Was Good Friday Good?

Why do we call the day of crucifixion Good Friday? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Today, we Christians celebrate what we call Good Friday. Looking over at my calendar (Might I add, my Smallville 2013 calendar) I see that it is indeed called Good Friday on there. Yet we acknowledge today in history as the day in which Jesus Christ, the most holy of all, was crucified.

Let us consider first off what happens this day. YHWH is essentially put on trial. Jesus, the one who is God in human flesh, stands before the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin wishes to use the Law that YHWH gave them not realizing who the one standing before them is. Will YHWH meet their standards of the Law of YHWH? Could it be possible this is what Dostoyevsky had in mind with his Grand Inquisitor who had Jesus brought forward for charges of heresy?

Jesus is sentenced for blasphemy. Yet beyond blasphemy, He is said to be claiming to be a king, and indeed this is right. In fact, if Jesus’s being YHWH was not right, the blasphemy charge would have also been right. The Jews were not mistaken on what Jesus said. They were mistaken in their not believing it.

So in doing so, the people have rejected Jesus as their king and have sentenced Him to be crucified. Of course, this was all part of God’s great plan for the world. To go back to Dostoyevsky, Ivan in the book asks his brother if he would be willing to create a world if he had to build it on the suffering of one innocent person. Apparently, God’s answer is “Yes.” That one suffering person is the Son.

Keep in mind what it means about Jesus in the crucifixion. With Jesus making the claims that He was making, the crucifixion was one of two things. It was either the most wicked act of all that put to death the most righteous man who ever lived, or it was the most righteous act of all that put to death the most wicked man who ever lived. Jesus, once again, reminds us that there is no neutrality with Him.

So why do we call it good?

Is it that Jesus was crucified and the action then is good? No. The Jews and Romans did a wicked thing. It is called good because this evil act became the means of salvation for the world. This is something found throughout the Bible. Joseph’s brothers intended something for evil and God meant it for good. Romans 8 is the key text on this. God is in charge of this world and if He allows something to happen, even the crucifixion of His own Son, then we can be assured that He will use it for good.

This gets us to the importance also of personal application. Whatever is going on in the world today and in our own personal worlds, we can know that if the crucifixion of the Son of God can be used in such a way that we call it “Good Friday” today, why do we doubt about everything else? Do we honestly think the God who can use the crucifixion of the Son for good cannot use what is going on for our own good as well? In fact, if we realize this point, we will be unstoppable.

Years ago, I got a Game Genie, which essentially allowed for cheating on games. You play a game very differently when you can’t die ultimately. Now at times you could play flippantly to be sure, but you could also play with great confidence. You knew in the end you were going to win.

We can also play the game with great confidence. In the end, we will win.

Never lose sight of that. Good Friday was just one day, but the promise of it is eternal.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Does Christianity Make Claims?

Are we really thinking Christian? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

In light of the equal sign being in several places by Christians for the redefining of marriage, I just wonder what on Earth it is that we are teaching not just our youth, but even leaders in the church. Yes. There are some church leaders who are looking at this and not seeing the problem with it.

It is my contention that what has happened is that when we have gone to church services, we have made it all about us. Churches by and large just have application going on. Christianity is all about how you relate to your fellow man. Jesus came so we could know we ought to love one another and get along.

I kind of think the Son of God didn’t need to die just to give us that message.

Absent beyond that is any idea that the Christian faith makes claims about the world. We regularly speak in our church services about how Jesus is Lord and then don’t think about what that means. We go off and live our lives without considering “If Jesus is Lord, what does that say not just about how I live my life but the world around me?”

For instance, in May for our podcast, I’m hoping to have E. Calvin Beisner come on and talk about environmentalism. What does the Lordship of Christ have to do with the environment? He’ll give a much fuller look of course, but for now, we could say it means we are the stewards. It means we realize that ultimately, it all belongs to Him. It means that we can use it for our good, but we are not to abuse it. It means we are to respect it as His creation.

What does the Lordship of Christ say about politics? It says that man has been put in charge in various ways to govern the world, but that He should seek to have it be a good society driven by the holiness of God. This does not mean a theocratic state per se as no man can rule as God, but every man should have the idea of right and wrong informed by God and seek to instill the right. He should be willing to recognize the sinfulness of man and grant certain liberties knowing he is not the judge, jury, and executioner.

