Paul, Apostle of Christ Movie Review

PAUL-APOSTLE_-Featured-Image

On Good Friday, my brother and I went to see the new movie Paul, Apostle of Christ. I had wanted to see it since it coincided with us finishing up our study of Acts and the end of Paul’s life the upcoming Sunday in church. I was interested in seeing how accurate it was going to be, and, honestly, my expectations were not very high. As I’m sure you know, Hollywood doesn’t exactly have the best track record in producing Biblically accurate movies (see Russell Crowe’s Noah, for example). To my surprise, however, I thought Paul, Apostle of Christ was astonishingly accurate, with a few minor exceptions, which I will address. But I did appreciate the consideration for Biblical accuracy. I will also discuss what I did like and what I did not. (Potential spoilers!)

First, I liked that it was well-made with good acting, and excellent production value, in my opinion. Despite having a relatively small budget, they managed to construct a believable first century Rome. We saw tender moments, conflict and conflict resolution both between individuals and among groups, and emotional, gut-wrenching moments. When the movie ended, no one in the theatre moved. It was that powerful.

I did not like the few (relatively minor) Scriptural/chronological inaccuracies that I noticed.

  • The first is that the setting of the movie had Luke writing Acts during Paul’s second imprisonment, when I believe the evidence favors Luke writing it during his first.
  • The movie script has Paul saying, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” To which Luke responds, “That’s brilliant!” Then Paul urges him to “write it down.” You’ll recognize the quote from Philippians 1:21, which Paul had written from Rome during his first imprisonment with the pen of Epaphroditus – not Luke (according to an endnote in the KJV). It was already written down.
  • Near the end of the movie, as Paul is about to be beheaded, Luke is portrayed giving Paul’s last letter, 2 Timothy, to Aquila for him to deliver to Timothy. However, it’s unlikely that Aquila delivered the letter to Timothy, since Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:19, “Salute…Aquila.” So Aquila was probably already with Timothy, rather than delivering the letter to him.

Continue reading

Advertisements

He is Risen: Infallible Proofs of the Resurrection

(Image taken from a t-shirt available from Wrath and Grace)

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central tenet of Christianity. Without it, Christianity crumbles. Or, to put it another way, if it could be proven that Jesus did not rise from the dead, Christianity would cease to exist. [1] Why? Because those who served as the foundational stones of the Church, the Apostles, [2] would be proven to be false witnesses, [3] since they clearly testified that Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus sent them to preach to the very people who had Him crucified – the Pharisees and Jewish people – and proclaim His resurrection with the power to perform signs and wonders to back up their claim. It was the number one topic of their preaching in the Book of Acts.

Since Luke, the author of the Gospel bearing his name and the book of Acts, tells us that Jesus “shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs” [4], let’s look at some of those proofs primarily from his second volume.

Many of these proofs center on the disciples’ shared experiences, meaning they could not have dreamed or hallucinated Jesus’ resurrection.

What They Saw

First, according to Acts 1:3, Jesus appeared to them multiple times over a 40 day period. They occurred during this definite period of time, and then after He ascended into heaven, the appearances stopped – with the notable exception of Paul, to whom Jesus appeared “as of one born out of due time.” [5] This displays consistency among their testimonies. None of them had a private visitation at a later date to receive additional revelation, but once Jesus ascended, the visitations ended.

Multiple people witnessed Jesus alive after His death. 1 Corinthians 15:6 asserts that more than 500 people saw Jesus at the same time, possibly at His Ascension. Two people do not have the same hallucination experience, much less 500!

What They Heard

Acts 1:3 also says that Jesus spoke with them, and verses 4-9 records some of what He said. All of the Apostles heard the same thing and obeyed Jesus’ command to stay in Jerusalem. Had this been a hallucination, their accounts would differ, but they all heard and preached the same message.

