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Faith & Reason Ministries

Writings From JPL's Christian Newsletter 1981 to 1982

by John D. Callahan, Copyright © 1998 by Faith & Reason Ministries.


In 1981 John D. Callahan founded a "Christian Newsletter" at JPL. Throughout the decade, John wrote a number articles for the newsletter; the years 1981 to 1982 are given below.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER (Dec 1981)

Have you ever realized that prayer is our most fundamental need? It may seem that food, clothing and shelter are our most fundamental needs. However, it would be far better to be spiritually healthy and live in poverty than to live in luxury and be spiritually impoverished. As Jesus said, "What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" (Matt. 16:26).

Just as we draw physical strength from food and water, and emotional strength from the friendship and love of our fellowman, so we must draw our ultimate strength and guidance from our friendship and love with God.

God is the creator of the universe and the solution to every mystery. His is the infinite intelligence, knowledge and power. His presence permeates all space.

Aren't we at an advantage if we talk with Him? If, through prayer, we worship Him, tell Him our problems, ask His guidance and obey Him? Sometimes as Christians we live defeated lives due to a lack of prayer. When the hour of testing came in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told His disciples to pray. When they didn't, He said, "Why are you sleeping? Get up, and pray that you will not fall into temptation" (Luke 22:46).

Where do you think Jesus drew His great spiritual power other than His deep relationship with the Father through prayer? "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He [Jesus] went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mark 1:35). "And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12).

THOUGHTS ON WITNESSING (Feb 1982)

We know as Christians that it is essential to share our faith with others. The Great Commission was given by Jesus shortly before He ascended to heaven. He said to them, "Go to the whole world and preach the gospel to all mankind" (Mark 16:15).

Every Christian knows that this is often easier said than done! And the Holy Spirit often convicts us of our failure at personal evangelism. To succeed in this area was need first to realize that we must have power from God. This means living in the full light that we have, and also carrying our cross at times.

Also, we too often get discouraged easily. Most people will reject the truth because ". . . men love the darkness . . ." (John 3:19). But there are always a few -- which will add up to many -- who will accept Jesus and His teachings if we will labor to bring them in. After Jesus was bitterly rejected at the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22) we also read "and many people there believed in Him" (John 10:42).

WHERE THE PROBLEM BEGINS (Mar 1982)

The struggle to be humble rather than proud is a lifelong battle, and one which seems to be constantly at the back of our minds. It is often a confusing battle because we all have a great and valid need to be appreciated, to understand who we are, and achieve great things.

We might do well to contemplate the words of St. Augustine: "And what is the origin of our evil will but pride? For 'pride is the beginning of sin' (Ecclus. 10:13). And what is pride but the craving for undue exaltation? And this is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself. This happens when it becomes its own satisfaction. And it does so when it falls away from that unchangeable good which ought to satisfy it more than itself. This falling away is spontaneous; for if the will had remained steadfast in the love of that higher and changeless good by which it was illumined to intelligence and kindled into love, it would not have turned away to find satisfaction in itself and so become frigid and benighted" (The City of God XIV, Chapter 12).

WHO WAS JESUS? (May 1982)

That may sound like an inappropriate question for a Christian, but we need to remind ourselves at times in order to strengthen our walk. If Satan can sow the slightest doubt, it will hinder us.

Without beating around the bush and putting it simply, Jesus was God's only Son and as such was literally God in the flesh. Non-Christians, and many Christians, too, would say that this statement cannot be proven; it takes blind faith to believe it.

While it does take faith to believe it, it does not take blind faith! And if one says it cannot be proven, then one must also say that no other ancient history can be proven. The Gospels are more authentic than any other works of antiquity, and they surely show Jesus to be divine. He did all manner of miracles, claimed numerous times to be God's Son, promised eternal life to His followers, and rose from the dead as He promised. Even secular history confirms that He lived, died, and has been worshipped as God by millions upon millions of people for the last 2000 years.

No other great religious leader ever claimed to be God -- not Buddha, Confucius, nor Mohammed, and no one who ever lived has convinced a large portion of the population that he was God -- except Jesus Christ. Only in the name of Jesus are many documented miracles still performed today.

FAITH AND THE WILL OF GOD (June 1982)

Faith is one of the major themes of the Bible. We are told in Hebrews 11:6 that "No one can please God without faith, for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists and rewards those who seek Him." And Jesus, numerous times, stressed the importance of faith. For instance take this quote, "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer" (Matt. 21:22).

What is the nature of faith though? Today we hear a lot about positive thinking and the belief that as a child of God you can have anything you want if you can "wish" it into being. But is this sound doctrine?

