God is defined as an Almighty being. An Almighty being does not require atonement (for “sins”). Therefore if God requires atonement as the Bible says, he is imperfect and not Almighty.... In other words, philosophically, the need for atonement indicates a lack of something, which detracts from the perfection which God should have.
Can you clear this up for the questioner? Can you explain what atonement is, why it's necessary, and how it relates to God's perfection? This isn't an overly tricky one, but it does require both an understanding of the doctrine and an ability to explain it clearly and concisely. Give it a try in the comments below, then we'll hear from Brett on Thursday.
If you went to Sunday School as a child, chances are you heard, sang, and memorized-without-even-trying Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
But without a knowledge of the context of the verse, it’s also likely you interpreted that to mean, “The sky’s the limit to what I can accomplish when Jesus helps me!” and that’s not exactly what this verse is about. In the spirit of “Never Read a Bible Verse,” here’s the passage in question:
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
The secret of enduring all situations—good and bad—with contentment is “Christ who strengthens us.” David Mathis introduces John Piper's short video (below) on the meaning of Philippians 4:13 this way:
[T]he apostle Paul claims, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11) — and says it again, “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” There is a secret for contentment not just in our greatest triumphs, but also in our deepest devastations.
What is “the secret”? Philippians 4:13 calls it “Christ who strengthens me.” Or, to put it in terms of Philippians 3:8, “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
I can remember reading The Hiding Place(the story of Corrie ten Boom, a woman who risked her life to save Jews during World War II) and desperately praying that I would have Corrie’s courage and self-sacrifice when I'm eventually confronted with a time that requires it.
How does one become such a person? Jonathan Parnell has some thoughts about this on the Desiring God Blog, where he writes about Jon Meis, a young man who risked his life to save his fellow students during the recent shooting at Seattle Pacific Unversity:
Who, then, are the ones like Jon Meis — a student considered a quiet and selfless guy by fellow classmates? What kind of person could actually be willing to step up in the face of danger? The answer may be getting clearer.
The person who’d be willing to put the good of others before himself in the event of great loss is the one who puts the good of others before himself in the hundred events of little losses everyday. “We are always becoming,” as Joe Rigney puts it, “who we will be” (Live Like a Narnian, 52). “Right this minute, we are headed somewhere, and sooner or later, we are bound to end up there” (52).
The person of great sacrifice, therefore, must be the person of little sacrifices — the person who has discovered that the life of sacrificial love is the life of greatest joy. The response of sacrificial love in the midst of panic is the end of a trajectory that gets played out as sacrificial love in the midst of normalcy….
The big moment of courageous action doesn’t occur in a vacuum, but has behind it tiny moments of simple sacrifice that have been trending that direction all along. In other words, if we can’t wash dishes and change diapers, we shouldn’t kid ourselves with the idea that we’d step in front of a bullet. If we are stingy with our time and money toward those in need, we’ll be stingy with our lives when a gun gets pulled on innocent people.
Stories like Jon’s should make us pause and ask whether we’d respond like he did. But the question isn’t what we’d do in a particular situation; it’s about what we’re doing now.
We won’t truly know who we’ve become until we’ve been tested. Until then, pray the Holy Spirit enables us to give up our lives in the everyday moments. “The person of great sacrifice must be the person of little sacrifices.” Now is the time to practice dying by His power, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.
[W]hoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:43-45).
Here’s a clip of Brett speaking to students at Summit on “Is Christ the Only Way?” where he makes an argument for the deity of Jesus (he doesn’t cover the claim that Jesus was a legend in this section, but Melinda posted on that recently here and Greg wrote about it here):
His reminder at the end of the book that there is real significance in your work (whatever that work is) is worth reading:
When we think about productivity systems and tactics such as how we set up our desks, it’s easy to focus on the benefits to us. And, that’s important.
But there is something more that we often overlook. As the apostle Paul shows us, God calls us to be abundant in doing good works (Ephesians 2: 10; 1 Corinthians 15: 58). Unfortunately, we often fall into the thinking that good works are only rare and special things that we do, like going to Africa on a missions trip or volunteering at a soup kitchen.
But in reality, as the apostle Paul also shows, good works are not just rare and special things that we do. They are anything that we do in faith. Consequently, the arena for most of our good works is not chiefly the mission field, but rather our workplaces and homes.
The things that we do all day long while we are being productive and, yes, at our desks, are all good works if we do them out of faith in Christ for the good of others.
That is very encouraging! It also transforms the meaning of the things we do every day— infusing them with great significance and opportunity.
A good desk setup, then, is not only nice in itself; it is also an opportunity to increase our effectiveness in serving others. By having a good desk setup you can get more done in less time, and with less friction and frustration….
If you see everything you are already doing at work and life as a way of serving others, you can turn even very mundane things like the way you set up your desk into avenues for experiencing great meaning and bringing surprising benefit to others.
Too often when I’ve been busy, my sleep has been the first thing I cut back on. But after reading a post by David Murray on “50 Good Reasons to Sleep Longer,” wherein he lists (among others) the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual consequences of sleep deprivation, I started to reassess my attitude towards sleep.
I realized that I often view it as a luxury that needs to be sacrificed if I’m to serve God as fully as possible. I might even feel guilty when I give in to it instead of trying to do “just one more thing.” I’ve tried to force myself to live with less and less of it in an attempt to be more productive. The result is that I have, of late, seen more than a few of those “50 reasons” creeping into my day-to-day life.
We glorify God by making known his greatness. Human sleep illuminates God’s nature by means of contrast and difference. Humans must sleep and can die if they do not. God’s sleeplessness shows his independence; our sleepfulness reveals our dependence. We cannot not sleep; God cannot sleep. God is blessed in himself, which includes his self-existence and independence. He has the source of life and joy in himself (1 Thess. 1:9; Ps. 36:9; John 1:3–4; Jer. 32:36–41; Zeph. 3:17) and is in need of nothing to possess these things. Sleep brings glory to God by showing that we are not blessed in ourselves and must receive blessing from God’s hand. If we are to possess existence, life, joy or anything at all, we must receive them from God as gifts of grace. Appropriately then, we glorify God in sleep without being able to help it. Sleep shows my creatureliness in contrast to the Almighty Creator who gives me life….
In Scripture, trust emerges as the basic theme concerning the spiritual significance of sleep…. Psalm 127 expresses trust in God for success in one’s endeavors of building a house, guarding a city and growing a family. Sleepless activity will not ensure that our efforts will be rewarded. Jesus models trust for us by sleeping in the midst of a storm (Mark 4:35–41). The Good Shepherd causes his sheep to lie down in places of abundance and security (Ez. 34:14–15; Ps. 23; Mark 6:39; John 10:1-18); submission to that guidance and provision is an expression of trust.
It’s more than okay to sleep. It’s more than okay to stop working at night, though there’s no end to what could be done for the sake of God’s kingdom. Sleeping is more than just the way God designed us to function; it’s actually a daily confession of our own limitations, our dependence on God, and our trust in Him to run the world.
We don’t just glorify God by working, we glorify Him by sleeping.