More Shared Experiences

Jesus assembled with the disciples in verse 4, and we know Jesus ate with them on at least two occasions. [6] Had they hallucinated Jesus appearing and eating before them, when the experience was over, the food would have still been there. Because hallucinations don’t eat! [7]

On the night before Jesus was crucified, He promised to send the Holy Spirit after He would rise from the dead and ascend to the Father. [8] In between His Resurrection and Ascension, He reiterated that promise. [9] So, when the Holy Spirit came as recorded in the second chapter of Acts, empowering His Apostles to speak in languages they didn’t know and to boldly preach the Gospel, in fulfilment of this promise, it served as proof that Jesus in fact rose from the dead.

Lastly, the Book of Acts itself exists as evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. Luke wrote that his first volume, his Gospel, was about “all that Jesus began both to do and teach,” [10] implying that this second volume would be about what Jesus continues to do through His Church. Jesus’ ongoing work through the Church in Acts and throughout history prove He’s alive!

How can I make this claim? As I said at the beginning, the disciples preached the resurrection of Jesus to the very people who had Him crucified, who hated Him. Had there been any evidence to the contrary, His enemies wouldn’t have hesitated to present it and shut the Apostles up. [11] But since they couldn’t, they tried persecuting them. That didn’t work either, but only helped the Gospel spread even more.

One skeptical theory is that the disciples made these experiences up. However, that theory doesn’t fly when one considers that every one of them were persecuted and/or martyred for their confession of Christ. People die for lies all the time, but people don’t die for what they know is a lie. If the disciples had concocted the story of Jesus’ resurrection, at least one of them would have caved and admitted to it once the beating started. Yet none of them did. This serves as a powerful piece of evidence in favor of Jesus’ resurrection.

These are only a few proofs that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. If we examined further, we could uncover more, but these are sufficient for us to determine on the basis of the evidence that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. Returning to the verse cited at the beginning, Acts 1:3 says that Jesus “shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs.” This is the only time the word “infallible” occurs in the New Testament, and it means “that from which something is surely and plainly known; on indubitable evidence, a proof; demonstrable proofs” [12]. In modern vernacular, we could say that Jesus proved to His disciples that He was alive beyond a shadow of a doubt. So we can definitively say, “But now is Christ risen from the dead…” [13]. The disciples’ experience was not a hallucination, and Jesus was not a mirage, spirit, phantom, or zombie.

He is risen!

Footnotes
[1] If Jesus is still dead, not only would Christianity be, but so would we be, in our sins. (1 Cor. 15:17)
[2] Ephesians 2:20

[3] 1 Corinthians 15:15

[4] Acts 1:3, italics added

[5] 1 Corinthians 15:8

[6] Luke 24:41-43, John 21:1-15

[7] Neither do spirits or ghosts, so incidentally this also proves that Jesus rose from the dead bodily.

[8] John 16:7, 14:16-20

[9] Acts 1:5, 8

[10] Acts 1:1, italics added

[11] His enemies knew Jesus rose from the dead and tried to bribe the Roman soldiers to keep them quiet.

[12] Strong’s Concordance

[13] 1 Corinthians 15:20

Are You Almost or Altogether a Christian? Lessons from Felix and Agrippa

Paul Before Agrippa

King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. ~Acts 26:27-29

The fateful words of verse 28, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian,” were uttered by King Herod Agrippa II at the end of Paul’s testimony before him, Festus the governor and other high profile guests. [1] As far as we know, Agrippa never became a Christian, and so is eternally regretting these words. Earlier in Acts, Paul also stood before the governor Felix, who trembled with conviction as Paul “reasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come,” [2] but shook it off and never repented. So, even though the word is never used regarding Felix, we could say he also was “almost” a Christian, experiencing conviction but not repentance. If you want to make sure that you are not merely almost, but altogether a Christian, then please keep reading, as we see what we can learn from these two cases.

