Nine months ago, who could have predicted the state of the world today?
  • Hundreds of thousands dead in a worldwide pandemic
  • Millions of people in the US out of jobs; thousands of businesses closed
  • All schools (both public and private) closed, including colleges
  • Churches not permitted to hold services (for four months, and counting) by order of the government
  • Rioting protesters in Portland who barricaded police officers in a building with a burning dumpster and then set the building on fire with the officers inside
Where can we find good answers to hard questions when the world seems to have turned upside down? In the same place as when Nero burned Rome and tortured Christians. In the same place as when Hitler slaughtered the Jews in Europe and the Christians who tried to protect them. The Bible.

Here at the Ambassadors Forum we are working hard to help Christians better understand their faith and be able to defend it. We are bringing together some of the best speakers in the country to deliver a blockbuster lineup of Apologetics training on relevant and practical topics at our conference in the fall.

We also have relevant topics in our Friday Forums leading up to the conference. Come join us and get equipped.

Aug 21 – A Deeper Dive into Critical Theory, the New Pseudo Religion, by Neil Shenvi
Sep 18 – The Only Plausible Worldview, by Steve Van Horn
Oct 23-24 – Annual Apologetics Conference with Josh McDowell and others

Youth Corner

Hello everyone! My name is Jesse Nieman, and I’m entering my senior year of high school at Portland Community College. I’ve been raised in a Christian home and have tried to study the Scriptures all my life to learn all I can about God.
This global pandemic undoubtedly has brought on hard times for us all. I’ve been impacted by it in many ways. For example, I was going to attend Worldview Academy, which is a week long apologetics conference where I would have had wonderful opportunities to grow in my faith and had long lasting experiences, but it was cancelled due to COVID. However I want you all to consider the hope and joy we have as Christians. The Lord has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6), that He has a plan for our good (Jeremiah 29:11), and that He has gone to prepare a place for you and me (John 14:2). You see, we have a hope that is unimaginable to the world. We don’t have to fear death because Christ has conquered death! Yes, the virus can be frightening, being locked down can be frustrating, and we may question why and what God is doing; but we can rest firm in his promises.

Personally, my study of apologetics has helped to bolster my faith and give me confidence in the promises of God. During my time at PCC, I have seen people with all sorts of beliefs and talked with some about theirs. For some reason, I always assumed that people would be super antagonistic about any discussion regarding their beliefs, but that was never the case. Many teenagers, young adults, and even older adults are trying to find answers to the questions they have, and we can give those answers to these people. While people may not normally be willing to face these questions, during times like these, where over half a million people have died from a single virus strain, they are forced to reckon with the problem of their frailty and the fleeting nature of life. This opens up so many opportunities for us to share the message of Christ crucified to those around us. I hope you will consider the inheritance you have through Christ, and that you will reach out to the hurting and the broken to breathe life and hope into their lives. We may not understand what God is accomplishing through all of this, but we can rest assured that he is doing a good work in ways that we cannot fathom. So trust in the promises of God, pray for his will to be done, and seek to glorify him even in the midst of your trials.

Hard Question Corner

Question: Why did God create us to glorify and worship Him? Isn't that kind of narcissistic on God's part?

First, a caveat. Any question that starts with “Why did God…” is always very challenging. It requires us to know the mind of God.
The Bible says we will never fully know the mind of God, except where He has specifically revealed it to us. So we need to be careful. Many apologists explicitly refuse to answer these kinds of questions because of this inherent uncertainty.

However, we will attempt to speculate. We know God is motivated by love and by relationship. Even His very nature in the Trinity is an illustration of this. We also know that God has a sovereign plan for the entire scope of creation. He knew we (humans) would reject His perfect love and rebel against him, and He chose a path of personal sacrifice and suffering to redeem us to Himself. It is always best with these kinds of questions to take our truths directly from the Bible (rather than complicated philosophical models):

Ephesians 2:4-8 – “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

Now let’s address the narcissistic part. We need to be very cautious using human characteristics to try to describe God, because He is a very different being from us.

nar·​cis·​sis·​tic : having an exaggerated sense of self-importance

Narcissism (as a human characteristic) has to do with an EXCESSIVE view of our importance. But how do we apply this to God? He really is ALL important! It cannot be excessive. A reasonable (but imperfect) analogy is a mother and her baby. Babies are totally dependent on their mothers: for food, for transportation, for protection, etc. Mothers really are ALL important to their babies, and babies rightly adore them and think the world of them. Would anybody ever call a loving and nurturing mother narcissistic?

