Tag Archives: God

An Introduction to Apologetics

Life has been extremely busy the past few weeks, leading to our less-than-stellar frequency of posts here at TheCobbSix.  Thanks for sticking with us.  🙂

Beginning this week, we are studying Apologetics in our Wednesday night Bible class.  We hope you will find these lessons as useful as we do!

What Is Apologetics?

Now, seemingly more than in any other time, apologetics is needed. “Apologetics” comes from “apologia,” which means “a formal, usually written, defense or justification of a belief, theory, or policy”[1]

God is being attacked on many different fronts by different people. There are some that completely deny His existence. Some will acknowledge His existence, but deny the Scriptures are really His  Word and are inspired by Him. And there are literally billions of people in the world today who do not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and is indeed deity.[2]

Because of this, and the constant onslaught of teachings that come along with these  three topics, we are devoting some time for the next several weeks to study apologetics — the defense of the truth of these things.

 Why should anyone study apologetics?

Everyone should study apologetics to establish or solidify their own faith in God, His  Word, and His Son Jesus. Perhaps you are sitting, thinking, “I already believe in God and those other things.” But why do you believe? Is it just because that is what you’ve been taught?[3] Or have you weighed the evidence?

God never expected people to operate on “blind faith.”  God sent the ten plagues on Egypt so that They would know that He was the Lord (Exodus 14:4). God sent the quail and the manna to the children of Israel in the wilderness so that they would know that He was the Lord (Exodus 16:12). Jesus performed miracles so that people would see that He was from God (John 3:2). God has always, since the beginning of time, shown His existence. Our faith must be built on the evidence, not on what someone else has told us.

You should study apologetics so that you can teach others.  There are many in the world who call themselves “agnostics” who say that there is not enough evidence to prove God exists or to prove that He doesn’t exist.[4]  Simply put, these people just don’t know what to think.  Most want to know one way or the other, and the only way to prove it to them is to show them all of the evidence. You would not want a judge deciding a case against you without presenting him with all of the evidence, so why would you not want to teach a lost soul and show them all the evidence for the existence of God?

When you have that faith that is rock-solid because it is based on all of the evidence,  you are much more likely to convince someone else to become a Christian.

You need to study apologetics so that you can combat false teachings. In the schools (and everywhere else for that matter), evolution is being paraded as the truth about the origin of man and everything else.[5]  This denies the existence of God.  This denies that the Bible is inspired from God.  This denies that Jesus exists.  We must be able to combat these falsehoods that are being taught to everyone, especially our children.

There are false teachings even within the church that need to be combated with apologetics.  There are those who say they believe in God, but also claim to believe in evolution.[6]  This contradicts Genesis 1, Exodus 20:11, 31:17, and others which clearly state that creation began and ended in a total of six 24-hour days.

This would make Moses a liar or uninspired. If Moses was uninspired, so was Jesus who quoted him and who was called the      prophet like Moses (Acts 3:22). To say evolution is true is to, ultimately, deny the inspiration of the Bible and the deity of Jesus Christ!

 Can these things really be proven?

Yes! They can be proven!  God gave us everything that pertains to “life and godliness” (II Peter 1:3).  This would include proof that He indeed exists.  If there was no proof God’s existence, there would be nothing on which to base faith.

The heavens declare that God exists (Psalm 19:1).  The fact that there is design in the universe shows that someone had to design it.  The fact that nothing comes from nothing shows that someone had to create the universe.[7]

The complete accuracy of the Bible (even though it had many writers over a period of 1500 years) historically, doctrinally, and scientifically screams out that it is inspired of God. Skeptics have tried over and over to show the Bible as being historically wrong on something, yet it always turns out that they were wrong and the Bible was right.[8]

The Bible has stated scientific facts that were not discovered until thousands of years later.[9] The Bible predicted specific world events, sometimes tens and sometimes hundreds of years before they happened.[10]

The Bible records all the things we need to believe in Jesus as the Son of God (John 20:30-31).  Once we establish the inspiration of the Bible, we can see that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God.  The Jews heard Him say this, and they called it blasphemy because they knew it meant that He was claiming to be deity (John 10:24-33).  Jesus truly was God (John 1:1).

 What to Expect

We will see in the rest of this study various things that prove the existence of God, the inspiration of the Scriptures, and the deity (God-ness) of Jesus Christ. We will also look at arguments used against these things and show why they are wrong and should not be accepted. Ultimately, the goal of this study is to make your faith strong and to help bring others to Christ.

[1] Encarta World English Dictionary: “Apologia.”

[2] The “Jehovah’s Witnesses” claim that Jesus was the first being created by God, and is not deity (see their translation of John 1:1 as “the word was a god”). Other religious groups, such as the Muslims, claim Jesus was a good man and perhaps even a prophet, but deny that He is deity. Others, such as Buddhists, believe that if Jesus ever did exist, He was just a man. Still many others claim that Jesus never existed in the first place. As strange as it might seem to some of us, this denial of Jesus’ deity is held by the majority of people living today.

[3] Remember that Aquila and Priscilla had to teach Apollos more perfectly the way of the Lord. He did not have all the evidence, and thus was teaching an inadequate gospel (Acts 18:24-26). We must be ready to search the evidence to find out if these things are true (see Acts 17:11).

[4] The word “agnostic” means “no knowledge.” (Encarta) They believe it is impossible to know if God exists.

[5] Nearly every science textbook in public schools teaches the theory of evolution as a fact, and offers no alternative to it.

[6] There are examples that could be given, but this is not the place to list names of brethren who hold this belief. Suffice it to say, if one does much investigating into the topic, they will find numerous brethren of both today and times past that hold this stance.

[7] The Law of Biogenesis states that living things can only come from other living things, and not from non-living material. Basically stated, spontaneous generation is impossible.

[8] See later lessons on the inspiration of the Scriptures for specific examples.

[9] Again, see later lessons on the inspiration of the Scriptures for specifics.

[10] Specifically, the destruction of Jerusalem was predicted by Jesus approximately 40 years before it happened (Matthew 24:2-3); Daniel prophesied the Babylonian Empire would fall to the Persian Empire, which would fall to the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great, and that there would be a fourth kingdom, that being Rome. It was during the days of the Roman Empire that the church would be established. Daniel wrote this hundreds of years before the fact (Daniel 2, especially verse 44).

