Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Calvinism Undermines the Cross

I have noticed that most false doctrines have a tendency to undermine the necessity of Christ's death on the cross.

Calvinism is no exception. How does it undermine the cross? Simple.

If, as the Calvinists say He did, God made the decision to override human free will in order to save His chosen, then why did Jesus still have to die on the cross?

Couldn't God, if He were going the route of overriding free will, just make His preselected, elected individuals never commit a single sin all their lives and thus be righteous? Why make His Son suffer all the torments?

The fact is, if Calvinism is true, individuals are really saved by unconditional election, not by Christ's atoning death. Unconditional election could have followed whatever pattern God wanted it to. Whatever an individual must do to meet God's standards and be saved, God could have simply overridden human will and made some of His creatures meet the standard.

I have known of Calvinists who have given testimony of how they were saved, saying that finally, after hearing the gospel again and again, unconditional election was the doctrine that humbled them enough to repent.

We are saved by Christ's substitutionary, atoning death on the cross. Nothing should overshadow that. Nothing should make it unnecessary. Nowhere in the Bible do we read of people being saved when they heard the doctrine of unconditional election. It is always about Christ's death.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Genesis 30, Jacob's Sheep Breeding, and Epigenetics


Sorry. I don't normally begin articles that way. But that's how I'm feeling right now. My brain absolutely blew after finding this out.

I've been having a lot of struggles with Genesis 30. I read several articles about how pre-scientific Jacob's breeding methods were. I'll just let you read the whole story.

Genesis 30:25-43
After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, "Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I've done for you."

But Laban said to him, "If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you." He added, "Name your wages, and I will pay them."

Jacob said to him, "You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?"

"What shall I give you?" he asked.
"Don't give me anything," Jacob replied. "But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen."

"Agreed," said Laban. "Let it be as you have said." That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban's flocks.

Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban's animals. Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and maidservants and menservants, and camels and donkeys.

Frankly, I almost entirely lost my faith over this. Seriously, I thought, what is this even saying? That the sight of the striped branches caused the sheep to have striped kids? I mean seriously. No way.

So I went searching. And found nothing. All the articles by Bible-believing Christians were, to be honest, pretty pathetic. They ducked and skirted around the issue in any manner they could.

I got lost. I mean really. I felt like I had no one to trust anymore. I couldn't trust God, I couldn't trust the Bible. I didn't know where to turn or where to go or what to do. My life had been so real. I had been sharing God with others. I had been psyched about Him. I had been breathing Him in, experiencing God in huge ways.

And then it hit me. Doubt shot through the core of my being and left me numb. I didn't know. I remember taking a bike ride with my family and just being totally zoned out. I didn't want to be with them. I didn't want to be with anyone. I just wanted to be left alone until I could sort myself out, assemble the broken pieces I had thought of as truth.

My brother had accidentally broken a window a while ago. The gaping hole was always there in the living room, staring at me. It was like a wide, ghoulish mouth. I remember thinking that a demon must have come through that hole in the window and gotten into me somehow.

I knew myself, though. I guessed I would come back around. I knew I would be back to normal by the time that the window was fixed.

I did get back to normal. And right on time. When the hole was patched, I was patched. It was an interesting sort of metaphor for the gaping hole in my heart. My faith came back and God began to fill me in that same sort of way again.

Finally, I had sort of come to terms with things and realized that I couldn't go on with half-doubts. I needed to identify the doubt and either recognize it as the voice of truth - and make scary modifications to my beliefs - or recognize it as a plaguing doubt.

I did the latter. Simply too much of my life has revolved around God and Scripture in such real ways that it is ridiculous to think that it could all be fake. There is too much reality to it all. It exhumes the essence of reality.

Genesis 30 had to be right, somehow. My understanding of it was fallible and left plenty of room for a lot of misinterpretation.

The conclusion I came to was that I was simply having trouble understanding a God Who could break the laws of genetics He created. The fact is, during the course of Jacob's life, God was bent on blessing him. Who was I to say that God couldn't have used any means - even the funky superstitious stick thing Jacob did - to bless him?

So I sort-of officially dropped my worry about Genesis 30. The fact is, that answer should be good enough for any Christian. God can make it work.

I asked GotQuestions.org about it. This is what they said:

Thank you for your question concerning Jacob and the flock of Laban. Your desire to dig into the details of Scripture is commendable. The New American Standard Version can help on an important detail. In verses 38-39, we read, "He set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the gutters, even in the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink; and they mated when they came to drink. So the flocks mated by the rods, and the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted." Some might call this selective breeding, or genetic engineering. Apparently Jacob had the knowledge that the natural chemicals under the bark of the plants he used could cause mutations in coloration of the animals. He put the branches in the drinking water of the animals. It was not their seeing the branches, but their drinking the water that caused the mutation. The animals that mated shortly after they drank the water were effected. Notice also that he did this only when the healthy and strong animals came to drink. The result was that Jacob’s animals flourished and he became a wealthy man. Many lessons can be learned from the life of Jacob in Genesis Chapter 30. Out of mundane and even puzzling events the foundation of the nation of Israel was laid through the sovereign plan of God. Our Lord, who is very much involved in His creation stepped into time in the person of God the Son, and brought into reality the plan of redemption for all that believe in Him.
Fudged, I thought. That sort of answer to the problem is totally fishy. There's no way that the mother sheep drinking the water with branches could possibly affect the colors of their children. Not a chance. No way.

