A Letter to Agnostic Agnes (Does God Exist?)

Dear Aunt Agnes,

 I was thrilled to hear that you decided to go back to college to finish your degree.  Congratulations!  That is a very admirable thing to do, especially in your 60s.  I hope uncle Bubba is doing well.  I heard about the accident with the pick-up, but I am glad to hear that he was recovering. 

 Grandpa told me that you took some science classes there at the university, and that the teacher was trying to convince everyone that God does not exist and that anyone who believes in God was ignorant.  Grandpa told me that you were not really sure what to think anymore about it.  Does God exist?  I tell you that He does, and I’ll tell you why I know it.

 First off, take a look at the watch that your sister got you for your birthday.  You see how nice it looks?  You know there are quite a few cogs, springs, and wires inside there that are wound and placed in the perfect place to make your watch work correctly.  Now, did that watch happen by an accident?  Did every small piece just happen to fall together somewhere and land perfectly in the shape of a perfectly functioning watch?  Of course not, that’s obvious.  If something shows obvious design, there must have been someone who designed it to work that way.  Not only that, but there must be somebody to put the thing together in order to make it work.  That’s just common sense, right?

 Now, look at the world around you.  Isn’t it interesting that humans can breathe the air on this planet easily?  Is it not also interesting that the air we breathe out is carbon dioxide, the exact thing that plants “breathe in” to survive?  Look also at the human DNA.  I know you went over the DNA in your science class.  They call it “the human blueprint.”  A blueprint is a design, is it not?  Even your science books admit to that design.  Look at the solar system.  Do you realize that if the earth’s tilt were just a little different, we would freeze to death?  The earth’s rotation is just the right speed, too.  If it were much faster, we would be thrown into the air.  If it were much slower, the gravity would hold us so much that we could hardly move.  Everything in us as humans, on the earth, and in the solar system is designed perfectly for us as humans.  If it is designed perfectly (which it is), who designed it?  A watch cannot happen by accident.  The universe is far more complex, and your teacher expects us to believe that it was an accident?  No, since there is design, there must have been someone who designed it, and that someone is God.

 Another thing to consider is this: if evolution is really the answer to how we got here, how do they explain the morals of humans?  Anywhere you go, in every civilization throughout history, there has been a moral code of some sort.  While there are shades of differences in some of them, some remain the same.  Where has it ever been looked upon as right to murder someone who was completely innocent?  When has kidnapping been viewed as a noble thing?  What about thievery?  There are some things that are wrong, and everyone knows it.

 But let us look at it from another angle.  Suppose a bull gores and kills a man.  This man was completely innocent and did not deserve death.  Do we then take the bull and arrest it, putting it on trial?  Of course not!  That is ridiculous!  Bulls do not have the sense of morals that humans do.  But if a man kills another, it is a different story, right?  If evolution were true, then there would be other animals that have the same moral code within themselves as we do.  This moral code within us is something that we are born with.  When your great-nephew Matthew got cut in front of in line last month, didn’t he tell the other kid cutting was wrong?  How does Matthew know that it was wrong?  If evolution is true, then there is no real right or wrong, but only what someone thinks is good for them.  That Matthew knew it was wrong shows that he has a sense of morals (and we know it didn’t come from his parents).  The fact that humans, and only humans, have morals within themselves shows that it had to come from some place.  If it were evolution, other animals would have it.  Morals have no scientific basis.  Science can not find a “moral gene” or some muscle in your body that controls morals.  It doesn’t exist.  The place it comes from is God!  That is the only explanation for the existence of our morals.

 Another thing you might think about is this: there is a law in science that everything is the result of something else.  Basically, nothing can exist, work, or move without something creating it or moving it.  There is no perpetual motion, because eventually everything slows down and stops working.  Your watch is a good example of this.  It will not work on its own without you winding it, right?  Everything that moves or works has to have someone start it.  What about the planets?  What about the universe?  Since there is no such thing as perpetual motion, the planets had to have been started by something.