Disappointment

New England Patriots – 45
Indianapolis Colts – 7

Ouch.  That is painful for me to type.  I am a Colts fan, and have been for 30 years.  And if you know anything about Colts fans, it’s that they despise the New England Patriots with a passion.  They are  enemy number one, and a loss to them is, frankly, demoralizing to the fans.  Especially when it’s in the playoffs.  Especially when it’s a blowout.

Disappointed? That’s the understatement of the century.

There are already Colts fans calling for the coaches and general manager to be fired, and for most of the team to be cut.  Those are severe overreactions, but there are several of them saying that quite vocally.

They’re not just disappointed, they’re mad about it.  They’re so upset at the outcome that they want everyone associated with it to be gone forever.

I know, I know, football is just a game.  And I’m not about to jump off a building, so don’t worry.

But that’s what happens when you invest your hopes in man–in humans.  People are going to fail.  They’re going to let you down.  You’re going to be disappointed, because even though they try hard, they’re not always going to succeed in doing things right or in winning the game.

This is a reminder for all of us that the only one who will never let us down is God.  God has made promises to us in His word, and He will always fulfill those promises.  My personal favorite is this one:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful [trustworthy] and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).

We don’t have to hope that God will forgive us; we can know it. God keeps His promises.  God never fails.

It’s something to keep in mind.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Bible Q&A – Prayer to Jesus?

Question: I’ve heard a lot of people recently addressing their prayers to Jesus. When I asked them about it, they said that we’re supposed to pray to God, and Jesus is God, therefore we can pray to Jesus. On the surface, that sounds good, but I’m still bothered by it. Can you help me understand this?—“Confused,” in Oklahoma.

Thanks for writing. I understand your concern, and I think it’s great that you want to know for sure what the right thing to do is. Before we answer this question, I want you to realize that there’s no way to deal with this completely in one article. Entire books have been written on this topic (from both sides of the debate).

To get the answer to this question, we have to turn to the Bible. One thing that bothers me is that the specific people you mentioned did not show you from the Bible where they get their doctrine, but they tried to prove it by human reasoning. Even if they are correct in their belief, the argument they gave you is not proof. After all, here is the exact same argument, applied to something else.

Jesus died on the cross. Jesus is God. Therefore God died on the cross. And since the Holy Spirit and the Father are both God, that means that the Father died on the cross, as did the Holy Spirit.

What is true of one person of the Godhead is not always true for the rest of them. Regardless of whether prayer can be offered to Jesus, the “Jesus is God, therefore we can pray to Him” argument isn’t proof at all.

Let’s look at the evidence:

What did Jesus Say?

Therefore, pray after this manner [or, in this way]: “Our Father who is in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9).

Jesus is the Son of God, and is deity in His very nature. However, when He was giving instructions about the one people were to pray to, he specifically stated prayer is to be directed to “the Father.”

…That whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you (John 15:16).

Jesus, speaking to His apostles, is preparing them for His departure. And He tells them that whatever they ask of the Father, He would give to them.

In that day, you will ask me nothing. But whatever you shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you (John 16:23).

Jesus has just finished telling His apostles that He will be leaving them. He will die and later ascend to heaven. And after He left, He would send the Comforter, that is the Holy Spirit, to guide them into all truth (16:12-15). That’s important to keep in mind, because here Jesus says, “in that day, you will ask me nothing.” When is Jesus speaking about? He’s talking about the time after His ascension. From that point on, Jesus says, they won’t ask Him anything. Instead, they will be asking the Father.

To Whom did Jesus Pray?

This may seem like an ignorant question, but it’s worth answering. Nowhere did Jesus pray to Himself. But just as important, there is no record of Jesus praying to the Holy Spirit either. And if praying to Jesus is permissible based on the fact that He is God, then why didn’t Jesus ever pray to the Holy Spirit—who is also called “God” (Acts 5:3-4)?

“Father, the hour is come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may also glorify you” (John 17:1).

We could put the entire prayer of John 17 here, and it would be abundantly clear who Jesus addressed His prayers to. Look at verses 1, 5, 21, 24, and 25 of that chapter and you’ll see that Jesus continually addresses His prayer to the Father.

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46)

At His death, His prayer was to the Father—and to no one else.

To Whom did the Apostles Pray?

They lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, “Lord, you are God who has made heaven and earth and the seas and all that is in them….For of a truth, against your holy child Jesus, whom you have anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were gathered together…” (Acts 4:24, 28).

It should be obvious from this passage that the apostles were praying to the Father, since they were speaking to the one who had a child named Jesus. Thus, this passage shows them praying to the Father.

What were the Apostles’ Commands?

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you (Colossians 1:3).

The one they give thanks to and pray to, is identified as the Father.

Giving thanks to the Father… (Colossians 1:12).

Paul repeats his previous statement about the one to whom prayers of thanks are offered.

Whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:17).

To whom did the inspired apostle Paul direct Christians to pray and give thanks? The Father.

Giving thanks always for all things unto God the Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20).

We are to always and in all things give thanks to the Father. That covers every prayer of thankfulness. There are no prayers of thankfulness, then, that are to be directed anywhere else. They belong only to the Father.

Be anxious for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:6-7).

Paul says that in everything—nothing is left out—requests are to be made known unto God. And lest anyone argue that this could mean Christ, Paul continues and shows that he is speaking of the Father, and not Jesus Christ as “God” in this passage.

In everything, prayers and supplications and thanksgiving are to be directed to the Father.

Objections?

In the light of this clear, direct, and blunt evidence, there are still those who object and argue that prayer can be directed towards Jesus. We will, Lord willing, consider their arguments in a later article.

 -Bradley S. Cobb

Bible Q&A – Jesus the Only Speaking God?

Question: I read an article recently in a brotherhood paper which said that it was Jesus, not the Father, who was “walking and talking” with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. His reasoning was that “A Spirit does not have feet and a voice …” And since Jesus is the only one from the Godhead who was said to become “flesh,” it must have been Him in the garden, and not the Father. This is confusing to me. Can you shed some light on the matter?—G.J.R., Oklahoma.

I have read the article that you refer to, and while I don’t necessarily have an issue with his conclusion, the arguments that he uses to get there are not valid.

The article is on the question “Where art thou?” from Genesis 3:9. This question was spoken by “The LORD God,” but as the person who wrote the article showed, the Godhead is comprised of more than one entity. And to quote the article, “therefore the phrase ‘Lord God’ does not ‘definitively’ answer the question!” To this, we fully agree. Just because something is said to be done by God doesn’t show us exactly which member(s) of the Godhead were the doers. For example, Genesis 1:1 says God created the heavens and the earth, but John 1:1-3 shows us that it was “the Word” [Jesus] who did the actual work of creating.

