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Question Reality

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A 4-week teaching series entitled Question Reality | why is Christiantiy so hard to believe? was preached in March 2009.  In it, we addressed some of the more common arguments against religion in general, & Christianity in particular.  In addition to this series, various other questions & responses will be addressed on occasion. 
Free thinkers, skeptics & Christians welcome. 

Topics for Question Reality sermon series:
Mar 1 :: Suffering & Pain?
     Why is there so much suffering & evil in the world?
Mar 8 :: Inclusive Exclusivity?
     How can Christians believe there is only one true faith and one way?  Where's the tolerance?
Mar 15 :: Injustice?          
     Doesn't faith increase the oppression of minorities, the weak & the poor?
Mar 22 :: What the Hell?
      Is God some sort of angry judge?  (& does el Diablo really wear red stretchy pants)


WHAT THE HELL?

Date: 3.22.09
Speaker: Kristian Martens
Texts: Luke 16:19-31, 19:41-42, John 3:36, Romans 1:25, 2:2-8. 5:8-9, Matthew 8:12, 9:43-48, 10:28, 25:41-46, 2 Peter 3:9-10, Revelation 20:10-15

Title: WHAT THE HELL?
Is the God of the Bible some sort of angry judge? (of judgment, wrath, hell, fire & El Diablos red stretchy-pants)
Brimstone for the broad-minded.

Summary:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. 2 Peter 3:9-10a

Todays challenge could be posed like this:

JUDGMENT & HELL: How could a good, all-loving God send good people to hell? The God of the Bible appears to be mean, angry, vindictive, abusive & judgmental. The Christian doctrines of judgment & hell simply cannot be reconciled with the idea of a loving God. Therefore this loving God cannot exist. In other words, as bus adverts promote, stop worrying and enjoy your life.

In this sermon we'll acknowledge that judgment and hell are indeed highly controversial & often misunderstood but that they are essential if we are to understand our own hearts, truly live at peace in the world, and to grasp the depth of Gods love.

13% of the New Testament, including nearly half the parables, concern this subject and Jesus, himself, taught more on hell than anyone else. If Jesus cared so much about it we need to look deeply, thoughtfully, humbly, biblically, & prayerfully at it. In doing so by Gods grace we'll glimpse the depth of Gods love for us and appreciate His perfect justice.

<a href="/downloads/sb_realityvancouver/notes_090322_QR-hell2.pdf">Download Sermon Notes & Home Church Questions</a>


INJUSTICE

Date: 3.15.09
Speaker: Kristian Martens
Texts: James 1:27-2:17, 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, Luke 4:18-20, Matthew 22:36-39, Eph 2:14-18, Deut 10:17, Acts 10:34-35

Title: INJUSTICE: Isn’t religion the enemy of minorities, the weak & the poor?
(a historical & biblical perspective on justice)

Summary:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. James 1:27 - 2:1

Through March well seek to address - biblically, practically, and personally - some of the most common & powerful arguments against Christianity.

Todays challenge could be posed like this:
Isnt religion (including Christianity) the enemy of minorities, the weak & the poor? Doesnt the Christian church have a long history of engaging in economic, cultural & racial oppression - especially towards the weak & poor?

In this sermon well acknowledge that injustice is everywhere & always has been. And that while horrific, indefensible injustice has been done by the christian church - it is one of a long list of oppressors - including atheists and groups from nearly all other religious worldviews. However - Christianity has a unique resource for rightly addressing the issue of Justice & Mercy - Jesus.

From this passage in James - well see that, far from rejecting the poor & oppressed, Jesus actually chooses them.
And therefore - anyone who follows & believes in Jesus - should do the same. In addition well see the reality of Justice in Jesus name - a call to action for the Christian community. Lastly well apply this to ourselves - called to serve as Jesus did & does.

The solution to the problem of injustice in the world is not less Christianity - but a truer - deeper - more humble faith - rooted & empowered by Jesus.

