But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are might; (1 Corinthians 1:27).
It is a breath of fresh air to contemplate the amazing grace of God! Incredibly, He chose men of all trades, men of low stature, men from all walks of life—He chose you! He longed for those dead in their sins to be resurrected and re-created to declare His infinite glory! What a privilege! What an unbelievable honor to preach the good news to a fallen dark world! May we rejoice greatly and give praise to His glorious name!
Paul stated, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NKJV). Paul indeed had Deuteronomy 22:10 (NKJV) in mind, which says, “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.” It is possible to bind these two animals together, but it only causes problems-so the Law forbade it. For the same reason, you should not bind yourself together with an unbeliever.
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? Amos 3:3 NIV
When we look at the opposite side, Christians have difficulty working as one together with other fellow believers. In this verse, God makes the point that two travelers will not walk together unless they have agreed to do just that. These two must remain in agreement, or they will ultimately cease walking together. Paul said the the Philippians that he had hoped to hear that they were standing “fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27 NKJV).
The Holy Spirit has a role and is a centrally powerful expression of the trinitarian life of God. The almighty Father sent the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world and empowered him by consecrating him with the Spirit. At that moment, when the Son ascended to the Father after his earthly mission of redemption and reconciliation was complete, the Spirit was sent to continue his work through those who have been made alive to him in the world. The relational Being of God, who is the foundation for creation, redemption, and reconciliation, requires all three persons of the Godhead.
This was affirmed in the Old Testament, where the Spirit of God contributed to the creation of the heavens and the earth, revealed God’s word and eventually, inspire prophetic messengers. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live a new quality of life; he cleanses and gets rid of as we submit to His authority and control. He provides us with spiritual gifts and circumstances to build up other people in the faith. The Holy Spirit is not an it, but a living and loving person. “Jesus called him the Paraclete, a name that means “one called alongside” to help (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). The translation for “Paracletos” is Helper, Comforter, Counselor, Advocate, Intercessor, Supporter, and Strengthener.
While engaging in theology, it characterizes one’s path and beginning steps, as in the Nicene Creed, is faith: We “believe.” Faith differentiates theology from other academic goals. Other disciplines include the first aspect of faith- “We believe that.” The foundation of Christian theology is we believe that God exists. We can’t limit theology to ordinary standards of educational practice because this makes God an object of study as if He is someone we hover over and control using specific methods.
Theology is an engagement with a person. God is ultimately the subject of theology, the person for which who calls and encounters us. “The fact is, we are not only to believe that God exists but also to believe in God, entering into a posture and disposition of trust and surrender” (Blackwell). We all might believe (knowledge) that eating salads will make us healthy, but it is not until you embrace eating it regularly, you commit yourself to that reality. The key is faith.
A common Christian term for special revelation is the “Word of God.” We as Christians refer to this primarily to the Bible. We can also see the concept of the “word of God” as a person, divine person, the word sent to dwell among us to lead the way, the truth, and the life. When we look at the Gospel of John, he declares the foundational truth that: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (1:1,14). The main Word that is addressed to humanity is Jesus Christ, which is the incarnate Son of God, who is the climax of God’s redemptive acts.
Within the person and work, Jesus communicates in the most trustworthy way who God truly is and how we are to live in this light. Jesus is ultimately the Word of God revealed.
It is easy for all of us to allow other pursuits to cloud our spiritual vision. Yes, we must all work to earn money, get a new house, and take vacations. Today, we get so caught up in chasing after money and success that we leave God out of the equation altogether. We must seek first his will in our lives. When we truly do that, everything else will come into balance. Seek the kingdom of God in everything that you do. If you fail to do this very thing, it will only guarantee confusion, failure, and emptiness.
I think freedom is a roadblock to belief in God I find most challenging to address. Today as a culture, we believe freedom is the highest good. Becoming free is the only heroic story we have left. Giving individuals freedom is the main role of any institution and society itself. The question is, do we have to choose between freedom and faith in God? Tim Keller answered this question by saying yes but no. True-the ideal of individual freedom in Western society has done incalculable good. It has led to a far more just and fair society for minorities and women. Indeed, there is a danger that a critique of the idea of freedom could be used to weaken or roll back these gains. But false- freedom has come to be defined as the absence of any limitations or constraints on us. By this definition, the fewer boundaries we have on our choices and actions, the freer we feel ourselves to be.
Modern freedom is the freedom of self-assertion. I am free if I may do whatever I want. But defining freedom this way-as the absence of constraint on choices- is unworkable because it is an impossibility. Keller stated that religion is seen as the enemy of freedom. Instead of allowing religious authorities or tradition to dictate to us, we should be free to believe or live as we choose. None of us are free agents. We are all worshipping and serving something. But the big question is: which “master” will affirm, cherish, empower, and honor us, and which ones will exploit and abuse us? There is no such thing as freedom without constraints. We should be looking for the right, liberating constraints that fit our nature and design. If there is no God, we will have to turn some created thing into a god to worship, and whatever it is, it will punish us with inner fears, resentment, guilt, and shame if we fail to achieve it.
Most people want the freedom to do what they want, whenever they want. They don’t want to be held accountable for their actions, especially by God, who has rules for life for our benefit that many don’t agree with because it goes against their thoughts on the fundamental right of freedom.