The article makes the statement that “the Father is the planner,” and gives some passages which show the Father is the one who planned and purposed the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:23, Ephesians 3:11). The article then states that Jesus is the “Executor,” that is, the one who actually does the doing of things. There is nothing in the article to pinpoint the Holy Spirit’s role is in the Godhead.

While we gladly admit that these statements are often the case, they are not always the case. They are not absolutes. We will show this to be the case momentarily.

The article, however, assumes that these distinctions are true 100% of the time, with no variation, and that therefore the Father is only ever the planner, and never the “executor” or doer of His will. Therefore, Jesus [the Word] is the only “Executor” or doer, and that everything that is actively done by God can only be done by Jesus.

Using these two descriptions as absolutes, the article proceeds to reason from them and apply them to Genesis 3:9. The exact quotation is:

[W]hen it is observed that “The Word/Logos” is the “Executor” and He created all things, it is correctly deduced that it was “The Word”, who became “flesh” (John 1:14) “walking and talking” in the Garden.

The problem with this reasoning is that the roles of the Godhead in regards to “planner” and “Executor” are not absolutes. For example, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the Father (Acts 13:30, 37, Galatians 1:1). The Father planned it, and the Father executed His plan Himself.

The quotation continues (immediately following the above quote):

A Spirit does not have feet and voice that spake the world into existence, which asked the question, “Where art thou?”

It is this argument that I have the biggest problem with. While it might sound good on the surface, the necessary conclusions from this statement violate Scripture. And if the necessary conclusions violate Scripture, then the statement itself must be wrong. The article argues that only one who “became flesh” can be “walking and talking” because “A Spirit does not have feet and voice that spake the world into existence.”

Here, we offer our objections:

(1) If it requires flesh to do “walking and talking,” then that demands that before the world could be spoken into existence, one of the Godhead had to become flesh. The writer states that a Spirit does not have a voice; therefore the necessary conclusion is that one of the Godhead had to be flesh before creation.

(2) Jesus is the only one of the Godhead who is said to have been “made flesh.” If it requires flesh for God to speak, the necessary conclusion is that every time we see God talking in the Bible, it’s actually Jesus speaking. This makes for a very interesting conundrum, because when Jesus was raised up out of the water after being baptized, a voice [God] spoke from heaven, saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Are we really to believe that Jesus (the only member of the Godhead who was ever in the flesh) was speaking to Himself from heaven, calling Himself His own Son?

(3) The Holy Spirit—one of the Godhead that did not become flesh—can speak (Acts 10:19-20).

There are other instances that could be used, but we believe these are sufficient to show that these arguments used in this article are not valid.

Please note: the article was written by a good, faithful gospel preacher. This response was written merely to bring to light some issues that the brother probably did not consider in his arguments. His conclusion, that it was Jesus who asked the question to Adam and Eve, is his opinion, and could possibly be the correct one. My problem was not with the conclusion, but with the reasoning used to get there.

———-

Because this question is now before us, I will present the evidence that I believe might point to a different conclusion.

When people read Genesis 3:8, they make an assumption that God Himself is “walking” in the Garden when this event took place. As in, this is God in human form, literally walking with human feet through the foliage. If that’s what Genesis 3:8 said, I’d stop right there and say, “that might be a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus.” But that’s not what the text actually says.

Genesis 3:8 says “They heard the voice of God walking in the Garden.” It’s not God walking through the Garden; it’s God’s voice “walking” through the Garden. You might ask, “How does a voice walk?” The word which is translated “walking” is usually translated as went or go (or a variation of these two words). Thus, they heard the voice of God going through the Garden. They didn’t hear God Himself in human flesh walking through the Garden of Eden; they heard His voice as it went through the Garden.

Luke 3, in giving the complete genealogy of Jesus, states that Adam is the son of God (Luke 3:38). The member of the Godhead that Adam would have interacted with, it seems, would have been his “Father.”

We’ve already shown from the incident at Jesus’ baptism (and to that, we could add the Transfiguration) that the Father is fully capable of speaking to humans in a voice they can understand.

These arguments are not definitive in answering the question, but they absolutely show that the Father could easily have been the one whose voice went through the Garden of Eden, asking Adam and Eve “Where art thou?”

-Bradley Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – A Mighty Fortress

Welcome back!  This week, we present to you another sermon in the “Singing with Understanding” series.  We are looking at the words of songs that we sing, and showing the biblical ideas behind them so we can truly understand what we’re singing.  In case you missed the previous lesson (God’s Family), you can read it here.

Introduction

The name of Martin Luther is familiar to most people.  He is the founder of the Lutheran Church.  He was one of the catalysts in the Reformation Movement back in the 1500s.  He was a former Catholic priest who nailed a list of 95 things that the Catholics were doing that he believed were opposed to the Bible.

He famously declared that the Pope was the “man of sin” described in II Thessalonians 2.  The Catholics afterwards declared that Martin Luther was the “man of sin” described in that chapter.

But one thing you might not know about him is that he also wrote hymns—and we still sing one of them occasionally today.

The song is called “A Mighty Fortress.”

There are different stories about the first time this song was sung publicly.  But all are agreed that the idea was taken from Psalm 46.

  • Some have said that it was sung by Martin Luther and others as they were entering the room where they were to be examined by a Catholic inquiry against them.
  • Others have said that it was a song written for armies to sing as they battled the Ottoman (Muslim) Turks.

Whichever it was, the point of the song was to encourage the singers to rely on God for strength.

Today, our lesson will come from the biblical truths expressed in this song.

Verse 1 – The combatants in the great war.
Verse 2 – Our strength in the war.
Verse 3 –The war continues

Verse 1 – The Combatants in the Great War.

God is the first Combatant in this war.

A Mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.

There is safety and security in God.  He’s like a strong, fortified castle that cannot be breached.  You are completely safe from death inside His walls.  A “bulwark” is a defensive wall, a means of protection—and God’s protection never fails!

Romans 8:38-39 – No outside force has the power to separate us from the love of God which is IN Christ Jesus.

Our helper He amidst the flood of mortal ills prevailing.

If we were to rearrange the words to our normal usage, it would be He is our helper, prevailing in the midst of the things which have the power to kill (aka, sin).

