The Problem of Evil: Part III – Pleasure & Pain

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The Selfish Turn in the Problem of Pain

I have noticed that people are arguing the problem of pain differently these days. Most folk today ignore the disease, war, famine, and general third world suffering that happens across the globe. Their thumbs and their eyes are fixated on a smart phone or a tablet. Their getting their pleasure centers in their brains overstimulated like lab rats who push the blue button and buzz their brains and ignore the red button that feeds them so they starve to death.

That much input in the pleasure parts of the brain means it in time loses its pleasure, but people continue merely from rote habit and mental addiction. And when their device can’t get enough bars or they can’t find the Wi-Fi hotspot, they cry and pretend they are suffering. And then they run into a real problem and run overboard into an excess of ever more selfishness of emotions.

Something truly tragic happens, and they cry Why did God let my granny die? it seems the problem of pain has taken a selfish turn from “Why does God allow bad things to happen?” to “Why does God allow bad things to happen to me?” No one worries about the suffering of those in impoverished countries except for the occasion humanitarian worker or the narely read philosopher, and I hope I can add to the list, God’s people.

The Problem of Pleasure

Biological evolution says all upgrades are due to cell mutations and natural selection, but in particular, adaptation that enhances survival. And yet there are things in life that are part of the human experience that have nothing to do with survival. What I have in mind is pleasure. Evolution cannot explain why we as humans enjoy anything, why we find pleasure in experiencing beauty. So for my tastes, let the atheists whine all day about the problem of pain. They can’t explain what for them is the problem of pleasure.

Why do we taste food and enjoy it? The skeptic says taste buds evolved as a survival technique so we’ll know what berries are poison or when meat is rancid. But usually once you’ve tasted these things it’s too late. Also, other senses are better for determining these things. We see and recognize berries that look as such are to be avoided. Meat that smells spoiled is spoiled.

But pleasant flavors cannot be accounted for as a means of survival. Atheists cannot explain why a Crème Brule tastes so good and why we gain so much pleasure from eating it. Skeptics can’t tell us why everyone thinks a sunset is beautiful, and why we enjoy watching them. And consider the fine arts. Evolution cannot explain why we get such exhilaration from hearing Beethoven, Chopin, or Rachmaninoff played on a piano. Shear materialism cannot answer for why we are so stirred by the poetry of Browning, Byron, or Whitman. Atheism cannot reason a response as to why the novels of Tolstoy and Hugo rouse us with stunning displays of what it’s like to live as a human in this world. Skeptics have nothing to say about why the paintings of Van Gogh or Rembrandt allow us to see our world within ourselves brushed on canvas.

Atheists are a miserable lot in the first place. The Bible says they cannot find peace (Isaiah 48:22, 57:20, 59:8). No wonder they can’t answer the problem of pleasure because they are often oblivious to it. The Christian acknowledges that there is suffering in the world, but we thank God for all of the blessings He gives us, for the wonderful things that come from living this life, and for the exalted gift of gaining pleasure from experiencing beauty.

Man Cannot Blame God

The thing about the whole argument of the problem of pain that galls me the most is the presumption people have in sassing back at God. They sound like petulant children. You know they got it coming and you don’t mind at all when they get it. Man is not in the position to dare talk back to God. Job learned this lesson the hard way, but he learned it. God spoke from the whirlwind and said to him, Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer that.” … “Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?” (Job 40:2,8).

God does not answer to us. We are not in the place to know all things as God. We simply do not know enough to blame God of anything wrong. Any such accusations come from human wisdom, which is in truth, foolishness.

  • The heartis deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
  • ‘For My thoughtsare not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
  • O Lord, I know the way of manis not in himself. It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).
  • There is a waythat seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12).

The worldly man will engage the faithful on matters where he does not know as much as he thinks he does. He will blame God for human suffering, not knowing that the Bible has the answers, and yet he will refuse to hear a Biblical answer. And the things we tell him are Scriptural and reasonable, yet he shrugs and says I don’t get it. Their response is like the parable of the sower. Some seed lands on the rock-hard road and the seed cannot penetrate at all. This describes the worldly person so far removed from any spiritually and love for the truth that anything they hear is like a foreign language (Luke 8:12).