 I know that your science teacher probably said that everything started with the “big bang,” right?  But let’s look at the other part of the law I just mentioned.  Nothing can exist without someone making it.  If you start with nothing, you end up with nothing.  You can’t just sit and wait and expect a pizza to show up on your table without someone making it and putting it there, right?  Since matter (stuff) and energy eventually run down, they had to have been created and put into motion at some point.  The big bang is a fun explanation for how everything began if you ignore the fact that there had to have been something to make the “big bang.”  Where did that something come from?  Science, then, is back in the same mess they had before trying to explain where everything came from.  Simply, God made everything and put it into motion.

 Something else to consider is this little experiment.  Imagine the most horrifying, scary monster possible.  Think of all the horrible features you could give it, both in looks and in powers and attitude.  Now, what did you think of in that monster that you had not either read about, seen, or heard before?  Everything we can think of is based on something that we have experienced or sensed before, right?  I know in your philosophy class, they told you that there is no such thing as a new or truly original thought.  They are correct.  No matter how hard you try, you cannot think of anything new beyond that which you have sensed or experienced.

 What does that mean?  Have you noticed that all cultures and civilizations all have worship to a higher being?  The Indians have the “great spirit,” the Muslims have “Allah,” the Greeks and Romans had a large group of mythological gods.  There is an inner desire to find God.  Have you ever wondered why so many people are looking for their purpose in life?  If we came from evolution, there is no purpose in life.  But isn’t just about everyone yearning to find a purpose?  Something beyond themselves?

 Putting the two of those together, how could anyone, let alone all the cultures on earth, have a concept of a higher being beyond themselves if one did not exist?  Remember, man is only capable of imagining that which they have sensed or experienced.  Since man has a conception of the idea of God, the only explanation is that somewhere along the line, God interacted with man.  Since man has a concept of God, God must exist.

 If your science teacher is anything like the teacher I had at John A. Logan College a decade ago, he likely used pain and suffering as his “ace in the hole” against God existing.  The thing is, that does not really prove anything.  The teacher liked to say “if God is all-loving, why does evil exist?”  Let me ask you a question, Agnes.  Do you love your son Junior?  I know you do.  That is why you let him make his own decisions (although I still think you should kick him out of the house; he is 35 now).  God is the same way.  He loves us all, and because of that, He lets us make our own decisions.  People can choose to murder, rob banks, kidnap, drive drunk, and all other kinds of things.  But when they do, does that show God as uncaring?  No!  If Junior robbed a bank, does that show that you don’t love him?  Of course not!  Evil exists because of choices that people make to do those things that are evil.

 What about the innocent people who are hurt?  They didn’t do anything wrong, right?  How can we say God cares when innocent people get hurt all the time?  It is a fact that the choices we make affect us and other people as well.  You can’t say that it not true.  If you and the rest of the ladies up there stopped going to McDonald’s every morning, they might go out of business.  Something that you do can affect other people.  It can have good effects (like when you helped that homeless man get some food) or it can have bad effects (like when someone chooses to drive drunk and kills someone).  It is all because of choices that we make.  If someone chooses to do something wrong, evil exists, and innocent people might get hurt because of it.

 I know that it breaks your heart when a baby is born with some kind of problem.  Was it the baby’s fault that it had the problem?  Of course not.  But, you have seen parents who smoke and drink while the baby is growing in the womb.  Those things do affect the baby.  Also, there may be things that one of our ancestors did that caused there to be a problem with us.  Sometimes, it takes multiple generations for these things to manifest themselves, and we never know exactly where they come from.  But it all comes down to people and the choices they make.

 Agnes, I know you are busy with finals coming up, so I’ll go ahead and end this letter here.  I hope I have given you some things to think about.  Let me know what I can do to help in the future.  Give uncle Bubba my regards.  Tell Junior to get back to work. 

 Bye,

 Brad

Reading the Bible

 

Many times, preachers get into the habit of not reading their Bibles. 

What?  What do you mean?  I prepare sermons every week from the Bible!

Yes, I understand that.  I do the same thing.  However, this morning a realization hit me.  I’ve been studying specific passages of the Bible in preparation for a certain lesson; but I hadn’t just been reading the Bible.

