One of the surprising blessings during this pandemic has been the increased focus on family. Parents are rediscovering the joy and fellowship of their children, and children are rediscovering the delight and security of a close relationship with their parents. Everyone seems to have a greater appreciation for community, which can be a reminder of our ultimate purpose in being reconciled in relationship to God. The Bible paints a beautiful picture of what we can become when we are joined together in the assembly that we were designed for:

Ephesians 2:19-21 – You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.

When Moses was describing the culture in which God’s people would thrive, he clearly called the older generations to teach and disciple the younger generations in loving and vibrant community:

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 - And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

As followers of Christ we should be redeeming the time:
  1. If you are older, be intentional about mentoring the younger. Search out those who are teachable and hungry to grow deeper in their faith, and invest your time and energy into walking alongside them in life and pointing them to the source of eternal salvation (Jesus Christ).
  2. If you are younger, be intentional about seeking relationships with older people whose faith you admire and respect. Learn from their example in faith and deed.
The Ambassadors Forum is working hard to create opportunities for rich community of discipleship and discussions to deepen our faith and learn how to engage the world in love and truth. Please join us for one of our relevant monthly forums where you can ask your hard questions and be equipped to find good answers:
  • May 21 – “Biblical Standards for Justice“ by Herb Grey
  • Jun. 18 – “Accurate History as a Christian Apologetic” by Caleb Hilbert

Hard Question Corner

"Where is God when I'm afraid?"

This isn’t exactly a “classical apologetics” question dealing with the existence of God or the problem of evil or the nature of truth. It’s more of a personal, pastoral question, but a great question nonetheless, so let’s answer it.
…well, “Where IS God when we’re afraid?”

The Lord gives us an answer in Isaiah 41:10. He says:

Do not fear, for I am WITH you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

God never promises us that there won’t be things to be afraid of. To be clear: GOD NEVER PROMISES US THAT WE WON’T EXPERIENCE HARDSHIPS. If you’ve been told that, you’ve been told a lie. What He DOES promise us is to be WITH us in the difficult circumstances. King David knew this. He experienced perhaps more difficulties and hardships than any other man. Many of his psalms contain profound heartache and fear about his circumstances, but they always end with a peace and confidence that God will be there for him.

Ps 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.

Let’s finish with a few things the Bible suggests we should do when we are afraid:
  1. Acknowledge our fear and confess it to the Lord.
  2. Remember how God has been faithful to us in the past and give Him thanks.
  3. Focus on God by reading something that reminds us of His attributes: The fact that He is everywhere, that He is all knowing, all powerful, and sovereign.
We can also read through the Psalms ourselves and when we find verses that particularly express how we feel, we can pray them to the Lord. This is what Jesus did. He had great words of comfort for his disciples in the 14th chapter of the book of John:

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Actually, this question IS very much an Apologetics question. It drives us to the Bible as the source of truth that God has revealed and forces us to think through deep thoughts carefully, logically, and consistently. And it reminds us to not just believe false things because we WANT them to be true, but to believe true things because God has shown us them through His Word.

Legal Corner

Question: What is justice?

The only word that may have been overused more in the past year than “pandemic” or “mask” is “justice.” Everyone calls for it, but do we really know what we are asking for?
supreme court building
To understand justice, it is important first to consider where to start looking for it. Is it predicated on a transcendent or a human standard? Is it based on each person being created in the image of God (“imago dei”)? Is it based on “identity” or “privilege”? Is it the same as “fairness” or “equality”? Does it come from a courtroom or somewhere else?

Many Founders understood justice in the context of a holy and just God of the Bible (e.g., Deut. 1: 13-17; Deut. 10: 17-19; Isa. 40: 13-14, Micah 6:8). Others focused more on natural law, whereby “right” and “wrong” is known to each human heart, though some suppress that knowledge (See Rom. 1: 18-20). All of them, though, understood this: justice originated with God and could not be left to the whims of the masses.

C.S. Lewis famously said that “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” John Stonestreet expressed the same thought this way:
  • 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.”
All this demonstrates that true justice necessarily emanates from a transcendent, not a subjective human, source. Let me suggest a working definition consistent with God’s nature and our nation’s founding principles:
  • Justice requires defining and applying what is right and wrong consistently and impartially in a manner that protects the innocent and punishes the wrongdoer.
In a society that cries for “justice” but hates “judgment”, it may be shocking to some that both derive from the same word in original biblical texts. We should be careful about what we ask for because we may get it.

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.

Evidence for the Resurrection

Part 5: Paul and James were changed by the resurrection

This month, we will consider the following minimal facts...
- Fact 3: Paul, the church persecutor, was suddenly changed
- Fact 4: Jesus’ brother James, a known skeptic, suddenly changed.
Paul’s background before his conversion is well documented in scripture. In Acts 8, we can read of Paul’s days as a persecutor of the church, e.g. ‘But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.’ (Acts 8:3.) You’ll find this role of Paul’s also attested to in Galatians as well as in other parts of scripture.

What transpired that compelled the most notorious persecutor of the time to convert to Christianity? He had met the risen Christ! Acts 9 tells of Paul’s famous encounter on the road to Damascus where Christ appeared to him in a blinding light and chose Paul to be one of His most predominant ambassadors for the truth. Encountering the resurrected Christ, Paul underwent a dramatic change with a commitment so strong that it culminated in a martyr’s death for his belief in the resurrection, but not before he made a major impact for Christ around the Mediterranean.

Here, we’re talking about Jesus’ brother James (the Just) who wrote the book of James, not to be confused with James the apostle.

James was an unbeliever. Scripture tells us that Jesus’ own family, including his brothers, did not believe that He was the Son of God. John 7:3–6 reports... For not even His brothers were believing in Him”. See also Mark 3:21, 31.

Yet he became a believer. Acts 15:12–21 and Gal. 1:19 tell us that James had converted and had become a leader in the Christian church. How did this happen? In an ancient creed repeated by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:3–7, we find that James had met the risen Christ! Was James sincere in his new-found belief? He most certainly was: he was martyred for it.

For James and Paul to become instantly transformed must have required an epic event. For them, this event was meeting the risen Christ. Their conversion and resulting strong belief in Christ’s resurrection becomes even more credible when you reflect that both of them endured martyrdom at the hands of unbelievers, as attested to by numerous church fathers such as Clement, Polycarp, Tertullian, etc. It is highly unlikely that anyone would subject themselves to martyrdom for something they don’t believe in!

Next month, we will address the 5th and final minimal fact... The Tomb Was Empty! You might find this surprising, but this fact is among those agreed to by Christian and secular scholars alike!

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