The failure is not ours, but completely on their part. And even if God did step down and stop all human suffering, that would not make anyone believe who doesn’t already. They are like the kinsmen of the rich man in torment, who have the Scriptures, and if they don’t believe them, they still wouldn’t believe even if God left His throne and came down here just to ease all suffering (Luke 16:31).

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The Problem of Evil: Part II – The Purpose of Life

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While suffering may not be evil, that does mean it is not serious. Christians should not vindicate God in such a way that we dismiss the true and genuine anguish that people feel when they are going through terrible times. A children’s hospital is filled with suffering and it is truly heart-breaking, but it does not render God blameworthy for any wrong doing.

I do want to establish here that God indeed had a purpose in mind for fashioning man and life on earth as He did. God made this world, with all of its good and bad, to be the best of all possible worlds where man as the highest order of His Creation can be enabled to decide things regarding our spiritual destiny (Genesis 1:27; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Humans have been placed within the ideal environment where we may choose God or self. All suffering, from tornadoes to tuberculosis, are viewed by God as necessary for this ideal environment. The fact that God made a world that includes suffering does not make God guilty of any evil since He had eternal and spiritual reasons for including this suffering. Our life here is not permeant, but prepatory. The sole purpose of this life is to prepare ourselves for the next.

The Role of Suffering

So any suffering we encounter in this life is done on the short and temporary side of our existence. Everything in this life is intended by God to bring us to Him, both the ups and the downs. We need to keep in mind that God is more interested with our righteousness than our suffering. To be clear, I did not say that God is uninterested in our suffering. His heart goes out to us when we suffer. But if any suffering has a possible role in bringing people to righteousness, He is willing for it be. Consider Paul who was left to deal with his own infirmity of the flesh to be reminded that God’s grace is still sufficient for him (Second Corinthians 12:9). God already showed His goodness to Paul by saving Him, so letting an ailment remain does not make God to be the bad guy.

A lot of preachers have said that God will not allow us to suffer beyond what we can bear. We need to stop saying that because it’s not true. Suffering, even excessive suffering, can lead a person to realize that they cannot make it through this life on their own and that they need help and turn to God. My grandfather was a preacher for over fifty years. He said that the church was its most faithful during the Great Depression. People weren’t living for things of the world so much simply because they were not available. In fact, the worst thing to ever happen to the church was when we crossed the tracks into the good side of town. Every congregation had to compete with each other as well as against the denominations for the grandest church building in town, aspiring to rival Solomon and Herod. The church turned inward, stopped looking outward, and remained as a selfish congregation who never evangelizes. This leads to God’s suffering, not ours.

There are definite times in Scripture where suffering either created or enhanced faith in God. The Egyptian Army drowned in the Red Sea, which caused the Jews to bless God for His goodness (Exodus 15:1). Job suffered as no man ever, yet came out of the other side of it all as the most faithful man alive (Job 42:1-6). Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Lord and were struck dead. But afterward great fear fell on the church and all who heard about this and the church multiplied (Acts 5:11-14).

Joseph suffered terribly at the hands of his own brothers who sold him into slavery, then his Egyptian master by being cast in prison, and by the cup bearer who forgot to help him. But everything that was done to him with an evil motive was that which God was also doing for greater good. That good was allowing the bloodline of Abraham to survive world-wide famine in Egypt, but more than that. it allowed this bloodline to grow from a tribe to a nation. The descendants of Abraham could not inhabit the land promised to him. More to the point, these Jews, as God’s chosen people, can continue and move forward the bloodline of Abraham until Jesus Christ came into the world from his lineage. All of this disappears if Joseph was kept by God from suffering.

The suffering of Christ lead to the greatest potential for righteousness in mankind. God sorrow for the suffering of His only begotten Son was outweighed by His love for His Creation. If God needs to stop all suffering, then He would have let the cup pass away from Jesus, but we would all be hopelessly lost. God was willing to forsake His Son on the cross so that He would never have to forsake any one of us.

