By Andy Diestelkamp
Most of us during our lifetime give some thought to why we exist. “Why am I here? What is the purpose of life?”
a purely natural point of view, one can be very certain that the cause
of his existence is his parents; but this does not address the question
of purpose. Is the existence of the universe, our planet, and we as human beings purposeful or accidental?
understand that no scientific proof for the origin of the universe is
possible. This, however, does not keep scientists from studying nature
in an effort to make what they believe to be educated guesses
explaining how all things began. Yet, even those guesses and theories
cannot address the question of purpose.
most popular theories for the origin of the universe are some form of
what is commonly referred to as “The Big Bang.” The theories do not
address whether the “bang” occurred on purpose or by accident. It is very
important to recognize that many who propose natural theories for how
the universe began refuse to give serious consideration to any
intelligent cause above and beyond nature (supernatural). Therefore,
the best that the nature-only explanations can do is to suggest that
“The Big Bang” was a big accident.
the beginning of all things natural was by accident, then it was not on
purpose. Therefore, it would be completely unreasonable to suggest that
our existence has any purpose. Indeed, if life has no purpose, the whole concept of purpose must be classified as being beyond the physical (metaphysical) and unscientific. Purpose of any
kind would have to be considered to be something pretended and not
actual. In reality, any theory which suggests an accident as the cause
of all that is real must likewise conclude that life is really
meaningless and wholly without purpose.
conclusions deprive men of the motivation to expend energy on anything
they find to be tiresome, bothersome, or otherwise distasteful. Indeed,
what could be the purpose of
study if the conclusion of study is that there is no purpose? That is
an oxymoron. Reasonable men should not accept such foolishness.
makes more sense to you: 1) the physical universe began on purpose, or
2) the physical universe began by accident? You may wonder why it is
important to think about whether or not life began on purpose or by
accident, but the answer you give will have a lot to do with how your
values are formed.
arguments for the existence of God are numerous. They cannot be
explored in an article of this length, but it is important for you to
have confidence that there are sound, logical reasons for believing in
It comes down to giving our honest and best effort to personally think about and give answer to the following logical choices:
Either something exists, or nothing exists
there be any other choice? Some may balk at choosing one of the above,
but to do so is not honest. There is only one logical answer because to
even think about the question implies the existence of something.
Either something has always existed, or something came from nothing
yourself if there could have ever been a time when absolutely nothing
existed. Additionally, ask yourself if there is any evidence that
something real could come from absolutely nothing. Can something come
into existence without a cause or a context? There is no reasonable or
scientific explanation for how something could come from absolutely
nothing: therefore, we must conclude that something has always existed.
What has always existed is either natural, or it is supernatural
One may glibly profess belief that nature has always
existed, but even those who believe in an accidental “Big Bang” affirm
that there was a beginning (and that there will be an end). No
scientific experimentation suggests that physical matter is eternal.
Indeed, belief in eternal physical matter is the truly illogical leap
of faith. Thus we are left either acknowledging that what is eternal
must be superior to nature in power and purpose or reverting to the
equally unscientific belief that something can come from nothing.
that belief in an eternal supernatural cause is reached by common sense
reasoning from what is self-evident. That which has a beginning must
ultimately arise from a cause that has no beginning but which has
existed eternally. Since all things natural have beginnings, the cause
of nature and our existence must be supernatural.
it is not blind faith that concludes that the supernatural and eternal
Cause of all that has a beginning is God. It is a sound and reasonable
faith that likewise gives us purpose. Indeed, it is exactly this
reasonable conclusion that the Bible affirms (Gen. 1:1; 2:4; Psa.
139:13-16; John 1:1-3; Ac. 17:24-28; Rom. 1:20).
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Eccl. 12:13).
323 E. Indiana Avenue, Pontiac, Illinois 61764
By Leslie Diestelkamp (1911-1995)
if someone dares to suggest that the Lord’s church be altogether
authorized and limited by “what is written” in the New Testament, he is
immediately accused of splitting hairs.
