Apostasy

  • Apostasy is the term used to refer to those who have fallen away from their once professed faith in Jesus Christ. It’s a tragic reality that the Bible speaks of and warns against numerous times.
  • Apostasy can happen for many reasons: doubt, fear, conformity to the world, a desire for the things of the world, etc. However, the root cause of apostasy is demonic deception. The apostle Paul declares, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).
  • Most who apostatize wouldn’t recognize the spiritual battle behind their decision, but that is the biblical truth of the matter. Jesus calls our enemy, the Devil, “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30); and the apostle Paul calls him, “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Furthermore, we are told in scripture that our battle in this present age is a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12) and that Satan’s goal is to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).
  • What are we to make of those who have fallen away from their formerly professed faith in Christ? Scripture is clear that a genuine faith is a faith that persists in belief. 1 John 5:1 declares, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God...”  The word “believes” here in the Greek is a present tense verb, which speaks of continuous action. So, a truly saved child of God will be marked by a persevering faith.
  • Sadly, throughout the history of the Church there have been those who simply didn’t persevere, marking themselves as people without a true faith from the beginning. The apostle John speaks to this reality in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
  • How can the Church combat the tragic reality of apostasy? The only remedy for this condition is to proclaim the true, biblical gospel of Jesus Christ. People must hear and embrace the full counsel of the gospel: God’s holiness, our sinfulness, God’s gift of grace in Jesus, and our need to repent of sin and trust Christ for our salvation (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Acts 3:19; John 3:16-18).
  • As the Church we must proclaim the gospel because it is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16); and we must pray for the lost in our world, that the Holy Spirit would draw them unto himself and to a genuine faith in Christ (John 6:44; John 16:8; 1 Corinthians 2:14).

For many helpful resources in sharing the gospel in today’s post-Christian culture, please check out our online store.

The Question, “Why Do We Speak of God in Masculine Terms?”

  • The Bible teaches that God is spirit (John 4:24). Thus, He is not male or female in a physical sense. However, that doesn’t mean we should think of God in gender neutral terms.
  • The Bible, inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16), always refers to God using masculine pronouns (i.e. He, Him, His); and the imagery it uses in reference to God is also predominantly masculine (e.g. King, Father, Priest, Husband).
  • Jesus, the “Son” of God, taught us that God is our Heavenly “Father” (Matthew 6:9; Luke 10:22; John 17:1-5). Jesus also referred to the Holy Spirit as “He” (John 15:26). Thus, in the Trinitarian Godhead masculine imagery is intrinsic to God’s being.
  • The Church is referred to as the “bride” of Christ (Revelation 19:7-9; Ephesians 5:22-33; 2 Corinthians 11:2). The marriage relationship is always viewed in Scripture as the union of a woman to a man (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6).
  • While God most consistently reveals Himself to us in masculine terms, we must also remember that both men and women are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Thus, it is no surprise the Bible also occasionally uses feminine imagery in conveying God’s nature (Isaiah 49:15; 66:13; Matthew 23:27).
  • So, why do we speak of God in masculine terms? Because this is how God has revealed Himself. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One God existing eternally in three persons. One God who loves us with an unfathomable, unstoppable, unbreakable, and unconditional love (John 3:16; Romans 8:35-39; 1 John 4:7-10).

For more information on the nature and character of God please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, What Is God Like? available in CD or MP3 in our online store.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that the Christian Bible is corrupted and that their New World Translation is the only accurate version in spite of its numerous translation errors and documented changes over the years.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses deny all of the major doctrines of historical, biblical Christianity, including: the Trinity, the deity of Jesus, the personality of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus’ work of atonement.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses have a history plagued by false prophecies, including: the failed returns of Jesus in 1874 and 1914, the failed coming of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in 1925, and the failed prophecy that Armageddon would occur in 1975.

For more information on the Jehovah’s Witnesses please check out Dr. Carlson’s book Fast Facts on False Teachings available in our online store.

Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)

  • Mormonism claims that the Book of Mormon is a second testament of Jesus Christ. However, there is no historical, archaeological, or geographical confirmation for anything written in it.
  • Mormonism teaches that God the Father has a body of flesh and bone and was once a mortal man who evolved to become a god.
  • Mormons are polytheists and believe that all male Mormons can become gods.
  • Mormonism says Jesus is the spirit brother of Satan, that He was conceived through physical relations between the Father God and Mary, and that His atonement provided physical resurrection for all but not full salvation.
  • Mormon salvation is based on merit and obedience.