So, when a Christian goes to the voting booth, they should see what their Christianity says about all the issues and act accordingly. We cannot put a disjunction between Jesus and any other thing. As soon as we do that, we are saying there is something that Jesus is not the Lord of, and in that case He is not the Lord of all.

What does it say about marriage? Even without the homosexual debate, we Christians need to learn a lot in this. By the way, if you want to know why the world reached this state church, look in the mirror. It’s our fault. We were not honoring marriage as we should have been and allowed ideas like no-fault divorce to come in.

If you are a Christian who is married, you will look and see how Christianity affects your marriage. What does Christianity say about sex? What does it say about how you are to love one another? (Of course, the concept of loving one another should not be abandoned from Christianity, but it is not the total of Christianity.) What does it say about a husband leading his family? What does it say is the role of submission? What does it say about the raising of children?

If you are single, you too have the questions. Why should I consider marriage? Do I have to? Do I want to? (It can be perfectly valid to be a Christian and choose to remain single) If I marry, what kind of person will I marry? If I don’t marry, why is it that I am having to make a choice to abstain from having sex? How am I to live on my own and serve the Kingdom?

What does Christianity say about pleasure? Am I allowed to enjoy anything? If so, what? If a certain pleasure is forbidden for a Christian, why is it forbidden? Could it be a pleasure is not forbidden but is forbidden if done to excess? Is it possible to do it in the wrong way or in the wrong place?

Yet the most important questions we can ask about thinking Christian are to ask what are the claims about God, Christ, the Spirit, Scripture, and creation? These are questions not asked. Very few Christians have any kind of doctrine of God and then we sit back and wonder “Why is it that we lose Christians to the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses?” Both of those groups have a doctrine of God. It is a false one, but it is a doctrine.

Who is God? What is He like? How do I know He exists? What about evil in the world? Who is Jesus? Did He exist? Did He do miracles? What were the claims He made? Did He rise from the dead? Who is the Spirit? Is He deity? Is He a person? What is the Bible? How did we get it? How was it written? When was it written? What is the purpose of creation? How does it exist? How did it begin to exist? (Those last two ARE different questions)

Of course, this list is not exhaustive by any means, but it is a start.

How do we get here?

First, our leadership needs to know better. If you are considering hiring a pastor, and his eyes glaze over when you ask “What is apologetics?” I recommend you move on. Your pastor needs to be able to defend the flock. I am not saying the pastor should be an apologist. That is not excluded however. Some apologists are not meant to be pastors. Every pastor does not have to focus on apologetics, but he should have a basic knowledge. If he cannot focus, he needs someone in his church who can.

Second, after the pastor, the rest of the staff needs to be questioned on essential Christian doctrine. Everyone who has some position of authority in a church needs to know a basic idea of what they believe and why. If not, it will only lead to the shame of the church when they make egregious mistakes and it will lead to the confusion of those in the church, especially the youth, who take these people as such authorities.

Third, every sermon should have more than just application. It should have a basis in order to know how to act out that application. Back in 2010, I had to speak at my grandmother’s funeral. Being one of three speakers and the last one, I had ten minutes to speak before I would then be an M.C. and help everyone talk about how they remembered my grandmother.

Only ten minutes. What did I do? I went straight to 1 Cor. 15, gave a brief apologetic for the creed in that passage and showed why it is we can argue Jesus rose from the dead, and then spent the rest of that time talking about what a difference it makes and why it would mean we’d see my grandmother again if we were in Christ, with a final call to urge people to be in Christ.

That talk was very well received!

In fact, I have generally found when I speak this way at churches with giving a basis and then an application, people really like what they hear. Believe it or not pastors, you can do the same thing! I did the one I talked about above remember in less than ten minutes. This will not be a huge distraction from your sermon, and if you think giving evidence for the truth of Christianity is a distraction, you have a problem.

Fourth, there need to be classes at the church on how to think Christian. We have classes on most everything else, and there is nothing wrong with that. I am not saying to cut out other classes. I am saying to add one. How can your church not benefit if people are learning to think Christian? Let it be a study of a book like “Cold-Case Christianity” or a class on how to answer a Mormon. Either way, get your church thinking.

Fifth, the laity need the freedom to challenge the pastor. If the pastor knows that after the sermon, some members of the laity will ask him hard questions if they don’t think they’ve been addressed, that will make a pastor study more. I have heard too many sermons that are done with no preparation and no exegesis of the text. They have a lot of passion, but they end there. Passion is not wrong, but passion is not going to help that mother in the congregation where her son dies in a car accident this week.