In conclusion, God’s primary motivation in creating us may not have been so that we would glorify and worship Him. His PRIMARY motivation may have been to have a loving relationship with us. The fact that we glorify and worship Him has more to do with who He is (majestic) and who we are in relation to Him (humble) rather than why He created us.

In general, when we fail to start at the foundation in our understanding of God, that He is motivated by a selfless love that is the purest and best form of goodness we can possibly imagine, it is easy to end in error. But when we start with correct assumptions and rigorously progress through a logical framework of analysis and conclusions, we will end in a state where we choose to glorify and worship this amazing Redeemer who calls us His children.

Legal Corner

Why is written law important?

Written law is important, in both worldly and spiritual realms, to understand: (1) authority and its limits, as well as rights and obligations; (2) what is “right” and “wrong”; and (3) standards of equality, justice and fairness.
In fact, these concepts are meaningless unless they are described and recorded. And not all written law comes from humans; God’s Word reveals and reminds us of His eternal principles. See, e.g., Ps. 19. II Tim 3:16-17.

If there was no written law, we could not identify Who (or who) has authority to create rules or make decisions that affect our daily lives. Otherwise, we are subject to unrestrained “might makes right” tyrannical officials, a world described by Lord Acton in which “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Without written law, we would not have standard weights and measures, a 40-hour work week, safe food or water, speed limits or the knowledge of which side of the road to drive on. We would wonder who decides “right” or “wrong,” what they are, or where they come from.

People of faith and people without faith can generally agree on a few principles from written law, even without stopping to ponder them. Even many without faith recognize the value of the Ten Commandments prohibiting murder, lying and stealing. Most intuitively agree “justice” or “fairness” require rules to identify and protect the innocent and punish the wrongdoer. Most would agree a consistent, impartial process treating all the same requires written rules to apply law “fairly” or “justly” on equal terms. The words of John Stonestreet in a recent Breakpoint column reveals much about the human heart absent written law:

When you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him, he will be complaining “It’s not fair” before you can say “Jack Robinson.”

In other words, experience has demonstrated human nature alone, without written laws, often from a fixed transcendent source, is unlikely to deliver fixed rules or treasured values in the manner we aspire to. Only written laws enable us to resist the temptation to seek more grace for ourselves than we are willing to extend to others.
Disclaimer: The above column should not be regarded or relied upon as legal advice. The reader should consult legal counsel for specific guidance in particular circumstances.

Current Events

What's in a Slogan?

“Black Lives Matter!” By now, you’ve all heard this slogan, seen it on signs being carried by devotees at protests, seen it written on your neighborhood sidewalks and streets. But what does it really mean?
Unknown to most people, the slogan has been around for a long time, as much as a year prior to the 2014 Ferguson riots, at which time it joined our American vocabulary. Unbeknownst to many, “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) is a political movement that was started by three founders, the goals of which can be found on their website….

Words have meaning. For example, is “Black Lives Matter” a moral statement that recognizes the value and rights of a particular group of people in our country, or… is it a calling card for this particular political movement’s objectives?

Here at the Ambassadors Forum we are working to fulfill the Christian ideal to think through what we believe and why we believe it. Regardless of the topic, we encourage you to know what you are standing for and who you are standing with. For example, consider that BLM is also a member of “Movement for Black Lives” (M4BL), the goals of which can also be found on their website….

No effort will be made here to debate anything found on these websites, but every person has the responsibility to become informed before they weigh in on the conversation. A few questions to ask yourself:
  • If I say “Black Lives Matter” in today’s culture, will I be interpreted as making a moral statement (that is rooted in the Bible) about the value of people, or will I be associated with the political movement by the same name which has a broader agenda?
  • If I might be associated with the political movement which has a broader agenda, does that organization share my values and goals which honor God?
  • Is there another way to communicate the right message in a different way?
While it can be overwhelming to consider the magnitude of the problems and activities we see around us, there are positive steps that the Bible calls all believers to take…
  1. Educate yourself. Give a fair reading of input from all sides, whether it be from reading books and articles, watching documentaries and movies, or talking to people.
  2. Listen! Especially to those who may have a different perspective or who disagree with you.
  3. Think. Ask yourself what message you are giving, and if that is the message you want to give.
  4. Pray. Ask God to give you wisdom about what He would have you do and the courage to do what is right.

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