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For instance, if
someone suggests that we recognize that according to the New Testament,
no church ever sent funds to another church except to relieve a
specific need in the receiving congregation; that the church treasury
was only used, with regard to benevolence, to relieve needy saints;
that, in evangelism, churches sent directly to the preacher in the
field, and that in either benevolence or evangelism no church ever gave
funds from its treasury as a gift to any human organization, this
person is branded as a trouble-maker and a narrow-minded hair-splitter.
this matter of hair-splitting is just a matter of perspective. To some,
opposition to any of the following is hair-splitting: dancing,
drinking, divorce, nudity. etc. To others, opposition to instrumental
music in worship, Thursday night communion, observance of Easter and
Christmas, supporting colleges from the church treasury, etc.
I don’t lose sleep when people call me a hair-splitter. Some such
people don’t understand the significance of what they say, and deserve
pity. Others wouldn’t split anything—not even if it means that truth
and error must walk side-by-side. They no longer make any significant
objection to a church-supported missionary society, mechanical
instruments in worship, twice a week communion, etc. The fact is, the
last group doesn’t oppose anything with much zeal, except certain
people whom they call “hair-splitters.”
Brethren, be careful! When you brand someone as a “hair-splitter” you probably brand yourself as a compromiser!
This article first appeared in Truth Magazine, November, 1959
Is God's Grace Not Sufficient?
By Al Diestelkamp
pleading three times for a “thorn in the flesh” to depart from him, the
apostle Paul was told by the Lord, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2
Cor. 12:9). There has been much speculation about just what that
“thorn” was that troubled the apostle, but it remains just
that—speculation. Perhaps there was a purpose behind the Holy Spirit
not inspiring Paul to reveal the exact nature of that “messenger of
Satan” that plagued him. Maybe it’s intended that we learn that there
may be things or circumstances in our lives which we must suffer
through, consoled by the knowledge that God’s grace is sufficient for
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When one is faced with serious illness, often the question
is, “Why me?” Some Christians have difficulty understanding why their
prayers for healing are not answered in the way they hoped. I am not
suggesting that people quit praying in such situations, but also
remember that they are recipients of God’s grace, which is even better
than physical healing.
There are Christians who are working at
jobs that are less than ideal, and long for other opportunities. There
is nothing wrong with trying to advance one’s career and earning
potential as long as that does not jeopardize his spiritual
relationship with Christ. However, if in that pursuit, the child of God
would be required to compromise his convictions, the attitude must be
that God’s grace is sufficient.
In Jesus’ explanation of the
parable of the sower, He identifies four types of people who “hear the
word of the kingdom” (Matt 13:18-23). “Wayside” people fail to
understand the word, and Satan snatches the word away, causing them not
to believe. “Stony-places” people hear, and happily receive the word,
but stumble when tribulation or persecution comes. “Those among the
thorns” also receive the word, but allow worldliness to choke out any
fruitfulness. I think it’s safe to say that those represented by the
“Stony” and “Thorny” soils don’t value God’s grace sufficiently to
endure the trials or to make the necessary sacrifices. In contrast,
those represented by the “good ground” recognize that God’s grace is
sufficient no matter what else happens to them.
level of persecution seems almost unbearable to the one on the
receiving end. It is especially hard to take when mistreatment comes
from our own brethren. Occasionally a gospel preacher will be treated
badly by some within the con-gregation among whom he is working. When a
faithful gospel preacher is asked to take his Bible elsewhere, causing
grief for he and his family, it is a good time to reflect on how good
God has been in bestowing His grace. If he is living right, and
preaching as he should, he can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I
will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6).
The call to
repentance is a time when a person must appraise the value of God’s
grace. If a person who owned a business establishment that thrived on
evil were to avail himself of God’s grace, repentance would demand that
he shut that business down. The financial hardship that might result
would be worth it because God’s grace is sufficient.
whose past practice and inclination is toward homosexuality must become
celibate, choosing to “suffer with the people of God” over “the passing
pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:24). This is no more than God asks of the
single heterosexual man or woman who chooses, or is unable, to marry.
in our efforts to evangelize we often are faced with people whose lives
have been complicated by divorce and remarriage. More often than not,
the cause for divorce was not “for fornication,” which, according to
Jesus, means that any subsequent marriage involves adultery (Matt.