The crisis the church is in now is because we have not thought Christian. We have instead ran and hid and isolated ourselves in our little Christian bubbles and said we will have no contact with the rest of the world. We dare not do this any more. If we do not engage the world, we cannot be ready to take it for Christ, and according to the Great Commission, our marching orders are to take it for Christ. Ultimately, we isolate ourselves from Christ when we isolate ourselves from the world, for we are no longer serving Him, but rather just protecting ourselves.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Danger of Tolerance

Is it ever wrong to be tolerant? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

A lot of Christians yesterday, including some in leadership, had the equals sign as an avatar of Facebook saying they wanted equality in marriage. I would like to have seen how they would have been responded to being told the standards of who one can marry is already the same for everyone, but I fear there is more heat than light on this issue and more are thinking with emotions than reasoning. This is especially so since politicians like Portman and McCaskill have given reasons that are largely emotional for a change of mind.

One aspect of this is the idea of tolerance. Christians want to be good people. I get that. We think it is good to be tolerant. Therefore, we decide we should be tolerant. We get the command that Jesus told us that we are not to judge and therefore it comes to “Who am I to judge someone else? Let God do that. I will be tolerant. That’s what Jesus would have me do.”

Keep in mind, Jesus made several judgments and he was hardly tolerant of the false teachings of those around Him. When we look at the epistles, it’s the same way. They hardly would have been written if the apostles had been practicing tolerance.

Of course, this is with the modern view of tolerance. The modern view is more along the lines of having to accept everything. One cannot say that another person is wrong in their position. All views are to be seen as equal and no view is any better than another.

Such a position will lead to numerous contradictions. For instance, if no view is better than another and all views are equal, what about the view that all views are not equal and some views are better than others? Is that to be treated the same way? If an exception is not made, then the principle is violating itself.

So am I saying Christians should be intolerant? No. I’m saying we should practice classical tolerance. In classical tolerance, you allow some wrong views to be held on matters of serious discussion. You still say the view is wrong, but you allow the person the freedom to hold that view.

This shows up in the NT. What about meat offered to idols? What about whether one should have wine? What about if any days are sacred? 1 Cor. 8-10 and Romans 14 are classic texts about this. If someone wants to do something like this, then let them, but the only problem Paul had was when one person started assuming they were more spiritual or better than another.

Note also that Paul also said some behaviors were clearly wrong. You do not tolerate lying or adultery or stealing. Interestingly, in 1 Cor. 6, homosexual behavior is included in this. Note especially that this is talking about the household of God. What about those outside? They are not held to Christian standards, though their behavior is still wrong.

In our country, we are allowed basic freedoms. For instance, the freedom of religion. The government is not to favor one religion over another. Hence, I will oppose Islam, but I defend their right to build mosques here and worship as they see fit, provided they obey the laws of the land in doing so.

Why oppose the change in marriage? Because this does affect everyone, particularly the least of these, the children. If you think that children have a right to have a relationship with their natural mother and father, then you have all the reason you need to keep marriage as it is.

Note also the other great danger of tolerance. It’s a one-way street. You can be sure that when the other side is in power and you want to practice your Christianity that says homosexual behavior is a sin, they won’t be so tolerant. You will be called to task. How do I know this? Because it’s happening already. Tolerance is not being practiced for those who disagree. Those who seek to celebrate diversity don’t seek to celebrate those who disagree with them.

Christians. Practice true tolerance, but don’t practice the modern notion. The church never prospers when it backs down on its Christian principles.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

McCaskill’s Stance On Marriage

Does 1 Corinthians 13 mean what McCaskill thinks it means? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Recently, Senator McCaskill of Missouri came out in support of redefining marriage. Her entry on the topic on Tumblr can be found here. I’d like to look at her entry today and ask the question of it if it works or not.

At the start, the passage is about 1 Cor. 13. I have an interest in this having done a sermon on it that can be found here. In looking at this entry of McCaskill, I find no attempt whatsoever to engage with the text and see what Paul meant. The impression I am getting is as if a bone has been tossed out to those who are religious with an implication that our own Scriptures teach this, but there is no argument for it.

