Illness Is in the Blood or Life Is in the Blood

Illness Is in the Blood or Life Is in the Blood

The year was 1799. A farmer was working hard supervising farming activities from horseback through snow, hail, and rain. The next day, despite a sore throat, he was back out in the snow. That night he woke with difficulty breathing. In those days, it was common practice to bleed a person who was ill. Doctors, believing that illness is in the blood, sought to cure it by removing some of the person’s blood.

A supervisor on the farm opened the man’s vein and drained half a pint of blood.
The farmer was not getting better. The family doctor arrived and bled the patient a second time with still no improvement. That doctor sent for another doctor, and while waiting for the second doctor to come, he bled the patient a third time. When the second doctor did not arrive, they sent for a third doctor. Then the patient was bled a fourth time, this time removing a quart of blood. Within two days from the time he first developed a sore throat, George Washington was dead at age 67.

What was the problem that led to the death of our first president—the man we call the father of our country? Believing that illness is in the blood, medical doctors ignored a simple truth found in the Bible. Leviticus 17:11 clearly says, “the life of a creature is in the blood.” Since life is in the blood, draining a person’s blood is not the way to cure a person’s illness. It’s a way to end a person’s life. It took thousands of years for medical science to catch up with the wisdom of the Bible.

After feeding thousands of people with five barley loaves and two fish, questioners confronted Jesus. He told them, “…it is my father who gives you the true bread from heaven (John 6:32). He went on to say, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).” Then, in perhaps the most shocking statement of all, Jesus spoke in a figurative sense. He said: “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man (Jesus’ most common name for himself) and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:53-54).”

Life is in the blood. That is true of any creature or person. Moses knew it because of divine revelation, not from human wisdom. We can see evidence for the accuracy of the Bible in this and many other ways. However, the blood of Jesus Christ sacrificed for us on the cross is the ultimate source of life. As John wrote, “…the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Eternal life is in the blood of Jesus.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

Mental Health and Faith

Mental Health and Faith

One of the challenges we face in 21st century America is the growing rate of mental illness cases. Every day the media informs us of a tragedy caused by someone who is mentally ill. Closer to home, many of us have had a loved one afflicted with some form of mental illness. Is there a connection between mental health and faith?

Mental illness has many causes. A small percentage of mental illnesses result from a medical condition. For example, my son’s schizophrenia resulted from a congenital condition. Because he was adopted, we don’t know all of the factors leading to his multiple illnesses, but his birth mother had German measles during pregnancy. Brain injuries and drug abuse can also result in mental illness.

A far more common cause of mental problems involves life experiences. Some of us were forced to witness the horror of war, and many others have suffered abuse. Those things have caused a variety of mental issues. We frequently hear atheists claim that religion causes mental illness by heaping guilt on people over something they have done in their lives. Indeed, some preachers have used guilt to motivate people to change behavior or convert to a doctrinal view.

The reality is that there is a connection between mental health and faith. Christianity is a guilt-removing belief system. The Christian message is designed to free people from guilt and promote a healthy and mentally stable lifestyle. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5–7 gives guidelines to a healthy mental attitude. There you will find these keys to mental health: loving others, not exacting revenge or retaliating, caring for others (even your enemies), not being religious for show, and not being obsessed with material things.

We all fail in life, but the Christian system brings forgiveness. When Peter asked Christ how often he had to forgive, Christ’s answer indicated forgiveness should be infinite (Matthew 18:21). Carrying a grudge can cause enormous mental pain, which John compares to walking in darkness, but loving others brings us into the light (1 John 1:7-11). James gives insight into how we can endure hardships and help one another gain a positive perspective on life (James 5:10-16).

As Americans turn away from the teachings of Christ and rely on pop psychology and drugs to achieve sound mental health, the result has been the opposite. Pill popping and drug use have skyrocketed, and so has the number of people in desperate mental stress. Living the Christian life brings stability and fulfillment and the knowledge that there is a place of peace and love when this life is over. Mental health and faith in Christ go together.

— John N. Clayton ©2021

Christ’s Attitude Toward Evidence

Christ’s Attitude Toward Evidence

Many people today, including Christians, are denying evidence. A charismatic teacher, politician, or preacher can cause them to ignore scientific or biblical evidence and accept something untrue. What was Christ’s attitude toward evidence?