After Suffering

The loss of life can quite often be suffering for the one who passes on, but it is also suffering for the loved one surviving the departed. But remember we are all born to die, and mortality is a necessary element of the human condition. This is true considering the transitional element of death from this world to the next. God’s want everyone to keep in mind the two rules of mortality, that it is sure we will all die but unsure as to when (Ecclesiastes 8:8). If we keep in mind these two things, we will also keep in mind our purpose for living, which is to submit to God in view of eternity.

Considering what lies in store for us, our suffering seems to be a petty thing to obsess about. The matter of why we suffer is really a pagan question. The fertility cults prayed to Baal and offered their children as sacrifices to Dagon to ensure that they would get a bumper crop that year. There is not a lick of difference between the pagans who were involved in the ancient fertility cults and our present day “prosperity gospel” heretics. These charlatans preach we should follow God in order to become healthy and wealthy. It sounds good, but there is one big problem with it: there’s not a word of truth to it.

The central issue in Buddhism is knowing that suffering comes from desire so we need to learn how not to desire so that we won’t suffer. So in actuality, I need to desire not to desire. Still, Buddhism is a religion all about reducing suffering in this life and Christianity is about reducing suffering in the next life. The Greek Stoics and Epicureans had the same goal, even though they went about it differently. They both wised to achieve a state of atoraxia, which literally means “troubledlessness.” In other words, they strive to have a mind free from trouble. The first century Roman Stoic Seneca was friends with the apostle Paul and admired him because he approached atoraxia closer than anyone else he ever knew, which says a lot about the peace of the gospel (Romans 8:6; Philippians 4:7; Colossians 3:15). And isn’t that the sucker’s end of all irony? The world seeks mental peace through worldly solutions, but only from God is there any real peace.

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The Problem of Evil: Part I – The Question of Evil

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The skeptic’s response to the reality of deity is to invalidate the concept of God. Their most popular argument is known as The Problem of Evil. It basically makes three statements: God is all-powerful, God is all-loving, and evil exists. They then insist that all three of these cannot be true. If evil exists and God does nothing to stop it, then either Her is not all-powerful or not all-loving or both.

In truth, God is both all-loving and all-powerful (First John 4:8; Genesis 17:1; Job 42:2; Matthew 19:26). The atheist assumes their third point is true, but never try to prove it, which is a real conundrum for them. When Christians defend God to the skeptic by giving Biblical answers, they will respond that all we have said is dependent upon God in truth existing, and that all of these difficulties would vanish if there were no God. But this challenge is not about the reality of God, but harmonizing the attributes of God with what occurs in the world. The very problem they give us assumes there is a God.

The Real Problem of Evil

We know the first two premises about God are true because of what the Bible says. The Christian will be moved to give an answer from Scripture, which the skeptic will not ever consider because it comes from the Bible. This is hypocritical and unfair. The skeptic poses a challenge to us who are faithful based upon what the Bible claims from God, but dismiss the answer just because it’s Biblical. It’s a common tactic and is as set as a marked deck that is all worked out where we cannot win. We are asked to defend our faith, but are not allowed to give an answer from the source of our faith. This shows that they are not at all interested in exploring the truth, but playing a game of Gotcha! with God’s people.

Their argument makes three assumptions that they are unable to prove. They assume that the theist’s perfectly good God always would eliminate evil insofar as He could, that there are no limits to what this Being could do, and that it is evil that evil exists. Before anything bad happens to anyone, a good and powerful God will always stop it beforehand, but why? God can, and does, possesses both of these attributes, full  in love and power, but allows things to happen in His world for His reasons, such as the purpose of suffering, the role of mortality, and exercise of free will. Also, God being all-powerful does not mean He is limitless. Amongst other things, God cannot act in a way that is contradictory with His own will. If it is the will of God that suffering exists in His world for the reasons He has determined, then He will not reach down and stop all bad things from happening. Further, the atheist cannot prove that it is evil for evil to exist. In fact, the notion of evil is more of a difficulty for the atheist then it will ever be for the theist.

