Skeptics of Christianity frequently challenge the concept of the Holy Spirit. That criticism is mainly due to the denominational world’s claims of miraculous acts by their religious leaders. There is no question that God can perform whatever miracles He chooses. However, many claims of the Holy Spirit entering and taking over a person are not only illogical, but they violate biblical teaching about the Holy Spirit’s work.
Numerous books have been written on the Holy Spirit, but from an apologetic standpoint, we must see what the Bible says:
2) Jesus promised to send the Spirit as a “Comforter.” The Greek word is “parakletos,” which means “one called alongside.” The Holy Spirit helps us in our Christian life but does not make us robots (John 14:15-17).
3) The Holy Spirit’s work is primarily spiritual, not physical (Ephesians 3:16-20). The Holy Spirit is not here to allow us to handle poisonous snakes, raise the dead, or calm physical storms today. The Spirit helps our prayer life (Romans 8:26-28) and helps us to be patient (Galatians 5:22-26). The Holy Spirit enables us to us give freely (2 Corinthians 8:1-7, Acts 20:35) and to live moral lives (Galatians 5:16-26, Romans 6:1-23, 8:1-17). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can reach out to others (Romans 8:16), and use the gifts we are given (1 Corinthians 12:1-13).
4) The Spirit gives us the power, but He doesn’t force us to act. He nudges us but doesn’t overpower us (Acts 7:48-51, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22). John 14:15-17 tells us that the skeptic will not accept the Spirit. Rejecting God’s help makes life become a burden, not a joy.
The promises of Jesus, such as Matthew 7:7-11, are primarily spiritual. Becoming a Christian to get rich or have political power is a nonsense understanding of the Holy Spirit’s work.
We have heard horror stories about Planned Parenthood for many years, but haven’t seen documentation of the financial abuses of this organization. Now a group called “Students for Life” has begun a campaign to make this information about Planned Parenthood abuses public. Here are some of the facts in their releases:
1) Planned Parenthood receives more than $550 million from taxpayers every year giving the organization a budget of $1.2 billion.
2) 79% of Planned Parenthood’s 548 abortion facilities are located next to college campuses and high schools.
3) The president of Planned Parenthood makes over $600,000 a year.
4) Planned Parenthood charges an average of $450 for an abortion with 320,000 abortions a year making this business earn $144 million a year.
5) Selling body parts from aborted babies is a major business for Planned Parenthood. Their Gulf Coast facility makes $120,000 a month selling hearts, livers, lungs, eyes and other body parts.
As we have reported before, an interesting debate in the scientific community has been the battle of the splitters and lumpers.
The splitters are scientists who consider every fossil specimen they find to be a different species and give it a unique name. The famous anthropologist Louis Leakey was an example of a splitter attaching numerous new names to specimens he discovered. Later it turned out that several specimens which he had given individual names were actually just variations of the same species. In recent years, anthropologists have given individual names to variations of the Neanderthals. Subsequent DNA evidence showed that many of those forms were just racial variations of the same species.
Lumpers suggest that, in general, we see many variations in a species, but we rarely see a new species. In modern days, we have various races that can look very different but are one species. A pygmy and a seven-foot-tall NBA basketball player have vast physical differences, but they are fertile with each other and therefore are one species.
It is becoming increasingly evident that ancient forms were not as diverse as some have assumed. A dinosaur discovered in the 1940s was given the name Nanotyrannus. The picture is an artist’s conception of what they looked like. It is now becoming clear to many scientists that the Nanotyrannus is a juvenile form of Tyrannosaurus rex. Because of their size, the diet of these two specimens was different. With reptiles who continue to grow, they can have a dramatic change in physical makeup as they age.
When we carry the battle of the splitters and lumpers to the question of human origins, the implications become extremely important. Were there many different species of humans that were infertile with each other? Or were they all one species, and the physical variations were simply adaptions to the environment and diet? The Bible indicates that all humans are one and that we all descended from a common human ancestor. The lumpers tend to agree, and the evidence continues to accumulate, verifying that we are all one.
One of the challenges that we see in the media is that Christianity treats women as second class citizens when just the opposite is true. The New Testament shows the equality of women in Christianity. People are well aware of Mary, the mother of Jesus, but a score of other women are spiritual giants in the Scriptures. The equality of women in Christianity shines through several biblical examples:
ANNA: She was an 84-year-old widow who worked in the Temple in Jerusalem. She was one of the very first witnesses of the fulfillment of the biblical prophecy about Jesus. Luke 2:36-38 tells us about her and promotes her as a leader in the testimony about Christ. THE TWO-COIN WIDOW: When Jesus wanted to hold someone up as an example of what true giving is, He chose a widow who contributed two small copper coins to the Temple treasury. Christ denigrated the wealthy who gave for show and held up the widow as a person who gave out of love. (See Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4.)