Jesus had a healthy respect for evidence and used it in His teaching. In Matthew 11:1-5, John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus to find out if He was who John had proclaimed Him to be. What Jesus did was to give these disciples evidence. “Go and show John the things which you hear and see.” When Thomas had trouble believing, what did Jesus do? Jesus told him to examine the evidence. “Put your finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27). Christ’s attitude toward evidence was to use it regularly in His dealings with people. His miracles were evidence that motivated people to faith.

In the parables of Jesus, what do we see? There was no abstract, hard-to-understand theological gymnastics but everyday evidence that people knew about and could understand. The parables of the good Samaritan, the lost coin, the weeds, the yeast, the lost sheep, the fig tree, the sower, and the mustard seed are all examples of evidence that people could understand. What was the purpose of the miracles that Jesus and the apostles performed? Was it not evidence to show that they spoke for God? Compare that to the scammers such as Simon in Acts 8 and the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19:11-16.

The “Does God Exist?” ministry deals with evidence. We are not interested in denominational theories or human doctrines. Instead, we must build our faith on evidence. By knowing the evidence, we can “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Bible Horror Stories

Bible Horror Stories

We sometimes get mail from skeptics referring to “Bible horror stories.” That indicates the writer does not understand the biblical message. For example, a recent letter referred to the “horror story of a guy cutting up a woman and mailing her body parts to people all over the world.” This is a classic example of an atheist lashing out at the Bible without thinking or understanding the biblical account.

We need to remember that the Bible reports history as well as giving God’s instructions.
The fact that your local newspaper reports a murder does not mean that the newspaper did the killing or endorsed it.

The passage that the skeptic referred to is Judges 19-20. This is a horrible story of a woman companion of an unnamed Levite who is raped and murdered by a group of men. The Levite cuts up her corpse and sends it to the 12 tribes of Israel to motivate them to retaliate against the murderers. This mutilation was not something the Levite did as a command of God.

At the time of this Bible horror story, there was no justice system in place.
The book of Judges ends with the statement, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). There was a code of conduct but no legal system to enforce it.

Colossians 2:12-23 tells us that Jesus Christ did away with the legalistic rules that no one could follow completely. The teachings of Christ in Matthew 5–7 are in stark contrast to the violence and power struggles in the Old Testament. The Bible horror stories are accurate records of evil actions. We learn from history, so we don’t repeat the mistakes. The New Testament is NEW!! There is no horror in the gospels except what evil men did to Christ.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Giver Or Taker – Which Are You?

Giver Or Taker – Which Are You?

One of the major arguments against naturalistic evolution is the philosophical question of where does your belief system takes you in life? What we really believe affects every facet of how we live. “Survival of the fittest” is a statement of naturalistic evolution. While it has applications in the biological world, for humans, it is a philosophical belief system in which we base every life decision on what will make me more “fit.” That is a TAKER mentality.

A person with a TAKER mentality might do something good for someone else only if they can visualize how the act might ultimately benefit them. Narcissism is a natural product of this kind of thinking. Hoarding, abuse, control, and deception are all a product of a TAKER mentality. People even use religion to promote TAKER value systems. In the Bible, we read of numerous cases where the goal of an individual was self-promotion. For example, in Acts 8:18-24, we see a man named Simon who attempted to use his religion for his personal gain.

The Christian system as taught by Jesus Christ offers a diametrically opposite view of life. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). He lived that belief system even to the point of dying for it. In today’s world, we see the fruit of rejecting the teachings of Christ and living a “survival of the fittest” belief system. The misery index and suicide rate of our culture are at an all-time high. Sexual satisfaction is at an all-time low, with abuse of all kinds at astronomical levels. Racism and hatred are destroying the fabric of our society.