Atheists Cannot Define Evil

When the atheist denies God, they deny any absolute and universal code of morality. Most atheists are honest enough to admit this. So they cannot come up with a definition of “evil” that fits all situations and circumstances. Denying absolute morality means evil is nothing more than why I prefer to call evil, but nothing more.

C.S. Lewis reasoned himself out of atheism because he got hung up on the problem of evil. He wanted to accuse God of injustice, but he realized that he couldn’t even come up with a real definition of justice. So to shift the discussion, atheists will substitute “suffering” for “evil,” but that doesn’t help them at all. The fact that suffering exists cannot be evil if there is no real definition for evil.

Another means of obfuscation occurs when the atheist declares that it is obvious that suffering is evil. Quite often they will say if you walk the halls of a children’s hospital, then you will see how obvious it is that suffering is evil. But skeptics cannot leave the definition of evil undone as if it were some tautology. If one went to such a facility they will see suffering, but they will also see great deeds of compassion, children in good spirits despite their condition, and even some kids being discharged because they have recovered. The evil nature of suffering can never be assumed.

The atheist has no vantage point to call suffering “evil” because of their view of human life. According to the skeptic, we are not Created in the image of God but are the result of random accidents of chemistry and biology. There is nothing special about human life, but that means there is nothing calamitous about suffering and death. There is an absolute definition of evil, and it’s not what the atheist wants to hear. The only intrinsic evil is the violation of the will of God.

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He Shall be Called a Nazarene

branch

After Jesus’s birth, Joseph took his wife and newborn son and fled to Egypt because of the threat by Herod. When he died, Joseph and the family returned, but because the new Herod was cruel as well, they settled in Galilee in the town of Nazareth. After Matthew records this, he says by Inspiration, “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23).

One might search the Old Testament and talk to everyone they know who have claimed to do the same, and they will never find the phrase, “He shall be called a Nazarene” penned by any Old Testament prophet. A clue to the puzzle is that Matthew says this is said by a plurality of prophets, not a single prophet. Matthew is not quoting any passage, but summarizing several. Now the hunt for those few texts begins. Our next clue is the Hebrew word for “branch” is netzer. There are a small group of Old Testament verses known as the Branch prophecies, two from Isaiah, two from Jeremiah, and two from Zachariah. These not only speak of Jesus, but particularly as King and as Priest.

Isaiah

Most of the 2nd chapter and all of the 3rd chapter of Isaiah address God’s coming judgement against Judah and Jerusalem. The sins of idolatry and living rich are specifically mentioned as causes. When chapter 4 beings “in that day,” it continues the context. But the fuller context includes the beginning of chapter 2, which is a prophecy of the coming church, described as the spiritual mountain of Zion. This imagery is picked up here in chapter 4.

The shift may seem abrupt, but it is common in Isaiah for prophecy to have dual interpretations, one applicable to the ancient Jews and another for the gospel age. Captivity is a type of being lost in sin, the destruction of Jerusalem of hell, and the restoration of the Jews is the spiritual remnant of the worlds’ population who are saved by a faith that works through love in service the Jesus Christ.

The second “that that day” begins a purely spiritual outlay. Verse 2 reads, “In that day the BRANCH of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing, for those of Israel who have escaped.” For those of the true Israel of God, which is the church (Galatians 6:15), who have escaped the Babylon of judgment, they will enjoy the beauty and the fruitfulness of the earth in the restoration of the soul by means of the New Testament gospel. All of this will be accomplished by the Branch of the Lord.

Chapter 10 returns to the symbolism of judgement against God’s people. God’s people are compared to the Cedars of Lebanon, an impressive forest of the day. God is a mighty woodsman and the Gentiles are the axe in His hands. God will use the axe to chop down the forest, and if the axe thinks it did this on its own, it will also be dealt with by the woodsmen. Imagine a great forest, the sign of growth and prosperity, and in an instant, they become a sight of dead stumps, a once woods made into headstones.