One way we can express reasonable belief in God is using references outside of scripture to start. Most people who don’t believe won’t start off relying on scripture seeing that they don’t believe in God and won’t see reason with a book that was man-made.
I would express that it is reasonable to believe in God by reasoning cause to affect. I would start with the Cosmic Wonder stating that space, time, and matter had a beginning. Nothing cannot produce something. Everything must come from something that already existed. This means that there must be some unique being that exists without a cause, that did not spring out of nothing, that is its own cause and the source of everything else. That one being who is Being itself is God.
Another reasonable argument for belief in God is moral realism. We have moral feelings and obligations that we intuitively know. We know right from wrong because it has been written on our hearts. If there is no God, moral obligation appears to be an illusion caused by our evolutionary biology or culture. If there is no God, then whatever we do is just a matter of opinion (ex. Torturing babies for fun). If we have moral values and we do believe that some things are absolutely wrong to do, then it makes more sense in a universe created by a personal God to whom we feel responsible than it does an impersonal universe with no God.
I would also express the fine-tuning and design of the world. The fine-tuning of the Universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design. The characteristics of design in the Universe demonstrate the existence of a Designer. When we look at something like a watch, we know that it had to have a watchmaker. When we see a building, we know that it had to have a builder. Like that, when we see creation, we come to believe that creation must have a creator. Either you have to take a great step of faith to believe there is a God who designed the Universe, or you must take a great step of faith to believe that everything was designed on its own.
In the OT, the Spirit is susceptible to a mere dynamistic or impersonal interpretation, as simply representing Yahweh’s divine presence or power. In the NT, the Spirit appears in dynamistic mode, as the power of the Father or Son. In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit speaks (1:16), is lied to (5:3), is tempted (5:9), bears witness (5:32), is resisted (7:21), snatches (8:39), sends (13:4), thinks good (15:28), forbids (16:6), prevents (16:7), and appoints (20:28) – all personal acts. The Spirit can also be blasphemed (Mark 3:28-9; 12:32), which requires for the Spirit both a personal and a divine identity.
There are no biblical texts that explicitly identify the Spirit as God. In the OT, the Spirit plays an integral role in creation (Gen. 1:2), and the Holy Spirit plays a vital role in judgment (John 16:8-11) and in re-creation (John 3:5-8). The new creation is a pervasive soteriological theme in the NT; this includes the Spirit in the work of salvation, which, as with other divine functions, can be performed only by God, even though the Spirit is never explicitly called Savior.
It was John that portrays the Holy Spirit when he depicts Jesus stating that after his departure, the Father will send (literally) “another paraclete,” implying that the Son is the first Paraclete. The Spirit is the Paraclete who proceeds from the Father (15:26) and is sent by Christ (16:7) to glorify the Son (16:14) by way of hearing and speaking what Christ directs (16:13-14), teaching and reminding disciples (14:26), and convicting and judging the world (16:8-11).
The Holy Spirit is the paraclete Jesus promised at his ascension, the advocate, encourager, and counselor. Paul calls the Holy Spirit the “spirit of adoption” because the Spirit is the “bond” that unites us to Christ in adoption as sons and daughters of God, meaning we are united with Christ in his death and resurrection. Salvation, then, means adoption as a child of God, which comes only through union with Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Plantinga wrote that the Christian account of creation is unique in that it does not depict the world as originating as a byproduct of a cosmic conflict, but rather deliberately and ex nihilo – out of nothing – created by the will and at the spoken command of a good and all-powerful Creator. According to Genesis, God created the world in six days, including the human man and woman who he created in his image. On the seventh day, God rested because the Sabbath “sanctifies or sets apart the creation as very good and hallows God as its benevolent Creator.”
A Christian account of creation can be described as, “In the beginning God.” This represents God’s creation at a particular time. Genesis 1:1 portrays this very statement. As Christians, we account for the days of creation that the Bible states as “it was evening and it was morning. Man was created on the last day as the highlight of God’s creation. When God was finished with the creation of man, he stated “it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). This all affirms that man was not an accident but the direct creation of God.
Christians’ account of the “fall” involved man being placed in the garden (Adam and Eve) and giving the opportunity to obey God, leading humanity in eternal blessing. Adams’s loyalty and obedience failed God’s test due to Adam’s participation in sin. Adam and Eve gave in to Satan’s temptation and ate the forbidden fruit. Even though Eve was deceived, Adam’s participation made Adam the first sinner (Roman. 5:12-21).
The nature of humanity and our fallen condition separated us from God. Adam and Eve broke the communion and fellowship with God. From that point on, man has been corrupt in many ways. We have a nature to hurt others instead of building them up. We tend to hate, murder, steal and disobey every law that God gave.
Evil takes a variety of forms. Natural Evil occurs when natural forces oppress and devour innocent victims, such as tornadoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes wreak havoc on communities. Moral Evil, which occurs when acts perpetrated by accountable moral agents result in suffering. The best available defense for the Problem of Evil is the “free-will defense.” God desired that moral creatures freely respond to God-that is, in love, of which freedom is a necessary condition. Because we have free will, that allows us to love, but also the opportunity to do Evil.