Pajama Jam Recap

On February 12th the Kidsview kids of HCC hosted their friends for a night of fun, food and games. The evening ended with a gospel presentation by the children themselves and worship. Thanks to all that volunteered and made this night a massive success.


Philippians 4:13


One of the most quoted and known verses in the entire Bible is Philippians 4:13. It says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This is a great verse, it is encouraging, it is empowering, it makes us feel good about ourselves. This verse could be summed up as, “God has my back, I can do anything.” Well that is true, but it isn’t at the same time. I grew up in a Christian home and went thirteen years to a Christian school. This verse was the Christian athlete’s battle cry. It was written on the underside of the bill of our baseball hats, it was written in sharpie on the athletic tape on our wrists, it was written on to our basketball shoes, and just about anywhere else. This verse told us that we could win any game, hit any pitch, make any shot just because it was God who was giving us strength. Honestly, God doesn’t care if the shot goes in, but He does care about us.

To fully understand what the Apostle Paul is saying in this verse we have to fully understand the context of what he is talking about. This principle applies for every verse. While studying the Bible you should know; who wrote it, who is the recipient, when they wrote it, where they wrote it (i.e. what was going on in society, in that church?), and why they wrote it. Without knowing these things it is impossible to fully understand what is written. So for us to understand Philippians 4:13 we need to know those things. First of all Paul wrote the book of Philippians, and he wrote it to the church in Philippi. Philippians was written in the year 61 A.D. This is important because of where Paul was at the time, during the time that Paul wrote this he was in prison in Rome facing certain death. The reason that Paul wrote this letter to the church in Philippi is so he could encourage and strengthen them and to teach them that true joy is only found in Christ.

So what does all of this tell us about this verse and what it really means. Throughout the first three and a half chapters Paul goes over his life devoted to Christ, joy in serving, joy in believing, and finally joy in giving. It is within this passage about giving that Paul gives his famous words. Let’s look at the context. 4:10-14, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share in my trouble.” So Paul is not talking about making a shot or anything like that, he is talking about surviving in this life. He is talking about God giving him the strength to get through what he is going though. Paul wrote these words while in chains in a prison in Rome because of his faith in Christ and his proclaiming the gospel. Paul wrote these words knowing that he was soon to die. Imagine yourself in his place, would you be able to say I can do all things (sit in chains in prison and soon die) through Christ (the reason you’re in the chains) who strengthens me. God is our ultimate sustainer, no matter where we are in life. It is through Him that we can get through the most dire circumstances or the greatest of circumstances. It is through Christ and Christ alone that we have our strength.


What do We do with the Evidence?

netflix-making-a-murdererFor the last five weeks the weekly blog has been looking at the evidence for God. We have looked at the evidence for creation over evolution, evidence for the history of Israel and the reliability of the Old Testament, evidence for Jesus life, death and resurrection. There are several reasons as to why we would look at this evidence and several responses that we should have to this evidence. The first reason that we have searching for this evidence is so that we can know that our faith is not a blind faith. Skeptics and haters of the truth are quick to say that Christians are just adhering to a blind faith and that the only reason we believe what we believe is that our parents brainwashed us growing up into this blind faith. But as we look at the evidence of God and analyze this evidence with an open mind and a good deal of common sense, we can see that there is so much more to this faith than that of a blind faith. There are mounds and mounds of historical and archeological evidence that show us that it takes much more faith NOT to believe in God than to believe in God.
Along those same lines, two of the biggest responses that we should have to this evidence come out of that same reason for searching the evidence. The first is that we can be sure in our faith and therefore sure in our salvation. We can know through this evidence that the Bible is true in saying that Jesus’ resurrection defeated death and that His death on the cross was the penalty that we deserved. We can also be sure of the love that God has for us. A love so strong that He would send Jesus to this earth to die.
With all of this evidence there is another response that the Christian should have; and this response is us telling people about Jesus. Due to all of this evidence we should be spreading the good news. We should be shouting from the roof top that Jesus loves us so much He died so we can go to heaven. In our society and culture now we are living in a post-Christian time where people do not believe in Christ. These are people that will never hear the gospel if we, as Christians, do not tell them. We have the greatest news in the history of the world, and we have the evidence to back up this great news, therefore we have to tell everyone that we come in contact with.
There is one more response that goes along this same thought and that is if you are not a Christian, if you have never made Jesus the Lord of your life, now is the time to do that. John 3 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” God’s grace is a free gift for all humanity, all that is required from us is that we believe in God and follow Jesus. If you have never claimed Christ as your Savior please contact one of the ministers at HCC. We would love to talk to you about having a relationship with Jesus.
The evidence that we have for God gives us a sense of security of our faith, causing us to spread the gospel to all we know. It is this amazing grace of God that we live in and lead people to.
God Bless.


Evidence for God Part IV

netflix-making-a-murdererThis is the fifth and final installment of the Evidence for God. In the last three posts we have looked at the evidence for creation, the historical accuracy of the Old Testament, and the life of Jesus. Today we want to look at the evidence of the crucifixion and resurrection. Paul says in I Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” These may be tough words but they are so true. If Jesus did not defeat death then it doesn’t matter if He was a great person or if He even died. If Jesus didn’t defeat death then the Old Testament doesn’t matter and creation doesn’t really matter either. Our entire faith hangs on that one event. Jesus defeating death and coming out of that tomb gives us everything and everything hangs on that one event.