Out from one of these stumps, the family of Jesse, will spring God’s Branch (Isaiah 11:1). Jesse is the father of King David, so this prophecy likes has to do with the promise made to him in Second Samuel 7 regarding how God will make a house for David, and this house would make a house for God. Simply stated, the lineage of David would build the true Temple of God, which is Jesus Christ building His church.

The ministry of the Branch is described with some interesting details that we will not look at here, but it is the end of the prophecy I’d like to focus on. It speaks of predatorial beasts coexisting with innocents and their usual prey (Isaiah 11:6-8). This plainly is not literal despite the claim by Premillennialists that all prophecy is to be taken literally. Isaiah’s prophecy of the Highway of Holiness says, “no lion shall be there” (35:9). Both cannot be literal, so figurative language is being used by God.

The point is the Branch will bring in a kingdom of peace, which is pictured by the vicious and the victim living together. The key is “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:9). The mountain of the Lord, the true spiritual Zion, is the New Testament church. The peace spoken of here is not the absence of trouble, but the ability to bear through the troubles of life. This peace is the peace of the gospel, which is a synonym for forgiveness, or elsewise a consequence of being forgiven. When one is forgiven by God, they can properly hope for and anticipate Heaven. This places worldly suffering in a perspective that makes it more manageable, but the wicked have no forgiveness so they have no peace of mind (Isaiah 48:22, 57:21, 59:8). The New Testament church is a kingdom of peace.

Jeremiah  

The two Branch prophecies from Jeremiah are similar enough that they can be mentioned and discussed together. They build upon what God said first through Isaiah. From the same root of Jesse priorly mentioned, God will raise for David a royal Branch of righteousness. Like the Branch of Isaiah 11, this one will also rule by the Divine guidance of God. The Lord of righteousness will bring about salvation and safety, a Hebraic parallelism that again associates spiritual peace with forgiveness of sins (Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15-16).

Zechariah

The Branch prophecy of Zechariah 3:8 addresses Joshua. This is not the Joshua who fought the battle of Jericho, but the High Priest in the days of the restoration of the Jews from captivity. In fact, Zechariah wrote in the time of the restoration and addressed those people recently relocated to Jerusalem from Babylon. This prophecy addresses the High Priest and his companion priests.

The Branch will remove sin from Judah in a single day (Zechariah 3:9), and this was the time of His crucifixion. Because of the removal of iniquity, those saved will spread the gospel and invite others to share in this forgiveness. This is described as a feast under the nice and the fig tree (Zechariah 3:10). This image is used elsewhere in the Old Testament. At the zenith of Solomon’s reign, the Bible says everyone will dwell safely under his own vine and fig tree. This associates peace with prosperity. Those at peace with God have all true Heavenly riches and spiritual treasures guarded in all spiritual blessings, which are found only in Christ (Revelation 3:18; Matthew 6:19-21; Ephesians 1:3). The greatest spiritual blessing is the forgiveness of sins (Second Timothy 2:10).

The second reference to vines and figs tress is in Micah 4, which is a text that reads much like Isaiah 2. Both of these are prophecies of the coming church, and both refer to the same spiritual peace we’ve been discussing. It does this through the image of smithing weapons into tools. Following this image in Micah, he adds that everyone who is a part of the mountain of the Lord, the church of Christ, will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and nothing shall make them afraid (4:4). The peace of the gospel means that true saints do not need to fear hell because of their hope in Heaven.

As the Branch, Jesus will bring about salvation, which is associated with safety and peace, the rule of righteousness, along with spiritual prosperity and comfort from fear. The Branch will do this as King, but also as High Priest. The Branch will also build His Temple (Zechariah 6:12-13). This may seem like a new element, but it really isn’t. If you keep in mind the previous references to Zion and the mountain of the Lord, these can be recalled and associated with the Temple of the because they are of the same reference. The Mountain of the Lord and the Temple are both references to the New Testament church.

The Temple is figurative for the dwelling place of God. The Temple in New Testament times is the church (Ephesians 2:18-22). By building His Temple, He can then sit on His throne, and He will also serve as a priest at the same time. Jesus is enthroned now and serves as High Priest for His people now. If there was any doubt about that at all, then the fact that the church exists now, the Temple built by Jesus Christ Himself, is proof that He is both king and priest.