So how do I become a GIVER instead of a TAKER? May I suggest three things you can do that will change your whole outlook on life? As a result, you can become more blessed, happier, and more satisfied with life. These are biblical teachings, and they work:

BUILD FAITH IN GOD by studying the evidence that God is an abundant giver. Spend some time looking at the creation. Go to apod.nasa.gov and see the wonderful pictures each day showing the cosmos that God created. On a clear night, look up at the sky and reflect on what God has created for us to exist. The Psalms and Proverbs are full of admonitions to do this. For example, read Psalms 8:3-9, 19:1-3, and Proverbs chapter 8. Then read Psalms 139:1-14. and consider John 3:16

FOCUS ON HOW YOUR LIFE CAN BLESS OTHERS rather than on what your activity brings to you. Matthew 6:1-4 states this well. The story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11 demonstrates the wrong motives some people have when they seek glory for themselves rather than being faithful GIVERS. Realize that TAKERS view sex as something that brings pleasure to them, rather than giving pleasure and satisfaction to someone else. As a result, TAKERS are left with an empty feeling of frustration.

LET GOD’S SPIRIT WORK IN YOUR LIFE. The Holy Spirit working in us can help us to become joyful GIVERS. In 2 Corinthians 8:3-7, we see that the ability to give is a “grace” that God wants to give to us. Luke 6:38 tells us that givers will receive back in proportion to their giving.

As long as we live, we have 168 hours every week to use either as a GIVER or a TAKER. Give a tithe of your time – 10% of 168. Include time spent in worship, in class, in prayer, and in meditation. Be sure also to spend part of that 16.8 hours in action. Matthew 25:31-40 gives various areas to choose from where we can give as Jesus calls us to. When we see God work through us, it will motivate us to do more, and God will open doors we never thought possible. We will come to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

— John N. Clayton © 2021

The Age of the Earth and the Bible

The Age of the Earth and the Bible

One issue that seems never to go away is the age of the Earth. I frequently get letters from people saying, “If I didn’t have to believe the Earth is 6000 years old, I would be a Christian.”

The root of this problem is those who believe in the denominational doctrine of dispensationalism spend massive amounts of money attempting to justify their ideology. The list of promotors of this denominational tradition is vast. It started with John Nelson Darby, Cyrus Scofield, and D.L. Moody. These men published study Bibles and promoted the idea of seven discrete dispensations. The final dispensation is supposed to involve Israel becoming the world’s capital with Jesus Christ the King reigning from Jerusalem.

The televangelists of our day have modified some of that but have promoted much of it, including the young age of the Earth. The list of promoters of some version of dispensationalism is huge: Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, Charles Ryrie, John Walvoord, Eric Sauer, John Hagee, Jim Bakker, Jerry Falwell, Paul Crouch, Pat Robertson, and Jimmy Swaggart, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, dispensationalism is a major misunderstanding of the Bible and the nature of God and Jesus. Jesus will not be coming to wage a physical military war with the Chinese, Russians, or anyone else. “My kingdom is not of this world” does not involve any nation – including Israel. Joshua 23:14 tells us that God had fulfilled all the promises He made to Abraham. Colossians 2:8-14 makes it clear that Jesus took out all of the ancient teachings and laws connected with Israel as He established His Church – a spiritual kingdom. Ephesians 2:1-22 and Galatians 3:26-29 emphasize the oneness of the spiritual kingdom, with no nationalities or warfare of any kind.

The attempt to promote Israel’s physical domination of all Earth’s people started early in Church history. In Acts 15, the first century Christians dealt with attempts to promote Jewish tradition in the Church, and they rejected it. Jesus had difficulty getting His followers to understand that His kingdom was “not of this world (John 18:36), and we have the same battle today.

The bottom line is that the Bible does not tell us the age of the Earth. Yet, tragically, preaching schools and some Christian colleges continue to parrot the teachings of dispensationalism while denying that they are. The graduates of these schools and colleges go out and drive people away from God by promoting this denominational tradition that is wrong historically, scientifically, and logically. Tomorrow we want to look at some scientific and logical problems with this denominational teaching.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

New Testament Concept of Priesthood

New Testament Concept of Priesthood

In this day of racial issues, it is essential to understand that there should never be a conflict over race in authentic Christianity. That is because the New Testament concept of priesthood is very different from what many people understand.

