Apologetics

On the Necessity of Confessing Sin

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Confession of SinI was thinking, before coming into the studio today, about how we have lost the ability to think biblically. Having lost that critical ability, post-truth moderns are being quickly transformed from cultural change agents and initiators to cultural conformist and imitators. The problem is pop culture is always beckoning and, all too often, postmodern Christians are taking the bait. Instead of proper spiritual formation rooted in historic Christianity, believers are increasingly enamored with incessant novelty, ahistorical immediacy, spiritual impatience, and an immature exposition of biblical mandates. Here is just one example.

I am hearing it over and over again, as Christian leaders on television, radio, and print have embraced this new fad of telling devotes that continual confession of sin is not only unnecessary but it is tantamount to cheapening God’s unmerited favor or even worst it is kind of like mocking Him.

This of course despite the clear urging of John the apostle that his “dear children” (1 John 2:1 NIV) (so he is talking to believers) in the faith, those who have been forgiven on account of Christ’s name, are to continually confess their sins (1 John 1:8–10). Far from cheapening God’s grace, confession purifies our hearts; it restores the joy of our salvation.

By the way, the prayer of Jesus — this was the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray — includes the petition: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12 NIV) (i.e., forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us). That kind of a petition, like the contrition of King David (2 Sam. 11:1–12:25; cf. Ps. 51), brings with it grace and peace.

Remember what David said? “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:17 NIV).

Think about James; he explicitly exhorted believers to “confess your sins to each other” and also to God (James 5:16).

Remember the grammatical construction used with the verb “confess” in 1 John 1:9? Not to get too technical, but this is a present active subjunctive. That is important because it denotes continual confession.

Each time we partake of the Eucharist, we are to examine ourselves and confess our sins so that we will not come under judgment (1 Cor. 11:27–32).

Continuous confession brings with it the certain promise that God is faithful, He is just, He will forgive our sins, He will purify us from all unrighteousness. Perhaps in place of embracing incessant novelty and instant gratification, we do well to look back to the early apostolic church and how they embraced a faith by which they overcame the world.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following:

Grace upon Grace: 1 John 1:8-9 and the Forgiveness of Sins (Steven Parks)

Joseph Prince: Unmerited Favor (Warren Nozaki)

Thanksgiving and the F-A-C-T-S on Prayer (Hank Hanegraaff)

Apologetics

Life between the Dash – Living for Eternity

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff-Dash_Living for EternityBe very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV).

Just something to think about. All of us presently live in that tiny dash between the date of our birth and the date of our death. For some, the dash is short. For others, well, it may be just a little bit longer. But, all of us recognize that the entire dash represents the duration of our present life on earth.

I am thinking about my dad who was born 5 years after World War I. He was born in 1923 and he died in 1997. Therefore, the dash on his tombstone already has four digits on either side of it.

Now, I personally was born 5 years after World War II. I was born in 1950, and the dash is as yet followed by a great big question mark. I am bringing this up because what is true for me is likewise true for everyone. Whether you are young or old. Whether you are rich or poor. Whether you are male or female. You light the sky for the briefest of moments, and then eternity.

In the meantime, what you and I do today, this week, this month, this year, will have a direct consequence for all eternity. Therefore, while culture seeks to focus your gaze on greatness, Christianity rightly focuses your gaze on grace and holiness.

You and I live in a space-time continuum. We have been left in this continuum as Messiah’s mediators. Mediators by which the present universe is going to be transformed. The point is this: your greatness is not a function of stuff or status; rather, it is forever a feature of being a son or a daughter in the kingdom of heaven now inaugurated and one day it will be consummated.

We do not pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven” in vain. Nor do we pray passively. We are mediators of God’s redemption. We are rescuing stewards of creation. As such, the words of Jesus have personal application. “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matt. 25:21, NIV).

The bottom line: You and I are being honed as stewards of a restored garden. If that is true, how then should you live moment by moment, day by day, in the dash between your date of birth and the date that you go home to be with the Lord? Think about it.

—Hank Hanegraaff

This blog adapted from the February 22, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Not Pomp and Power but Dependence Upon the Lord

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-dependence-upon-the-lord

I took off some time to watch the inauguration of Donald John Trump. The peaceful transition of power. It was quite a sight to behold. I could not help but think as I was watching the inauguration and all of the festivities of what happened March 4, 1865. This was the second inaugural address of Abraham Lincoln. Those words forever etched in the annals of history. “With high hope for the future,” but “no prediction in regard to it” that is the future said Abraham Lincoln, “is ventured.”

Lincoln went on to say,

The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

I was thinking that Abraham Lincoln died precisely forty-one days after he penned those words and then spoke them at the inauguration. My mind flashed back to the prophet Isaiah:

All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever….

