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Q6. WAS JESUS WRONG?
Question: Dear Pastor Paul, In Mark Chapter 9 Jesus says,
“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”
The problem I have with this verse is that all of the people standing there died and the Kingdom of God didn’t arrive. It’s now two thousand years later and it still hasn’t arrived! Was Jesus wrong in saying this?
Answer: This is a scripture that often trips a lot of people up, but the answer is actually closer than you think. In the very next verse we read,
“After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.”
This event is known as the transfiguration of Jesus. The transfiguration was a momentous event that marked a turning point in his ministry. During this event, Jesus took three of his closest disciples, Peter, James, and John, up a high mountain. There, Jesus' appearance was transformed, becoming radiant and white as light. Moses and Elijah, two of the most important figures in Jewish history, appeared beside him, conversing with him.
This event was a powerful sign that Jesus was not just a human teacher, but the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of the Kingdom. The transfiguration was a brief foretaste of the Kingdom of God on earth, which Jewish prophets taught would be established from an exalted mountain in Israel. From here God's glory would radiate out from the top of it to the world, and this event would be the prophetic fulfilment of the feast of Tabernacles.
Is it any wonder then why Peter, witnessing the transfiguration, wanted to erect three tabernacles, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah? Being Jewish, he understood what was happening and responded in the correct manner. However his timing was a little bit premature. By suggesting this Peter wanted to acknowledge the significance of the event he was witnessing, that the Kingdom of God had touched down with power.
The transfiguration then, was a powerful reminder that Jesus was not just a man, but the Son of God, the King of the Kingdom. It was also the fulfilment of Jesus’ words that,
“… some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”
The some he referred to here, were Peter, James and John, and therefore Jesus was correct in his statement.
Q5. INSPIRED OR EXPIRED
Question: Dear Pastor Paul, how can I know that the Bible really is the word of God?
Answer: There are a number of reasons why we can trust that the Bible is the word of God. Here are a few of the most common arguments:
1. The Bible’s self claim
The Bible itself claims to be the inspired word of God in several places. One such place is 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
2. The Bible's internal consistency
The Bible is a vast and complex book, written by over 40 different authors over a period of over 1,500 years. Yet, it is remarkably consistent in its message and theology. This suggests that it is more than just a collection of human writings; it is the inspired word of God.
3. The Bible's historical accuracy
The Bible contains a wealth of historical information, which has been verified by archaeological and extra-biblical sources. This suggests that the Bible is not just a collection of fables, myths and legends; it is a reliable historical document.
4. The Bible's prophetic fulfilment
The Bible contains hundreds of prophecies about the future, many of which have already come true. This suggests that the Bible is more than just a product of its time; it is the word of a God who knows the future and can control events.
5. The Bible’s scientific predictive power
The Bible reveals remarkable scientific knowledge thousands of years before modern discovery. One such clear prediction is the Big Bang creation model for the origin of the Universe. This suggests that the information contained in the Scriptures is coming from a transcendent, supernatural source.
6. The Bible's transformative power
The Bible has transformed the lives of millions of people throughout history. It has given people hope, strength, and guidance in times of trouble. It has also helped people to overcome sin and live more godly lives. This suggests that the Bible is more than just a book; it is the living word of God.
7. The Bible’s inspiration authenticated
The Bible’s inspiration as the word of God is confirmed by Jesus of Nazareth. A clear example of this can be found in Matthew 4:4, “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” As Jesus of Nazareth has indeed been raised from the dead, then his claim for the inspiration of Scripture has been vindicated.
In addition to these arguments, many Christians also believe that the Holy Spirit confirms to them that the Bible is the word of God. When they read the Bible, they experience a sense of peace and assurance that it is true. This is a subjective experience, but it is nonetheless a powerful one for many people.
Q4. YOU'VE GOT POTENTIAL
Question: Dear Pastor Paul, what is the argument for God’s existence from potential?
Answer: The Greek Philosopher Aristotle argued that everything in the natural world has potentiality, an inherent ability to become something different or to change in some way. However, for potentiality to be realised, it requires an actualiser, a force or being that brings about the fulfilment of that potential.
For instance a tasty BLT sandwich, has the potential to be eaten and enjoyed. But it requires a person to pick up that sandwich and eat it, to actualise that potential.
In addition, the Model T car always had the potential to exist. But it required the imagination and creativity of Henry Ford to bring it into existence and therefore actualise that potential.
Also, the Universe in which we now live once didn’t exist, but it had the potential to exist. Then one day something/someone actualised that potential and here we are!