I just contented myself with the it-was-a-miracle answer. Which, I might remind you, is not a bad answer, because in Genesis 31 Jacob does attribute his success with the sheep to God's providence, not his fancy breeding.

But nevertheless, tonight I searched again for answers on the subject, not really expecting to find anything.

But I did. Something came up.

This is so radical I cannot begin to describe the effect it has had on me. It is so amazing. God is so good. I have been in total shock tonight.

Read this article. Read it. Seriously.


"In people, a forebear's diet can influence obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. In mice, diet can influence body weight, blood pressure and even fur color. Because examples of this inheritance are only starting to emerge, scientists still don't know the full extent to which diet influences health. But they may be starting to figure out how."

Read this article, too. Yeah, read it.


"The reason some animals were yellow and some were brown lay deep in their fetal past, biologists at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C., reported this month: Some of the mothers consumed supplements high in very simple molecular compounds that zip around the genome turning off genes. One silenced gene was for yellow fur; when it is turned off, the mouse's fur color defaults to brown. For the mice, it wasn't just that "you are what you eat," but that you are what your mother ate, too."

"There is no doubt that, in the case of the brown or yellow mice, the "you are what your mom ate" phenomenon reflects just such epigenetic influences."
No. Way. So, as we get into the science of epigenetics, we may just find out that Genesis was right after all.

My doubt is gone, I've been set free.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Thoughts on Original Sin - An Amendment to "Common Logic"

In my last post, I went over how I think Calvinists end up blaming the sin nature (they call it original sin) for man's sin, not the sin itself. But I do need to clarify.

Romans 5:18-19
Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

I can't argue with that. Clearly, mankind's righteousness is shot because of what Adam did. However, I am still wary of the "original sin" versus "actual sin" concept. Take a look at this.

Ezekiel 18:1-4
The word of the LORD came to me: "What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel:
" 'The fathers eat sour grapes,
and the children's teeth are set on edge'?

"As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die."

Notice that part: "the soul who sins is the one who will die". Ezekiel 18 goes on to say that if there were hypothetically a man who were perfect in every way, he would surely not die. It then speaks of the son of that man, supposing that son turned from his father's righteousness into wicked ways. This man, according to Ezekiel 18, would die. Then it moves on to the son of that wicked man. If the son was also hypothetically a righteous man, then he would not die. If there were still an "original sin" resting on this man from the sin of his father, that would not be true. The fact is, God clearly will not damn us for the sin of our forefathers. Yes, the iniquity of the fathers will be visited on the children unto the third and fourth generation, like Exodus 20 says. It happens in the form of AIDS to entire populations after adultery is committed. But no one will die for sin he did not commit.

Many Reformers point to Romans 5:12-13 to say that every man committed Adam's sin with him.

Romans 5:12-13
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.

Frankly, I don't see how this says that every man committed Adam's sin. It does not say that every one of us was there committing Adam's sin with him. If we were, the hypothetical man in Ezekiel 18 who keeps all of the commandments would still be damned, because Adam sinned for him.

I view it more this way: Adam committed a sin, and all men were made sinners, because now we have to fight against sin and can't win. It's an uphill climb that none of us can possibly do for ourselves.

We are damned for Adam's sin in the sense that because he sinned, we now have the disease of sin and cannot possibly get out of life righteous. Adam's sin causes us to commit our own.

But the point I am making is that we did not, as some believe, commit Adam's sin with him. When Jesus judges the sinners of the world, I don't believe He will add to their list of offenses: "eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."

All I would really like is a change of terms. Sin nature is a common term, and I think it is far more accurate than "original sin".

The truth is, original sin was originally a Catholic doctrine, and they taught that the way to get rid of original sin is baptism. In other words, you must be baptized to be saved.

The thief in the cross was not baptized. A Catholic might say a man like that still had original sin.

Also, we know that Jesus' blood covers ALL of our sin, not just actual sin. If baptism covers over any of our sin, then Christ's blood did not cover it. Christ's life was not just given to forgive us, it was given to us to heal the entire disease of sin.

In the Bible, a lot of focus is given to wrong choices and a bit less focus is given to sin nature. In Calvinism, a lot of focus is given to sin nature, and very little/none to wrong choices.

I rather like this article.

This is a rather nice article with a dash of humor. The writer is Reformed and makes a good case for sin nature, even though he does call it "original sin".

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Common Logic vs. Calvinism

I can't help but write another post on why I do not believe Calvinism to be a true doctrine.

First off, let's ask a few questions and answer them as a Calvinist would.

Why are some people going to be damned?
Calvinists say that they are damned because of disobedience to God.

Why did these people disobey God?
Calvinists say that they disobey God because that is their evil nature, and they are wicked, depraved, sinful creatures.

Where did these people get this nature?
Calvinists say people got their sinful nature from Adam and Eve. When they sinned, the human race fell under a curse, and that race received the sinful nature.

Can a person ever obey God by himself?
No; humans are wicked, depraved creatures, and they cannot do any good of themselves. The sin nature in them is too great.

Notice where the logic is going here. People are sinning not because they themselves are opposed to God. They are sinning because Adam and Eve were opposed to God, and thus made the human race unable to do any good.