“The question of marriage equality is a great American debate. ”

But what is the question? Is the question “Do we want to treat people unequally?” I do not think people are advocating that. If two things are equal, we should treat them equally. We support equality, but not all claimants are equal. We don’t allow children to marry, for instance. We don’t allow polygamists to marry. This is not a slippery slope argument. What we are saying is that if you want marriage to be redefined, it needs to be done in such a way to allow the group you want and exclude the ones you don’t. I have not seen this done yet.

“Many people, some with strong religious faith, believe that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. Other people, many of whom also have strong religious faith, believe that our country should not limit the commitment of marriage to some, but rather all Americans, gay and straight should be allowed to fully participate in the most basic of family values. ”

The loaded language is great at this point. The religious people who believe in traditional marriage are the ones who just want to exclude. Fortunately, there are some who are also of strong religious faith who are “open” and think that we “should not limit” but favor “all Americans” and want them to “fully participate in the most basic of family values.”

It never seems to occur to McCaskill that family values are a reason for opposing redefining marriage. To redefine marriage is to redefine the family. It is also not the value of honoring marriage for the sake of marriage. It is about the purpose of marriage. Can the ultimate purpose of marriage be achieved in the new union even if not everyone participates in it?

“I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love.”

The problem here is that we in America do marry based on who we love, but all over the world, this is not why people marry. Arranged marriages are still quite common. It is just that it happens that the person we love often fits into the overall scheme of what marriage is. Being in love with someone is not a reason why the government should allow you to marry. If I love a small child, I cannot marry them. If I love my sister, I cannot marry them. If I love two women, I cannot marry them. The government looks at those and says “We don’t care if you love them. It’s not marriage.”

“While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry. ”

With the first part, we may not have to conduct marriages, but will we have to recognize them? For instance, even if you disagree, my Scriptures teach me that participating in homosexual behavior is sin and to have that as a lifestyle is to be “living in sin.” Of course, we all have sins we struggle with, but in those cases, we are to be seeking to free ourselves from them.

So when a homosexual couple comes to the church, do I have to grant them church membership? Do I have to accept them for baptism? Do I have to grant them Communion? When we have photos of church members, do I have to treat them as a couple? These are hard questions.

Of course, they are welcome to attend, but the church by and large is to expect holiness from its members and living a lifestyle that goes against what we believe in is not holy. Could I have a case brought against me then for discrimination just because I am living my religion?

The second part of McCaskill’s saying leads to the suicide approach. If the government should not tell who we have a right to marry, then I suspect McCaskill should be against this going to the Supreme Court. Why should the government recognize a marriage if it can’t have any standards on marriage? Why should it be something we vote on if government is not to tell who we can marry? McCaskill can’t have it both ways.

“My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my gay and lesbian friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.”

This sounds persuasive to several people, but to see if the argument works, you just have to put in another group instead.

“My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my incestuous friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for incestuous couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.”


“My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my polygamous friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for polygamous families is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.”

The bottom line in this is it looks like McCaskill has emotional issues when confronting others so to avoid her discomfort, the law of the land needs to be changed. The law of the land frankly should not care about her discomfort or mine. It should care about what is good and right and true.

McCaskill does not give a rational argument here. She gives an emotional one. An appeal to emotions is not always wrong, but it is when it is done without an argument to back it. McCaskill does not give any new evidences to support her position. She does not interact with those who disagree with her. She does not state anything about the purpose of marriage, or the raising of children.

That last point is important. We are making marriage about the people getting married. The people getting married have reason to celebrate, but the institution does not exist just to make people happy and feel good about themselves. Several other things can do that. Marriage does often and should do those things, but that is not why it exists.

“Good people disagree with me. On the other hand, my children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children.”

Frankly Senator, I don’t know why your children should be seen as the authorities on public policy. I am sure some children didn’t have a problem with slavery. I am sure some children have a problem with abortion. In fact, we educate people so they will not have the understanding of children.

You can say history will agree, but so what? Future people will side with you does not mean that future people are right. If the position is an unchangeable moral truth, then it will be true or false in the future just as much as it is today. Also, history has made wrong decisions. All over the world today, world leaders are making wrong decisions that will impact their people for years. Some decisions seem good at the time and have disastrous effects. We cannot appeal to unknown future without warrant. We can make warnings however if we have parallels.

In this case, we do. When no-fault divorce was a debate, we were told it would not harm children in any way. Children would adapt. This was expert testimony. Now we know that we were wrong. What if we make that same mistake again? The question to ask is “Is it worth the risk?” If so, why?