For more information on Mormonism please check out Dr. Carlson’s book Fast Facts on False Teachings available in our online store.

The Bible’s Uniqueness

  • The Bible’s 66 books were written over a span of 1500 years by 40 different authors who lived on three different continents and wrote in three different languages. Yet this diverse collection has a unified storyline and no contradictions.
  • Hundreds of biblical prophecies have been fulfilled. (Some great examples are found in Daniel 2; Isaiah 13; Luke 21:5-6).
  • The Bible has been repeatedly confirmed as being historically, archaeologically, and geographically accurate.
  • The Old Testament we use today is 99% accurate when compared to the Dead Sea Scrolls dating from 200 B.C.
  • The New Testament we use today is 99% accurate when compared to more than 5,600 partial and complete NT manuscripts dating from the first three centuries A.D.
  • No other religious holy book in the world comes close to matching the Bible’s evidence for being the divinely inspired word of God.

For more on the amazing nature of the Bible please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, The Bible: is it the Word of God? available in CD or MP3 in our online store.

America’s Christian Heritage

  • In the Mayflower Compact the Pilgrims declared their intention of planting a new colony and advancing the Christian faith.
  • Most of America’s Founding Fathers were active Christians, representing a variety of denominations.
  • The Founding Fathers were committed to religious liberty; they approved of sharing Christian convictions in civic discourse and they would have rejected today’s strict separation of church and state.
  • John Quincy Adams once said, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity” (Ortberg, John. Who Is This Man?, p. 113).
  • The December 27, 1982 edition of Newsweek magazine stated, “Historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the constitution, is our founding document.”
  • After an intensive study of our nation’s religious history, the U.S. Supreme Court declared in an 1892 case, “this is a Christian nation.”

For more information on America’s Christian Heritage please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, Red vs. Blue: The Real Cultural Divide, available in CD or MP3 in our online store.

The Question, “Is Hell Consistent with a God of Love?”

  • The Bible clearly teaches the reality of Hell. It is a place of eternal, conscious punishment and absolute separation from God (Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 25:41-46; Revelation 20:10-15).
  • God doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-4). In fact, the message of the Gospel is that God, in his great love, has freely provided a way for all of humanity to be rescued from Hell (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 6:23).
  • God doesn’t condemn anyone to Hell. Sinful men and women condemn themselves by rejecting God’s offer of salvation (John 3:17-18). Saying “no” to God means no God.
  • Jesus Christ saw no inconsistency in the reality of Hell. As God incarnate, and the perfect display of love to the world (1 John 4:9-10), Jesus repeatedly and consistently warned people about the existence of Hell.
  • While some question the fairness of Hell, or its consistency with God’s love, we must remember, what we think about Hell as finite human beings is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what is true. And the infinite and eternal God has clearly warned us of the reality of Hell.
  • Many have wondered, “How bad is Hell?” Hell is so bad that it cost the Son of God his very life to keep you from going there. And he gave his life willingly because he loves you!

For more on the reality of Hell, please check out the Apologetics Study Bible for Students available in our online store.

Why Protestants Don’t Accept the Apocrypha of Roman Catholicism

  • The Roman Catholic Bible contains additional books that are referred to as the Apocrypha. These books were included in the Catholic Canon in 1546 A.D. at the Council of Trent.
  • The Roman Catholic Church admitted the Apocrypha as part of their efforts to counter the Protestant Reformation as the Apocryphal books contain teachings that support a number of Roman Catholic doctrines (ex. the atoning benefit of good works, saints, purgatory, and more).
  • Where did the Apocrypha come from? The Hebrew Old Testament was completed no later than 400 B.C. and by 150 B.C. all 39 books of the Old Testament had been recognized as Scripture by the Jews. By the 2nd century B.C. the Hebrew Old Testament had been translated into Greek (the Septuagint). It was during this period that the Apocryphal books were composed as supplemental stories and commentaries related to the Old Testament record; and as such, they were included in the Greek Septuagint.
  • It is important to note that the Apocryphal books never claim divine inspiration, but there are numerous other reasons for why Protestants reject them as Scripture.
  • The Apocrypha was written well after the completion of the Hebrew Old Testament Canon. These writings were never recognized as authoritative Scripture by Jewish religious leaders.
  • None of the 27 books of the New Testament quote from Apocrypha, though the Old Testament is referenced hundreds of times.
  • In the four Gospels Jesus never once mentions or quotes from the Apocrypha, though he quotes extensively from the Old Testament.
  • Furthermore, the Apocrypha does not bear the marks of divine inspiration: its theology is inconsistent with the 66 books of the Bible, it includes no predictive prophecy, and it contains historical and geographical errors (ex. Judith 1:1 says Nebuchadnezzar was the king of the Assyrians and ruled from Nineveh).
  • The 66 books of the Old and New Testaments contain the inspired word of God as recognized by the Jews, Jesus Christ, the apostles, and the early church. Protestants can be confident that the Canon of Scripture is complete, consistent, and trustworthy.