In the Calvinist's Herculean effort to make sure man receives every drop of blame and is seen as an absolute sinner, the Calvinists trip over their own logic and end up blaming the sin nature for sin, not the sinner himself!

The fact is, if people do not have the ability to do good, then they only have the ability to do evil. That is not rocket science. Therefore, no one in his right mind can blame a person for doing evil he simply cannot help but do.

My Arminian way of looking at things would be considered heretical, because I believe that a wretched, depraved human being can do good. But really it is I who puts the heavy blame on mankind, for I let the blame rest on individual men, not the sin of Adam and Eve.

Please, do check out my amendment to this post. I don't want this one to leave you with unbalanced ideas about sin.

What Happens After Death?


Where do people go when they die? The question is not nearly as simple as you might think. Most Christians seem to have a belief that people immediately go on to either Heaven or Hell after they die. And yet those same Christians hold to the idea of Judgment Day, which is where God will judge everyone at the end of the age and send some to heaven and others to Hell.

The fact is, the modern Christian either often has not thought about such things, or prefers that such confusion remain in quiet resignation. But what does the Bible say about these matters?

The truth is, the Bible lists a third place in addition to Heaven (although in the Bible it is usually called the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven) and Hell. This place is referred to in the Old Testament (Hebrew) as Sheol, and in the New Testament (Greek) as Hades. In this article I will refer to it as Sheol, because I wish to distinguish it from Hell, and Hell and Hades sound rather similar. In our modern Bibles, "Hades" is often translated "Hell", and "Sheol" is often translated "the grave".

Who goes to Sheol? The simple answer is, everyone.

Take a look at these verses.

Psalm 89:48
What man can live and not see death,
or save himself from the power of the grave [Sheol]?

Psalm 6:5
No one remembers You when he is dead.
Who praises you from the grave [Sheol]?

Genesis 37:35
All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. "No," he said, "in mourning will I go down to the grave [Sheol] to my son." So his father wept for him.

Psalm 30:3
O LORD, you brought me up from the grave [Sheol];
you spared me from going down into the pit.

Hopefully you now see that everyone does go to Sheol. Is Sheol a real, tangible place? I will soon answer this question as best I can, but first I have to explain several concepts.

Christianity's main doctrinal teachings have acquired a number of Greek ideas. Many of those who think they are preaching God's pure, unadultered Word today are actually spouting ideas of the ancient Greeks - the same guys who had gods such as Thor with his amazing hammer, came up with the idea of ghosts, and performed the Olympics naked.

This is not to say that the Greeks did not have some good ideas. I hugely admire many of their advances in medicines and mathematics. But some of their false ideas did, nonetheless, creep into Christianity.

One such idea (and you will be familiar with this line of thinking) is that while bodies are mortal, souls are immortal, and go on living after the body dies. In other words, once the body is dead, the soul begins to experience a new kind of life freed from the body. This is not entirely true.

Ephesians 9:5b
For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;

The dead know nothing? It certainly does not sound like the soul goes on living and experiencing things after the body dies. How do we reconcile this with what we know about Heaven and Hell?

The answer is that the souls in Sheol are in a completely unconscious state. They know nothing. They can sense or experience nothing, because they are not united with their bodies.

Let's look at 1 Samuel, which tells us about Saul's experience with the dead Samuel and the witch of Endor. I recommend reading all of 1 Samuel 28, but here is just enough to make my point.

1 Samuel 28:4-20
The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all the Israelites and set up camp at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, "Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her."
"There is one in Endor," they said.

So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. "Consult a spirit for me," he said, "and bring up for me the one I name."

But the woman said to him, "Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?"

Saul swore to her by the LORD, "As surely as the LORD lives, you will not be punished for this."

Then the woman asked, "Whom shall I bring up for you?"
"Bring up Samuel," he said.

When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, "Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!"

The king said to her, "Don't be afraid. What do you see?"
The woman said, "I see a spirit coming up out of the ground."

"What does he look like?" he asked.
"An old man wearing a robe is coming up," she said.
Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?"
"I am in great distress," Saul said. "The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do."

Samuel said, "Why do you consult me, now that the LORD has turned away from you and become your enemy? The LORD has done what he predicted through me. The LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. Because you did not obey the LORD or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the LORD has done this to you today. The LORD will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines."

Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel's words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and night.

All right, this is freaky stuff. Personally I would really like to have a nice clean watertight theology that is not hard to accept. I would like a cute, tame theology that will sit on my desk and purr. But somehow I don't think God works this way. Personally, I can't read any meaning into this except that this woman actually called up Samuel from the dead.

Some have proposed that the "Samuel" the witch of Endor saw was actually a demon in masquerade. I suppose this could be true, but if it were, then the demon would likely have lied to Saul, but everything Samuel told Saul here was true. God had turned away from Saul and David was going to be the new king. So I do think that Samuel was literally pulled up from the dead.

How did this happen? The woman was a witch, so she must have been using satanic means. However, whether it was by Satan's power that Samuel was called up, God only allowed him to do it so that all things will work together for the good of those who love God, as the Scripture says. And Samuel did seem to give Saul a good, true message.

Now, let us get to the point I am making.

Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?"

This verse tells us two very simple things. Samuel was brought up, not down, so he must not have actually been in Heaven at the time, but in Sheol. Secondly, we are told that Samuel was disturbed when Saul brought him up. That sort of word makes me think of how I feel in the morning when I am awoken from sleep. And yes, we find Scriptural phrases to the effect of the dead being in slumber.