The counsel of peace will exist in between these dual roles. This is the very peace we have been studying all along within the context of Jesus Christ as the Branch. This peace, which begins with being at peace with God by being forgiven and extends to peace within our hearts, is the single qualifying element of Redemption that touches on all of the roles of Jesus Christ and aspects of God. For these two, Christ offers His own sacrificed blood for the washing away of our sins as High Priest in Heaven. Having a forgiven people who are all His own, He can rule over them as subjects of the spiritual kingdom that one day will be taken to Heaven after time and the earth have served God’s purposes.

 

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The Eagle-Eyed Argument

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The 16th century theologian St Thomas Aquinas proposed the Cosmological argument for the existence of God. This is a basically an argument based upon cause. Aquinas’s argument had four facets: motion, causation, contingency, and degree. The fundamental argument claims that all things have a cause, and even the causes have causes. But Aquinas argued that there had to be one original cause for all things, which itself was not caused. He argued this is God. Like the Teleological argument, it doesn’t necessarily isolate this as Jehovah, but as with before, it can be properly argued that the Bible is the error-free word of God. The Bible identifies Jehovah as the one God.

These four elements to his argument are really four different perspectives on the argument of cause. All things are in motion, so there had to be the original unmoved mover. All things are caused, so there had to be an uncaused first cause. All living beings are contingent beings, meaning the world doesn’t need any one of them for life to go on. If I were never born, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. So if everything is contingent, there has to be an original necessary being from which all other living contingencies occur. And all things exist to degrees, meaning some things are of better quality than others. You can buy two apples from the store and one tastes fine and the other is starting to rot. So there has to be that being of the highest degree possible from which all other things can be measured.

Aquinas argued that all of these must backtrack to their original or you would have what is known as an infinite regression of things, which means they go back infinitely. Aquinas never offers proof for why this is true, but treat it like a tautology. This is the main argument against Cosmology. Skeptics want to ask Why can’t there ever be an infinite regression of things? But there is a reason Aquinas didn’t feel the need to develop this because it is somewhat obvious, truly a logical tautology. If you see a chain of dominoes falling, you know not only that the first domino had to fall, but that someone had to knock it over.

A form of this is the question Where did God come from? It is proposed that if all things need a cause, then God needs a cause. This is specious and ignores the entire Cosmological argument. There must be an original cause that was not caused or you have an infinite regression of all things, which is absurd. Skeptics have never shown how an infinite regression is even possible. In fact, every skeptic accepts the law of Entropy as thermodynamically true. If everything is in a state of running down, moving from order to disorder, then all things had a beginning. The strongest evidence for the argument of cause is that the Bible uses it.

  • In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
  • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
  • For every house was built by someone, and He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).

St Thomas Aquinas and his Cosmological argument for the existence of God is a real eagle eyes perspective on the subject of cause (in case you’re curious, Aquinas is based upon the Latin word for eagle). Cosmology proves the existence of God and the Bible proves that the one true God is our Creator and Savior, Jehovah. He is not only the starting point of all things physical, but spiritual. The concept and means of Redemption was in the mind of God before He Created our world. And He made everything in the world and us in it precisely to suit His spiritual ends. God Created all things so that we might seek out such a loving God Who would not only make us, but bless us with all the good this world has to offer.

 

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The Passover Problem

passover

 The Passover death of Jesus provides a problem for believers in the Bible, but one that has a satisfactory answer. In crucifixion, the victim’s arms are stretched and tied or nailed to the crossbeam, called the patibulum. This puts enormous pressure on the diaphragm and labors breathing. Relief comes from standing on your toes, which is hard to endure under normal circumstances, but increased when your feet are spiked to the main pole, the stipes. Eventually, the victim collapses and the difficult breathing resumes. It’s a slow death by exhaustion that typically took a few days, sometimes a week, to claim the life of its victim.