A book I highly recommend to discover if you are an altogether Christian – other than the book of 1 John – is The Almost Christian Discovered by Puritan Matthew Mead. In it he exhorts the reader [3] to “examine yourselves, [to see] whether [you] be in the faith,” [4] to “make your calling and election sure.” [5] He talks about the dangers of being an almost Christian and gives several illustrations from Scripture. Please allow me to give you a couple of examples from the book:

  • A man may hate sin, and yet be but almost a Christian. [6]
  • A man may have great hopes of heaven, great hopes of being saved, and yet be but almost a Christian. [7]

Following are a few lessons we can learn from almost Christians Felix and Agrippa in the same style as Mead. May we heed their warnings.

Continue reading

Atheists’ Memes Refuted: Repentance and the Gospel

Timmy Gospel

The above image is obviously meant to make fun of Christianity and the Gospel, but it actually demonstrates what’s so amazingly beautiful about the Gospel: that anyone through repentance and faith can be forgiven! It’s available to all. I’ll demonstrate from two instances in the Bible.

  1. Joseph was hated by his eleven brothers. They wanted to kill him, but they decided to sell him into slavery, so he ended up a slave in Egypt. Years later, there is a famine, and they come to Joseph, now second in command in Egypt, looking for food. Joseph recognizes them, but they don’t recognize him, believing him to be dead. Does Joseph harbor resentment, bitterness, hatred and unforgiveness towards them? No, Joseph forgives them and they have been in heaven together for about 4,000 years. [1]
  2. A man named Stephen gets up and preaches a sermon. A mob then attacks him, falsely accuses him and stones him to death. Saul, a Pharisee and likely the ringleader of the mob, held the garments of those who stoned Stephen. Saul then went on a rampage persecuting and killing Christians wherever he could find them. As he was on his way to Damascus to continue his rampage, Jesus appears to him and he becomes that which he hated most: a Christian. Now, Saul (now known as the Apostle Paul), and those he murdered – including Stephen – have been in heaven together for about 2,000 years. [2]

Here is what an early church father had to say about Stephen and Paul’s current relationship:

Now Paul rejoices with Stephen, and together they delight in the glory of Christ, together they exalt, together they reign. Stephen went first, killed by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This is surely the true life, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy. Stephen’s love prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and Paul’s love covered the multitude of his sins; for both of them it was love that won the kingdom of heaven.” ~Fulgentius of Ruspe (468-533) [3]

Such beautiful reconciliation because of the Gospel.

The above meme also takes a subtle jab at the justice of God, that God is somehow unjust to allow both a murderer and an innocent child into heaven. But as we saw in another refutation of an atheist meme, the Gospel satisfies God’s justice. If the hypothetical murderer of the meme did indeed repent, then his sins were paid for by Jesus on the Cross. And the young boy will be delighted to see him in heaven, as there is always joy in heaven when a sinner repents. [4]

Many unbelievers love to say that for God to sentence people to an eternity in hell is too harsh of a punishment, but then this meme makes fun of the Gospel message which if a murderer believes, he can be forgiven and go to heaven. You can’t have it both ways!

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. [5]

Endnotes

[1] See Genesis 37-50

[2] See Acts 7-9

[3] A monk who became bishop of Ruspe in North Africa. He was persecuted and forced to flee numerous times under Arian political powers. He wrote frequently against Arianism and Pelagianism. Excerpt taken from the reading “Stephen and Paul,” #216 Daily Devotions from the Early Church

[4] Luke 15:10

[5] 1 Corinthians 1:18

Happy Reformation Day – Still Protesting: Top 20 dangerous heretics to be marked & avoided.

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:17-18)

For Reformation Day, we want Christians around the world to consider who they think are the most dangerous heretics in the world today undermining Christianity. The Pope will always be the most serious threat to Christianity since at the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church anathematized the gospel.