Many times, preachers kinda know what they want to preach on, and find the text that teaches it, and then digs into that text.  They spend so much time doing that, that they trick themselves into thinking that they’ve done enough Bible reading for the week.  I know I’m not alone in this.  I’ve heard other preachers say the same thing.

This morning, I woke up around 2 in the morning (after going to sleep around 11:30), and was wide awake.  After a couple hours in vain of trying to go back to sleep, I got up with a flashlight and began reading Matthew.  So many things were there that I’d just plain forgotten about.  And literally dozens of sermon ideas and articles ideas hit me—and I was tempted to stop and write them down, but I wanted to keep reading.

Reading God’s word was freeing.  It was a great pleasure.  It was instructive.  It was corrective.  It was enlightening.

And I only got through Matthew 12.

It’s no wonder that one of my heroes, Harold Turner, made it a point to read through the New Testament once every month.

I can’t wait to do this again.

I’m Baa-aack

Yes, it’s been a couple months since I posted anything.  And if any of you check the blog on a regular basis, I apologize.  I thank you, but I still apologize for not getting anything new up.

I’ll try to do better.

Meanwhile, a lot of things have taken place.  Things which cause me a great deal of excitement!

1. I’ve published six books, and they are all available on Amazon in hardback and in Kindle format.  They are:

* The Prodigal Slave: A Study of the Letter to Philemon (revised and expanded from the one I mentioned a few months back).

*Alexander Campbell: A Collection (writings by and about Alexander Campbell).

* Abner Jones: A Collection (writings by and about Abner Jones).

* Sketches of Our Pioneers: a Brief Restoration Movement History (revised and expanded)

* The Oliphant-Smith Debate on the Existence of God, on Evolution, and on Morality (revised)

* Toils and Struggles of the Olden Times: The Autobiography of Elder Samuel Rogers (revised).

These all look very nice, and are high-quality paperbacks.

 

2. We’ve had three baptisms in the past month!

3. I’ve taken on several new writing projects–involving lots of research.  That may not sound fun to you, but I love the thrill of digging for undiscovered or forgotten information.

4. Michael Shank, author of Muscle and a Shovel will be speaking at our congregation next month.

Really, it’s an exciting time to be me.

And tomorrow, my commentary on Jude will be available.  Yee-Ha!

And WE’RE Complaining???

We have had it good for a very long time.  You don’t believe me?  Name one Christian in America who has been murdered because he stood for his faith.  Can’t think of any?  How about naming a Christian in America who was beaten by order of the government?  We’ve had it so good that we are actually shocked and outraged when the government does something that might cause us to suffer in some way. 

To put it bluntly, we have become spoiled

Is it horrible that the Supreme Court made two decisions Wednesday that go against the Bible?  Of course.  But since when is it the government’s job to determine what is biblically right or wrong?

It would benefit all Christians to have a history lesson.  The New Testament was written during the days of the Roman Empire.  Most of it was written during the reign of a guy named Nero.  Some things you might not remember about him:

  • He was an open homosexual, even marrying a young boy.
  • He had Christians in Rome arrested and then covered them in rags and tar, set them up on poles and set them on fire—burning them alive—so that his garden could be lighted at night.
  • He had other Christians arrested and thrown into the arenas to be ripped apart by starving lions.
  • He instituted an official, bloody, empire-wide persecution of Christians that lasted 3 ½ years, and religious people (the Jews) helped him enforce it.
  • And there’s really a lot more…

And we complain about the itty-bitty persecution we’re getting here in America?  Really?

It was during the reign of Nero that Peter wrote the words “honor the king” (I Peter 2:17).  It was during the reign of Nero that Paul said these words:

Let every soul be subject to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God.  The powers that exist are ordained by God.  Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will themselves receive damnation. (Romans 13:1-2)

It was during the reign of Nero that Paul said:

Therefore, I exhort that—first of all—supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all people, for kings, and for all those in authority (I Timothy 2:1-2).

I can hear it now, I’m supposed to thank God for the corrupt and wicked leaders we have?!?!? 

Do you think Paul and Peter were just kidding when they said to honor Nero?  To be subject to Nero?  To not resist Nero?  To pray and give thanks for Nero? 

It’s time to realize that even as bad as things may be, they could be worse—a lot worse. 