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?….

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust….

Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing….

He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff

(Isaiah 40:6-8, 12, 15, 17, 23-24 NIV).

Interestingly enough, when you think about the proclamation that Lincoln made for a national day of fasting and prayer. I loved what he said:

We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

I bring all that up because when we see the pomp and the power sometimes we think we can rely on the arm of flesh, but ultimately, we are totally and completely reliant on the arm of the Lord.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Blog adapted from the January 21, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

What is the Best Way to Memorize the Scriptures?

Hanegraaff, Hank-Scripture Memorization

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11, NIV)

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deut. 6:6-7, NIV).

Q: I Struggle terribly with memory verses, and wondering if you have any guidance that can help me out?

Hank Hanegraaff: No, I don’t think it’s a block that you’re never going to get over. In fact, the whole of Scripture lets us know that the Bible is actually given to us in such a way that it is inherently memorable. If you look at the very early stages of human history, we see them outlined by Moses in Genesis in such a way that you could remember them with the ten fingers of your hand. Likewise, the way Jesus presents the Beatitudes is an inherently memorable fashion.

The Bible was actually given in an oral culture. It was meant not only to be written down on paper but also written down upon the tablet of your heart. As Jesus said, “Let these words sink into your ears” (Luke 9:44, NASB). I think that everyone can memorize but it is a lost art in our culture. Because it’s a lost art so many people think, “Well, I just can’t do it.” The reality is you can.

Now if you look at someone who has memorized a tremendous amount of Scripture, you say, “Wow, I can’t do what that person does,” and you therefore might give up. What you ought to do rather than give up, is set realistic goals. It is often said, “He who aims at nothing invariably hits it.” You have to set realistic goals, and those goals have to become attainable goals. If your goals are unrealistic you will undoubtedly become to give up. If you say, “I’m going to memorize a chapter a day,” believe me, you’re going to get discouraged and ultimately, you’re going to give up. Rather, what you ought to do is set goals that are attainable. Maybe you set out to memorize a verse a month. Then you’ll say, “That’s not very much, I can do that very easy.” So just memorize that verse and go over and over again for that month, and then the next month do another, at the end of the year you’ll have memorized twelve verses, which is probably twelve more than you did the previous year. That’s called setting an attainable goal.

Now once you can attain that goal, instead of it being an unfinished monument in your life, it becomes a light in your life. You’ll say, “I did that. In fact, I can do more than that.” Pretty soon you’re going to be memorizing a verse a week. And now you’re in the process of doing the very thing that the Bible calls us to do.

I would also say this: From a practical standpoint, memorize Bible verses with a family member or a friend. This is so important because then there’s an accountability structure which really helps you in the process. Like exercising with someone, sometimes hard to do it on your own, but to do it with someone else makes it not only a joy but gives you an accountability structure.

I also normally use unproductive time to review what I have memorized. I could be standing in a line, I could be waiting at the airport, I could be walking on the treadmill. There are a thousand different times a week in which you can review verses that you’ve already memorized. The objective is to take these verses from the short-term to the long-term memory and that’s done by repetition and review.

People would laugh at me because I used to have a page out of the Bible. I’d have one Bible that I’d pull apart page by page, stick the page in my wallet, and I’d be standing in a line somewhere, in the grocery line, and I’m kind of impatient anyway, and I’d pull that out and I’d start reviewing or memorizing and pretty soon I’d be at the cashier. I’d think, “Wow that went way too fast.” So it really changes your perspective.

But, again, I think the real key to Scripture memorization is to set small attainable goals to begin with.

Blog adapted from “Scripture Memorization.”

 

Apologetics

First Fruits, Tithes, and Revering the Lord

Hanegraaff, Hank-First Fruits, Tithes,

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10)*

Q: Quite a few pastors today are asking for firstfruits, which is an offering that is above the tithe and regular offerings. Sometimes they ask for a whole week’s salary. I know under the Mosaic Law there was firstfruits, but is that for today?

Hank Hanegraaff: We should not understand firstfruits in the sense which it is being used by certain televangelists. You know the Rod Parsley and Paula White types of the world. That’s just sheer manipulation.

First of all, we do not go back to types and shadows when the substance has come. I think a lot of people have no clue about biblical typology, and how the types and shadows are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

There is certainly is a sense in which we want to give our first fruits to the Lord as designated by the Apostle Paul (2 Cor. 9:6-15; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; Rom. 12:8). And we also have to realize that the tithe in the Old Testament meant something, it was a way of demonstrating your reverence for the Lord. And we are, according to Moses in the Old Testament to revere the Lord our God always. So learning to reverence the name of God is a timeless principle as crucial today as was in the days of Moses. And I think it’s very important to learn through tithing how to give.