Daniel 12:2
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
1 Corinthians 15:51
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—

Luke 8:52
Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. "Stop wailing," Jesus said. "She is not dead but asleep."
Apparently, those who are in Sheol are in a sleep-like state where they know nothing.

Back to the Greek ideas. If the idea that the soul goes on living and experiencing after death is true, then why do we need a resurrection from the dead? The fact is, everyone will be resurrected.

Acts 24:15
and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

Acts 4:2
They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.

Matthew 22:30
At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

Yes, everyone will be resurrected. There was actually sort of a mini-resurrection during Jesus' death.

Matthew 27:51-53
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

As you can see in this verse, even Jesus was resurrected. And He too went to Sheol/Hades when He died.

Acts 2:31
Seeing what was ahead, he [David] spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was not abandoned to the grave [Hades], nor did His body see decay.

Look at the different translations and the Greek wording.

Basically, the idea is that Jesus' body was not left in Hades. He was resurrected!

What will our resurrected bodies be like? Probably different but very similar. See Matthew 22:30 above. We know that after Jesus' resurrection, He could still be recognized as Jesus.

Luke 26:16
but they were kept from recognizing Him.

Apparently, special intervention was needed just so that He would not be recognized. We know that His body was horribly brutalized during the crucifixion. To be hailed as a victorious conqueror of death means that He would have had to have a victorious body.

1 Corinthians 15:42-52
When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

The question is, whose souls will be raised glorious and imperishable? It seems unlikely to me that those who will not inherit eternal life will. Look at this: "So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit."

To whom has the Son given life? To those whom He is pleased to give it (John 5:21), that is, the believers. So although the wicked will be raised to dead with those Christ has made righteous, they have not been given life by the Son, I don't think they will not have the same imperishable, glorious bodies that the believers will. Although it is possible that they will be resurrected with them.

Now, how exactly will everyone be resurrected? What about people who were burned up, or people who blew up, or fell down cliffs and had their bodies smashed to pieces, or lost arms and legs or even their heads?

Well, the fact is that their bodies will be different. I doubt they will be resurrected in pieces. God will, somehow, put them back together. For thousands of years, people took this entirely on faith, saying that of course God can do it. Well, now in our modern age, we may just have discovered the means He will use. Every single human who is or was or will be has a genetic code made up of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. That DNA is the blueprint for what kind of body you have, down to the tiniest detail.

The fact is, every single cell in your body contains the DNA necessarily to replicate your body completely. God does not need every single piece to put your body back together. He just needs one tiny cell. Or even nothing at all. God created the DNA code; copying it is not a problem for the Creator. Just to drive the point home, here's a verse.

Matthew 3:9
And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.

Not sure if Jesus meant this literally or figuratively, but the point I'm making is that raising a dead body burnt to a crisp or blown to bits is no problem for God.

Also, remember the First Law of Thermodynamics: matter cannot be created or destroyed.

People are made of matter. Matter can be moved from place to place and changed in form, such as would happen if someone were blown up or burned. But all that matter is still in existence, and I'm sure God can easily put it back together. God set up the earthly rules; He can break them if He wants to.

An interesting note is made by Paul in the 1 Corinthians verses I gave above. He compares our resurrected bodies and our natural bodies to plants and seeds. Genetically, a wheat plant is a wheat seed, though structurally they are different. You plant a seed in the earth for a long time (sound like Sheol?) and it eventually comes back out in a different form, yet the farmer knows well that the thing he planted is the same thing now growing in his garden.

What happens after the resurrection? That is when Heaven and Hell come in. The fact is, currently Hell does not exist. It is a place that will come into existence but has not yet. See these verses in Revelation.

Revelation 20:11-15
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

So the dead in Hades/Sheol will be released, and then the ones who are not written into the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire. In the next chapter, Revelation 21, we read more.

Revelation 21:1-4
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Notice anything? First off, we've got a new earth. There is no longer a sea on the earth. And the new Jerusalem, the Holy City, was coming down out of heaven from God. God will now dwell with men.

The Hebrew word translated "heaven" is samayim, and it is actually more of a plural word. We sometimes see modern Bibles using the word "heavens", which is actually rather accurate to the Hebrew. The Greek word is sometimes used in the plural, but not always.

There are three different uses of the word "heaven(s)" in the Bible. The first use refers to the layer of air below the atmosphere. The second use refers to the starry skies above the atmosphere. And the third refers to the actual place of God's domain, what people conventionally think of when they picture Heaven.

If you don't believe me, see these verses.

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 6:17
I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.

Genesis 27:39
His father Isaac answered him, "Your dwelling will be away from the earth's richness, away from the dew of heaven above.

Genesis 28:17
He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."

Deuteronomy 4:39
Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.

Deuteronomy 10:14
To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.

2 Samuel 22:8
"The earth trembled and quaked, the foundations of the heavens shook; they trembled because he was angry.

1 Kings 8:27
But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!

1 Kings 8:30
Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

John 3:13
No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.

What? No one has ever gone into heaven? Actually, I do think that this verse means what it says. From the verses I quoted in Revelation it seems more likely that God will come and dwell with us on the new earth. We will not actually go to Heaven in the conventional sense, in the sense that we will go into the third heaven, God's current dominion, but God's kingdom will come on earth. We typically think of the kingdom of heaven as the place where man makes his dwelling with God. But if you look at Revelation 21 again, you will realize that it says God will make His dwelling with man.