If you want this county’s direction to change, then you have to start changing the people.  That’s not done through legislation, but through teaching them the true gospel of Christ. 

How to be Perfect!

Thoughts from James 1:4

But let patience have its work finished

Patience doesn’t come all at once.  I’m reminded of a comic strip I saw once that shows a man with his teeth gritted, his forehead crinkled, and his eyes tightly shut as he says the words, “Lord, give me patience, and I need it right now!”  Patience is like a human—it starts off small, and it takes care and nurturing to make it grow. 

The gist of what James is saying here is that we are to continue to endure temptation so that our patience can grow to the level of Job—and then to the level of Christ!  This is a true test of your faith in God.  Can you rely on Him so completely through your trials that nothing worries you anymore?  That is perfect patience—complete patience.

The word perfect means mature, complete, or finished.  We’re supposed to let our patience get to a complete state.  And we do this…

So that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.

We need to let our patience grow so that we can grow.  The person who has patiently endured through trials and temptations has grown to a state of maturity.  Simply put, when our patience becomes complete, we become complete.  When our patience has reached a state of perfection, so have we!  Christians often wonder what they can do to be more like Christ—here is the answer!

The word entire means a state of complete wholeness.  There is nothing missing.  In fact, James stresses this point by saying entire, lacking nothing.  When you have built up this amazing level of godly patience and endurance when surrounded by trials and temptations, you have reached a state of maturity and wholeness that few people ever enjoy. 

It is highly likely that you know someone who fits this description.  No matter what comes their way, they are calm and resilient, always showing complete trust in God.  They’ve got it all together.  I’d be willing to guess that they weren’t always that way.  It took going through some difficult times to teach them obedience and submission to God.  The Scriptures say the same thing about Jesus.

Even though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things that He suffered.  And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:8).

Jesus Himself had to endure suffering so that He could be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.  And Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything that He wasn’t willing to do Himself.

It is not easy at first, but the more you work at it, the easier it becomes.  Where are you at in the process? 

For the Kingdom of Heaven’s Sake

thebiblestudent:

Excellent thoughts. I had never considered that aspect of Christ’s life before with His statement in Matthew 19:12.

Originally posted on "Speaking the Truth in Love":

It finally dawned on me recently the full import of what our Lord meant when He said in Matthew 19:12:  “For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.  He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”  Ah, I see it now… Jesus was talking about people like Himself.

Eunuchs were men who had been emasculated; unable to produce children of their own because they could not have sexual relations like other men.  Although some males are born deformed, or else do not have the inclinations of other men, hence being “eunuchs” in a sense, most eunuchs were men of high standing in the courts of kings.  They could obtain access to the king’s family members or his…

View original 267 more words

Second list of books for sale

Because of the response to the list of books I put up for sale last week, I’ve gone through my shelves and compiled another list.  This will (hopefully) be the last such posting.  I know you’d rather be reading interesting articles than a list of books.  But like my friend Adam Faughn has said, some things cost money.

If any of these interest you, please send me an email at Bradley.Cobb2@verizon.net

If you want a lot, let me know and we’ll try to work out a deal.

Apologetics

Biblical Studies in Light of Archaeology (Wayne Jackson) PB, 69 pages – $3.00

The Other Side of Evolution (Jon Gary Williams) PB – $.50

 

Commentaries

Studies in Amos (Kyle Yates) HB, 136 pages – $2.00

Gospel Advocate Teacher’s Annual Commentaries, 2004/2005 – PB, 255 pages – $3.00

Gospel Advocate Teacher’s Annual Commentaries, 1966 – HB, 335 pages – $4.00

Gospel Advocate Teacher’s Annual Commentaries, 1985/86 – PB, 294 pages – $3.00

David Lipscomb’s Commentary on John – HB, 338 pages – $7.00

David Lipscomb’s Commentaries on Paul’s Epistles (5 volumes, HB) – $40.00 for the set.