I hope the Senator will give us an argument next time. We have much here in the way of rhetoric, but naught in the way of argumentation. I would hope someone in charge of the laws of the land would base their arguments on more than emotion.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Another excellent response on an excellent blog can be found here.

The Triumph of the Christ

What happened on Palm Sunday? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday. This is to acknowledge the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem. While we state that this is the start of what we call the Passion week, I’d like to instead look at it as the Triumph of the Christ. For those who don’t know, a triumph was a celebration held for a Roman general after a great victory. To be sure, this isn’t an exact parallel with Jesus, but there is no doubt He is getting a king’s welcome.

Also, I will be looking at this in the gospel of Matthew mainly. Right now, I’ve been spending the past month or so focusing on this gospel. I’m using it then to show how it works with an overall thesis I’ve been developing. Of course, the other gospels have valuable information, but I’d like to look at the presentation in Matthew.

I am also using the BibleGateway web site and the NIV translation.

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” ”

In Matthew 8, we saw Jesus as Lord in healing a centurion’s servant from a distance. The centurion realized Jesus has under His authority sickness and even from a distance. In Matthew 14, we saw Jesus’s authority over the waters as He is able to walk on the sea. Regularly, it has been stressed Jesus has not just the authority to interpret the Law, but the authority over nature. He is the rightful ruler of the cosmos. When He comes to Jerusalem then, He is able to give the orders just as much. What is the reason? The Lord needs them. That is all that needs to be said. The king wants what He has a right to.

“4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’””

Fulfillment is a huge theme in Matthew. Regularly, one reads about how Jesus is fulfilling an OT Scripture. Note that this one is about kingship. The king of Israel is coming, and not just the king of Israel, but the king of the cosmos.

“6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,”

The disciples are good servants of the king. Now here, we come to a question. Did Jesus sit on two animals at once? I say no. The “them” refers to the cloaks. There’s a simple reason I don’t think Matthew intended for us to think that Jesus sat on two animals. Here it is:

Matthew is not an idiot.

Matthew grew up and lived in a society where people rode animals. He was likely an eyewitness to what happened. He knew darn well that one person could not ride two animals at once. At worse, we have an ambiguity here. For some interested in Inerrancy, I could understand attributing an error to Matthew at some part, though I don’t think there is one. I cannot understand attributing idiocy to him.

““Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!””

All of these are cries or praise and highly Messianic. Deliverance has come for Jerusalem! The Messiah is here! For the people in the city that day, they were likely anticipating the Davidic Kingdom was coming back. Jesus has a far greater Kingdom in mind, and unfortunately, it will be one that the people do not see. We must always remember that when God acts, we accept Him on His terms, not ours.

“10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.””

Once again, the question comes back to who is Jesus. This is the question Matthew wishes for us to ponder. He wants us to ask who Jesus is. The answer of the people is that He is the prophet. Matthew sees much more. Matthew sees the king coming to His people giving them a last chance to accept or reject Him.

As passion week goes, we will see how they responded.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

When Youth Aren’t Prepared

Are the youth at your church ready? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

If you’re a youth pastor, I strongly urge you to listen to this post. If you are a parent of youth, I urge you to listen. We often say the children are the future of our country. That is correct. They are also the future of Christianity in our country and we need to be reaching them.

We are not.

Statistics are showing that a majority of youth are leaving the faith when they come to college. Some of you are saying “That will never be my child!” The reality is, every child has parents and a lot of parents are saying the exact same thing. God won’t give you special favor just because you’re you if you’re not living in obedience to what He said in raising youth. God won’t shine special favor on a church just because they have a good worship band and “teach faithfully the Word of God” if they’re not honoring their intellectual responsibility to their youth.

You are not to use God as an excuse to cover up your laziness. You are not to use holiness as a cover-up for sinfulness in other areas.

As it stands, when our youth go off to college, often they enter atheism central and as a result, they will be challenged. Sunday School will go up against 25+ years of atheism. What are the possible results? I can think of three.


This is the most common one. Students in church will have emotions and experiences. They will face “facts.” How do you argue against those? This is especially true if their faith has been married to extra beliefs besides the resurrection of Jesus. Is your faith destroyed if evolution is a fact? Is it if the world is more than 10,000 years old? Is it if there is one error in the Bible? Is it if you find out we don’t have the original text of Scripture? Is it if you find the KJV is not perfect?

