Was Paul a True Apostle of Jesus Christ

To challenge the Apostleship of Paul is not new. Paul himself had to deal with doubters in his day, and the Church has had to answer it many times over the past 2,000 years. It has again become fashionable in our day to challenge his Apostleship with the New Perspectives on Paul Movement. Though it claims to be new, the “New Perspectives” are in reality old, and the same answers that the Church has historically given are even now sufficient to deal with this issue. Many answers, in fact, are given by Paul himself. We will examine his writings – specifically his letters to the Corinthians – and discover at least ten proofs that Paul is a true Apostle of Jesus Christ.

These proofs will be based on two assumptions: 1) that Scripture, in its totality, is true, and 2) that Paul is a true Apostle and his writings are Scripture. To assume Paul’s Apostleship using his own words to prove the same may sound like fallacious circular reasoning, but we must examine Paul’s words to see if they stand up under examination. Just like we must sit in a chair in order to find out if it will support our weight, we will test Paul’s claim and see if it can support the weight of scrutiny. We will also see how his claims are corroborated by others, so we will not solely look at Paul’s testimony. So with that, let’s begin.

Ten Proofs

1. The One Who called him (1 Cor. 1:1)

This point should actually end the debate. Paul was directly and personally commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as told to us by Luke in the ninth chapter of Acts. Whoever tries to say that Paul was a false apostle is also calling Luke, and, more importantly, Jesus Christ, liars.

2. The churches he founded (1 Cor. 9:1-6, 2 Cor. 3:2)

Paul founded many churches, but he writes especially to the Corinthians that they, above all, should not have believed those who challenged his Apostleship because of how he behaved when he was with them and how long he remained with them. (1)

3. The Gospel he preached (1 Cor. 15:1-8)

Paul says he taught only that which he received, both from Jesus and from the rest of the Apostles. He preached the same Gospel they did. Some will claim that Paul taught a different Gospel than James or Peter, but any perceived discrepancies in their messages can be reconciled with deeper study. Incidentally, both of them endorse Paul. (2)

4. The provision and victory he enjoyed (2 Cor. 6:3-10)

Everything he endured in the ministry, from his trials (v. 4-5), to the divine provision he experienced in those trials (v. 6-7), to his victory over them (v. 8-10), prove his genuine Apostleship.

The next two proofs are a bit unorthodox. In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul writes that we do not wage war according to worldly standards. Then, in chapters 11 and 12, he defends his Apostleship by methods that appear foolish by worldly standards but demonstrate wisdom from God. Continue reading


Paula White Gets Discernment (satire)

Our second attempt at satire, once again involving Paula White and Donald Trump


Amid much fanfare and criticism, Word of Faith international speaker and teacher Paula White led the nation in prayer at the Inauguration of President Donald Trump on January 20, 2017. During her prayer, however, something remarkable and unforeseen happened. As soon as she prayed, “Guide us in discernment, Lord,” the Lord answered her prayer. As those words left her mouth, she stopped, mouth agape, and muttered, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this…” With the ceremony now on hold and the entire nation watching, Mrs. White, now gifted with the gift of discernment, confessed, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be up here. I am a false teacher and a charlatan.” With tears in her eyes, she continued. “I’m not a pastor because Biblically, I can’t be since I’m a woman. I’m on my third husband, so God sees me as guilty of adultery. In short, everything the ‘discernment bloggers’ and ministries have said about me over the years is true. And you don’t know the half of it. I’m not a Christian. I repent and pray God will forgive me. To anyone who has ever donated to me, I will give back to you four times what you gave me.”


A stunned nation watched as Mrs. White ran off the stage and then proceeded to cancel her TV spot, shut down her “church,” and refund the money to her donors with a written statement acknowledging her confession and apology, bearing fruits in keeping with repentance.


Berean Challenge

These (Bereans) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. ~Acts 17:11-12 KJV

Christianity is often thought of by many as an intellectually void religion. Many believe that we Christians just check our brains at the door and accept whatever we are told by blind faith. While that may be true for some, it was not the case for what many consider to be model Christians. So much so that churches, Christian schools and even Christian bookstores are named after them.