In the Mosaic period, priests came from the tribe of Levi. They served as teachers, judges, medical experts, and mediators. To be a priest, you had to be a member of the Levitical tribe and of the family of Aaron ( Numbers 17-18, Deuteronomy 10:8 and 18:1-8, Leviticus 8 and 9.) This was a flawed system because not all Levites were good people.

Jesus Christ abolished that system. Hebrews 7:18-19 says, “For the law that went before is annulled because it was weak and ineffective, for the law perfected nothing, but there has come in its place a better hope enabling us to come close to God.” In Matthew 27:51, we read that at Christ’s crucifixion, the curtain separating common people from the “Holy of Holies” was torn open, making access to God available to all humans.

Galatians 3:26-28 clearly states, “You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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.” Thus, the Bible calls Christians a “royal priesthood” or a “kingdom of priests.” (See 1 Peter 2:4-9, Revelation 1:5-6, and 5:9-10.) That is the New Testament concept of priesthood.

People have tried to continue the Mosaic concept of priests into the Christian era, but that is not what the New Testament teaches. In biblical Christianity, there is no room for placing any person above anyone else. That means there is no room for prejudice. All are equal, and all lives matter. People who justify racial discrimination do so based on human traditions and dogma, not on biblical teaching.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Christian Compassion and Doing Good in Christ’s Name

Christian Compassion and Doing Good in Christ's Name

One thing that happens to you when you become a Christians is that you grow in compassion for needy people. That is generally not true of other belief systems that tend to view people’s problems as retribution for their wrong actions or as a natural product of the survival of the fittest. Christian compassion and doing good in Christ’s name are unique to Christ-followers.

Since becoming a Christian, I have had many opportunities to be involved in Christian responses to needs. I have supported the drilling of water wells in places where people have inadequate or contaminated water. Another area has been funding medical outreaches to people who have little or no medical care available. Christian compassion involves helping needy people regardless of the cause.

Are the people benefiting from this help Christians? In most cases, they are not. So how do we justify spending large amounts of money on people who may not be believers and who may have caused their own problems by how they have lived? The classic response to this question is to look at what Jesus Christ did.

In Matthew 14 and 15 and Mark 6, we see situations in which Jesus fed thousands of people. You might say that the purpose of these miracles was to demonstrate to the people that Jesus had the power of God. But we should not overlook the words telling us that Jesus had compassion on the people and addressed their hunger. Were all of the people Jesus fed perfect people? I would suggest that many of those people had come to hear Jesus out of curiosity and skepticism. Some were motivated by wanting a solution to a problem they had. They were not people wanting to become disciples. In all probability, many of them were people steeped in sin.

Jesus doesn’t ask any questions. He didn’t refuse food to anyone because they were bad or had evil motives. Jesus addressed a need because He has compassion for all humans. So we today express Christian compassion as we address human needs because we care about people. Unlike other human belief systems, Christianity overflows with caring and compassion. We express it by massive humanitarian aid to people on every continent and in every situation.

Many people are Christians today because they saw what Christianity does and how it overflows with compassion and caring. Galatians 6:10 tells all Christians to do good to everyone. The opportunities to do that are greater today than at any time in human history.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Living the Christian Life

Living the Christian Life

One of the struggles that we all have is living the Christian life completely. Both atheists and believers often misunderstand what it means to be a Christian. Those of us who claim to be Christians do not claim to be perfect or better than anyone else. My favorite analogy is that I am called as a Christian to be faithful to my wife. That is within my power. It is not within my ability to be perfect to my wife.

Over the years, there have been situations where I could have been unfaithful to my wife and probably gotten away with it. As a speaker on college and university campuses for 53 years, people opposed to my ministry have made deliberate attempts to trap me by giving me opportunities to be unfaithful. With God’s help, I have been able to avoid those traps.

By the same token, my relationship with my wife has been far from perfect. I have failed in so many ways that I could write a book about how husbands fail in their marriages. Those failures are of things I should have done and didn’t. I am ashamed to say that there were things I did that could be called abusive.

The same is true of my relationship with Jesus Christ. I have tried to be consistent in living the Christian life, but I have been a long way from perfect in my life and ministry. I have not always “turned the other cheek.” I have not always “loved my enemy.” Even more important, I have left undone things that I should have done. Does this mean I am rejected by God and doomed to the same end as the atheists with whom I have debated? Certainly not!