In James 1, Christians are told to rejoice in the midst of trials and temptations; they are told to go to God for help in the midst of temptation.  So, in the midst of a world of sin and surrounded by temptation, God is our helper—He can help us overcome the enemy!

But who is the enemy?

Satan is the other combatant in the war. 

He’s still fighting against us.

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe.

Or, Our ancient foe is still seeking to harm us.  Satan is not some new enemy; he’s our ancient foe.  Satan is the originator of all things evil, for he has been evil from the beginning (John 8:44).  He is always described in the Bible as evil—thus he has always been opposed to God.  And he is continually trying to destroy us.

Our adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8).  He is constantly firing flaming arrows at us (Ephesians 6:16).  He is indeed a very powerful enemy.

His craft and power are great

His methods (craft) are strong and effective.  After all, everyone who’s ever lived has fallen prey to his methods (Romans 3:23).  All, that is, except one—Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 5:20-21).

His power is great.  He is a strong enemy—defeating him isn’t easy.  Just try to go a week without losing at least one battle against him.

and armed with cruel hate.

Unlike the United States has historically been, Satan views the enemy with hatred.  The US, as a general rule, treats their enemies with respect and kindness (see the general treatment of prisoners of war, or even terrorists).

Satan is fueled by hatred, and doesn’t just want victory—he wants to destroy us completely!  He is “seeking whom he may devour.”

on earth is not his equal.

No one on earth can stand against Satan on his own.

 

This thought leads us into the second verse.

Verse 2 – Our strength in the War.

We touched on the two combatants in the war, but something that needs to be remembered is that we are in this war as well.

Remember Job?  There was a war between God and Satan, and the battlefield to determine the winner was Job himself.  Satan is not just God’s adversary, but OURS as well (I Peter 5:8).

Since there is no one on earth equal to Satan’s power, we cannot defeat him on our own.

Did we, in our own strength, confide, our striving would be losing.

Satan is too powerful for us to defeat on our own.  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  Every person is a slave to sin if he is on his own.

There is good news, however: we don’t have to fight Satan alone—God has sent one to defeat Satan for us!

Our striving would be losing were not the right One on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.

God so loved the world that He sent someone save people from perishing (John 3:16).  Our strength in the battle—our ability to overcome Satan—is found in one Man.

Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He.

  • It is Jesus Christ who has fought for us.
  • It is Jesus Christ who has already won the victory (Hebrews 2:14, Revelation 12:7-11).
  • It is in Jesus Christ that we win the victory as well (I John 2:13).
  • The One who fights with us is more powerful than the one who fights against us (I John 4:4)!

Lord Sabaoth is His name.

The word Sabaoth means armies.  Christ is the captain of the armies of God (Joshua 5:13-15).  Christ is called “the captain of our salvation” (Hebrews 2:10).  In Revelation, He is described as the leader of the army of God (12:7-11).

From age to age the same.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  He is eternal—He is God (John 1:1).  If God (Christ) be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).

And He must win the battle.

The outcome of the war has already been determined, for Christ has won!  Now, all that we have to do is choose which side we are on!

Verse 3 – The war continues.

Even though Christ has won the victory for us, we must still continue with the battle here on earth.

And though this world, with evil filled, should threaten to undo us

Just because Jesus has won the victory, that doesn’t mean we can rest.  We must be vigilant because Satan is still on the attack (I Peter 5:8).  Christians cannot get the idea that we can sit back and relax!

We will not fear, for God has willed His truth to triumph through us.

Christians have need to fight, but they have no need to fear, for God has given us a spirit of power, not of fear (II Timothy 1:7).  God has already determined that His truth will endure; His truth will triumph; and that victory is through US!

  • WE—the church—are the pillar and ground of the truth (that which hold up the truth).
  • WE—the church—are the ones who have been entrusted with the faith (Jude 3).

God’s word will stand forever, and we are the ones who are supposed to carry it to others so that we can conquer hearts!  In order for us to be victors in the war, we have to stay focused on heaven!

Let goods and kindred go.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).  Don’t be like the rich young ruler (Mark 10:29-30).  We can’t let the things of this world take our eyes off the prize: eternal life in heaven with God!

This mortal life also; the body they may kill.

When this song was written, the Catholic Church had threatened to take property of those who fought against it.  You could be tried and executed for heresy if you left the Catholic Church.  So when this song was written, they had a great fear of being killed for their faith.

In the first century, it was much the same—the Jews killed many Christians.  But the point is that even though they may be faced with death, they must remain faithful (Revelation 2:10).

God’s word abideth still, His kingdom is forever.

Regardless what happens to us, God’s word still stands.  Even if thousands—millions—of Christians fall away, God’s word still says what it says.

God’s kingdom will never fall.  It is eternally victorious—and those who are part of that kingdom have eternal life in heaven awaiting them (Matthew 25:34).

Conclusion:

Let us never forget that we are in the greatest war in history!  The two greatest enemies of all (God and Satan) are fighting on the biggest battlefield of all—the human race!  And WE are in that war!

We have a promise of protection and help from one side if we join Him.  We have a promise of being destroyed if we join the other side.

Which side are you on?  God never fails.  We cannot win the battle on our own; we can only win it through Jesus Christ.  But that victory is guaranteed if we stay on God’s side.

Whose side are you on?

-Bradley S. Cobb

Bible Q&A – Why Did God Create Us If He Knew We Were Going To Sin?

Question: If God knew we were going to sin before He ever created us, why did He even bother? He could have spared Jesus’ life by just not creating us in the first place. –M.P.

I read something recently that a preacher wrote on this topic, and it—well, frankly it irritated me. He basically said “It doesn’t matter why He did it. He just did it, so accept it and move on.” Like many other people in the world, I don’t just want to know what is or isn’t true, I want to know why it is true.

Obviously, there are some things that we will never know or understand this side of eternity. And it is also true that there are some things that God did not see fit to reveal to us (Deuteronomy 29:29).

But does God really leave the question of why we were created unanswered? This is one of the biggest, most important questions that can be asked. Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? These are just different ways of asking the same question: why did God create us?

And God did not leave this all-encompassing question unanswered.

But before we attempt to answer this question, let’s establish a couple points.

God knew mankind would sin before He created Adam.

Jehovah once staked His entire claim to being God on His ability to accurately know and foretell things which were in the future (Isaiah 41:22-24). If He did not know in advance that mankind would sin, then Jehovah is not God.