I’ve seen such claims before. I’ve seen people scared at the thought of an old Earth. I’ve seen them in a panic over evolution. I’ve had ministry students call me when they find out there are problems with the KJV and want to know what to do. I’ve seen panic over supposed contradictions. Every time the question comes back to “Did Jesus rise?” If He did, everything else is secondary.

Unfortunately, too many won’t reach out for answers. They will apostasize and assume they had a strong understanding of the faith they left. They didn’t. Still, they will think that and that makes them all the more difficult to reach again. Not only that, they are going out and reproducing their own ignorance in others. This is a dangerous option most will take.


Some Christians will refuse to abandon their faith. Good for them. Unfortunately, they will do nothing to seek to deal with the problem. They will only retreat further in themselves. They will say that someone can have their facts, but they will have their faith.

These students will retreat within themselves and retreat to people of like mind. They will gather together in their own isolation chambers so they can be safe from the culture. (Some of these chambers are called “Churches.”) They will not interact with the culture and when threats comes, they will not answer the questions but chase them away not wanting to consider they could be wrong.

These people are in the Kingdom, but they are also unfortunately great hindrances to the Kingdom and creating more fundy atheists by their approach.


This is by far the minority. Some people will actually determine that they want to know the truth and will study. Many of them will find the answers and they will become strong defenders of the faith and lead a rich and vibrant Christian life. The problem is that they had this in them all along but the church prior had never shown them a better way. Likely, they could have grown up in an isolation chamber.

Just imagine the good that could have been done had these people been taught this all their lives. They were not. It took a crisis to get them to that point, but at least they got to that point. The sad reality is few will be the ones who study and if they want to, many churches will in fact discourage them from doing so or look down on them. After all, those are the “unspiritual” people who need evidence and don’t have “faith.”

The reality is, the church needs #3 the most. It is like Paul said. The ones who are shamed are the ones God uses. The world will look down on those who take seriously the life of the mind now, but they are the ones who are also honoring what God said to do, to love Him with all their mind.

A caveat. Of course not everyone is an intellectual, but there is a difference between not being an intellectual and being an anti-intellectual. No Christian should be the latter. All Christians should at least know those they can go to who can help in a time of need. They should want to respect and encourage such people.

For our youth, we need to be preparing them. We don’t want them to be tragedies.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

There’s A New King In Town

Is someone else claiming to be in charge? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

There’s a Christmas song describing the birth of Jesus that says that there’s a new kid in town. A look at Matthew’s gospel would of course indicate that at one point Jesus was a new kid in town, but a look at the end of the gospel would indicate that Jesus is not the new kid but rather the new king.

When we get to the Great Commission, we are told that all authority in Heaven and Earth has been given to Jesus. Therefore, we are to go out and do all that He has commanded. This is usually seen as something to give us assurance. As we go out telling the good news of forgiveness, we can be assured of the presence of Jesus. Now I don’t deny it includes that, but it is so much more.

The old rule of hermeneutics is that whenever you see a “therefore”, you’re to look and see what it’s there for. The text says it’s based on Jesus having all authority. All authority does not mean just to forgive sins. It means just what it says. Jesus has all authority. In an age where the disciples would have been well acquainted with Caesar and the Roman Empire, they were to know that because of the resurrection, Caesar was no longer in charge.

Instead, it is Christ who is the King and Christ is the one who rules from Heaven. His scope then reaches even further than that of Caesar and unlike Caesar, Christ is an eternal king. His throne can never be taken by another. All the Caesars would come and go. Christ would live on.

In fact, what is it that Christ tells the apostles to do? He tells them to do what He has commanded them. This is not a call to evangelism! This is a king giving marching orders! This is a charge going out that the world is to know that Jesus is in charge now and you are to be the bearers of that message! You are to go out into the Roman Empire and tell them Jesus is Lord!

Such a message would have been practical suicide, and if church tradition is to be believed, it certainly was. The Roman Empire would not have been happy hearing that they were no longer in charge. Jews would not be happy knowing nothing was said about returning them to the glory days of David and Solomon. We today consider it good news in our context. In their day, the news would have been news the people would NOT have been happy to hear.

And yet, that news still thrived somehow.