My greatest encouragement in this matter is the writings of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15-23. Paul tells us, “I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate….For the good that I want to do, I do not do, and I practice the same evil that I do not want to be a part of…I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body waging war against the law of my mind…” So the atheist will say, “How does your being a Christian change anything? You are just like me.” That is true. We all have the same battle, but living the Christian life, I have two things the atheist doesn’t have.

(1) I have guidance in my life that works. I know that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I have help in not actively engaging in sin after sin after sin. The Holy Spirit has given me solutions that help me avoid sin. I still make mistakes, and I am sure that my carelessness and stupidity make Jesus weep sometimes, just as at times it makes my wife weep. But as a Christian, I am programmed to do things that are against human selfish desires.

(2) I know that I am forgiven by Jesus. After describing his struggles, Paul ends by saying, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” He answers that by telling us, “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” I am no better than anyone else, but I am forgiven, and I avoid the destruction of a bad conscience and a guilt-ridden life. Living the Christian life, I also have the motivation to avoid repeating the damage produced by a selfish life.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

God In the Flesh

God In the Flesh - The Rational God

Several years ago, I spoke at Ohio State University when a leading atheist maintained that God was an old Chinese woman. I pointed out that he should at the very least attack God on the level that God claims to be and not some straw horse god he had just described. He responded by quoting my old atheist friend Madalyn Murray O’Hair who said, “No God ever gave anything to man nor appeared in any way to man nor ever will.” Then I pointed out that God did precisely what Madalyn said He would not do when He came to Earth in the form of a human. Jesus Christ was God in the flesh.

Put yourself in the role of God for a moment. You have created humans, and you desire to lead them to a better way of living. How would you do it? You could make a violent entry to Earth, displaying all of your power and strength. What would that do? It might create a power struggle among humans to be your right-hand person.

That power struggle actually happened in the life of Christ. Matthew 20:20-23 tells about a mother bringing her two sons to Jesus and asking Him to make them His assistants in His kingdom. Another negative to this approach is that people would give service and obedience to God out of fear, not love. There have been those world rulers who tried to rule by power and force. People knuckled down to the ruler, but they hated him, and they rebelled at the first opportunity.

You can enslave a people for a short time, but ultimately they will revolt. The power struggle that always results brings out the worst in humanity. We see that happening in many places on Earth today. The kind of service that will last is one based on love, not enslavement. Jesus Christ, as God in the flesh, brought that kind of love.

It is also a fact that when a ruler lives a radically different lifestyle from that of his subjects, he has no way to relate to them. In today’s world, people try to imagine what it would be like to live the wealthy and opulent Hollywood lifestyle. Movies such as Camelot have had a theme that revolved around royalty trying to comprehend what it is like to live as “common” folk.

In Jesus, we see God in the flesh avoiding the show of force and the opulence. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that in Christ, we do not see one who lived a lavish lifestyle, but rather one who could “be touched with our infirmities, but was in all points tempted as we are.” Psalms 22:1 describes God in the flesh crying out at the frustrations of life, as we do. Christ repeated those words in Matthew 27:46. Isaiah 53:3-6 describes the suffering of Christ for us. God coming to Earth makes perfect sense if you understand that God wants a relationship with His creation. The Bible makes this clear in passages like John 1:1-3,14 and Philippians 2:6-8.

The tragedy is that people today have gotten so far away from understanding real love that they think of God as they would a dictator, a slave owner, or a military general. The kind of love that the Bible speaks of has a special name – “agape.” It is so far removed from the mindset of our culture that John 3:16 is a cliché without meaning to most people.

Even religious people have trouble with the concept of grace because they can’t comprehend that God is love. In the verses following John 3:16, we read the observation that men love darkness and reject God. God gave us a choice because He wants us to believe in Him and love Him as a Father, not an abusive dictator.

We have a book titled The Rational God that explores this subject in greater detail. It’s available from us for purchase or on loan. You will find our catalog of materials at doesgodexist.org. You can also purchase the book from the powervine.store.

— John N. Clayton © 2021