The necessity of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was known by God before He created the universe (I Peter 1:21). God had already decided on His plan of salvation and who would be saved before He created the universe (Ephesians 1:4).

So, without a doubt, before creation, God knew that mankind would sin.

But He created man anyway.

Everything God does has a purpose.

Every animal of the field, every plant, every star, every cloud, even the very molecules that we are made with all have a purpose. Every command of God has a purpose—none of them are arbitrary. Every verse of the Bible has a purpose—none of them are there just for the fun of it.

When God blesses His people, it has a purpose. When God punishes His people, it has a purpose.

And when God created mankind, He had a purpose in mind for it.

Why did God create us, since He knew we would sin?

The Bible gives us some very important pieces of information, as well as a very clear-cut statement that answers this question for us.

There is a war going on between God and Satan. You see it from Genesis all the way through Revelation. And it’s played out on the battlefield of humanity. With each moment, with each choice, individuals choose the winner in their own lives. When we choose to do righteousness, God is victorious. When we choose to do evil, we have given Satan the victory in that battle.

Nowhere perhaps is this shown more clearly than in the first two chapters of the book of Job. God and Satan are at odds with each other, with Satan claiming victory—he has influence even on God’s people, and basically claims he goes anywhere he wants whenever he wants to (1:6-7). God stops Satan and says, “have you considered my servant Job? There is none like him in the earth: a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God and eschews [avoids] evil” (Job 1:8).

And from there, the battle gets fiercer as Satan destroys Job’s riches, his servants, and his family in an effort to get him to turn against God. Everything that happened to Job was a result of the battle between God and Satan. In this battle, Job chose to serve God—and Satan lost.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Outside of those who are mentally incapable of making a decision between good and evil, every person on earth has chosen to give Satan the victory in at least one battle. Even if that person repents and lives a life of faithfulness, the fact remains that it was still not a complete victory for God, since that person chose to sin at various points in his life.

All have sinned—except for one: Jesus the Christ. The Scriptures repeatedly state that Jesus “knew no sin” (II Corinthians 5:21), or “did no sin” (I Peter 2:22). He lived a perfect life—one that gave God a complete victory over Satan. When Jesus died on the cross, it sealed the greatest victory possible (Hebrews 2:14-15). Satan’s claim to power had been proven wrong because Jesus Christ did not sin.

Jesus was made to die the most horrible, agonizing death known to mankind after undergoing a severe beating—yet through all of this, he still did not sin. Satan pulled out all the stops to try to get Jesus to relent, to sin just once, but it didn’t work.

Let’s hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments; for this is the whole of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13). The Bible tells us that the meaning of life—the meaning of our very existence—is to fear God and keep His commandments. That is what life is all about. This is what we were created for!

As each of us makes the choice to follow God in our lives, we give Him another victory. As we choose to sin, we give Satan the upper hand in this battle. We determine the outcome in the individual battle between God and Satan in our lives.

Since we were created for the purpose of serving God and obeying Him, what do we deserve when disobey? If you had a tool, designed to do a specific job, and that tool wouldn’t do what it was designed for, what would you do? After a while, you’d probably throw it away. Now imagine that tool has a mind of its own and though it can do the job it’s designed for, it refuses to do it. So, you try to encourage it and coax it. It works for a little while, but then refuses again. So you coax it some more, but it still won’t listen. So you give it a warning, still little changes. You punish it to try to get it to work, but that only works for a little while (if at all). This tool is stubborn and refuses to work. Finally, your patience is at an end and you burn it.

We are that tool. We were designed for a specific job: fear God and keep His commandments. As we do what we’re designed for, God gets the glory. But what’s so amazing about God is this: when we do what we’re designed to do—serving Him—we will get to share in His glory. We will be partakers of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4). We will be able to spend eternity in the presence of God Himself. We will be victorious soldiers shouting victory forever with our King, Jesus the Christ!

So, why did God create us, knowing ahead of time that we would sin?

Because it is through mankind that God wins the victory over Satan. Without a human living a perfect life, there was no true victory. In our lives, it’s like a boxing match that goes twelve rounds with each side winning some rounds and losing others. One side won at the end, but it wasn’t the complete victory. In Jesus’ life, it was a first-round knock-out.

But in order to have that complete victory which destroyed Satan’s power, it had to be a human who lived sinless. Mankind was created because it was through mankind (specifically Jesus Christ) that God won the ultimate victory over Satan.

-Bradley Cobb

Tracts from the Past – Salvation by Grace?

Today’s offering is a “Tract from the Past.”  This one is called “Salvation by Grace” and is written by Eugene Smith.  Mr. Smith was a proficient writer during his life, authoring several tracts.  We hope you enjoy it!

Smith_SavebByGrace

Of all the great doctrines of the Bible, none is more capable of arous­ing the appreciation of man than the idea suggested by the words of the apostle Paul in Eph. 2:8, 9, where he says, “for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of your­selves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory.” In this statement the kindness and love of God is revealed to such extent that we should be eternally grateful to God and in our appreciation should humbly sub­mit to His will in all things.

Christ, of course, is the manifesta­tion of the grace of God. In him the love of God is shown as he was present­ed as the perfect sacrifice for sin. This sacrifice was “not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy” (Tit. 3:5). Nothing good that we had done was or could be sufficient to merit the sacri­fice of Christ upon the cross. This was the unmerited favor of God to lost and dying man. This was “the kindness of God our Saviour, and His love toward man” (Tit. 3:4), that appeared for our redemption from a curse which was too great for us to lift.

This grace of God was not bestowed on “the few” but rather on “the many.” Paul said in Tit. 2:11, “For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salva­tion to all men.” All were in need of a Saviour and when God gave His Son He made him a “propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (I John 2:2). When we look upon Jesus today we behold the one whom God “crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for every man” (Heb. 2:9).

Therefore by the unmerited mani­festation of the goodness and kindness of God our love for him is born and kept alive. John said, “We love, because he first loved us” (I John 4:19). The great love of God which was manifest to the world in the death of Christ is enough to ever keep us humble and grateful before the throne of God for the great gift was made while we were yet sinners and was therefore strictly by the grace and love of God. Paul said of this in Rom. 5:8, “God commendeth His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Enough has been said, therefore, to cause us to realize that it is by grace we are saved.