Jesus Christ Is Our Passover

Jesus was crucified on the Passover (Matthew 26:2; Mark 14:1-2; John 18:28). This is not at all incidental. Jesus is our once and for all Passover sacrifice by dying on the cross (First Corinthians 5:7). Every Passover lamb offered, since Exodus 12 onward, typified the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The first Passover was on the occasion of the final Egyptian plague. The Angel of Death covered the land and took the life of every firstborn child. It gave exception if the doorposts of the house were painted with the blood of a perfect lamb, which was to be eaten indoors. When the Angel of Death saw the blood, it moved over the house and left all inside unharmed. Death passed over those with the lamb’s blood on their houses. Likewise, spiritual death that is the result of sin passes us over when we are covered by the blood of the Lamb of God.

Jesus being crucified on the Passover was intentional and deliberately done by God, but it was also the Jewish Preparation Day, as well (Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14). This was the day before the Sabbath, which meant all final preparations for the Sabbath day had to be finished before sunset of that day when the Sabbath began. As an accommodation to the Jews, the Romans would break the legs of anyone still on a cross late in the afternoon on any given Preparation Day. That way the victim would die much sooner and could be buried before sunset and not on the Sabbath. The thieves crucified alongside Jesus had their legs broken, but when the soldiers came to Jesus, they noticed that He was already dead (John 19:33). According to Scripture, he died during the ninth hour (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44), which would be 3:00 PM our time.

The Hour Of His Death

To make sure Jesus was dead, a soldier ran a spear through His side. That his bones would not be broken and his side being pierced were not happenstance, but clearly were part of God’s plan. The proof is that they were both prophesied. The full event reads from John’s account thusly: “Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, ‘Not one of His bones shall be broken.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced.’” (John 19:31-37). The first prophecy comes from Psalm 34:20 and harkened back to the premise that none of the Passover lambs should ever have their bones broken (Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12). The second prophecy comes from Zechariah 12:10.

All of these details help give the answer to a difficult question. By now it’s undeniable that Jesus by necessity must have been nailed to the cross on the Passover. By this same necessity He must have died on the cross on the same Passover. But how can Jesus be nailed to the cross on the Passover and die on the cross on the same Passover when it took several days for crucifixion to claim the life of its victim? The answer is that while Jesus died on the cross, He voluntarily laid down His life, even choosing the exact moment when it would have happened. The narrative in John even points this out. It says about His moment of death that He bowed his head and gave up His spirit (John 19:30). Upon closer examination, that is backwards from how it should occur. Normally one would expire and then slump. But Jesus did it the other way around, and He did this to show that His death was voluntary, even selecting the moment He would die for sins.

The significance of these two prophecies demonstrate the voluntary nature of Jesus’s death. The reason all of the Passover lambs were to have no broken bones is because they prefigured how Jesus would not need His bones broken because He would have already been dead based on laying down His life. Also, it was because He was already dead that the soldier speared His side. From this would flowed blood and water. While the crucifixion is a bloody mess, in a purely technical sense blood flowing from scourging and such is not a case of shedding blood, but from this spearstrike blood was indeed shed. And remember that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22). This soldier’s spear is not incidental, but indispensable for salvation. That’s because it proves that Jesus was already dead, and from laying down His life.

When I speak of the voluntary nature of Jesus’s death, I mean more than He was willing to die, but that He selected the exact moment when He would die – when He would lower His head and then give up the spirit. Jesus mentions this in His ministry. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus lays down His life for His sheep. He says in John, “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold. Them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father” (John 10:15-18). The Resurrection proves that Jesus laid down His life on the cross just as He said He would.

Based On Sinless Perfection

Jesus Christ was sinless even though He was tempted. This last part is important because infants are sinless, but they do not face temptation. Because of a lack of an exercise of their senses, they are not yet able to discern good and evil. They have yet to reach an age when they would be accountable. All infants, regardless how cute they are as babies, when they come of age will chose to serve sin due to a plague of weakness that hampers all of humanity. The single exception of course is the sinless Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.