As Christians, we are encouraged to be like the Bereans. Whether it is by a pastor, Bible teacher, or discernment ministry, many Christians urge others to “Be a Berean,” meaning, ‘See if what I am saying is true by comparing it with Scripture.’


(image taken from a T-shirt available for sale from Wrath and Grace)

While this is true for Believers – we should test everything we hear according to Scripture – the text indicates the Bereans were actually unbelievers when they searched the Scriptures.1 Verse 12 says, “Therefore many of them believed…” (italics added for emphasis). In other words, because of their investigation of the Scriptures, they believed. Note that the Apostle Paul does not reprimand them for searching the Scriptures. In fact, they are commended. The Bereans are called “noble,” which refers to their state of mind; they were noble-minded, open minded and honest. They were of better stock than the more emotional, impulsive, easily-swayed Jews in Thessalonica.

The fact that their examination of the Scriptures led to their belief in Christ tells us a few things. First, it speaks to the reliability of the Scriptures. Had the Bereans not found the Scriptures reliable upon investigation, they would not have believed. Second, it speaks to the authority of the Scriptures. As I wrote earlier, the Bereans went to the Scriptures as their final authority, not any man-even the Apostle Paul. Thirdly, it speaks to the power of the Scriptures. The Bible produces faith in those who approach it in an open and honest way (See Romans 1:16 and 10:17; Hebrews 4:2; 1 Thess. 2:13). The power of the Scriptures is the Holy Spirit who illuminates God’s Word to us (John 14:26). Lastly, the faith of the Bereans tells us of Paul’s integrity. What Paul taught them matched what they found in the Scriptures upon searching through the texts.

So this is my challenge to unbelievers, skeptics, agnostics, etc. Are you as noble as the Bereans? Will you search the Scriptures to see if they are true? Someone may have told you what the Bible says. Don’t believe them; go to the Scriptures for yourself and search them diligently to see if they are true. Be a Berean.

Romans 10:17 says, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” So if you “lack belief,” as many professing atheists like to say, read the Scriptures, and if you have a noble mind, God’s Word will produce faith in you, just like it did for the Bereans.

1 They were religious Jews but had not yet believed in Jesus.

Black Lives Matter (It’s Not What You Think!)

Recent events have made it fashionable to jump on the “Black Lives Matter” bandwagon. However, Scripture tells us the real reason why it is not only black lives who matter, but it is all lives who matter.

The eighth chapter of Acts gives us the account of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. The nameless eunuch was a government official serving the African queen Candace (1) as treasurer. It is likely this eunuch, who had gone to Jerusalem to worship and was reading the Scriptures while returning to his homeland, was a convert to Judaism.

It’s a long trip from Jerusalem to Ethiopia, so the eunuch had plenty of time to read. As he read through the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, he likely came across this passage: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush (Ethiopia), and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” (Isaiah 11:11) The eunuch no doubt longed for the day when God would gather in His people that were scattered over the face of the earth. But how would God accomplish this?

As he continued to read, the Holy Spirit told Philip (2) to go near his chariot, where he heard the eunuch reading from Isaiah 53, the famous “Suffering Servant” passage. The eunuch did not understand to  whom the prophet was referring, so he humbly asked Philip to explain this to him. Philip, beginning at that very passage, taught that Isaiah referred to the Messiah, Jesus. What themes are found in that passage, and in the following chapters, that would have been meaningful to the eunuch?

Philip begins at Isaiah 53:7, and the rest of the chapter explains why the LORD’s Servant must suffer. Jesus would be struck down for transgression of the Lord’s people (v. 8). As “an offering for sin” (v. 10), He would bear the sin of many (v. 11). If the eunuch was a convert to Judaism, he would have understood the concept of sin and his own state as a sinner. It is also possible he understood the Levitical sacrificial system, so, in this case, he would have understood the need for a sacrifice to bear the penalty for sin. Even though he understood the things Philip explained to him, he still had some obstacles that had to be overcome.