THE WOMAN OF FAITH. This was a woman who had a major medical problem causing her to bleed for twelve years. All medical treatments had failed. Her faith in Christ was so strong that she believed she would be healed by touching the hem of His garment. Jesus called her a “daughter” and commended her faith. She is an example of real faith today. (See Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:24-34, and Luke 8:43-48.)
MARY OF BETHANY. This woman was the sister of Martha and of Lazarus, who lived in Bethany. She took an alabaster jar of costly perfume and poured it on the head of Jesus. We see her showing an example of love for Jesus and His raising of Lazarus back to life. The males present, including the disciples, complained about the waste of money. Jesus commended her, saying, “She has done a beautiful thing for me.” (See Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and John 12:2-8.) Mary had earlier sat and listened to Jesus’ teaching while Martha was busy with household things. Martha criticized Mary, but Jesus commended Mary for having the correct priorities. (See Luke 10:38-42.)
THE WOMEN WHO FUNDED THE MINISTRY OF JESUS. Did you ever wonder how Christ could travel and teach with 12 disciples and no visible source of income? Luke 8:1-3 tells us that it was a group of women who supported the ministry of Christ from their own income.
OTHER KEY WOMEN. In John 4:4-42, we read about the Samaritan woman who broke down sexual and racial barriers. In Acts 16:13-18, we learn of a businesswoman named Lydia who believed the gospel, was baptized, and welcomed Paul and his associates into her home.
The equality of women in Christianity is unique, unlike the society of that day. Galatians 3:28 says it best, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
One of the great teachings of Jesus Christ is the separation of Church and State. The issue came up many times in His ministry and during the life of Paul. Christ’s enemies raised it directly to Him in Matthew 22:17-21. Jesus’ response was, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.” Secular rulers have often tried to use the Church to validate what they did. A classic example of how far astray things can go is blessing nuclear bombs.
Vladimir Putin has made the Russian Orthodox Church an arm of the state, and for some time now, he has had the priests blessing nuclear bombs. They do it by splashing “holy water” on the nukes. Previously the Church was doing the blessing on all arms as well as seeking divine protection for soldiers. A church commission has been set up by the Russian Orthodox Church to investigate whether weapons of mass destruction should be included in the blessings.
The Russian military is building a cathedral in a military park outside Moscow, further emphasizing the close connection between the state and the Church. Jesus did not confront the Roman authorities of His day. Paul taught the importance of Christians being subject in civil life to civil authority (Romans 13). The idea of Christians blessing war and destruction flies in the face of all Jesus taught.
Atheists can justifiably complain about abuses like this one, but we must separate what Jesus taught from what various denominations teach and do. We can defend everything Jesus taught and show its wisdom, but blessing nuclear bombs is not defensible.
As we have explained before, scientists understand that a vast percentage of the matter in the creation is something they call dark matter. The simplest way to understand dark matter is to realize that when something is spinning around a core, there must be a force to keep the spinning mass from flying away because of centrifugal force. The dark matter mystery is the unknown quantity preventing spiral galaxies like the Milky Way from flying apart.
If you spin a child around so fast that their feet come off the ground, you must hold their hands tightly. If you let go, they would fly off away from you. Stars going around the center of a galaxy also have to be held by some force. The stars move so quickly that no known force could keep them where they are. That means there is a gravitational force we can’t see holding the stars in their position. We refer to the mass that exerts that gravitational force as dark matter.
Astrophysicist Peter van Dokkum of Yale University has announced the discovery of a galaxy known as DF2, which has stars and star clusters moving at a very slow pace around the core of the galaxy. In all other galaxies having stars at the same distance as stars in DF2, the stars are moving three times as fast as the stars in DF2. That can only mean that there is less dark matter in DF2.
This discovery increases the dark matter mystery because it appears that dark matter is not constant in the cosmos. The amount of dark matter in a galaxy depends on what is needed to keep everything moving at a speed that produces stability in the galactic system. There is a great deal of debate about this discovery, but it appears that the design of galaxies has a new variable that is critical to their existence. That critical factor is how much dark matter has been supplied to keep the system stable. God has tools affecting the creation that we are just beginning to understand. The role of dark matter is only one of those.
God created man and equipped him to live on planet Earth in the best possible way. God said, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18), and He created woman, so the two of them would be one (Genesis 2:24). Paul further emphasized the relationship between man and woman in 1 Corinthians 7. As our society moves farther from belief in God and biblical teaching, marriage is being denigrated and avoided by a large percentage of our population. What many don’t realize is that there is a connection between marriage and health.