The Great Commission is still for us today and let us get something clear. Jesus is still king and He has given His orders. There is no other path that we are allowed to take. The king’s opinion is not up for debate. Many of us can hear the question about those who never heard. The best way to handle this is to make sure that they hear. We are told what we are to do. We are not told what happens if we fail in our mission. Christ has not given us a plan B. If He is our king, we are to follow His orders. If we are not, are we really seeing Him as king?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Must Be Shown

What is required to give the good news to someone? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Recently, I’ve been given a column in the local newspaper here in Knoxville, that will be a monthly feature. It’s not much of a shock that when it is published, all the trolls come out to play. A friend on Facebook had recommended I not check the comments but personally, the comments are a good deal of fun!

It amazes me when I see what we’re up against. I have the claim that if I had done some real research, I’d know that Jesus never even existed. Most people just make assertions and don’t have any arguments to them. Interestingly, none of them seem to want to go after the resurrection itself.

Instead, it’s a desperate hope to hit it from another angle. If we can show miracles never take place, then we can disprove the resurrection! True, but that is a tall order and attempts to do so today only succeed at begging the question. Not to mention that since Keener has written his work on this, there’s a whole lot more evidence to deal with.

Also is the idea that if we can demonstrate one story is false, then all the stories are! If we can show a problem with the virgin birth, then we have no reason to accept the resurrection! If we bring up Matthew 27 as hard to believe, then we have no reason to believe Matthew 28!

Yet to directly go after the resurrection? Not happening.

What is happening is in fact our fault largely.

When we are out there teaching Christian doctrine, we are out there trying to demonstrate that Jesus rose from the dead. That is what one believes in order to be saved. One is to trust that God has given His support to Jesus of Nazareth and has demonstrated this by His resurrection.

Let us state some things the gospel is not.

It is not “You must believe in a 6-10,000 year old Earth in order to be saved.”

It is not “You must believe in a pre-trib rapture to be saved.”

It is not “You must believe the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. was the fulfillment of the Olivet Discourse to be saved.”

It is not “You must believe in the Inerrancy of Scripture to be saved.”

It is not saying “You must believe in speaking in tongues to be saved.”

It is not saying “You must believe in predestination or free-will to be saved.”

Now that is not to say these other issues are unimportant, but they are not essential. We can and should discuss them, but we make a mistake if we present them as if they’re part of the gospel. They are aspects that matter if the gospel is true, but they are not the message.

If there is no resurrection, these opinions don’t matter for salvation or they’re outright false. It is only if the resurrection matters that either these can be true or that they matter. If we make them part of the message, then we are adding to the gospel.

This harms believers in that we convince them they have to believe one of these in addition to the resurrection. When the lesser belief is knocked down, then the resurrection also goes down with it. How many Christians have apostasized because they concluded the Earth was old or that there was an error in the Bible?

It also harms our testimony to unbelievers. After all, they too are of the opinion that every Christian has to believe this and if you can knock down this belief, you don’t have to take the resurrection seriously. Why should someone go after the resurrection when they can just keep tossing out Bible contradictions left and right and know that if any one of them hits, then their case is made?

By all means of course, have opinions on these other issues. Feel free to study them and make a case for them, but don’t confuse them with Christianity! The truth of Christianity does not depend on these claims! The truth of Christianity only depends on the claim that Jesus is risen! That is the claim that is absolutely essential that we must defend. Let us make sure we are majoring in the majors and minoring in the minors and not going the other way.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

No Neutral Ground

Can you say you have no position on Christ? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Christ is someone in history that nearly everyone has something to say concerning. When Christ showed up, there were several other religions, and he said little about them, save the Judaism he grew up in and practiced, but since He showed up, religions that have heard of Him have said something about Him. Even shortly after His time, gnostic challenges of Christianity showed up all seeking to explain this figure and fit Him into their paradigm.

If you are a Buddhist, you can have a place for Jesus in your system as one who is enlightened. A Hindu can see Jesus as an avatar. The numerous cults of Christianity all seek to have a way to explain Him by changing Him in some way, such as lowering his oneness with the Father by JWs or by making Him one of many gods such as in Mormonism. Islam is ready to accept Jesus as a prophet, Messiah, and even that He will return again, but it denies entirely that He is the Son of God.

Even those without a religion still want to do something with Jesus. A growing number of fundy atheists seek to deny that He ever even existed. Those who do accept His existence are willing to usually accept Him as a good moral teacher. It is not uncommon to hear an atheist or agnostic say that they really like Jesus.

Jesus is just someone that has to be dealt with.

And Jesus Himself makes the challenge strong.