An Oft-Made Mistake

However, in thinking of the doctrine of Salvation by Grace there is a mis­take often made that leads to the wrong conclusion. Some have supposed that the fact that salvation is by grace has precluded and excluded all re­sponse on our part. Some have argued that since it is by “grace” there is nothing we can do in any way in the matter of our salvation. These argu­ments are usually summed up under three headings which are erroneously based on the text of Eph. 2:8. They are: (1) Salvation being of grace there is nothing we can do toward that salva­tion; (2) It being the gift of God there is nothing we can do to receive it; and (3) It being “not of works” we are ex­cluded from doing anything whatso­ever to receive it. Believing the above thoughts to be entirely wrong and based upon a mistaken understanding of the text we want to examine them very carefully in the light of God’s word.

Does Grace Exclude Obedience?

Some have supposed that grace ex­cludes obedience to the commandments of God but this cannot be for it would make of God’s word a mass of contra­dictions and we know this is not so. Christ said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Christ in this verse and in the illustration of the two builders (Matt. 7:24-27), which fol­lows, makes clear to all that obedience to God’s will is an essential pre-requi­site of salvation.

The apostle Paul, in speaking along this line, has very clearly said, “He (Christ) became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salva­tion” (Heb. 5:9). Peter said, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth” (I Pet. 1:22) and the beloved John said “This is the love of God that we keep his command­ments” (I John 5:3). Therefore it is impossible to suppose that grace ex­cludes obedience. Nay, rather grace de­mands obedience for in view of the wonderful manifestation of the love of God we should gladly humble our hearts before Him and do His will, obeying His commandments which are given to us in His word. Any course other than this would be contrary to the scriptures and to common sense. We must obey God, obey the truth, or keep His commandments for thus we show our love for Him.

Does A Gift Exclude Obedience?

Some have likewise supposed that since salvation is a gift we can do nothing to receive it. Now to say we can do nothing to merit it is one thing and to say that we can do nothing to receive it is quite another thing. I realize that nothing we can do will ever give us merit enough to make God owe us salvation as a debt He must pay. It is not in this respect that we speak of our obedience. It is not that we are to do a thing or things to merit salva­tion but we must, according to the word of God, do certain things that we may receive salvation.

Christ says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). If we are to receive the “gift of God” we must then “believe and be baptized.” Some will accept the idea that we must believe but will reject the companion thought that we must be baptized. These two, belief and bap­tism, are joined together by the con­junction “and.” One of the elementary rules of the English language is that this conjunction joins words or phrases of equal rank or importance. Therefore when it is used to join belief and bap­tism it makes them of equal import­ance.

The gift of salvation from Christ is held forth to man and he says it will be bestowed upon the man who “be­lieveth and is baptized.” If anyone an­swers that to believe and be baptized is to make it no longer a gift he is surely mistaken about that for the Bi­ble cannot be a book of contradictions. But think one moment about this. If I were to say to you, “Write me a letter and I will give you a book,” you could understand the meaning of my words. If you then wrote me the letter would that in any way show that you had earned the book. No, for when you had complied with my request the book would still be received as a gift and not something you had earned.

A Bible Illustration

To illustrate the fact that one can obey the commands of God and still re­ceive his blessings as a gift we turn to the sixth chapter of Joshua to study the illustration set forth. These things “happened unto them by way of ex­ample; and they were written for our admonition” (I Cor. 10:11). They are given that in them we may see and learn God’s way of dealing with the sons of men in the earth. Paul tells us this again in Rom. 15:4, where he says, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learn­ing.” Therefore we can, by studying the examples of Israel in the Old Testa­ment, learn of God’s dealing with man even today. Not that the Old Testa­ment is to be considered our law but the examples thereof are valuable to us as warnings.

“Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in” (Josh. 6: 1). This was the condition of the city as the children of Israel under Joshua’s leadership encamped before the city. Then in verse 2 God talks with Joshua in the following words, “See, I have given into thy hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor.” The city of Jericho was a gift of God to Joshua and the children of Israel.

However God did not end His speak­ing with His statement that He would give them the city. He went on to say, “And Ye shall compass the city, all the men of war, going about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And it shall be, that, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall go up every man straight before him” (Josh. 6:3-6).

Now if Joshua had been like some people today he would have said “Not so Lord for if we do all that thou hast commanded we shall earn the city and it will not and cannot be a gift.” That is the way people sometimes talk to­day when obedience to the command­ments of God is emphasized by gospel preachers. People are wont to cry, “If we do anything it cannot be a gift.” In this they make a serious mistake that will finally result in the condemnation of millions for failing to do the will of the Lord.

Joshua, however, being a man of faith, did not so speak. He immediately marshalled his forces as God had com­manded and began to fulfill those com­mandments of Jehovah. All that the Lord had said was done in just the way that the Lord had said it should be done. When they came to the seventh day of their obedience we hear Joshua speaking again to the children of Israel as the priests blew the ram’s horn trumpet according to God’s command­ment. He said, “Shout; for Jehovah hath given you the city” (Josh. 6:16). Therefore it must be forever settled and known that men can obey God’s commandments and still receive the promised blessing as a “gift of God.”

More than this in our contemplation of God’s gift to man we must remem­ber that Paul said it was “By grace through Faith” (Eph. 2:8). This is God’s gift and it is received “through faith.” Now let us note another simi­larity between this gift of God and the one we have been studying in Joshua. We read in Hebrews 11:30, “By faith the wall of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about for seven days.” Here then is a further confirma­tion of the necessity of our obedience of God’s commandments if we are to be saved by grace.

The salvation by grace is through faith. The falls of Jericho fell down by faith. However they did not fall by faith till God’s commandments were obeyed and therefore we do not receive the blessing of God’s grace till our obedience to God’s will of today is com­plete. Then, and then only, can we re­ceive the blessing by faith. For until our obedience is rendered before God, our faith is dead and vain and can never bring the blessing of God.

Does Grace Exclude Works?

Now we come to the final objection of those who would reject obedience to God as having anything to do with our salvation. They cry “it is not of works” and thus would turn many away from doing the will of God. Let me say first of all that this limitation cannot be un­derstood in an absolute sense, that is to say, prohibiting all works of any kind, for that would cause the apostle to contradict himself in the two verses with which we began this study.

Paul says of this salvation by grace that it is “through faith” and then goes on to say it is “not of works.” Now I know that he does not mean by this that all works are excluded for to do that would even exclude faith. The Christ himself hath said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent” (John 6:29). God has commanded men to believe and Christ says this is a work that is com­manded of God; a work that men are to do. Therefore as salvation is “through faith” we cannot exclude all works or we would thereby even ex­clude faith. This we know cannot be.