First, under the Old Covenant, Gentiles were excluded from the community of God’s people. Yet Isaiah 54:3 promises “thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles.” In addition, verse 5 praises the Lord for not only redeeming Israel, but for being the “God of the whole earth.” By His work as the Suffering Servant, Jesus redeemed Israel and his tent will be enlarged to include the Gentiles (read v. 1-5). They will be “grafted into” the covenant people of God.(3) Philip had solved one of the eunuch’s obstacles, but the man still has another problem unique to his condition.

At the end of their conversation, the eunuch asks, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (v. 36) Where did he learn about baptism? A similar ceremony is found in Judaism so it’s possible he learned it from there, but it’s also possible he learned it from Philip as he exposited Isaiah 54 to the eager eunuch. Verse nine mentions the waters of Noah. In the NT and in the early church, the Flood was used to symbolize baptism.(4) It represented our escaping the “waters” of the wrath of God through Jesus Christ, our Ark. This metaphor of the Flood also carries with it the kindness and the covenant faithfulness of God, for just as He made a covenant with Noah that He would never flood the earth again,(5) so has He made a covenant with Jesus to be merciful to Him and by extension, all who are in Him.(6) Finally, Isaiah 54:8-10 speaks of the stability and immutability of God’s promises.

Repentance is inseparable from and inherent in baptism. Note that John the Baptist’s baptism was called a baptism of repentance.(7) Isaiah 55 includes a couple of calls to repentance and salvation.(8) Philip would have preached to him repentance and faith unto salvation, the outward symbol of which was baptism.

That brings me to the second obstacle the Ethiopian eunuch had to overcome: the fact that he was a eunuch. According to Deuteronomy 23:1, eunuchs were banned from the congregation of the Lord. The eunuch no doubt knew this and likely felt that even though he was a convert to Judaism – or at least a God-fearing Gentile – he could never be a full-fledged member of God’s covenant community. He could never truly belong. That’s where Philip gives him the good news. Isaiah 56:3-8 promises that the faithful eunuch will not be cut off and will be given a name better than sons and daughters. Even though he couldn’t physically sire children, the blessing inherent in the New Covenant is infinitely better! He will have a seat on God’s holy mountain and rejoice with His people Israel. This man, who had his male organ cut off, and was therefore cut off from the congregation of Israel under the Old Covenant, has now been grafted into the people of God and given a name that shall not be cut off. Imagine his joy at receiving such news! Is it any wonder why he was so eager to be baptized?! He had just believed in Jesus the Messiah of Israel and been accepted into the covenant people of God!

“Eunuchs…who manifest saving faith by their godly life are assured eternal life and a glory far more significant than that of a long line of descendants.” ~Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 649

The new spiritual Kingdom inaugurated by the death of Christ welcomes people from all nations.

“The eunuch also, who cannot produce seed, nevertheless is not to permit this fact to discourage him, for it will not exclude him from God’s kingdom. According to Deuteronomy 23:1 eunuchs were excluded from God’s assembly. Isaiah is not ignorant of this law nor is he endeavoring willfully to disqualify it. In pointing to the Messianic age, however, his prophecy transcends the restrictions that the civil law of the Israelites had imposed…No personal disabilities will exclude one from God’s kingdom.” ~The Book of Isaiah, A Commentary by Edward J. Young, Vol. 3, p. 391

Church history tells us what the eunuch did after this encounter.

“This man was also sent into the regions of Ethiopia, to preach what he had himself believed, that there was one God preached by the prophets, but that the Son of this [God] had already made [His] appearance in human nature, and had been led as a sheep to the slaughter; and all the other statements which the prophets made regarding Him.” ~Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book III.12.8

“While the saving message spread day by day, some providence brought from Ethiopia an officer of the queen, for that nation is still traditionally ruled by a woman. He was the first Gentile to receive the divine Word from Philip by revelation and the first to return to his native land and preach the Gospel. Through him the prophecy was actually fulfilled that states, “Ethiopia shall [soon] stretch out its hands to God” (Ps. 68:31). ~Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 2.1

The eunuch took the Gospel to Ethiopia, the site of the first great church in Northern Africa. Because he took the Gospel to the continent of Africa, we can thank him for early Church fathers like Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage, and Athanasius (AKA the “black dwarf”), who worked tirelessly to defend the doctrine of the Trinity. Several early churches claim him as their founder.