Well see at the cross and in the life of Jesus the perfect picture of grace, truth, justice & peace. And how Gospel-centred Christianity can indeed produce the peace-loving, city-serving, compassion-motivated, & radically humble agents of reconciliation our world so desperately longs for.

<a href="/downloads/sb_realityvancouver/notes_090315_QR-Injustice.pdf">Download Sermon Notes & Home Church Questions</a>

Video shown near end of sermon: a thousand questions (willowcreek (c) 2008)
<object width="400" height="300"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="movie" value="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3747198&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=0&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1" /><embed src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3747198&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=0&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" width="400" height="300"></embed></object><br /><a href="http://vimeo.com/3747198">a thousand questions - injustice</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user1452457">Kristian Martens</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.


INCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVITY?

Date: 3.08.09
Speaker: Kristian Martens
Passage: 1 John 4:1-10, Proverbs 14:12, Hebrews 10:20 Luke 22:42, 23:32-34, John 1:1-5, 14, 8:32, 14:6-7, 18:38

Title: EXCLUSIVITY: Aren't Christians Intolerant? (a biblical guide to inclusive exclusivity)

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12

The Uncomfortable Question of the day, could be phrased like this:
Exclusive religious claims are the enemy of peace in the world. Since truth cannot be proven, no one should claim to have it exclusively.
Christianity makes exclusive truth claims. Therefore it is intolerant, archaic & should be discarded & replaced with either a multi-cultural, open & free-thinking spirituality - or none at all.

In this sermon we'll see that while exclusivity does tend to lead people down the slippery slope of superiority - separation - unfamiliarity - marginalization - discrimination - & hatred... this is a challenge for both the religious & the irreligious/atheists. All of us make exclusive truth claims, including those who claim there is no truth. That is a truth claim in itself. But unlike other religions, Christianity has a unique, counter-intuitive resource that should lead in a different direction.

Well see at the cross and in the life of Jesus the perfect picture of grace, truth, justice & peace. And how exclusive, Gospel-centred Christianity can indeed produce the peace-loving, city-serving, compassion-motivated, & radically humble agents of reconciliation our world so desperately longs for. Unlike exclusive religions & secularism, the Gospel of Jesus leads to inclusivity a place where the rich & poor, black & white, educated & simple can sit together under the throne of Grace. A grace that comes only through Jesus, who died for his enemies and for us.

<a href="/downloads/sb_realityvancouver/notes_090308_QR-exclusivity.pdf">Download Sermon Notes & Home Church Questions</a>


PAIN & SUFFERING: Why is there evil in the world?

Date: 3.1.09
Speaker: Kristian Martens
Passage: Daniel 3, Isaiah 43, 53, 1 Peter 1:3-12, 2:19-25, Matthew 11:2-4, 1 Cor 15:55, 2 Cor 4:8-18, 12:8-10, Philippians 4:4, Heb 2:18

Title: THE PROBLEM OF PAIN & SUFFERING: Why is there so much evil in the world?

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Over the next 4 weeks we’ll seek to address-biblically, practically, and personally-some of the most common & powerful arguments against Christianity.

TODAY'S QUESTION COULD BE POSED LIKE THIS: There is horrendous & pointless suffering & evil in the world. If God could stop this but doesn’t, then He cannot be good. If He can’t stop it but wants to, then He is not all-powerful. Either way, the All-powerful & Good God presented in the Bible can’t exist.

In this sermon we’ll see that while suffering & evil is a challenge for people who believe in God, it is an even greater challenge for those who don’t.
In addition, we’ll look at the Biblical case for suffering, God’s promises through various trials, case-studies from both the newer & older testaments, and our response.

As we end at the cross asking “why does a good, all-powerful, God allow suffering & evil?” we’ll see that, while it may not tell us what the reason IS, it does tell us what the reason CANNOT be.

<a href="/downloads/sb_realityvancouver/notes_090301_question-pain.pdf">Download Sermon Notes & Home Church Questions</a>