Moreover, we know that “works of righteousness” are not excluded by Paul’s statement for we hear the apos­tle Peter speaking to Cornelius and his household in the city of Caesarea and these were to be the first converts from among the gentiles. As he preached to them we hear him say, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no re­specter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34, 35). Therefore the “works of righteousness, do have something to do with our being accepted of God. In Titus 3:5 as we have already noted they had nothing to do with God send­ing His son but now that the grace of God has been manifested to the world in the son we are acceptable in the sight of God as we “work righteous­ness.”

Working righteousness is obeying the commandments of God for the com­mandments of God are His righteous­ness. We read this in Psa. 119:172, where David says, “All thy command­ments are righteousness.” Therefore it is evident that to “work righteousness” is to “work God’s commandments.” Therefore it is on the basis of our obedience to the commandments of God that we are acceptable in the sight of God and our obedience to God’s com­mandments is not the thing under con­sideration by Paul when he said in Eph. 2:9, “Not of works.”

Moreover Christ has said that our “works of righteousness,” that is our obedience to God’s commandments, is nothing about which we can boast or glory. He says, “Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, we are un­profitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10). In obeying God’s commands and receiving His blessing we have noth­ing to boast about. The children of Is­rael could not boast about their capture of Jericho. God’s way was not the way that would create boasting on their part but rather a way that would in­crease their faith in and respect for Him.

Had the children of Israel captured the city by force of arms they might have later boasted about it; but taking it as they did they could never glory in it but must always give glory to God. Likewise in our obedience to Christ’s commandments we can never glory for who could say that believing in the Christ, repenting of our sins, confessing our faith in Christ and be­ing baptized could ever be enough to “earn” for us the glory of heaven. Nay, rather, it only emphasizes our depend­ence upon the mercy and grace of God. Therefore as we obey and when we have done all things commanded we are unprofitable and it is still by God’s grace that we are saved. However it is evident that his grace does not ex­clude the “works of righteousness” which he has commanded us to do.

What then can be the meaning of Paul’s statement, “not of works.” It is very simple, and as usual in God’s word, we find it in the very sentence we are considering. Notice, please, that Paul says, “not of works, that no man should glory” (Eph. 2:9). The King James version says “boast” instead of “glory” as we find it in the American Standard Version. This is the key of the entire matter, it is not of works that we can glory in or boast about. It is not by works that we earn salvation or place God in debt to us. This is the en­tire meaning of the apostle’s words and when we thus consider the matter we can see that some works are ex­cluded but that the “works of right­eousness” are not excluded but are the obedience of faith by which we are to receive the “gift of God.” Therefore it is important that we obey the com­mandments of Jesus that he may be the author of eternal salvation to our souls as he is to all them that obey him (Heb. 5:8, 9).

The Ephesian Example

Now in conclusion we want to re­member that our text for this study was written to members of the church in Ephesus. These were said to be saved by “grace through faith” so if we can learn what they did and how they were saved it will be of great im­portance to us in our study. Let us therefore turn our attention to the nineteenth chapter of Acts where we read of the establishment of this church and in this record learn of the conversion of the Ephesians.

“And it came to pass, that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disci­ples: and he said unto them, Did ye re­ceive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given. And he said, Into what then were ye baptized ? and they said, Into John’s baptism. And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is on Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:1-5).

In this account we have the begin­ning of the church in Ephesus. These are the people to whom Paul wrote, “By grace have ye been saved through faith.” Therefore it is evident that Paul’s conception of salvation by grace did not exclude obedience to God’s commands. Nay, contrary to that, it so emphasized obedience to Christ that when he found these who had been one time baptized but with an improper faith he taught them the truth and they were baptized again. Therefore these were baptized twice, once wrong and once right, and still were saved by grace.

There are hundreds of thousands in this land of ours who are like those at Ephesus. They have been baptized but did not understand the true signifi­cance and meaning of it at the time. Their baptism is invalid and they like the Ephesians should be baptized with the baptism commanded by Christ. That is they should be baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to receive the remission of their sins for this is the baptism commanded by the Lord and therefore the baptism in His name (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16: 15, 16).

There are other hundreds of thou­sands who have never been baptized. These need to believe in Christ with all their hearts (Acts 8:36, 37), repent of their sins (Acts 17:30), confess their faith in the Christ (Rom. 10:10), and be baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3) unto the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38). Thus they would in their obedi­ence to the commands of the Christ have him become the author of eternal salvation to their souls. Thus they would “work righteousness” and be­come acceptable in the sight of God. Thus they would “by faith” receive “the gift of God” the salvation of their souls and as children of God “by faith in Christ Jesus” rejoice in the sweet assurance of salvation by and through the grace of God for “as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27) and since “in Christ” the grace of God is made known and bestowed they would be saved “by grace through faith.”

Make it Personal Through Prayer

Yesterday, it was suggested that the first step in making your relationship with Jesus more personal was to study the Scriptures.  Today comes step two: making your relationship personal through prayer.

Studying is great for accumulating knowledge and building understanding, but it isn’t enough.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5).

If we want to continue getting wisdom (the ability to apply knowledge personally), we must pray to God and ask for it!

Why, though?  Isn’t studying the Bible enough?

The answer to that question is NO.

Please understand, I am not saying that God will give us some knowledge that is not found in scripture, but he will give us better understanding and wisdom on how that knowledge applies to us.  The most intelligent person on the planet is still not even on the same playing field as God is.  God knows and understands infinitely more than us.  For like the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9).

Praying for wisdom goes hand-in-hand with studying God’s word.  The more you know about Jesus, the more personal your relationship will become with Him.  The more you understand about Jesus—His motives, His teachings, His life—the closer you will grow to Him.

While praying for wisdom is all well and good, there are more reasons to make it personal through prayer.  We are to be in constant contact with God.  Pray without Ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:17).

Going through difficulties with someone makes the relationship closer.

When you have a problem with something, who do you turn to?  Who do you tell it to?  A friend, right?  Whether it is your spouse or a friend you’ve known for a while, telling someone your troubles, problems, and concerns always seems to make things better.  This is especially when you have someone who understands what you’re going through.

Why are so many people willing to tell their troubles to a friend, but not to God?

Shouldn’t God be the first one we turn to with our problems and cares?  After all, he’s the only one who can actually do anything for every problem we have!

Constant contact makes for a closer relationship.