Because of the redemptive work of Christ, every life matters!


(1) pronounced Kan-dak-ay

(2) the “deacon” from Acts 6, and an evangelist later in Acts 21

(3) Romans 11:17

(4) see 1 Peter 3:18-22

(5) Genesis 9:9-17

(6) see 2 Sam. 7:8-16, Eph. 1:4-12

(7) see Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3, Acts 13:24 and 19:4

(8) verses 1-3 and 6-7

After School Satan Clubs EXPOSED


And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (expose) them.
Ephesians 5:11 KJV

Please excuse the picture to the left.

“I thought this was a blog run by Christians, what is the logo of the After School Satan Club doing there?!” you may be wondering. “Are they promoting the clubs?” God forbid! My purpose in posting the picture is not to bring undue attention to Satan, the Satanic Temple, or to this club, but to expose some of the Satanic symbolism in the logo so that many are not deceived, being ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11). Many of the clubs’ spokesmen, an offshoot of The Satanic Temple, claim they don’t actually worship Satan, but that he is merely a symbol of rebellion against “arbitrary” authority, not an actual being.

I believe the symbolism in this picture says otherwise. I pray this article be used for good and not evil.

First, look at the figure’s left hand. The sign it is making is known as the Sign of the Benediction. It can be seen in early “Christian” (read: Roman Catholic) art from the Byzantine and Medieval periods, but the gesture itself precedes those eras. In pagan circles, the gesture is known as the mano pantea and was used as a charm against the “evil eye.” It invoked the protection of the “parental spirits” Isis and Osiris. Could this indicate the removal of the children from the protection of their parents and placing them under the “protection” of the demonic entities Isis and Osiris? If that is even a remote possibility, then it is the duty of parents and adults to protect the children.

In art, either Christ or the saint depicted performs the sign with their right hand, but the figure in the above cartoon logo is making it with his left. This means he is not actually pronouncing a blessing (benediction) but a curse. Moreover, the left hand has always been associated with Satanic worship and the dark side of the occult, which has often been referred to the “left hand path.” The right hand path is representative of Satanism masquerading as Christianity, but the left hand path signifies open Satanism – black magic as opposed to white magic. The left hand path is also symbolized by the inverted (upside-down) pentagram, as seen in the bottom left corner (our left) of the image.

While its left hand is pointing upward, its right hand is pointing downward, an allusion to the occultic mantra, “as above so below.” This is a key phrase in the occult, and all systems of magic are said to be based on this incantation. The formula reads, in part: “That which is above is the same as that which is below…The universe is the same as God, God is the same as man…” Man is thought of as a reflection of God in heaven, and God as a reflection of man on earth. As we become more self-aware, more in tune with our higher consciousness, it teaches that we awaken to the realization that we are gods/God. This is the same lie the Serpent told Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5)

The Serpent was proven to be a liar. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they did die; they immediately died spiritually, as a result of their separation from God. Eventually, they died physically without ever becoming gods. This is why Jesus said Satan was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).

Next, notice the spiral in its right eye. The spiral represents development, change over time, or the slow revelation of things hidden. New Age websites explain how we change and develop as we age. In light of this, I find it interesting that they include a spiral in the logo of a program directed towards children. This could indicate the secrets of Satanism are progressively revealed to the children as they grow older. The Satanic Temple claims they will not actively proselytize children to Satanism in these clubs. That may or may not be true, but if the child is interested in learning more about Satanism, I believe the facilitators are both able and willing to lead them into the “depths of Satan” (Rev. 2:24). These clubs were founded to counter the Good News Clubs (GNCs) (which should automatically tell the reader whose side they are actually on) because the Satanic Temple claims GNCs “indoctrinate” (read: evangelize) children. I believe this spiral indicates they will brainwash these children, albeit deceptively. The After School Satan clubs serve and will serve the purpose of desensitizing children, subtly indoctrinating them into Satanism.