5 SOLAS Symbol Credit to PirateChristian.Com for the 5 Sola symbols…

In this article, we list our top 20 most dangerous heretics that Christians world-wide must mark and avoid (Romans 16:17) for the sake of Christ’s people and Christ’s gospel. We have also color-coded the heretics so people can identify what modern-day cult they represent.

They are marked in order from the more dangerous to the less dangerous, addressing the following:

  1. Evidence either gathered on them (which can be accessed in our archives).
  2. Their influence on Christianity globally or people’s perception on what Christianity is because of them’
  3. Who they target and how effective…

View original post 5,218 more words

Why Didn’t God Heal Nabeel Qureshi?

Dealing with the tough questions. Short, succinct and Biblical.
Rest in peace, Nabeel Qureshi.

THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM

If you haven’t heard yet, many of us are mourning the loss of Nabeel Qureshi. If you don’t know who Nabeel was, here is a nice bio of his life and the impact he had.
Frank Turek recently wrote this article called 
Why Didn’t God Heal Nabeel Qureshi? I think Frank is spot on.

View original post

The Dangers of Interfaith Dialogue

Interfaith dialogue (IFD) has been a huge topic within certain Christian circles over the last couple of months. It has mainly resulted from the James White-Yasir Qadhi dialogue which occurred in January 2017 in Memphis (discussed previously). A question that has been asked is, “Is interfaith dialogue a spiritual threat to the Church?” How one defines terms will determine how one answers that question.

Is IFD a spiritual threat to the Church such that it will destroy it? No, Jesus said He will build His Church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. [1] Is IFD a threat to the eternal security of Believers? No, Jesus said again, “I give unto them [My sheep] eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” [2] So a truly born again Christian will not convert to a false religion through IFD. So there’s no danger there. Christian advocates of IFD think that because it is not a spiritual threat to the existence of the Church or to the eternal security of Believers, we are therefore free to engage in it. But just because we can answer both of these questions in the negative, doesn’t mean IFD poses no spiritual threat to the Church.

By saying that Islam, or any other false religion, is dangerous to the Church, I mean that it threatens the Church’s spiritual health. Think about it on a personal level. Are all my sins forgiven by faith in Christ’s blood? Yes (praise God!). Am I secure in Christ? Yes (again, praise God!). Is my eternal future with Him secure forever? Yes! Since that’s the case, then why not let my guard down and begin to expose myself to all kinds of worldliness and sin? You may recognize this reasoning from Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” I am dead to sin, so why should I think that I am free to expose myself to it? Instead, I am to guard my heart [3], as Scripture commands, and hide God’s Word in my heart so I won’t sin against Him [4]. I am to always be on guard against the Christian’s three great enemies: the world [5], the flesh [6] and the devil [7]; who, roams about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour [8]. Why would God give all these Scriptural admonitions if these stumbling blocks are not a threat to me? It is because they can negatively impact my relationship with God and my fruitfulness for Christ.

Now, applying that to the Church, if false religions aren’t a threat to the health of the Church, then why does God command us to guard sound doctrine? [9] Why do we have to contend earnestly for the faith? [10] Why does God appoint elders to guard the flock? [11] Why does Jesus warn about false teachers as wolves in sheep’s clothing? [12] Again, I contend that it is because they are a threat, not to the existence of the Church, but to the fruitfulness, witness and overall health of the Church. This is illustrated in John 10:12. Because the hireling neglected his duty, there were dire results for the sheep; they were caught by the wolf and scattered. Sounds like wolves are a threat. And wolves in sheep’s clothing are that much more of a threat.

So what are some of these dangers? Continue reading

Blogging Through Acts: Duties of Elders

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. ~Acts 20:28

“There is nothing more moving in the records of human suffering and patience than the story of Paul’s Ephesian experiences as he summoned the elders of the church upon the shores of Miletus in his parting address to them.” [1]

Acts 20:17-38 is indeed a very moving account of Paul’s farewell address to the elders of the church at Ephesus. Over the course of Paul’s three year ministry among them, their hearts had become knit together with his. Now, as Paul meets with them on his way to Jerusalem, he gives them these admonitions, believing he could possibly be seeing them for the last time.

