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Saturday, April 14, 2018
Question: "Why did God allow the Holocaust?"
Answer: In dealing with the problem of evil in the world, we run into many problems like this one. Could God have prevented the Holocaust? Yes, He could have. He could also have prevented Stalin’s massacres in the U.S.S.R., the Spanish Inquisition’s torture of dissidents, and Nero’s reign of terror. In each case, God allowed evil men to exercise a certain amount of power for a short period of time.
Ultimately, we do not know the reasons for what God allows. His ways and thoughts are infinitely higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). His sovereign plan takes in the whole scope of history, past, present, and future, encompassing every possible course of action, every cause and effect, every potentiality, and every contingency. There is no way we could possibly fathom the intricacies of His design. By faith, we trust that His plan is the best plan possible for restoring fallen humanity and a cursed world to righteousness and blessing.
But we can understand this: God’s permission is not the same as His approval. God allowed Adam to eat of the forbidden tree, but He did not approve of the action. In the same way, God’s allowing the Holocaust in no way suggests His approval of it. God is grieved by the sinfulness of man and the hardness of his heart (Genesis 6:6; Mark 3:5).
We also know that God has done everything possible to redeem us from the sin which would destroy us. He gave His only Son, who sacrificed His life for our sin and took our penalty. All who turn to Jesus Christ in faith are saved. The sin in this world, and horrors such as the Holocaust, are a direct result of mankind’s continued rebellion against God.
While nothing can justify the Holocaust, we do see at least one good thing which came from World War II: Israel now exists as a nation. The Holocaust was a primary reason the White Paper of 1939 was rescinded, freeing Jews to immigrate to Israel. The fact that, as of 1948, the Jews have a restored national identity helps to fulfill such biblical prophecies as Ezekiel 37 and Matthew 24. Defeating Nazism and giving the land of Israel back to the Jews is a classic example of God’s thwarting Satan’s plan and bringing about good in spite of the evil.
In all of His doings, God is just (Psalm 145:17). The blame for the Holocaust lies squarely on the shoulders of sinful humanity. The Holocaust was the product of sinful choices made by sinful men in rebellion against a holy God. If the Holocaust proves anything, it is the utter depravity of man. Just fourteen years after "the war to end all wars" (World War I), Hitler rose to power. What is even more shocking is that millions followed him, enabling his horrific policies and pursuing a path to national destruction.
And while Nazism took hold in Germany, where were the European churches? Some, it is true, stood fast against the evil in their midst, and some churchmen, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, paid the ultimate price for dissenting. But they were the minority. Most churches of the era acquiesced to Nazi Party rules and remained silent while the Jews were slaughtered. Where were the world leaders? Other than England’s Winston Churchill, the world’s politicos took the route of isolation or appeasement. Neither worked. Where were the good, decent people? Edmund Burke is often quoted as saying, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph in the world is for enough good men to do nothing." Although there were a few Germans and other Europeans such as Oscar Schindler and Corrie ten Boom and her family, who risked their lives to save thousands of Jews from annihilation, most remained silent and the Holocaust ensued. The question is not so much "Why did God allow the Holocaust?" but "Why did we?"
God gives mankind freedom of choice. We can choose to follow Him and take a stand for righteousness, or we can rebel against Him and pursue evil. The problem resides in the heart of man. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). Until man’s heart turns to God, the world will continue to witness "ethnic cleansings," genocides, and atrocities such as the Holocaust.
(For more thinking, you may click the link below)
Posted by BH at 7:43 AM
Friday, April 6, 2018
Proof of an Afterlife?( link to the original article)
The Discovery is a film about a scientist who makes a discovery so significant it drastically alters the world. He discovers brain waves continue to emit from the mind after a person is dead. What's the big deal? It's scientific proof of an afterlife. Somehow, someway the deceased's brain continues to function after their heart has stopped.
People respond by committing suicide, millions of them, all around the world. Why? With definitive proof of an afterlife, they now have hope for a better life. They don't have to linger in loneliness or struggle with cancer. All they have to do is pull the trigger, and they can be reunited with their loved ones.