Like I said earlier, the term typically used for what most people think of as "Heaven" in the New Testament is "the kingdom of God". Matthew was the only NT writer to use the alternative term, "the kingdom of Heaven". The kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God are apparently differentiated from the typical use of the word "heaven".

What does Jesus mean when He says that no one has gone up to heaven except God

Some Objections

Many will disagree with what I say here and have seemingly valid reasons for doing so. For instance, one might point out what Jesus said to the thief on the cross:

Luke 23:43
Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise."

Jesus clearly said to that thief that both of them would be going to Paradise (Heaven) straightaway after they died, right?

Many say that of course that's not what Jesus meant. They instead claim that Sheol/Hades has two different divisions. One is Paradise and the other the abode of the lost. Right?

Actually, no. Let's review an extremely clear verse we went over earlier.

Ephesians 9:5b
For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;

Dr. E.W. Bullinger explains in The Companion Bible: "None of our modern marks of punctuation are found [in Bible texts] until the ninth century... The punctuation of all modern editions of the Greek text, and of all versions made from it, rests entirely on human authority, and has no weight whatsoever in determining or even influencing the interpretation of a single passage"

The fact is, the phrase "I tell you the truth today" was a Hebrew idiom that signified solemn honesty in what one was saying. The comma is placed entirely wrong! The placement of that one comma changes the entire English meaning. Let's read it again taking into consideration the proper punctuation.

Luke 23:43
Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth today, you will be with Me in paradise."

As you can see, Jesus does promise the thief on the cross that he will be in Paradise with Jesus, but not right away. To make it even more clear, we might change the order of the words in the Hebrew expression. "Today I tell you the truth, you will be with Me in paradise."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Problem of Foreknowledge - My Views & Defenses

All right, I came across a guy called HELLBOY on an apologetics forum, and he had some basic questions that a lot of atheists rightly have. So I think I'll just do a little exercise and answer his questions on foreknowledge. His main question is: "What are the limits of God's foreknowledge?" He writes:
It is my estimated opinion that the answer to this question identifies the nature and moral character of the GOD of the Bible.

If GOD has perfect foreknowledge, then the problem of evil incriminates GOD.

If GOD has limited foreknowledge, then it makes GOD a gambler, which also has unflattering moral implications.

I have never gotten a sound answer to this problem from Christians - and was hoping to find clear thinking on the matter here.

Excellent question and one the theologians have blown several brain gaskets over. I am going to present my view of the solution to this problem, which I think actually works rather nicely.

First off, the question, "does God have limited foreknowledge?" Lately I have been hearing a lot about Open Theism and their idea that God has limited foreknowledge. You might think that from my rejection of determinism (fatalism) and Calvinism that I would happily subscribe to Open Theism, but I do not. I think there are a few fundamental problems with such a view.

One, the Bible simply does not seem to line up with this view. Yes, I know God certainly says that He is testing people to find things out here and there. However, I view this as more of a literary expression for the benefit of the people. Take a look at Jeremiah 1:4-5.
The word of the LORD came to me, saying,

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
All right, so God knew Jeremiah before he was born and appointed Jeremiah to a specific task. Now please understand me here, I do not think that this appointing at all messed with Jeremiah's free will. But these verses do show that God is aware of what we are like before we are even born.
Psalm 139:4
Before a word is on my tongue
You know it completely, O LORD.
And God apparently knows everything everyone is going to say. An Open Theist might say that was just for David because God had such close communion with him, but that seems inconsistent to me. That's like saying that all of the major themes of God's relation to man in the Psalms are just for David and not for everyone.
Psalm 139:16
All the days ordained for me
were written in Your book
before one of them came to be.
Now, please understand me again. Just because David's days were ordained and "written in God's book", that does not mean that God did not allow David to have a "backyard of choices", as an old family friend wisely put it. However, this verse definitely indicates that God knew an awful lot about David and what would be going on in David's life long before it happened.

Then we have prophesy. For one, Jesus foretells Peter's denying of Him, down to rather specific details. Secondly, there are amazing fulfilled prophecies concerning such things as the fall of Tyre, the end times, etc.

The Open Theists always assume that God's foreknowledge is limited, but they also always assume free will. These two philosophies actually seem to be contradictory, not complimentary, to me. Assuming God has a limited foreknowledge and humans have free will, who is to say that the end times will be just as God has planned them to be? It has been thousands of years since the prophesy was made. The amount of human decisions in that time period are simply ridiculous. A single man makes millions upon millions of decisions every single day. Multiply that over two thousand years and hundreds of billions of people, and a limited-foreknowledge God would be lucky to guess that the world would end at all, let alone come up with specific details about how it will happen.

Certainly, God could make those prophecies come true. But think about how much free will that would overrun. It was prophesied that Judas would betray Jesus, but does that mean that Judas' betrayal of Jesus was forced by God? If so, then Judas cannot be blamed for what he did. And yet, Scripture does blame him. I think it is painfully obvious that if someone is blamed for what they did, they had the ability to choose otherwise. If they did not, then God was to blame for the betrayal. Which is clearly not true.