 

Bibles

International Children’s Bible, New Testament (NCV with illustrations) PB – $1.00

NKJV softcover (good for pew Bible) – $1.50

New Living Translation, PB – $1.00

NRSV, PB – $1.00

1978 NIV, HB, with very minor highlighting and a few notes – $2.50

New International Reader’s Version, PB – $1.00

NRSV Children’s Bible, HB, some marking on front pages, text is clean – $2.00

NIV (1984 update) New Testament, PB – $1.00

Contemporary English Version N.T., PB – $1.00

New Century Version N.T., PB – $1.00

New Scofield Reference Edition (KJV), Red Bonded Leather with wear on the edges of cover – $3.00

Zondervan Topical Bible, HB/DJ – $7.00

Narrated Bible in Chronological Order (NIV) by F. LaGard Smith, HB/DJ – $8.00

New American Standard Bible (original edition) HB – $3.00

Maxwell Leadership Bible (NKJV) Green hardcover – $5.00

 

Books on Jesus

Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture (Jaroslav Pelikan) PB, 270 pages (one loose) – $2.00

The Originality of Jesus Christ (James Bales) with “Christ, the Desire of All Nations or the Unconcious Prophecies of Heathendom?” (R.C. Trench) PB, 260 pages – $2.50

Jesus: The Master Respondent (James Bales) PB, 120 pages – $3.00

A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ as Described by a Surgeon (Pierre Barbet, MD) HB, 200 pages with photos – $4.00

 

Lectureship Books

1990 Bellview Lectures (Bobby Liddell, editor): What Does God Authorize in Worship?  HB, 308 pages – $7.00

Fellowship—From God or Man? 2007 CFTF Lectures, autographed by David Brown, editor – HB $6.00

3rd Spiritual Sword Lectures (Thomas Warren, Garland Elkins, editors): God Demands Doctrinal Preaching.  HB/DJ, 332 pages – $12.00

2002 “Speak as the Oracles of God” Lectures—Put to the Test: Examining and Defending the Faith. (Kyle Butt, Eric Lyons, Brad Harrub, Marion Fox, Tom Bright, Robert Taylor Jr, more)  PB – $6.00

 

Periodicals

Thrust Volume 2, Number 3 including the Wayne Jackson/Carroll debate on atheism and ethics – PB, 68 pages – $3.00

The Gospel Hour (V.E. Howard), collection of 4 sermons broadcast on the radio.  Three deal with miracles and healing.  The fourth is “The Misunderstood Christ.”  Date unknown, front pages taped together. – $2.00

The Little Missionary (1986) 24 pages – $1.00

Christian Appeal (edited by Gene Shelburne), 4 issues from 2010 – $1.00 for all.

Bulletin Digest, Sept 1984, 24 pages – $1.00

 

Fundamentals

The Christian Home (Dale Lawson) PB, 113 pages—Underlining throughout–$1.50

 

 Workbooks/Teaching Books

Into Our Hands: A Study of Christian Stewardship (Jr. Teacher’s Manual) – $1.00

Systematic Study of Acts (Willard Conchin) PB – $.85

If You Are a Christian (Willard Conchin) PB – $.85

Some Lessons We Should Learn (Willard Conchin) PB – $.85

You Can Do It! (Willard Conchin) PB – $.85

Workbook on Christian Doctrine (George W. DeHoff) PB – $.85

Basic Bible Doctrines vol 1 (Robert Harkrider) PB – $1.00

Basic bible Doctrines vol 2 (Robert Harkrider) PB – $1.00 (seven available)

Basic Bible Doctrines vol 3 (Robert Harkrider) PB – $1.00

Survey of World Religions (Rod Rutherford) 8 ½ x 11, 119 pages – $3.00

Denominational Doctrines (Rod Rutherford) 8 ½ x 11, 73 pages – $3.00

The One True Church (Rod Rutherford) 8 ½ x 11, 72 pages – $3.00

 

The Catholic Church

A Short History of the Catholic Church (Jose Orlandis) PB 166 pages – $2.00

Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions (Pope Benedict XVI) PB, 284 pages – $2.00

 

Bible Lands

Bible Lands Illustrated (J.T. Marlin) HB, 182 pages AUTOGRAPHED in 1963 – $6.00

 

Other Books

More Holy Hilarity: Inspirational Wit and Cartoons (Cal and Rose Samra) PB, 209 pages – $2.00