Imagine you met someone one time fifteen years ago, and then never heard from them again.  Then out of the blue one day, that person came up to you and said, “Remember me?  I’m John, your really close friend!”  Odds are pretty good that you would not agree with his assessment of your friendship.  After all, a friend—a really good friend—is one who you get to know, and who you talk to on a regular basis.

The same thing is true with God.  The more you talk to him (and listen to what he says to you through his word), the better friend you will have.  As the old saying goes, “To have a friend, you must first be a friend.”

Are you willing to say to God, “I’m sorry for not keeping in touch better”?  Why not start today to build up that relationship with Him.  Be in constant conversation with God.

–Bradley Cobb

Bible Q&A – Do We Have All the Apostles’ Letters?

Question: Could you expand on your answer about whether there are missing books of the New Testament?  Are you saying that we have everything the apostles wrote? Is it possible there other letters that we simply don’t have?anonymous

That’s a great question, and it really deserves an answer. After all, if we don’t have everything, there could be something important that God expects of us that we don’t know about! We know that the Old Testament mentions books and writings that we don’t have. However, many of those are mentioned simply as historical records and not God-inspired books. Other writings mentioned in the Old Testament might be references to specific Old Testament books, just under a different name. For example, 2 Chronicles 9:29 mentions “the book of Nathan the prophet…the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and…the visions of Iddo the seer.” This could very well be a reference to the books of first and second Kings.

But now, let’s look at the questions that were asked.

Do we have everything the apostles wrote? No, we don’t. How can I say that? I find it difficult—no, impossible to believe that 75% of the apostles never wrote anything. I also find it impossible to believe that the apostle Paul spends two years in jail in Caesarea and writes nothing during that time. Or that during his (minimum) two years—730 days—in jail in Rome, he only writes four short letters. But the fact that we don’t have everything that ever was written by the apostles shouldn’t make us concerned.

Here’s some things to consider:

1. Not everything the apostles wrote would have been inspired. If the apostle Paul gave Luke a list of scrolls to pick up from the Roman library, that wouldn’t have been an inspired list. So, even if we’re missing Andrew’s list of chores for his son to do, that doesn’t mean we’re missing anything inspired. Letters by the apostles of a non-religious nature would not be inspired, nor would there be any reason for them to be copied and passed on for 2,000 years. That’s why we don’t have any of them.

2. A different letter doesn’t mean it contained different information. Look at the books of Colossians and Ephesians. They are very similar in a lot of the things they discuss. Many congregations were dealing with the same kinds of problems. So, even if Paul wrote a letter to the church in Macedonia, that doesn’t mean it contained anything different from what’s in the other letters that we do have. If letters to other congregations were written by Paul or the other apostles, they would have been inspired, but they would have contained basically the same information as we have in the New Testament books.

3. We might actually have some of the supposedly “missing” letters. Many people point to the “Letter from Laodicea” that Paul mentions in Colossians 4 as a letter that’s gone missing. But many Bible students have suggested that this letter is actually the letter we call Ephesians, or possible Philemon (this will be addressed in a later Bible Q&A). So, it is quite possible that we have some of the letters that people think are “missing.”

4. Any supposedly missing letters were not ever recorded as existing. The early church (the first couple centuries after Christ) wrote a lot, and quoted from a lot of Scripture. So much so that it’s said, “if every copy of the Bible were destroyed, we could put it back together through quotes from the early Christian writers.” Every apostolic letter they mentioned or quoted from is contained in the 27 books of the New Testament. They never quoted from any other letters of Paul, Peter, Matthew, John, or any of the other apostles. This is because they didn’t have any others. If there were other letters, they were unknown to the church at large from the very beginning.

5. If we don’t have it, we don’t need it. God is powerful. God could rip apart the entire earth and then put it back together as though it had never happened. If God wanted us to have a specific letter, we’d have it. His word says that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God…so that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” and that God has given us everything “that pertains to life and godliness” (II Timothy 3:16-17, II Peter 1:3). God made sure that we have what we need. If there are other letters, they do not contain anything different or additional to what we already have. Because God is infinitely powerful, we can know that everything that He expects from us and commands of us is contained in the 27 books that are in the New Testament.

-Bradley Cobb

Bible Q&A – Was Jesus Created?

Some people came to my door and said that since Jesus is the “Son of God,” that means He can’t be God. They said that Jesus was the first being created by God. Was Jesus created?—F.F., Arkansas.

Thank you for the question. What you described sounds like a group who call themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” But before we answer the question, something must be made extremely clear:

Right and wrong is determined by what the Bible says. Just because a certain religious group teaches something doesn’t automatically mean it’s right, but it also doesn’t automatically mean it’s wrong, either.

Let’s start with your question, Was Jesus created? Then we’ll move on to the issue about the “Son of God.”

In Micah 5:2, there is a prophecy about Jesus being born in Bethlehem (fulfilled in Matthew 2:5-6). But that’s not the only thing in that verse. Jesus is also described as the one “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” According to this Old Testament passage, the Messiah (the Christ) would be one who has existed “from everlasting,” that is, forever. If someone is from everlasting, that means He couldn’t have been created.

But let’s go further and look at how ridiculous this claim of a “created Jesus” is. The Bible makes it crystal-clear that everything that was created was created by Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3). The Scriptures say that there is nothing created except for that which was created by Jesus. Now, taking this crystal-clear Bible knowledge with us, let’s use some common sense. The only way—according to the Bible—that Jesus was created is if Jesus created Himself out of thin air before He existed.

The Bible makes it clear that Jesus was not created. He is eternal, and is the one who created everything—no exceptions!

But let’s also take a look at the “Son of God” argument.

One of the ways the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” try to bring up the topic of Jesus is by saying that He’s the Son of God, and then make the comment, “Isn’t that interesting that he’s called the Son of God.” When you ask, “What do you mean?” they start saying that since Jesus is the Son of God, that means Jesus can’t be God.

The same Bible says that Jesus is the “son of man.” According to the Jehovah’s Witness argument, that would mean that Jesus can’t be man, either, since he’s the son of man. If we take their argument to its logical conclusion, Jesus isn’t deity, and was never human either. Both of those stances violate several Scriptures.

The son of a human is a human—by his very nature. The Son of God, therefore, is God—by His very nature.

Jesus Christ is deity (by His very nature), and Jesus is also human (by being the Son of man). He is eternal. Jesus was not created. He is the one who created everything.

-Bradley Cobb