The only other option here is that God has unlimited foreknowledge - that His foreknowledge knows all and surpasses all. But personally, using scripturally-informed thinking I acquired from a chapter in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, I am going to call it, "extralogos", a term I invented meaning "outside knowledge".

Let's dig into that. The Bible is extremely clear about what kind of God we are serving. Right from the first verse, we are told amazing, important things about God.
Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Watch this sentence carefully. The insight in it is amazing. In the beginning (time comes into existence) God created the heavens (space comes into existence) and the earth (matter comes into existence).

It is the grand trinity of necessities for functioning physics: time, space, and matter. In that order, mind you.

What does this tell us about God? Well, the main thing is that it tells us is that the world as we know it had a beginning. This strongly implies that God existed "before" the beginning (or rather outside the beginning). Also, this verse is helpful to understanding my concept of extralogos.
2 Peter 3:8
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
So, how does that work? Einstein came very close to discovering something similar on earth. His theory of relativity states that time is not absolute. In other words, time in certain places in the universe moves faster or slower than in other places.

God, being eternal and infinite, is absolutely not limited by time. Of course, He can do things in sequence. But that does not mean He is stuck in sequence Himself.

I highly suggest reading this chapter in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.


By this line of thinking, God is actually in 1970 right now just as much as He is in 2009, or 2012, if there will be one. He is just as much in 100 B.C. and 100 A.D. as He is in 1992 on the day of my birth.

This allows many concepts to have much more clarity. First of all, it destroys the problem of how people can make choices foreknown by God. God is there before they made the choice, and He is there after they made the choice. Certainly, the choice was still theirs to make, and they could have made their choice either way, but no matter what they did, God was still well aware that it happened. He did not force them to make the correct choice, He was merely present before, during, and after the choice was made.

While we are still stuck in time, stuck in part of our sequential existence, wondering what choice to make, God is already far ahead of us in the future time where we did already make the choice, and the outcome has also come to pass.

I am of the view, however, that God can work in sequence, which means He can sort of constrain Himself to our time. It is not as if He is outside of our time and cannot get in; rather, He sort of chooses not to be "in" all of the "time", so to speak. His choosing to be "in" allows for real-time interaction between God and man, for instance, when God was testing Abraham, perhaps God sort of constrained Himself to time, and so tested Abraham in sequence like any of us might.

A sort of side note must be made here. I do think that God "tests" everyone, that is, presents us with a set of options and allows us to make an informed decision.

The fact is, whether He knows our choices before we make them or not, we are still responsible for making the right decisions. Assume for a moment that a) the universe is running as usual but b) God did not exist for several thousand years and c) suddenly began to exist, and d) had perfect extralogos as I have defined here. Of course, this is only a hypothetical scenario. But if for thousands of years people had been making choices all by themselves, they would still be receiving punishment or reward for their actions, though only on earth. Then, suddenly, God appears. He transcends time and thus knows every move the humans will make before they make it. After their deaths He will punish or reward them based on their choices. Did the system go from just to unjust? No. If anything it went from unjust to just, because on earth, when you do something wrong, it will not necessarily be punished. Likewise, when you do something right, you will not necessarily be rewarded.

Please do note that if God did not exist at all times, of course, it would be ridiculous to assume that He had extralogos or perfect foreknowledge. But for the sake of example, imagine the above scenarios. As a popular website, gotquestions.org, states, asking when God was created is like asking, "what does blue smell like?" Blue is not a thing that has a smell. God is not a being Who has a beginning.

Now, on to more. Another user on the forum, kognishun20, writes:
William Lane Craig has a view on God's Foreknowledge. He expresses that God has middle knowledge.

God knows all possible outcomes. God knows all possibilities that exist. Therefore God knows the best outcome. God chooses the best possible outcome. Therefore creating a world involving free will he knows the best outcome. God then is not cornered by evil in the world.

He choose the best world that was possible involving free will. William Lane Craig has a couple articles on his website.
Now, we've already explored how if God were outside of time (as the Bible and logic indicate), He would absolutely know what was going to happen before it does, since He is no more in the "before" than in the "after". "Middle knowledge" assumes that God is trapped sequentially in time like we are. He is not.

HELLBOY writes further:
This brings a specific question to my mind: Is Opening The Door For Someone To Cause Great Evil, Immoral?

For example:

Suppose you had to write a fiction story about a man who was a psychic (even though you probably do not believe in psychics, your story would include one as it’s main character).

This man had a vision that one of his guards was going to betray him (the psychic was a very rich man who had guards). The psychic saw in the future and knew that the guard was not only going to try to take over the psychic’s house, but that the guard would fail and end up being turned into a snake who would later be cast into a fire. In fact, the psychic knew all this about the guard before he ever hired him.

In the mean-time however, the psychic, KNOWING ALL THIS, kept the guard on for hire and saw him daily, smiling and acting as if nothing were the matter.

Now, is the fact that the psychic (who is a completely fictional character) does not tell the guard the horrors that will befall him any measure of immorality?


The psychic had a vision of the guard BEFORE he ever hired the guard. In the dream, if he hired the guard, all of this evil would come upon the guard at the guards own doing, HOWEVER, if the psychic does not hire the guard, then the guard would not succumb to the evil, many lives would be spared and general happiness would abound.

