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LATEST NEWS

Our nation recently celebrated its 245th birthday with big events, powerful proclamations, and spectacular fireworks displays. There was a lot of emphasis on freedom, especially after a very difficult 18 months of isolation and quarantine.

But what emphasis and importance does the Bible place on freedom?

It is captured well by the verse that is inscribed on the Liberty Bell, which rang in Philadelphia to announce the first public reading of this country’s Declaration of Independence from Great Britain:

Leviticus 25:10 – “Proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live there.”

The United States was irrefutably founded on Biblical principles, especially the principle that people were created for freedom from bondage. And what does the Bible describe as the ultimate bondage? Very simply: sin. Christ said his mission was to proclaim freedom to all people:

Luke 4:18 – “The Spirit of the Lord is on me… He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed.”

Freedom from what? Sin. For what? To be able to fully serve and enjoy God and bring Him glory. In Galations we read:

Galatians 5:13 - “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”

In contrast to the world’s values and culture the Bible teaches that the strong should use their strength to serve the weak, that the free should use their freedom to serve those who are in bondage. Are you strong? Have you been freed from your slavery to sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Then stand up for those who are weak, for those who do not have a voice. And boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, the hope of salvation, to a world that is hopelessly confused and desperately in need of a path to true freedom from their ultimate bondage.

The Ambassadors Forum is excited to announce our return to in-person Friday Forums! Our Friday Forum events moving forward will be a combination format of in-person and online. You can join us in-person at Southwest Hills Baptist Church in Beaverton, or join us online at our website: https://theambassadorsforum.com/. Come enjoy the excellent presentations of God’s truth by gifted speakers and lots of face-to-face time for follow-up Q&A and discussion.
  • 16-Jul “Grace over Conflict – A Christian Response to Critical Theory” by Brian Overholt
  • 20-Aug “How to Explain God's Justice in Old Testament Genocide” by Charles Jackson
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Hard Question Corner

"When someone tries to test your faith is it better to stay quiet or prove them wrong?"

Neither response is the biblical response.
1 Peter 3:15 is helpful to consider:

1 Pet. 3:15 - "You should worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way."

As Christians we have the wonderful privilege of telling others about the hope that we have found in Christ. In fact, we were created to be His witnesses! Romans 10:15 says:

Rom. 10:15 - "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"

The good news that is being spoken of is the simple message that “Our God reigns!” So we should certainly never stay quiet when someone poses questions about our faith.

But we shouldn’t have the attitude of being offensive or “trying to prove them wrong” either. The verse above says we should be “gentle and respectful” as we explain our faith. Our attitude should be to try to find the truth together rather than trying to win an argument.

One of the best ways to be prepared to do this is to test our faith ourselves on our own. And the best way to do that is to ASK QUESTIONS! Our faith should be reasonable and logical, and it should carefully weigh all of the evidence that is available to us. It should make sense and be consistent. When we hold our own faith up to that standard of scrutiny and assessment we will find that the power and Spirit of Christ is actually alive IN us! That will give us the confidence that we are indeed the very children of God and the motivation to share that beautiful offer of reconciliation to God with others as well.

Legal Corner

Question: What is the big deal about the recent Fulton v. City of Philadelphia decision?

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On June 17, 2021 the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision involving the City of Philadelphia’s decision to decertify Catholic Social Services (CSS) from handling foster care or adoption referrals because of its belief that children should be raised in families with a mom and a dad. The court applied historical strict scrutiny analysis and ruled 9-0 that the City of Philadelphia unconstitutionally burdened the religious rights of CSS. So why is the case important?

First and foremost, the justices were unanimous in vindicating the religious rights of CSS. Think about how shocking it is to have Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan join in upholding religious rights over LGBT rights. After a few years of imposing same-sex marriage (in Obergefell v. Hodges), reinterpretation of “sex” to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in employment situations (Bostock, Zarda and Harris Funeral Homes) and ongoing disputes – without any resolution- about whether LGBT rights and religious rights could be reconciled (Arlene’s Florist, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Sweet Cakes by Melissa), it is nice to see a unanimous decision solidly in favor of free exercise of religion.

Another reason for breathless anticipation was the hope that the court would at last drive a stake in the heart of the Employment Division v. Smith “neutral law of general applicability” test that has been so damaging to religious liberty and resulted in enactment of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as a stopgap measure. The court thought about overruling Smith, but it got hung up on what test to apply in its place. Justice Amy Coney Barrett was the leading voice for ditching Smith, but also was the loudest voice for “What do we do instead?” As it turned out, there was a Smith loophole that enabled the justices to avoid doing to CSS what they had previously done to other religious organizations in recent years.

There is reason for encouragement that free exercise of religion is regaining the respect of the Supreme Court, and particularly that nondiscrimination claims do not trump religious rights (at least yet). Amidst the continuing angst in the culture and the courts, God continues to look out for His people.

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.
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Evidence for the Resurrection

Fact 5: The tomb was empty!

This month, we will consider the fifth and final minimal fact...
Apart from being clearly stated in the Word of God, the case for the empty tomb can be made through logic and reason. To begin with, the resurrection is a fundamental tenet of Christianity, and is based on the resurrection of Christ. Paul said in 1 Corinthians -

1 Cor. 15:17 - “if Christ is not raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”

If there had been any way to prove that Jesus had not left the tomb, the hostile Jews of the time would have done so. Following are some evidences that attest to the truth of the resurrection.

The ‘conspiracy story’ Mt. 28:11 – 15
The tomb guards reported to the chief priests that Christ had disappeared from the tomb. The priests’ response was to bribe the guards into telling people that the disciples had stolen the body. Think about it... This is written confirmation that the guards and the chief priests believed the tomb was empty! No discussion ensued about other possible scenarios that might have happened, because they knew Jesus was no longer in the tomb and that the guards had witnessed a supernatural event resulting in His disappearance. Their only choice was to cover it up with a lie.

Enemy Attested
There are several examples of enemy attestation to the empty tomb, in which well-known hostile authors claimed the body was stolen.
  • Trypho (AD165)... “godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilean deceiver, whom we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb, where he was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven.”
  • Tertullian’s ‘Spectaculis 30’... Tertullian mocks the writing of his contemporaries as he pens... “...This is He whom His disciples secretly stole away, that it might be said He had risen again...”
These writings are based on a belief that the tomb was empty!

Testimony of Women
All four Gospels document that Jesus’ empty tomb was discovered by women. Given the status of women in ancient Jewish culture, it’s not likely that this would be reported as such in a concocted resurrection account. In that place and time, women were not held to be reliable witnesses. Ancient historians wrote about the status of women, e.g. the Talmud states... “Any evidence which a woman gives is not valid...”. There are many more statements like this which can be found. In light of the principle of embarrassment, women would not have been part of a made-up story of the resurrection.

This concludes the discussion of the 5 minimal facts. In future editions, we will see how these facts can be effectively applied when objecting to false empty-tomb theories.

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