The fact that the spiral is in the right eye is also significant. It is a sign of the Antichrist. Zechariah 11:17 says, “Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.” The figure’s right eye is “darkened”, meaning the eye is not functional and cannot see, just like Zechariah’s prophecy of the Antichrist. In many of the pictures where an individual (many times a celebrity) is covering one of their eyes, it most often will be their right eye, showing their allegiance to the Antichrist and his system.

There’s so much more symbolism to expose. Like the Baphomet – their depiction of the devil; the duality represented by the black and white picture; the esoteric symbolism behind the graduation cap;  their use of the candy cane to seduce children, while actually giving them a curse, and so on. But I think I have presented enough information to show that The Satanic Temple is not to be trusted and to caution public school systems against allowing these After School Satan clubs into their schools.

Lastly, why should we believe them when they say they don’t worship the devil? Why else would an organization like this call itself by the name of an entity it claims to not even worship? Doesn’t Jesus unmask Satan revealing him to be a liar by nature, a master deceiver, and the father of lies (John 8:44)? Can we therefore really expect his followers to tell the truth? Obviously not.

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
2 Corinthians 11:14‭-‬15 KJV

Other Satanists like Aleister Crowley and Anton LaVey taught Satanists should hide what they actually teach and practice. I believe these symbols, however, reveal their true agenda in plain sight. It may be easy to see these icons and dismiss the corresponding facts as coincidence. However, I believe that all these emblems present together indicate something more maleficent: they really do worship the devil. And if I’m wrong and these atheists don’t actually worship the devil, then they are sadly being used by him to accomplish his purposes. However, Jesus was revealed to defeat Satan and his works. We know He has won through the Cross of Calvary and His resurrection. Anyone who trusts in Him will be delivered from the power of Satan. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. Ephesians 6:10-18

This blogpost can be summarized by the meme below.


Life Unscripted

Sometimes life is great, and sometimes, not so great. Sometimes we’re so excited about what tomorrow holds, we can barely sleep, and other times, we can’t wait to hit the bunk because of exhaustion, weariness, discouragement, or fear.

Occasionally, life has moments that are very rich, and as Christians, we learn to accept both good and evil from the hand of the Lord, as Job did. Still, God often sees fit to bless his children with precious memories, and along with those memories, valuable lessons.

Read more here.


Paula White Attempts to Lead Donald Trump to Christ, Gets Lost

Hopefully, you enjoy our first attempt at satire! 🙂


In a shocking turn of events, world famous televangelist, “pastor”, and author Paula White has not been heard from since she gave the closing benediction at the Republican National Convention on Monday, July 18. According to Gary Braun of the Daily Times, White met with Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump after the event in order to lead him to Christ “for real this time.”

According to Braun, a wild-eyed White confronted Trump in the bowels of the Quicken Loans Arena and exclaimed, “I’m giving the closing benediction, and by the end of it, you’ll be a Christian!” She continued, “Everyone knows it was just a publicity stunt on my part when I leaked the report that I led you to Christ. This time, it will be for real.” Braun said she attempted to convert Trump right then and there but apparently became stumped while leading him in a “sinner’s prayer.”

As media members rushed to gather around the two, she began, “Lord Jesus, thank you for making me so awesome. I pray that you make me even more awesome and make me a champion as I fulfill my destiny in becoming the next president of the United States.” Braun said she suddenly began fumbling for words. “I ask you, Father, to forgive me…for..uh…not…being the champion that I could be…and for…uh…not fulfilling my destiny sooner.” Reports from Braun and other correspondents in the vicinity said that both White and Trump appeared awkward and uncomfortable. White abruptly ran away, screaming, “Stay tuned for the benediction!”

A bewildered Trump reportedly asked his aide, “What was that? Was she even on the list?”

“Whatever, just go with it,” the aide responded.