So what evidence do we have that God’s plan is best? Consider the results of these studies that indicate that personal health is related to a person’s marital state:
1) Unmarried men are 58% more likely to have a heart attack than single men, and single women are 60% more likely to have heart attacks than married women. This data comes from a study by Turku University Hospital in Finland. 2) Studies of 19,000 married people showed a 20% lower probability of dying than unmarried people, according to the National Opinion and Research Center. 3) Studies at the University of Chicago show that single people have higher cortisol levels than married individuals. Cortisol levels are related to stress. 4) The University of Rochester reports that 83% of married people are still alive 15 years after coronary bypass surgery, while only 28% of single women with the same surgery are still alive.
During 2019, several popular books were published on the subject of how we use our time. The February 10, 2020, issue of Time magazine carried an article talking about all these new books and programs (page 14). The article stated that in 2018 women spent an average of 4.9 hours a day on leisure activities, and men spent 5.7 hours. It also said that 55% of all Americans don’t use their paid time off.
God gives all of us 168 hours every week that we live. Let me encourage you to make out a time budget just for information purposes. Allow yourself generous amounts of time for what you already do. Give yourself eight hours a day to sleep, three hours a day to eat, 40 hours a week for your job, and 4.9 hours or 5.7 hours a day for leisure activities, as the Time article suggests. How much time do you have left? For most of us, it will be over 15 hours a week.
For Christians, we can spend that 15 hours in direct service to God. The local congregation would be blessed beyond measure if all of its members would do this. Visitation, caring for infirm and elderly people in a nursing home, operating a food bank, making phone calls to encourage and uplift others, teaching, caring for young people who lack adult care and guidance – the list is endless. Spending that time in front of a TV or watching R or X rated movies is not a good use of the time.
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “… the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” We will all defend our use of the time God gave us to live on Earth. For active Christians, how we use our time will not be an issue. Make your time count.
Jesus taught many unique ideas. Perhaps the most unique and astounding are his teachings about how to deal with those who differ from you. One of the major problems with atheistic evolution is the “survival of the fittest” motivation. That philosophy justifies acting superior to those who are different from you and destroying them because they are less fit than you. People have used that excuse to justify slavery. We have to contrast the magnitude of hate and the love of Christ.
When the liberation of Auschwitz occurred on January 27, 1945, (75 years ago), the world saw the result of “survival of the fittest” when applied to humans. It is hard to comprehend that Nazis murdered 1,100,000 people at Auschwitz during World War II. Russian liberators told of battle-hardened soldiers vomiting when they saw the magnitude of human tragedy in that Nazi death camp. Can you get your mind around over a million people being slaughtered in one human-controlled camp?
Try as we can to comprehend the magnitude of hate and the love of Christ, we find that His teachings are also beyond the ability of most people to understand. Consider the words of Jesus: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Jesus not only taught this radical concept, but he lived it. When Peter took out his sword and started to defend Jesus against those who would crucify him, Jesus not only told Peter to put the sword away but healed the man Peter had attacked. (See Matthew 26:51-54, Luke 22:49-51, and John 18:10-11.)
The January 2020 issue of Scientific American (page 10) carried an editorial titled “Time’s Up for ‘Anti-Gay Therapy.’” The article gives data on the destructive nature of attempted conversion therapy. It cites a study by the Trevor Project, a crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people, showing that 42% of young people who received conversion therapy attempted suicide. The American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have stated that conversion therapy is useless and harmful. Much of the Scientific American editorial blames Christianity as the source of much of the destructive actions caused by conversion therapy.
It is essential to understand that no one knows all the causes of LGBTQ behavior, and in reality, there is no single cause. Some young people exhibit gay behavior as a rebellion against their parents or the Church. There is no question that abuse figures into a person’s sexual choices and behavior in some cases. In today’s society, nearly everyone has a family member or close friend who is struggling with their sexual identity. No Christian wants to hurt anyone or be a cause of pain of any kind to our fellow human beings, much less to cause someone to attempt suicide. All Christians should reject the violent and abusive techniques of conversion therapy programs cited in the Scientific American editorial.
Christians and non-Christians need to understand the issues and work together to promote healthy lifestyles for everyone. We have pointed out studies that show that many LGBTQ behaviors are unhealthy. Life expectancies of people practicing many of those behaviors are very low, and some require constant treatments with harsh drugs for a person’s entire life.
We all need to understand that there is a difference between same-sex attraction and overt gay behavior. Data concerning the demographics of STDs show clearly a higher incidence of those diseases in the LGBTQ community. We have referenced Guy Hammond’s book Caring Beyond the Margins as a good perspective on same-sex attraction without destructive gay behavior. You can read our review of that book HERE.
The Bible has much to say about heterosexual behavior and how God wants us to express our sexual desires. Counselors regularly deal with heterosexual conduct involving abstinence and self-control. There have also been past abusive practices in counseling people with heterosexual problems, including shock therapy, chemical therapies, and forced hormonal treatments. We need to work together to help everyone live as God has called us to live, and forced abusive treatment is not a way to do that. Living out God’s plan will lead to longer and more stable lives.