In Matthew and Luke, when Jesus casts a demon out of someone and is told that he does it by the power of Beelzebub, he responds and in the response says that “Whoever is not with me is against me.” In Mark 9 when told about another man casting out demons in His name Jesus says “Whoever is not against us, is for us.”

The message is that Jesus is someone you cannot be neutral about. There is no indication the early church was neutral either. This was a group willing to go to the lions and to be the lights for Nero’s evening parties rather than make a compromise on their faith. Their position on Christ was more precious than their own lives.

Today, the same challenge still comes to all of us. Of course, there is nothing wrong with the skeptical investigating the evidence of Jesus. Still, the reason one searches is so one can reach a conclusion. In the end, one must remember the words long ago of Thomas Sherlock. When considering the resurrection, one must either accept the miracle or prove the fraud.

Jesus comes to us today still with strong claims and asks if we are with Him or against Him. If we are with Him, it is ultimately a call to die still. A call to die to yourselves. To forgo public favor and being celebrated by the culture. It is a call to learn how to properly balance our desires. To realize that it is not all about us. To realize that all the pleasures of life are meant to be put underneath Him as the greatest pleasure. It is to realize that we must depend on Him entirely for all we do and are.

If you are against Him, then that comes with a high cost. It is to say that you will ultimately reject the way of Christ, including His claims of being the true revelation of God to the world and to be bringing about His Kingdom. It is a claim to oppose then the Kingdom of God. Of course, if Jesus is wrong, then it is a claim that has no threat, but one best make sure He is wrong.

In doing this, we must once again realize the staggering claims of Jesus and remember the question asked of Him so often in His ministry. “Who is He?”

Apparently, a lot hangs on that question.

Choose your side. Neutral is not an option.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How Would Jesus Vote?

Is Jesus A Republican or a Democrat? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I recently had a column printed in the local newspaper. It was one based on an idea I’ve blogged about earlier in saying the gospels should be read as political campaigns, an idea you can read about here. The person responded saying Jesus is neither a Republican or a Democrat.

That lest me convinced the column had not been read.

Yet having said that, I wonder about this term. “Jesus is neither a Republican or a Democrat.” What am I to conclude from this? Am I to conclude that Jesus would not walk lock, stock, and barrel, with every position that a party holds on an issue? (Which would be difficult since both parties have internal disagreements among themselves.) If that is all I am to conclude, I have no problem.

Next question then. If we say He would not agree with everything, does that mean He would disagree with everything? For instance, Republicans by and large tend to oppose abortion. Democrats tend to support it. Yes. I know there are exceptions, but this is one example. Am I to conclude from this that if Jesus does not side with either party, that He has no view on abortion? Am I to conclude that He does not see it as good or evil?

This is a position that sounds dangerously relativistic. Let’s grant that one party is in support of abortion. One party is not. If Jesus holds a position, and I would hold that He does, then it would follow that His support would be behind the one who has His position on that issue at least. That support could be disqualified on other grounds, but if it was one issue, that one would have His support.

We could go down the line. What about the marriage debate? In that one, we would need to study to see what we think the right viewpoint is and realize whichever one is right, that is the one Christ would support. What about economic issues? These are multi-faceted and we would have to study. We’d want to take into consideration many points. Which plan is the most feasible? Which one produces the best results? Should we consider long-term effects as well as short-term ones? Are there moral considerations with regards to certain taxes? What is the biblical position on wealth? What is the best way to take care of the poor? This could mean more than just simple prooftexting. It could mean doing some studies in economic theories and looking at them and seeing which one helps a nation best.

The answer ultimately then is not to encourage people to vote Republican or Democrat, but to vote Christian, which is just fine. Everyone else gets to vote according to their worldview. Why shouldn’t a Christian? If we as a nation get people to become serious Christians, then in turn those people will respond politically as Christians. If we want to see a nation that runs in a Christian manner, it won’t be by government work alone. It will be by doing what we’ve already been told to do, the Great Commission. If we who are Christians in America think America is falling and want to save America, which is a noble desire I agree, then it is not done by looking at government to be our savior. It can’t be. Government is not useless, but it is not the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God can use the government, but for that to happen, the servants will have to do the work that they have been assigned to do by the Master.

I will not be answering if Jesus is a Republican or Democrat. Those who know me know the way I vote, but I will say Jesus supports what is true and right and righteousness upholds a nation. If we want to change the country, the best way is by fulfilling the Great Commission in all we do, including our politics and economics. Let us not let another cliche saying stop us from interacting in politics at all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters