become a Christian. He will be thrilled. Follow the lead of Christ in baptism. Get involved in church activities and become friends with other Christians. This will give you the strength to follow Christ. Most of all begin a regular habit of prayer and Bible study. And, if Satan tries to remind you of your past life, remember that you are a child of God, now and you belong to Him. And he will never let you go. Nothing you did before matters, now.

Please let me know of your decision, too so I can pray for you. Comment on this post or send an e-mail to bvermeer0@gmail.com.
 I'm waiting to hear from you.

Has Satan Tricked Us?

Another question from the internet.

If Satan is the ultimate trickster, how do we know that Satan hasn't tricked Christians into worshiping him as God (Yahweh) and are actually rebuking the "real" God in his own name?


If Satan has everyone believing the wrong thing about God, then one of two scenarios must be true.
1. God is allowing Satan to deceive everyone OR
2. God can't prevent Satan from deceiving everyone.

If scenario one is correct, then God is a deceiver. Why would God deliberately hide his truth from humans, when their immortal future is at stake? This would make God cruel, deliberately sending people to Hell and not allowing them an avenue of escape.

If scenario two is correct, then Satan must be more powerful than God. If God can't stop Satan from spreading false doctrine, then maybe Satan is the one to be followed anyway.

The truth is that Satan can only do what God allows him to do. God reveals his truth to everyone. (Romans 1:20) Some people choose not to believe the truth. After a time, God will allow them to be tricked by Satan since they have refused to follow God anyway.

By the way, scenario one is one of the main problems I have with the Mormon church, the Jehovah's Witnesses or other groups that say that the entire church went apostate a long time ago and God had to re-reveal his truth to their leader,prophet, etc.  I don't believe that God would have allowed his word to completely disappear from the Earth. (Matthew 24:35) This would have condemned millions of people without any chance of salvation because no-one on Earth would have known the truth.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

God's Word is Reliable (Short Answer)

Here's a skeptical question found in several places on the internet. 
"Why would God entrust the spreading of 'His' word to one of his 'fallible' children?  He knows men are sinners and are untrue, I doubt a professor would allow one of his students to teach a class if all the other students' futures were at stake.  If God loved us so much and he wants us to be with him, why would he put our eternal souls at risk like that?"

Here's the short a
nswer


The professor might allow the student to teach the class if he personally guided the student when the lesson was written to make sure that all of the important topics were covered. Also if the professor observed while the lesson was being taught to make sure nothing was left out. Whenever I had a student give a report in class, I made sure what he said was correct, and corrected him if he wasn't to make sure the class understood the truth.


This is how God prepared his word. He guided the authors, by the Holy Spirit, to only write what God intended to say. He did not necessarily dictate word for word to the authors, but he made sure all that they wrote was correct. He also made sure they wrote everything he intended for them to write. As preachers and missionaries spread the word, they should be guided by the Holy Spirit to say what God intends for them to say. That doesn't mean that they all are, but that they all should be. There are times when I am speaking or teaching my Sunday School class that I can feel the influence of the Holy Spirit guiding my words. That reassures me that I am saying the right things.

Men may be fallible, but the Bible is infallible because it was written by God 
through men guided by God.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I Don't Believe in Aliens

Do you believe in UFOs?


This was one of the most common questions my students would ask me in class.  I answered "Certainly." UFO simply means "unidentified flying object." I believe there are many flying things people have seen that have not been positively identified. Usually that's because the viewer cannot give a totally accurate description of the object in question. Now, do I believe that UFOs are from somewhere out in space? No. I believe that most UFOs have simply natural and boring explanations. Unusual weather patters, unknown (to the viewer) aircraft, stars, planets, or more commonly meteors and comets.

The question usually then turns to "Do you believe in alien life?" While I won't completely rule out the possibility of microbial, plant or even animal life on other planets, I do not believe in intelligent life beyond Earth. The Bible tells us that God created man in his own image. (Genesis 1:27) This was the culmination of the creation week. That is, everything else in the universe was created before man. (Genesis 1:31-2:1) It is reasonable to assume, then that the entire universe was created for man. Therefore, man is the most important item in all of God's creation.

If there exist other intelligent creatures on other worlds, then they must have been created by God, also. (John 1:3) This poses some problems. Were they also made in God's image? Do they possess a sinful nature? If, so, then how are they saved? Did Jesus come to their world, also? What would be God's point in making two intelligent species? No where in the Bible is there any hint of life outside of Earth, in spite of what the UFO people say about Ezekiel. (They claim that Ezekiel's vision of the "wheel within a wheel" (Ezekiel 1:15-16) was actually a flying saucer and the living creatures he saw were aliens.)

Now, while I said that most UFO sightings could be explained, I also won't rule out the possibility that demons could cause themselves to appear to people as UFOs or aliens to get them to question their faith in God. However, this, I believe is a rarity. (For more information read Gary Bates good book Alien Intrusion. available at www.answersingenesis.org.)

By the way, the whole argument in favor of aliens is basically an evolutionary argument. If life evolved on Earth, the argument goes, then it must have evolved elsewhere also. The universe is just too big for Earth to be the only inhabited planet. That is, the main argument in favor of extraterrestrial life is a purely speculative one.

Another thought, UFO people are also the hardest to try to talk to. Most of them have the conspiracy mindset. I had an interesting conversation about Roswell with a student. He asked why doesn't the Air Force just release their information about Roswell. I told him that the Freedom of Information Act required the Air Force to release the information in 1998. The did and showed that the crash in Roswell was of a spy balloon system. He didn't believe me and said that was just what the government wanted us to think. I said "OK, suppose I took you to Area 51 into Hangar 18 and showed you the wreckage and it actually was a spy balloon system. Would believe me, then?" He said "No, I would think you were just showing me what you wanted me to believe." The problem wasn't that he couldn't believe the government. It was that he wouldn't believe the government.


Many people are the same way about the Bible. You can show them all the evidence there is that the Bible is true and they still won't believe because they don't want to believe. Usually that is because they don't want to give up a sinful lifestyle. You will never argue anyone into Heaven. But, hopefully, with your arguments, you will open their hearts to hear the gospel.

BC/AD

Here's a question about time to start the new year.

I received this question in my e-mail a while back.

"OK, think about this.....The politically correct terms now are CE (Common Era) and BCE )Before Common Era. I know it was done to get Christ's name out of it, but if the time is the same and 1 CE was at His birth what was accomplished by the change. We are still acknowledging Him, right? Or am I missing something? (worth discussing on your website? or am I the only one
"not getting it"??)"

There does seem to be a trend among the academic circles to change the method for numbering
the years from B.C..  (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini i.e. "The Year of Our Lord") to the less religious B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era.)

One thing to remember is that the numbering of the years is completely arbitrary. Instead of using
the birth of Christ as a reference point, any event in history could have been used. For example, the Hebrew calendar bases its number on the years since creation, making this year 5768. The early church did not originally use the current system either.  It was not invented until the sixth century. Most early Christians continued to use the calendars of their particular cultures.

Arguments in favor of changing are usually based on the idea of religious neutrality. "How would Christians like it," they ask, " if the years were numbered since the birth of Buddha?" People who
work with others of many cultures and religions prefer the new system because it supposedly eliminates cultural bias. However, this does not change the fact that the years are still numbered from the supposed year of Christ's birth. (He was actually born around 4 B.C. There was an error in the in the initial calculations.) When future schoolchildren question the origin of the calendar, the secularists would still have to admit that the turning point from BCE to CE was based on the birth of Jesus.

Actually the fact that this is how the years are numbered actually attests to the fact of Christianity. If Jesus wasn't anyone important then why would most of the world change their time system to honor him?

By the way, many people think that AD stands for "After Death" referring to the death of Christ. I always like to point out that if this is true then what about the years between his birth and death. AD actually stands for the Latin "Anno Domini (the year of the lord.)" That is A.D. 2014 (the A.D. should come first) means 2,014 years since the Lord came.