Braun obtained an impromptu interview with an onlooker who wished to speak to the media but wished to remain anonymous. “Nowhere in the Bible does this resemble the prayer of a penitent sinner repenting of his rebellion against the holy creator God of the universe. No true Christian will accept this as a genuine conversion.”

At the time of writing, neither Braun nor others who witnessed the scene was aware of Mrs. White’s current whereabouts. “She’s been lost the entire time,” Braun stated.

Polycarp Movie, Character Sketch: Anna

Today, we (finally!) begin our series of character sketches from the movie “Polycarp: Destroyer of gods.” We will begin with Anna, written by Rebecca. Next, we will cover Germanicus and Cicero, followed by Elias and Melina. We’ll end with Irenaeus and finally, Polycarp. We hope you enjoy it!


Anna was rescued by Polycarp in the marketplace before being sold into slavery. She was adopted by a Christian family who shared their faith with her and loved her as their own daughter. As Anna learns her new family’s ways and the practices of these strange Christians, questions about who God is arise within her. She began to learn more and more about the God who loved her and knew her by name, and that the gods of the Romans were not real. She is surprised to learn that Polycarp was also a slave but was taken in by a Christian woman and taught about Christ. Anna learns to thank God and talk to him personally as she begins to experience what living in a family is.

Anna becomes concerned for Polycarp’s safety when the decree to worship the gods of the Romans is passed and Polycarp’s boldness comes to a head. In an attempt to soften Quadraticus’ stance toward Christians, she attempts to talk to the proconsul, but the soldiers’ roughness toward her forces her adopted brother Germanicus to get involved, and he is captured, ultimately leading to his death in the arena when he refused to deny his Lord. When a manhunt for Polycarp ensues following Germanicus’ death, Anna runs to a friend’s house with Polycarp’s treasured scrolls – manuscripts of Scripture that he had copied by hand and his letters. Polycarp retrieves the scroll, and Anna returns to Smyrna only to find that it is not safe for Polycarp to return. Anna runs with all her might to warn Polycarp – fulfilling her dream of becoming a “runner” (someone who ran to deliver the scrolls) and filling the void left by Germanicus – but the Roman soldiers are tipped off to pursue the elderly saint to Ephesus. After Polycarp is escorted by the Roman guards back to Smyrna, Anna journeys home to see her old friend’s fate. Polycarp is martyred. Years later, Anna is martyred for Christ also, but she transmits her faith to the next generation, encouraging them so they can also take a stand.

Why I Love Church History

I admit, I am a bit of an aficionado of Church history – the fathers, the creeds, the councils, the martyrs – all of it. I’m not an expert on it by any means, but I do love it and love learning about it. And reading Hebrews 11, also known as the Hall of Fame of Faith chapter, recently helped me realize why.

Hebrews 11 summarizes the history of some of the great men and women of faith in the Old Testament. After giving synopses of some of their exploits, the author sums it up this way:

 32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. 1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

~Hebrews 11:32-12:3

Why do I love Church history? For several reasons. It is the story of how God worked in history throughout all generations. It shows God’s power, sovereignty, and rule over history which culminates in Jesus. Through studying history, we see the faithfulness of God to His servants, whether they experienced deliverance (v. 33-35) or not (v. 36-39). Some demonstrated their faith and experienced deliverance, and others demonstrated it though they were not delivered.

From Abel to Enoch; from Noah to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; from Moses to Rahab; from the Godly judges to the good kings of Judah, the Prophets, and the OT saints; from the Apostles to Stephen and the rest of the NT saints; from all the martyrs from the first century to the present day, those whose names are recorded in history and those whose names are written only in heaven. All who have ever trusted in God are a part of this story, His story.

And we are a continuation of their story, the story of Faith. As in a relay race, they have passed the torch to us, though I confess that I cannot hold a candle to them.

May we heed the exhortation in Hebrews 12:1-2. Let us lay aside anything that hinders us in this race, and let us run in faith looking to Jesus, as those who have gone before cheer us on.