For more information on Roman Catholicism please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, Roman Catholicism in the Light of Scripture available in our online store.

Mohammed vs. Jesus Christ

  • Both Mohammed and Jesus Christ are revered by billions of people around the world. However, there are significant differences between the two of them.
  • Mohammed claimed to be a prophet of God. He performed no miracles, died a natural death, and his body remains in the grave.
  • Jesus Christ claimed to be God incarnate. He verified that claim by fulfilling hundreds of Old Testament prophecies, performing countless miracles, and conquering death by rising bodily from the grave.
  • Mohammed declared those outside of Islam to be infidels who must be forced to submit to the will of Allah. He told his followers, “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Mohammed is the messenger of Allah” (Muslim 1:33). Mohammed personally led dozens of battles against his enemies.
  • Jesus Christ promoted an ethic of love, compassion, and forgiveness. He taught his followers to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk. 12:31); “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:44); and forgive the brother who sins against you up to “seventy-seven times” (Mt. 18:21-22).
  • Mohammed taught a system of works and rituals whereby Muslims can attempt to earn Allah’s favor. However, there is no assurance of salvation in Islam because the Muslim can never be certain they’re doing enough good deeds to outweigh their bad. Furthermore, because Allah is capricious by nature, even the most devout Muslim cannot be sure that Allah will admit them into paradise.
  • Jesus Christ offers everyone in the world the free gift of salvation through his shed blood on the cross. All who trust in Jesus will be forgiven of their sins and can be assured of their eternal security in him (John 3:16-18; Romans 6:23; 1 John 1:9).

For more on the important differences between Mohammed and Jesus Christ, please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, The Religion of Islam, available in CD or MP3 in our online store.

The Claim, “The Bible is full of contradictions”

  • Critics and skeptics of Christianity will often raise the charge that the Bible is full of contradictions. This claim, however, is easily answered by a proper understanding of Scripture and biblical interpretation.
  • It is important to note that when Christians speak of the Bible as inerrant, we are talking about the original manuscripts. The Bibles we read to today are based on copies of those originals. So, while our copies are demonstrably reliable, we are not claiming they are perfect.
  • Another important issue is proper interpretation. Many supposed contradictions are really just misinterpretations of a given passage or misunderstandings of historical context. Careful Bible study can usually bring clarity to passages that initially seem challenging.
  • Oftentimes contradictions are claimed when figurative language is taken literally, or literal language figuratively (ex. Ps. 91:4; Deut. 33:27; John 4:24). Again, careful Bible study and proper hermeneutics will usually clear up confusions in flawed interpretations.
  • The authors of the four Gospels and book of Acts regularly recorded speeches that were given by various figures. Sometimes these speeches are paraphrased or condensed by a given author. This explains many instances of different wording used from one text to another (ex. Mt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:4-8).
  • Numerical records are often cited as examples of contradictions in the Bible. Again, recognizing that the biblical authors may have rounded off numbers in a given event is helpful. Also, sometimes numerical counts in one passage include categories that another passage omits (ex. 1 Chron. 21:5- all men of military age vs. 2 Sam. 24:9- actual number of troops).
  • One tactic that can be helpful when faced with the charge of contradictions in the Bible is to simply ask the question, “Can you please show me one?” Often those who raise this challenge really don’t know anything about the Bible or actual examples of supposed contradictions. They’re simply repeating a common claim they’ve heard that serves as a convenient excuse to dismiss the Bible.

For more help in defending the reliability of Scripture, please check out Jason and Jared Carlson’s lecture series, Answering the Tough Topics, available on CD in our online store.