In addressing these elders, he instructs them of their duties. First among them is to pay attention to their own personal walk with God. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves…,” he says in verse 28. Paul also wrote to Timothy, pastor of the church at Ephesus, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. [2] So elders are to watch over their own souls.

Their next responsibility is to watch over and feed God’s flock. “…[A]nd to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, [3] to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood,” the verse continues. Take heed is a verb that means to pay attention to, or to apply one’s self to. They were to pay attention to not only themselves, but also the church of God. How do they take heed to the flock? By feeding it. Feed here actually means to tend a flock, to be like a shepherd; to do everything a shepherd does, like ruling and governing, nourishing, cherishing, and supplying everything the sheep need. [4]

The epitome of a shepherd is none other than the Lord Jesus Himself, the Good Shepherd. In John 10 the behavior of a good shepherd is contrasted with that of a hireling, who has no interest in his duty and is unfaithful in discharging it. A good shepherd, on the other hand, will lay down his life for his sheep, if necessary, to protect them from wolves. Jesus says that the hireling will flee at the sight of danger because the sheep aren’t his and he cares nothing for them, while the good shepherd cares for his own. The wolves here – and in Acts 20 – represent false teachers, or anyone whose goal it is to slaughter the sheep. So a true shepherd will protect his sheep from those who want to devour them. Jesus is that Good Shepherd Who laid down His life for us, His sheep.

Continue reading

Atheists’ Memes Refuted: Is the Gospel a Loophole?

boden meme2

Heresies of modalism and/or patripassianism aside [1], the Gospel is not a “loophole,” an attempt on God’s part to evade justice, as Mr. Boden states. On the contrary, it declares the righteousness (justice) of God. [2] One might think the Gospel is a loophole because it seems to put God in a bind. That is, how can God be both just to punish sin AND merciful to sinners? I will explain how both God’s justice and His mercy are reconciled in the Gospel.

The substitutionary atonement of Christ [3] is not a loophole, but is a beautiful demonstration of both the justice and the mercy of God. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness (or justice) and peace have kissed each other.” [4] This happened at the Cross.

God is holy, and one must obey His righteous Law to go to heaven. Our problem is that we all are sinners by nature.[5] Therefore we break God’s Law by sinning, and the punishment is eternity in hell. Since we have offended an eternal and infinitely holy God, the punishment must be eternal, fitting the crime. The Son of God Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, is the only One to live a perfectly sinless life, never breaking God’s Law in thought, word or deed. The Bible says, “the wages of sin is death.” [6] But Jesus never sinned, so when He died on the cross, He vicariously bore the sins of everyone who would ever trust in Him – along with the wrath of God the Father against those sins – and His sinless life is attributed to them as well. A simple way to think of it is like this: on the cross God the Father treated Jesus as if He had lived the life of every believing sinner through all time so that those sinners can be treated as if they lived Jesus’ perfect life and share in an eternity with God.

This way, God can be merciful to sinners without breaking His Law or compromising His justice. Christ’s sacrifice demonstrates God’s “righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” [7]

So we did not get by on a technicality, rather God’s Law is fully upheld [8], not abrogated; His wrath against sin is appeased, and His mercy is extended to those who believe. The Cross of Jesus Christ solves the apparent dilemma mentioned in the first paragraph. God did not create the problem of sin, but He does solve it.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [9]

Endnotes

[1] The meme is a straw man because it is not even criticizing orthodox Christianity, but for the purposes of this post, I will focus on whether or not the Gospel is a loophole.

[2] Romans 1:17

[3] See here and here

[4] Psalm 85:10

[5] Romans 3:23

[6] Romans 6:23

[7] Romans 3:26

[8] Romans 3:31

[9] Romans 5:1