19:9). No doubt, true repentance in such cases is very difficult and
test’s one’s faith, but even then, God’s grace is sufficient.
doesn’t matter what inconveniences or emotional distresses that
accompany repentance of sins, God’s assurance is, “My grace is
P.O. Box 891, Cortland, Illinois 60112
|Called To Patient Endurance|
By Rick Liggin
the Christian, Jesus certainly is our example. “What would Jesus do?”
really is a good question to ask in every circumstance of life. After
all, isn’t this exactly what Peter was urging when he wrote: “For you
have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example to follow in His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21)? Well,
yes…and no. Peter certainly was turning us to Jesus’ example in this
text, but not in a broad general way. In this context, Peter has a
specific reason for pointing us to Jesus.
the wider context of this passage, Peter instructs us about our general
conduct in the face of anyone who might mistreat us (1 Pet. 2:11-12).
We are to maintain excellent conduct and be respectful of all men,
especially those in places of authority, even if they do not treat us
fairly (2:13-17). Peter specifically addresses the servant’s
relationship to his master: servants must do what is right and be
submissive even to unreasonable masters (2:18-20); and when it comes to
being unfairly mistreated as a servant, one must endure the abuse
to Peter, there is no “credit” with God when one patiently endures
harsh treatment that is deserved due to sin. If a servant does wrong,
he ought to be punished; and so, when that servant patiently endures
his punishment, there is no credit with God. But what if a servant has
done nothing wrong; but has, in fact, only done what is right? What if
he patiently endures harsh ill-treatment under these conditions? Well,
this, according to Peter, is something that finds favor with God
Peter continues: “For you have been called for this purpose” (2:21).
What purpose? We have been called (contextually) for the purpose of
patiently enduring harsh unfair mistreatment! “What? We have been
called to suffer unfair mistreatment…patiently?” Yes, that is exactly
what Peter says here. “Why? Why have we been called for this purpose?”
Because it is the example left for us by our Lord: He suffered unfair
abuse, and He expects us “to follow in His steps” (2:21). “Well, just
how much unfair mistreatment must I patiently put up with as a follower
of Jesus?” The example of Jesus suggests that we’re to patiently endure
any unfair mistreatment, even if that mistreatment involves being put to death (2:22-23).
That’s radical! I’m sure glad I’m not a servant!” Oh, but you are! If
you’re not in a servant relationship, you are probably in an employee
relationship. And if not that, you may be a wife or husband (3:1-6;
3:7). You are, at least, a follower of Jesus (3:8-17); and the
submission urged in these verses is to be “in the same way” (3:1; 3:7)
as that expected of servants (2:18). It is also to be in keeping with
the example left by Jesus (2:21-25). Note especially statements like
“without being frightened by any fear” (3:6) and “do not fear their
point is that as disciples we are called on to do what is right in
every relationship and to always be respectful of others, even if those
others are unfairly mistreating us! And please note well: we are not
just asked to “get through it” (maybe even kicking and screaming);
we’re called on to suffer the abuse patiently.
This is what really finds favor with God, and it is exactly what we
must do…even if the abuse results in our lives being taken. I know this
is a tall order; it’s one that, frankly, doesn’t excite me a whole lot.
But it’s not asking us to do any more than what our Lord did. And if we
really want to be like Him, it is how we will respond to unfair
mistreatment: we will take it…patiently!
Now think about this: if we have, indeed, been called for the purpose of patiently
suffering unjust mistreatment, even if that mistreatment involves
taking my life, then surely I must be willing to suffer unfair
mistreatment that is less severe. If I must be willing to patiently
endure an unfair execution, surely I am expected to be able to
patiently endure a few unfair harsh words or some thoughtless act on
the part of another…maybe even from my own brother or sister in Christ.