If the psychic hires the guard, knowing that his hiring the guard would absolutely lead to the guard choosing to ruin himself and further, cause many of the other guards to join him in a kind of mutiny, and further bring all manner of death and destruction to the psychic’s family and friends, as well as the guards he deceived… AND during the period of the guards’ employment (before the rebellion and destruction) – the psychic does not mention a word of any of this…

Is this an immoral act on the part of the psychic? How about hiring the guard even though the psychic knows that this action will bring about so much evil, instead of not hiring him, which would guarantee the continuing peace and happiness of the psychic’s household and neighborhood.

(Of course, many religious types believe that psychics are of the Devil, and would be reticent to use their imagination, remember, however, even C.S. Lewis had witches etc. - but for the sake of fiction, I would be interested to know the Christian’s assessment of the morality of the psychic in this tale.)

In Craig's explanation, psychic ability would be replaced with a knowledge of probabilities. How is created life not diminished in value (perhaps immorally) with the knowledge that most of your creation would end up either:
1. Ending up in eternal torment.
2. Being wholly annihilated.
3. Choosing to be annihilated.

All right, first off, the psychic here is trapped in sequential time. If that psychic makes a choice, that choice will affect other events, etc. While we, and the psychic, take the universe in sequence, God takes and took and will take it all at once, if you understand what I mean. It's not like God has to make choices in a sequence of time that will set off a chain reaction of other events. Rather, He makes all of His moves at once.

The unique thing about God is that I think He can be both a casual observer and an active participant in what goes on in the world. He's not obliged to step in and save the day all the time. However, He does when He sees fit to do so, which is part of His master plan. It is futile for me to try to describe the details of this plan, because I am merely a device inside of His plan myself.

I would also like to note that certain things that are sinful for us as human beings are not sinful for God. For instance, it would be sinful for me to brag about how awesome I was, but for God that is OK. So maybe for us to allow evil to run its course is wrong, although for God it is not. For instance, if a man whips out a gun and runs into a bank to rob it, it is our duty as human beings to tackle the guy and take him down. But is it God's?

It reminds me of a story about a group of Indians, Sioux, I think. The Sioux were very careful about training their children to survive in the wilderness. The Sioux fathers would allow a range of bad things to befall their children in order to teach them. For instance, a little boy might move toward a fire. He may have some vague knowledge that it will hurt him or none at all, but on he will go toward that fire. Meanwhile, the father will stand by, knowing his child will learn about what fire is like and why to avoid it. The child will stick a finger in and immediately pull it back out, crying. And the child will have been trained not to touch fires.

But if a child were about to fall in the fire, the father would certainly rescue him. However, the father would let the little boy have a taste of fire and the other dangers of the world, so that the boy would be able to live well later on.

Now think about this. It seems all right to me for the Sioux father to allow his child to stick a finger in the fire to learn a lesson. The wilderness is a harsh place and the child needs to learn about it. But now imagine this: it is not a father watching the child by the fire but another child, a slightly bigger one. This bigger child is watching the little child, and there are no adults around.

If the little child moves toward the fire, of course it is the bigger child's duty to go and stop the child before he sticks so much as a finger in the fire. You see, the father was completely in control of how close the little child got to the fire. But the bigger child, no matter how responsible he may be at his age, cannot guarantee that he can save the little child if the little child gets too close.

Plus, it is simply not the right of the bigger child to discipline the little child. That is the right of the father, which is why the bigger child should simply stop the little child in his tracks.

Secondly, I take the annihilationist view of Hell. I may write another article on why I consider the annihilationist view to be more biblically supported than the eternal Hell view, but for now, let me just say that I think everyone knows that the eternal Hell view is simply immoral. It is unspeakably, unimaginably cruel to punish a conscious person for all eternity. Here is a good article on the subject.


I read a good comic that helped me to understand the classic question, "if God is real and good, why does He allow ___?" The comic went like this: one character asked the other, "if God is so good, why doesn't He stop all the school shootings?" The other character replied, "oh, didn't you know? God isn't allowed in the schools anymore!"

When we happily push Him away, I do think that out of courtesy He backs off. And if God is good, that means we pushed goodness away, and it backed off. It is no wonder that we get ourselves into such messes.

And another thing - what is God supposed to do? He has the following choices:
a) Don't punish people who do wrong and tell them He won't
b) Threaten to punish those who do wrong and don't carry out the threat
c) Threaten to punish those who do wrong and carry out the threat

He could do a, but then people would not be motivated to make good choices. He could do b, but then He would be lying. The Bible states that God cannot lie. By definition, God is good. If God were to lie, it would cause Him to be evil, which would make Him cease to be God, right? OK, b is definitely not an option.

All that is left is c, which is in fact what God did and does. Try these three methods on a two-year-old and you will find that God's choice was really the most sensible one. It may seem all well and good to criticize God's method of doing something, until you have a look at His other options.

Now let us suppose something else. Suppose you had a robot, and you built that robot to perform a certain task. You gave that robot the ability to make choices and a conscience to tell it what choices to make, plus instructions on how to perform the task. The robot did not perform the task, and it was the fault of the robot.

Would it be unjust to just scrap that robot and build another? By your logic, to be fair and kind and good to the robot, you must allow it to be alive and keep its batteries fresh for all of eternity. You have to keep it running and nourished forever, even if all it does is botch tasks and suck resources.