In Aristotle's view, this chain of potentiality and actualisation cannot regress infinitely into he past; there must be a prime, uncaused actualiser to start the whole process. Aristotle identifies this ultimate actualiser as God, a transcendent and purely actual being (that was not actualised by anything else).
God, in this context, becomes the original source of all actualisation, continuously sustaining the processes of change and development in the world. Consequently, Aristotle's argument concludes that God is the necessary and ultimate actualiser of all potential, serving as the foundational force behind all change.
So the next time you’re in your car, eating a tasty BLT sandwich, take a moment to thank God for the experience you’re enjoying.
Q3. THE SERPENT AND THE TREE
Question: Dear Pastor Paul, if God knows everything why did he allow the evil snake in the garden of Eden?
Answer: In the Genesis story, God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden, giving them the ability to choose to obey or disobey him (free will). God also set up a test by placing a tree in the garden, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and instructed Adam and Eve not to eat its fruit.
However, they were tempted by the serpent, who is identified in the book of Revelation as the Devil or Satan, to eat from the forbidden tree. This resulted in their disobedience and expulsion from the garden. The presence of the serpent or Devil in the garden was the means by which God could test human obedience and free will.
Some interpretations suggest that God allowed the Devil to tempt Eve to provide the perfect couple with the contrary choice necessary to disobey, thus allowing them to exercise their free will. The idea is that true love and obedience come from the freedom to choose, and without the option and means to disobey, their obedience to God wouldn't have been meaningful.
It’s also of importance to note that in 2 Timothy 1:9, Paul writes that ‘This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.’ Showing that even prior to the creation of the Universe, God knew the fall of humanity would occur as part of his divine plan of redemption.
Q2. THE KALAM ARGUMENT
Question: Dear Pastor Paul, what is the Kalam Cosmological Argument and can you explain it to me in simple terms?
Answer: The Kalam Cosmological Argument is a philosophical and theological argument for the existence of God. It is named after the medieval Islamic scholastic philosopher Al-Ghazali and has been popularised in recent times by our very own, Dr. William Lane Craig. The argument can be summarised in three simple steps:
Step 1: Everything that begins to exist has a cause:
This step asserts that things don't just pop into existence without any reason or cause. If something begins to exist, there must be something that caused it to exist.
Step 2: The Universe began to exist:
The second step argues that the Universe is not past eternal but had a definite starting point in the past. This conclusion is based on scientific and mathematical evidence such as the Big Bang theory, which suggests that the Universe had a beginning.
Step 3: Therefore, the Universe has a cause:
Combining the first two steps, the argument concludes that since the Universe had a beginning, it must have a cause or explanation for its existence.
As proponents of the Kalam Cosmological Argument we then go further to identify this cause as God. We argue that whatever caused the Universe must be uncaused, eternal, powerful, and able to bring about the Universe. This cause is then identified with the concept of God as revealed in Holy Scripture.
Q1. BIG BANG AND GOD
Question: Dear Pastor Paul, I have heard some Christian apologists use the Big Bang theory as an evidence for the existence of God. Isn’t the Big Bang theory anti-God and wasn’t it created by Atheists as a means to avoid God?
Answer: Contrary to common belief, the concept of the Big Bang aligns remarkably well with the Biblical narrative of creation, standing as a robust scientific corroboration. It challenges the once-prevailing idea of a Universe existing eternally. Scientists employ the term "Big Bang" to depict the abrupt origin and expansion of space, time, matter and energy.
The Bible outlines four key attributes of a Big Bang Universe:
1. An absolute beginning
According to Genesis 1:1 and Hebrews 11:3, the Universe had a beginning, indicating the necessity of a transcendent Creator.
2. An expanding Universe
At least five Biblical authors reference an expanding universe. This is evident in passages such as Job 9:8, Psalm 104:2, Isaiah 40:22, 42:5, 44:24, 45:12, 48:13, 51:13, Jeremiah 10:12, 51:15, and Zechariah 12:1.
3. Unchanging laws of Physics
Scripture also emphasises the constancy of the laws of physics, notably in Jeremiah 33:25–26.
4. Law of Decay
Romans 8:18–21 also speaks of the universal law of decay that we see all around us in nature.
These four Biblical attributes of a singular beginning, cosmic expansion, and unchanging laws of physics, including the law of decay—sum up the essence of a Big Bang Universe. The alignment between the ancient Biblical description of the Universe and contemporary scientific understanding serves as compelling evidence for the supernatural inspiration of the words of the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” - Genesis 1:1