But do we do that?
be quite honest, I have to admit, I don’t always do that so well. I
don’t always patiently endure the mistreatment that others hand out to
me. Oh, I may “take it” quietly in their presence, but inside I am
sometimes frustrated and even angry. And I’ve noticed that I am not
alone in that. Some of us get our feelings hurt if someone criticizes
us…even constructively; we get “offended” if we get left out of some
activity or if someone forgets to speak to us when they enter the
church building. I am, in fact, amazed at the petty things that we
sometimes let “get under our skin” or hurt our feelings. And instead of
enduring it patiently, we get mad and tell the offender off, or we
start to pout and give him the silent treatment. And how hard is it for
some of us to forgive those who hurt! We hold a grudge or let ourselves
brothers, if we can’t patiently endure a little criticism or a harsh
word or a thoughtless deed on the part of someone else, what in the
world makes us think that we will be able to patiently endure
persecution or even execution for doing what is right? Don’t we
understand that these minor forms of mistreatment help us build our
endurance, so that we can ultimately face even greater and more
difficult forms of abuse?
Jesus is our example in everything; but He is especially our example in
how we are to act when we are unfairly mistreated. Are we really ready
to follow His example?
315 Almond Drive, Washington, Illinois 61571
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By Steve Fontenot
ENJOY YOUR WIFE
life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life
which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in
life, and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun” (Eccl.
you?...or have you forgotten how to enjoy life with the woman you
love? Are you too busy? Then you are indeed too busy! Life is
fleeting. You will not have your youth long—nor your wife’s. In fact,
you will not have your wife long, for life at its longest is but “a
vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (Jas.
His love, God has given us the wonderful privilege to love and enjoy a
wife in our short journey through this world. “This is your reward in
life…” Are you ordering your time and activities so you can savor your
reward? Have you exchanged this reward for a career, a hobby (hunting,
fishing, golf), more things, more money…? Don’t love her anymore? Maybe
that’s because you did not take time to enjoy her.
people just exist together. They may find someone else to enjoy. Or
someone else to enjoy them. If only we would listen. “Enjoy life with
the woman whom you love...”
18542 Crestline Road, Humble, TX 77396
Seeking Answers to the Wrong QuestionWe
sometimes feel consolation and even justification in the fact that
someone is unable to tell us something we want to do (or are doing) is
wrong. There are two fundamental problems with this approach:
By David Diestelkamp
spiritually minded friends, family, elders, preachers and other
resources can be helpful, but we must remind ourselves that they are
not the final authority on anything. Asking others must simply be an
extension of asking God. Their job is to “speak as the oracles of God”
(1 Pet. 4:11) by helping us see things in Scripture we have missed in
our personal study and understand things we have misconstrued.
act in faith we must understand and accept that what we are doing is
true from God’s word. Others cannot study it out and grasp the details
for us. Anything other than personal understanding places our faith in
men rather than in God, even if the men are right. Additionally, the
response of others may be unknowingly tainted by ignorance, prejudices,
experiences, likes and dislikes, and the desire to please and not hurt
the feelings of others. So, when others say they see nothing wrong with
something it still is not permission to act. Confidence is only found
in knowing God’s will from Scripture, not in what others say (no matter
who they are or how many there are of them).
whether something can be proven to be wrong may be a starting point,
but it isn’t an adequate ending point. When the scripture says, “Test
all things, hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21), it gives us what
we’re supposed to be looking for. We aren’t just looking for what tests
out to be bad, we are looking for what is proven to be good. We are
only permitted to “hold fast”— believe, act, continue to
do—what we know is good. It isn’t enough to say, “I’m not convinced
it’s wrong and so I’ll do it.” We have to be able to say and show from
God’s word, “I know it’s right and so I’ll hold to it.”
“Is it wrong?” is not necessarily the same as asking, “Is it right?” We
may not have clear statements in Scripture saying that something is
wrong (especially for modern forms of some actions), yet if we also
can’t be certain it is good in the eyes of God we must not act. We must
be “fully convinced” in our own minds (Rom. 14:5) that it is right
before acting. This kind of certainty does not come from the “It
doesn’t say not to” argument—it only comes from knowing what God thinks
about it as revealed in His word (1 Cor. 2:6-16).
940 N. Elmwood Drive, Aurora, Illinois 60506
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