The wages of sin is death, and while this is principally spiritual, there is also a physical component to it (Romans 5:12). That is why sinless infants can die. Because of universal sin, there was also a universal fear of death. But Jesus became a man so that He could live sinlessly so that death would have no claim over Him. Thus, by choosing to die, He could reclaim His life again in resurrection. Jesus conquered sin and death on His part so that He can do the same on our part (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Because Jesus was sinless, the devil had no clam over Him (John 14:30), which means He is not subject to death in the same sense of other mortal humans. Jesus had an appointed hour to die, that is, to lay down His life. There were occasions when a mob wanted to take Him, but were not able to because His hour had not yet come (John 7:30, 8:20). One occasion, Jesus preaches in His home town of Nazareth, but is rejected. Luke records, “So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city. And they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way” (Luke 4:28-30).

As His life and ministry neared its end, Jesus prepared to come to Jerusalem particularly to die on the cross on the Passover day. His dedication to the focus of his time on earth is seen in how from that point on, “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Near the end Jesus is journeying toward Jerusalem, preaching and healing as He went. A group of Pharisees warned Him to turn around because Herod wanted to kill Him. Jesus says The Prophet cannot die outside of Jerusalem (Luke 13:33). That’s because Jesus not only had an hour given to lay down His life and die, but a place of execution, as well. The hour of His voluntary death was as indelibly written as was His subsequent resurrection. That’s why Peter said on Pentecost that it was impossible for Jesus to stay dead (Acts 2:24).

Not only was it needful for Jesus to be crucified on the Passover, but it was also necessary for it to be on the Preparation Day. It proves Jesus died on the cross the same day He was put up on it, even though this sort of death took days. this indicates that Jesus chose the moment of His death and voluntarily laid down His life so that He could take it back again. This verifies that Jesus is sinless, and that the devil had nothing on Him. That is why Paul could argue that the resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that He is the Son of God (Romans 1:4).

 

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How the Battle of Hastings Proves the Existence of God

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At the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066, William, the Duke of Normandy, invaded England and conquered the island nation by defeating the Anglo-Saxon King Harold. This began the Norman Invasion of England and changed the country in many ways, linguistically, economically, politically, but also spiritually. One of the first things William the Conqueror did was establish St. Anselm as the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

Anselm & Ontology

This propelled Anselm into the public light. In those days, high ranking clergy were as well-known as kings and nobles. If not for the Norman Invasion, Anselm may have been a quiet cleric in some hidden monetary or hermitage. But being a celebrity of the Medieval period made it possible to put his thoughts out there for the public and for history to consider. Anselm’s greatest contribution to world thought is his argument for the existence of God by Ontology.

The Ontological argument as presented by Anselm of Canterbury is a purely logical argument. He contended that by the very definition of God, He must be the greatest of all possible beings. Further, to exist in reality is greater than existing only in the imagination. So if there is no God, then He only exists in our imagination, but that would make Him less than the greatest of all possible beings. Therefore, as Anselm stated, God as the greatest of all possible beings must exist because man can conceive in his mind the thought of the idea of God.

Objections Considered

The biggest argument against this is someone can also imagine the greatest pizza possible, so it must also exist. This is a false comparison. The argument isn’t about the best of anything, but the greatest of all possible beings that ever could exist. God is still greater than the best pizza in existence. The argument goes to the very nature of the Being of God.

Lesser arguments against Ontology are that if this is true, it doesn’t mean specifically that the Jehovah of the Bible is that God. It’s also said that this argument allows for a plurality of gods or even an impersonal and insentient god. These rebuttals miss the point completely. If Ontology proves a god exists without identifying him, then the Bible does. The Bible can be proven to be the perfect and inspired word of God, and it identifies the true God.

But remember than Ontology goes to being. This means that more than a transcendent divinity is proven, but a God who is the greatest of all possible beings. This means that the God of Ontology will be all-holy, all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing. This is how the Bible describes God, and it is far from how man’s mythology describes their idols. And this greatest being must be singular, sentient, and personal, or it cannot be the greatest of all possible beings. Far from being a weak defense, the Ontological argument for the existence of God is quite formidable.

 

 

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