If you had definitive proof of an afterlife, how would you respond? If you knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, you'd enter another life after you die, what would you do? Would you pull the trigger?
Pulling the Trigger
St. Paul also made a powerful discovery that radically altered history. He encountered a person from the other side, the resurrected Christ, and came to believe that Jesus was not only raised from the dead, but all who hope in Him will be raised to eternal life. But his response was different. Instead of taking his life, he gave his life. Instead of leaping to find what's on the other side, he transformed his life on this side. You could say he "pulled the trigger" on his old life, and his old life wasn't too shabby.
He formerly went by Saul, and according to the standards of Judaism Saul was no slacker. He was circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin (Phil. 3:5). In other words, he wasn't a newbie in the faith; he was circumcised so early he was raised in the faith. And of all the ethnicities in the world, he was from the chosen people. And out of all of Israel, he was from a special tribe, the tribe that furnished Israel with their very first king. Saul had great pedigree, but he had even more.
His zeal eclipsed many of his contemporaries, aligning him with some of Israel's greats (Moses, Elijah, Phineas). An expert in the Law, Saul was esteemed by many. You might say he was the Steve Jobs of Judaism, with a passion for perfection to go with it. Saul arrested and persecuted Christians who perverted his Jewish faith. No one questioned his commitment, until his encounter with the risen Christ
Then something switched, and his zeal ran toward Christ in a life of hopeful self-denial. He traveled unreliable roads and weathered seas throughout the Mediterranean to share the good news about Jesus, all while living off of his tent business and the support of friends. He wrote letters to struggling churches, and his writings eventually comprised half the New Testament. Along the way, he encountered misunderstanding, ridicule, rejection, prison, flogging, and even shipwreck. Yet he persisted. Why? The resurrection of Jesus had radically changed his notion of success…
Glory in Regret
Eventually the scientific crew working on the "the discovery" realizes the post-mortem brain signals are actually connected to episodes of a person's past, not to an afterlife. When they convert the waves into images, they observe the episodes are actually moments of regret in a person's life. Unknowingly, the suicides are waking up, not to a circle of loved ones but moments of intense regret. The central character gets stuck in a loop trying to prevent the suicide of a woman he loves.
Faith in Jesus, however, does not lead to an eternal loop of regret. Rather, to borrow a phrase from C. S. Lewis, it allows heaven to work backwards. The meaning, love, joy, and goodness of heaven are transported back into the heart through union with Christ, which help us weather things like loneliness and cancer. Of course, our experience of heaven working backwards is uneven. We are, after all, still on earth so to speak. And once we reach heaven, Lewis notes that even a past agony, and I'll add even a regret, will turn into a glory. Why? Because that old pain will serve to intensify the present, everlasting comfort of Christ's nail-scarred hands. Our regret will be faint, but a vivid reminder of the grand discovery—the remarkable mercy of Christ, who rose to forgive and renew all things.
Jonathan Dodson is the founding pastor of City Life Church in Austin, TX which he started with his wife, Robie, and a small group of people. They have three children. He is also the founder of gcdiscipleship.com and author of a number of books including The Unbelievable Gospel, Gospel-Centered Discipleship, and Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection.
Posted by BH at 9:31 AM
Monday, April 2, 2018
Mark Zuckerberg Says Inspiration for Facebook Was Psalm 139:1-4
Inspiration for the design of Facebook came from Psalm 139:1-4, the company's founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a Sunday interview.
"When I read Psalm 139:1-4," Zuckerberg told reporter April Wan, "something just [mouse] clicked."
"I saw a heavenly glow and heard the voices of angels," he continued, "assuming angels sound like the hum of a billion servers and a heavenly glow looks like a backlit keyboard."
"When I opened the Bible and saw Psalm 139, I thought, 'wow, what a great business model.' I knew I wanted to build a company like that."
Psalm 139:1-4 reads:
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
Posted by BH at 7:27 AM