Before we get to the resurrection we need to look at the crucifixion. It is pretty difficult to come back from the dead if you didn’t die. Crucifixion was the most common form of execution used by the Romans in the first century. Crucifixion was used for the lower class, slaves, and treasonous people. Josephus said the Romans hated the Jews so bad that it was not uncommon for them to crucify a multitude of them at once. So the claims that Jesus died on a cross is pretty much not argued at all. Josephus wrote in The Antiquities of the Jews about Jesus, saying that He was a great man that did many miracles, and was condemned to death on a cross by Pilate. So we have a non-biblical account that backs up the gospel claim. But we also have more mentions by Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, Mara Dar-Serapion and others. The fact that He was on the cross, put there by Pilate is one of the most sure things in all of ancient history. Jesus was on the cross and died on the cross. The fact that he died is a pretty sure bet still, first of all the Romans were professional crucifiers, and the gospel accounts say that when pierced water flowed out of the wound. This shows that the pericardium was punctured and that is unsurvivable.
So we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus died on the cross, but what about the resurrection? There are several common sense reasons that we can have great faith in the resurrection. First of all, the tomb was empty, we know that for sure. Where did the body go? Let’s think about it, if the disciples stole the body would they be willing to die for a lie? If the Jews took it why didn’t they produce it to completely kill this new rebellion. What motive would anyone else have to take it? The Romans would take it, that would just show that they messed up killing him. The only logical explanation for the body missing is that Jesus rose from the dead. Another common sense thing that is often over looked is the fact that the gospel account says that women found the empty tomb. This is a significant part of the story that often gets passed by. The fact that the writers said that women found it is important because women were second class citizens at the time. If a woman saw a murder they could not testify of that because they were not considered enough as a person to testify. So the fact that the gospel account says that women found the empty tomb gives it validity. If the disciples were making this religion up they wouldn’t have had women find the tomb.
The last piece of evidence we will look at is the appearances. Jesus appeared to people ten times in the 40 days from His resurrection to His ascension into heaven. He appears five times on resurrection Sunday to the women, disciples, and men on the road to Emmaus. He then appears eight days later to the disciples again. And over the next few weeks He appears to a large gathering on a mountain in Galilee. Paul said that Jesus was seen by over 500 people and Paul gave the names of some of those that saw Jesus. This may seem insignificant but it is huge because those names are like first century footnotes because then people could go to these people listed and ask if it was true. If those claims would have been refuted by those people in the first century that would have killed the rebellion right then and there, but here were are today.
There is plenty more evidence that we don’t have time or room to discuss. The point of it is this, God does exist, Jesus did die and come back from the dead. God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us to accept the penalty for our sins Next week we will look at what all of this evidence should mean to us and the implications that it should have on our lives, until then God bless.


Evidence of God Part III

netflix-making-a-murdererOver the last two weeks we have looked at the evidence for our faith in God and for Christianity as a whole. The first week we looked at the scientific evidence for creation and the second week we looked that the evidence for the reliability of the Old Testament. Over the next two weeks we are going to look at Jesus. Today we are going to look at Jesus’ life and next week we will look at Jesus’ death and resurrection.

There is little debate whatsoever that Jesus was an actual human being that walked the face of the earth that is because of the amount of evidence that we have on the subject. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John give a very detailed narrative of Jesus’ life and if that was all we had on Jesus then it would be easy to discount Him. But the fact is that there are many non-biblical sources that back up the gospel claims. There were first century historians that spoke of Jesus, Christians, and the early church. Historians such as Josephus, Celsus, Tacitus, Talmud, Pliny, and many more. It is through these writers that important information from the gospels is corroborated. Facts that He lived during Tiberius Caesar, He lived a virtuous life,  He was a miracle worker, He had a brother named James, He claimed to be the Messiah, He was crucified under Pilate on the eve of Passover, and much more that we will get to next week. So here we see that over and over the historians of the first century back up the claims of the gospel writers.

Another huge piece of evidence is that the New Testament is the most reliable piece of ancient literature. There are two factors that go into us (people in the 21st century) knowing whether a ancient document is reliable or not. The first is the amount of time from the event that is being written about to the time of the writing. And the second factor is the number of manuscripts and copies that have survived through the ages. For example, Homer’s Iliad was written 400 years after the events and has 1800 ancient copies in existence, because of such a short time between the event and the writing and the huge number of copies it is indisputable that Iliad is a reliable work of historical importance. So how does the Bible stack up to that? The entire New Testament was written within 60 years of the events and there are over 5800 ancient copies of the New Testament. This just goes to show that the New Testament is a massively reliable piece of ancient literature, in fact it is the most reliable. Pair that with the fact that archaeology has time and time again proven the Bible accurate and we can have full confidence of the New Testament writing.

So we can see that the New Testament is reliable and the fact that Jesus was indeed a human that walked this planet, but that does not necessarily mean that He is the Son of God and Messiah. There are two things that we can point to that shows that Jesus is the Son of God, the resurrection that we will talk about next week and the prophesies from the Old Testament that foretold of the Messiah. There are nearly 500 prophesies that point the Old Testament Jews the the coming Messiah and Jesus fulfilled every single one of them. Now before you dismiss this idea and not that big of a deal think about this. The mathematical probability of Malachi saying that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, a teeny tiny little town, over 400 years before the birth is one in 300,000. That is pretty impressive enough right there but that wouldn’t seal the deal fully. If you took just 8 of the prophesies that Jesus fulfilled the probability that one man could fill all of them is 10 to the 17th power, or a ten with 17 zeros behind it. That pretty much seals the deal there but remember that there were more than 8 prophesies, way more, nearly 500. So the probability that one man fulfilled all of these prophesies and is not the Messiah is zero. Jesus was a one and a billion, billion, billion.

Through all of this evidence we can have confidence in our faith and confidence when we tell people about Christ. Next week we will look at the death and resurrection of Christ. Until then, God bless.