God is infinite and has a perfect plan for our lives. We need to exercise our faith in an attempt to carry out His will for our lives as Satan opposes us. We must not exercise our faith in an attempt to gain our own selfish desires and claim, "it is God's will."

For instance, suppose a Christian sees a new car he wants and decides to believe God for it because it says in the Bible, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth" (III John 2). While the Christian does have a valid point, he cannot say without further evidence, especially an internal conviction from the Holy Spirit, that it is God's will in this particular instance for him to have the car. God might have a better plan for the money. As Christians we need to be honest with ourselves and God about what He is saying to our hearts on a day-to-day basis.

There's a difference between believing in God and believing God for things. The two should compliment each other and cause us to grow as Christians. If they oppose each other how can we be as effective in our walk? For Jesus said, "Your heart will always be where your riches are" (Matt. 6:21), "A house divided against itself shall not stand" (Matt. 12:25), and "You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24).

SEVEN FACTS EVERYONE CAN AGREE UPON ABOUT JESUS (Aug 1982)

The resurrection of Christ is one of the more astounding events in history. There is much evidence to support it. Also, there are seven interesting facts everyone can agree upon concerning Jesus and His resurrection:

1. He lived.

2. He was put to death by crucifixion.

3. He was buried in an accessible tomb; that is to say, people knew where it was. However, in later centuries the place was forgotten and today there is controversy over the exact location.

4. His tomb was empty three days after His burial and no one ever produced the body of Jesus. If anyone could have, it probably would have ended Christianity.

5. His disciples preached Him raised from the dead.

6. His opposition tried to disprove it.

7. The disciples fanned out to the ends of the Earth and kept the same story, for which, tradition holds, they all died except John.

LOVE ONE ANOTHER (Sep 1982)

As Christians it is essential that we love one another. Jesus said "and now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples" (John 13:34-35).

Why is love so important? Well, one reason is, as Jesus said, the world will not be able to recognize us or come to Him without it. How can we really say we are better off? How can we say we know the truth and have eternal life? How can it be possible to say we are above this world? How can we say "come to Christ" if we are caught up in the same kind of pettiness and backbiting as the world?

Why are we unable to love one another as we should? Because we are unable to humble ourselves. When a brother offends us we react like the world instead of forgiving like Christ. When a brother does not accept an unimportant doctrinal position similar to ours, we look down on him and will not associate with him. We think we are so important and knowledgeable!

Why are we unable to humble ourselves? Because we are overpowered by Satan in a spiritual sense. This is because we do not pray, read the Bible, and seek God as we should, all of which is ultimately a question of choice.

WHAT JESUS SAID ABOUT HIMSELF (Oct 1982)

Almost everyone agrees that Jesus lived and was a great and good man. However, fewer have accepted Him as God incarnate and the saviour of their soul.

Could Jesus have been a great and good man and lied about his identity? He claimed numerous times to be God's only Son and the redeemer of all mankind. Here are just a few examples: "I am telling you the truth," Jesus replied. "Before Abraham was born, 'I Am' " (John 8:58). Also see Exodus 3:12-14.

Again the High Priest questioned him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed God?" "I am," answered Jesus, "and you will all see the Son of Man seated at the right side of the Almighty and coming with the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14:61-62).

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26).

WHY DO WE SUFFER? (Nov 1982)

That question has been asked by everyone, and the lack of a good answer has caused many to doubt God. Philosophies over the centuries have asked the question, "How can there be a God when there is such suffering? If He exists and is good, would He not stop it?"

The general but very true arguments explaining evil in spite of the existence of a good God will be briefly given here. First, God must and does create intelligent beings with a free will. Life would have little meaning were this not true.

Second, evil entered the universe when Lucifer and his angels defied God. How could anything but evil and suffering result from the rejection of the perfect and good God, creator and giver of all life?

Third, and perhaps hardest to understand, is God's tolerance of evil. Why doesn't He just simply stop it? Well, in addition to respecting the free will of a being, God also respects the law and order of His own creation. He cannot stop a being from doing evil without "due process." Satan and demons are hindered by God as much as possible; however, they are still free moral agents functioning in a universe of rules.

Good and evil will one day be completely separated when God defeats evil and binds all its practitioners to hell. We, as believers, will of course spend eternity with God in heaven. Most suffering is in vane. However, we as Christians, while we are to be victorious, are sometimes called to a kind of "righteous" suffering which works a much higher good. Jesus' great sacrifice, as an example, is our ticket to heaven.

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