Even if the robot had not done anything wrong, is the creator really obliged to allow it to keep living? Not really, if I'm understanding things correctly. If the creator of the robot decides to just cut off its power source, that's OK. That's no problem. The robot will instantly cease to exist, cease to understand and cease to comprehend. Except for a few things the robot changed here and there, it will be like it never existed.

Now, of course, I can see some atheists screaming foul play. Why can't we abort babies, then?!? they ask, they lose consciousness instantly and it's like they never existed! Well, the simple fact is, mothers and abortion doctors are not the Creator of the baby. Imagine a little boy sneaks into the lab of our robot creator and smashes the robot to pieces with a rock. That was OK, right? No; it was not, because the boy did not have rights to take the robot's "life"; while the creator of the robot did.

So it is perfectly all right for God to simply destroy His creatures. And He has warned us that He will if we do not perform in the way He wants us to. We have the option to make the choice, though He knows what choice we are going to make. Actually, it's not so much of a "though" situation as an "and" situation. I will post the previous sentence again with a conjunction modification. We have the option to make the choice, and He knows what choice we are going to make. It is not an impossible conundrum. It is merely not something observable on earth, which is why we have such a problem imagining it.

And if the creatures do not perform correctly when given the chance, the instructions, the time, etc., then they can be punished accordingly. If God did not punish people for their sin, in fact, He would not be a just God. A judge who lets rapists and murderers off the hook is a judge who should be shot.

But now think about this: imagine a judge who actually takes the punishment for rapists and murderers upon himself. The rapists and murderers should, and many would be, amazingly grateful to that judge. Because the sacrifice the judge made was so deep, so real, so moving, those grateful to the judge will try again at life. They will try to live within the law out of gratitude to the judge. They will not do so perfectly, but the point is, they will certainly try, whereas before the judge took their place they broke the law on purpose with extreme disregard.

That is the kind of God I serve. That is the kind of God Who took the place for the billions who have given themselves out of gratitude to Him. This is the kind of God Who loved us, so that we will love Him.

Hopefully this will have answered these questions. Frankly, I cannot pretend to fully comprehend these things. If we could understand everything about the nature of God, we would very well be able to assume He does not exist, because He would not be much greater than our brainpower. But this does not stop me from trying the best I can to understand His ways.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lessons From The Backflip

My brothers and I are really into parkour, free running, and tricking. If you don't know what those are, they are basically "mobile arts" that involve running, jumping, flipping, spinning, and just generally maneuvering over obstacles.

So we went to a cottage this summer. The surf was up and we were totally enjoying ourselves. But naturally, we had to get in some good parkour. So we set up a picnic table at the beach and did flips off of it. We wanted to learn the backflip, especially. All of us could backflip on a trampoline, but we just froze when it came to regular ground.

But up we went, intent on learning it.

In order to learn to backflip over regular turf, a technique called "spotting" is used. The "flipper" takes position, and the "spotter" gets set to catch him in case he messes up. Typically the spotter will place his dominant hand on the flipper's back for support, and use his other hand to flip the person's legs around.

I was able to spot my brother Collin... and what do you know, he learned quickly.

But, unfortunately, I was the biggest guy. That meant I was pretty much without a spotter.

I could not get up the guts to do it.

And Collin just kept getting on the picnic table and flipping off - over and over.

Eventually, I got my dad to spot me. It was one of the hardest things ever to just throw myself over backward. My dad completed some of the rotation for me, but I mostly made it.

But my dad wasn't available all the time.

So I had to do it myself at some point. Much quicker than I would have preferred.

So there I stood on the edge of the picnic table. My stomach was in a knot, my hands were cold and clammy, and I was sweating like crazy.

It took me forever, just standing there deciding whether to do it or not. I felt sick. Absolutely sick.

But finally, I just gave it all up. I half-closed my eyes, leaped high into the air, jerked my head back, and tucked into a little ball.

I made it.

It was not a perfect flip by any means. But it worked.

I did it again and again. Collin and I performed hundreds upon hundreds of backflips that week. My dad called us "rotisserie chickens", because we were turning over and over and getting rather evenly baked by the sun.

And every time we did it, a little bit of that sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs went away. Until it was entirely gone.

And the more we did it and the more that sick feeling left, the more we were able to properly focus on our form and try different ways of doing it.

Now we can both do it off of pretty much anything, and not just onto sand - we can do it on hard ground.

It's a pretty interesting story, and it tells the truth about a lot of life. Including witnessing - sharing your faith in Jesus Christ.

The first time it it is killer scary, something way out there and totally beyond anything you've ever done before.

But once you make that first step and enter the new world, it becomes totally natural.

Verses About Salvation

Makenna and I put together a list of verses for our group to memorize. They are all related to the issue of salvation so that we can use them in evangelism.

Man is depraved and sinful. Romans 3:10-12
The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23
Man can be saved by the gift of God. Romans 6:23
Jesus was crucified to bear our punishment. 1 Peter 2:24
Jesus is the only way to salvation. Acts 4:12
If you believe on Jesus, you will be saved. John 3:16
Our faith is made complete by our deeds. James 2:22
The cost of following Jesus is great. Galatians 2:20
Followers of Jesus go for the approval of God, not man. Galatians 1:10
Plenty of people are in need of the Gospel, but there are few to give it to them. Luke 10:2
We should proclaim the good news to others. Matthew 28:19-20

So, this is our list. Any thoughts?