Soundly saved.

No one can pluck us from the Father’s hand (see John 10:29). This is not the “once saved, always saved” concept that gives assurance to any who merely walk an aisle, raise a hand, or recite a prayer to “ask Jesus into their heart.” It is an assurance that if you are a good-soil hearer, truly repentant and trusting in Christ alone (soundly saved), then God will keep you from stumbling and present you faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy (see Jude 24).

Isaiah 43:13 Indeed before the day was, am He;

And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand;

I work, and who will reverse it?”

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Greatness of God.

The prayer in Isaiah 37:16 is similar to the prayer the disciples prayed when they suffered persecution (see Acts 4:24–31). Begin your prayer by looking to the greatness of God, not the greatness of your problem, and ask that God will be glorified (see v. 20).

Isaiah 37:16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel,the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.

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“When Paul spoke in Athens, why did he begin his preaching with creation as opposed to the Law?”

In Acts 17:16 we are told that Paul was grieved because the whole city of Athens was given over to idolatry. So, in vv. 22–28, he tells his hearers that they had other gods before the God of creation. He is in essence opening up the First and Second Commandments: “I am the Lord your God…You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image” (Exod. 20:2–4). Then, in vv. 29–31, he rebukes them for their idolatry and preaches repentance and future punishment by the Law (God’s standard of “righteousness”). So I wouldn’t say that he began with creation as opposed to the Law. It was what he used to point them to the Law.

Think of how Jesus approached the woman at the well (in John 4). He began to speak to her about water, but then He spoke to her about her violation of the Seventh Commandment. When Nathan was commissioned by God to reprove David for his sins, Nathan began in the natural realm, and then pointed out David’s transgression: “Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD?” (2 Sam. 12:9).

Although Paul mentioned creation, he didn’t stay there for long, because speaking about creation doesn’t convict a man of his sins. There is no guilty conscience accusing hearers as long as we speak apologetically. The goal is to use the Law to bring the knowledge of sin (see Rom. 3:20).

Be careful not to get caught up in a sword fight about evolution or atheism. These subjects should merely be seen as a means to an end. The end is the preaching of the reality of Judgment Day and the terror of hell—the cross, repentance, and faith—and the biblical way to get there is through the Law.

Acts 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.

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Judges 1:19 vs. Luke 1:37

Some skeptics think that Judges 1:19 contradicts Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” It was Judah, not God, who could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley. The assumption is that because God was with Judah, they were therefore promised victory over their enemies. This is clearly a faulty deduction. It is true that nothing is impossible with God and that He was with Judah, but the problem was their disobedience. Even though they had earlier been assured of victory against their enemies with iron chariots (Josh. 17:18), they apparently became fearful and failed to trust God to give them victory. God is with the believer; nothing is impossible for Him to accomplish through those who obey Him. There is no contradiction.

Judges 1:19 So the Lord was with Judah. And they drove out the mountaineers, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had chariots of iron.

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“Is God guilty of genocide?”

God instructed Israel to put these people to death (see Deut. 20:16–18). Skeptics often accuse God of sanctioning genocide. However, if God treated any of us according to our sins, we would not only be put to death (see Rom. 6:23), we would be justly condemned to hell. All of God’s judgments are true and righteous altogether (see Psa. 19:9). None of them are unjust, including this instruction to Israel.

Joshua 16:10 And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become forced laborers.

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“I’ll just pay for my sins when I die.”

It is true that the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Those who say such things are gambling the whole of their eternity on the meaning of one word: “death.” They assume it means the “termination of existence,” but their assumption is erroneous, as a little reasoning should reveal.

For instance, Hitler was responsible for the cruel deaths of six million Jews, many of whom were children. Was his death the “wages” of his unspeakably terrible sins? If death is the end, then God will give you the exact same wages as Hitler. That would mean that God is unjust, which is unthinkable.

The person who believes that our demise is the end is in for the shock of their death. Their physical death (separation from their body) is just the beginning. There is going to be a resurrection of every human being, both “the just and the unjust” (see Acts 24:15). This is not referring to the good and the bad, because the Scriptures tell us that there are no “good” people (see Psa. 14:1–3; Mark 10:18). There are only those who have been made “just” before God, by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

Through the gospel, God freely justifies all those who come in childlike faith to the Savior. That means He proclaims us innocent—as though we had never sinned in the first place—and we become part of the “just.” However, those who die in their sins, the “unjust,” will “fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). That is a very fearful thing, because He will give them justice—their exact wages due to them—and if that happens, there will be hell to pay. They will be thrown into the lake of fire, “which is the second death” (Rev. 20:14; 21:8).

Revelation 20:14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

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Mormons & genealogies.

Mormons are well-known for their interest in genealogy because they believe it is their responsibility to be baptized on behalf of the dead. They believe those who have died without accepting Mormonism can still make it to heaven if their names are taken to the Temple and someone is baptized on their behalf. Because they don’t have a body, the ordinance is done for them by proxy, giving the dead the opportunity to accept Mormonism in the spirit world. Mormons base this practice on 1 Cor. 15:29, but Paul disassociates himself from the pagan practice by using the word “they,” not “we.”

Some Mormons are even married on behalf of the dead, by going through the marriage ceremony in their place. This supposedly enables a dead person to make it out of “Spirit Prison” and into a higher level of heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?

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