Simon vs. Simon

Did you know that Acts chapter 8 wasn’t the only time Simon Peter and Simon Magus crossed paths? According to Clement of Rome, they held many debates that lasted for days. In fact, it was almost as if Peter was following Simon from city to city. In many ways, they were rivals. Naturally (or should I say supernaturally), Peter won these debates. Consequently, Simon lost followers. Upon hearing the Gospel, people deceived under his false teaching were healed and set free. A portion of one of those debates, I think, holds apologetic value for us today as we face the objections of professing atheists, skeptics and unbelievers. I highly recommend reading these debates in their entirety if you have the opportunity.

In explaining how he could know from the Law what the Law does not teach, Simon Magus blasphemes God saying, “But even if the law had not given indications from which it might be gathered that the God who made the world is imperfect, it was still possible for me to infer from those evils which are done in this world, and are not corrected, either that its creator is powerless, if he cannot correct what is done amiss; or else, if he does not wish to remove the evils, that he is himself evil; but if he neither can nor will, that he is neither powerful nor good.” (Recognitions of Clement, Book II, ch. LIV)

“…there is no new thing under the sun.” ~Ecclesiastes 1:9

Professing atheists in our day use this same argument against God’s existence, though Magus used it to proclaim “another God more excellent and more powerful than all,” (ibid) namely, himself.1 But the argument is fundamentally the same: the God of the Bible is somehow imperfect because evil exists in this world and He apparently does nothing about it. Let’s examine Peter’s rebuttal:

Peter answered, ‘O, Simon, they are wont to conceive such absurdities against God who do not read the law with the instruction of masters, but account themselves teachers, and think that they can understand the law, though he has not explained it to them who has learned of the Master (i.e. Jesus). Nevertheless now, that we also may seem to follow the book of the law according to your apprehension of it; inasmuch as you say that the creator of the world is shown to be both impotent and evil, how is it that you do not see that that power of yours, which you say is superior to all, falls and lies under the very same charges? For the very same thing may be said of it, that it is either powerless, since it does not correct those things which here are done amiss; or if it can and will not, it is evil; or if it neither can nor will, then it is both impotent and imperfect. Whence that new power of yours is not only found liable to a similar charge, but even to a worse one, if, in addition to all these things, it is believed to be, when it is not. For He who created the world, His existence is manifest by His very operation in creating the world, as you yourself also confess. But this power which you say that you alone know, affords no indication of itself, by which we might perceive, at least, that it is, and subsists.’” (Recognitions, Book II, ch. LV)

Peter turns Simon’s argument on its head, demonstrating its self-defeating nature. And when unbelievers, professing atheists in particular, use the same argument, it fails in the same way. First of all, it is absurd, and I love how Peter points that out! The anti-God arguments of those who reject God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ are, in fact, absurd. Next, Peter explains how Simon’s argument falls by the very logic he employs. We can do the same when unbelievers today use this objection. Whatever power (big bang, evolution, natural selection, etc.) the professing atheist credits with the existence of our universe is liable to the same charge by their own logic, since it does not correct the evil that is done in this world either and hasn’t shown that it has the power to do so. Our God, on the other hand, has the power. He displayed it in three ways: 1) in creating the world without evil; 2) in judging the evil in the world, both in this life and the next, and; 3) He will show it again when He remakes the world without evil. Their “god” – whatever they credit for the existence of our universe – has no such power; it “affords no indication of itself, by which we might perceive, at least, that it is, and subsists,” to use Peter’s words.

I believe this is an excellent example of ‘answering a fool according to his folly’ (Proverbs 26:5). Peter masterfully dismantles Simon’s argument, turns it on its head, and uses it against him. He continues on to defend and proclaim the goodness, righteousness, and justice of God. Not bad for an “unlearned and ignorant” fisherman!

1 As a side note, whenever a person claims that there is no God, they are also proclaiming another god, i.e. him/herself. How? In order for the ‘atheist’ to know there is no God, they would have to be everywhere and know all things for all time. In other words, for them to know there is no God, they would in essence have to be God. Needless to say, that is a self-defeating proposition.