Q: What about Proverbs 3:9-10?

Hank: I think certainly when you look at Proverbs 3:9-10 you see that if you give that God is going to reward you for your giving. I think that principle is important. Again, what you are doing when your honoring the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your crops, then “your barns are going to be filled to overflowing, you vats will brim with new wine.” It’s true. When you “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6). If you do that, you will be blessed.

Now that blessing does not mean you are going to be rich. If you trust in the Lord, God will be your source and your provision. He will give you everything that you need.

For further study, please access the following equip.org resource:

Is the tithe for today? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What is the Biblical View of Wealth? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What Does the Bible Teach about Debt? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Tithing: Is it in the New Testament? (Revisited) (Elliot Miller)

Short-Term Recession of the Long Winter? Rethinking the Theology of Money (William F. High)

What is the Significance of Biblical Typology? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Christianity in Crisis 21st Century: Wealth and Want (Hank Hanegraaff)

Christianity Still in Crisis: A Word of Faith Update (Bon Hunter)

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984) unless noted.

Blog adapted from Is the giving of first fruits for today?

Apologetics

Father Themi on Seeing the Crucified Christ through Solidarity with the Beggar

Father Themi-Identify in Solidarity with the Beggar

Father Themistoclese Athony Adamopoulo, “Father Themi,” is a Greek Orthodox priest. He was born in Egypt, grew up in Australia, but was looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. At one point he was a neo-Marxist, at another stage a rock star, (founding member of the 1960s Australian rock-n-roll band The Flies), on another level an academic with a PhD from Brown University and a Master of Theology from Princeton Divinity School, but then he had a radical encounter with God. He had a Damascus road experience, and as a result of that he has given up everything to serve the poor.

Hank Hanegraaff invited Father Themi to be a guest on the March 14, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast. The following are some highlights of their conversation.

Hank Hanegraaff: In studio with Dr. Father Themi. He is an Orthodox priest who has given his life to reaching out to the poor in a tangible way. I think this is an example for all of us. It’s not our bank account in this world that ultimately matters, it is doing precisely what Jesus Christ said to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not corrupt, where thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is there your heart will be also.

Thinking right now about the words of Paul in Corinthians, Father Themi, when he says there’s no foundation that you can build other than Jesus Christ, but on that foundation you can build, you can either build using gold, silver and costly stones, or wood, hay, and straw, and the day of the Lord is going to reveal the kind of material we were building with. If what we have built survives, we’re going to receive a reward. If it does not, we are going to suffer loss. Paul kind of gives us an image of people escaping burning buildings with little more than chard clothes on their backs. So the here and now is critical. People often talk about salvation; very seldom talk about the fact that there are degrees of reward in heaven. What we do now matters for all eternity. I want you to talk in this regard about what you have done. First of all, the culture shock. You’re in America sitting in a prosperous city that culture shock between where you are right now and when you go back to Sierra Leone. It is a different world. Even though you can transfer from one culture to another very quickly with an airplane, it’s a completely different world, but there’s a world there of hurting people that need to be reached, not only with the Gospel, but with material means as well.

Father Themi Adamopulo: You hit it on the head. We are living in two planets. We call it earth, but I call it two dimensional planet. There is the abundance, and the apparent wealth of nations such as yours, the United States, and Canada, Europe to some degree of course, and Australia and so forth.  These are the rich countries. They’re the countries of abundance and wealth. There is another world that is hidden and it seems to be neglected by our consciousness. It’s as if we don’t want to know about it. We only get to know about it in certain times that we allow ourselves to get involved, e.g. when there is an Ebola crisis. Ok, suddenly we’ve become aware of Africa, but even then, even then, only when it strikes us. When Ebola hit us in Sierra Leone last year, it was terrible. People were dying everywhere. Ok, even where we were, people dying in the streets, people’s bodies in the streets. Near us, it’s pandemonium, ok. Nobody lifted a finger in the international world. For months we were suffering. Months! Until, a gentleman from Liberia came to the United States, gave Ebola to a nurse in Texas, suddenly, Ebola exists in the consciousness of the Western world. But, until Ebola hit a White person there was no Ebola, and all the thousands of people that were dying in Africa—and I saw it myself, I’m a witness to that—nothing was done. Even the World Health Organization said in the beginning oh this is not a big deal, lets not worry about it. It was shameful, and disgusting, that such a statement could be made, and it was made. The rest of the world was completely immune to any cries. I repeat, it was only when Ebola hit Europe and the United States that suddenly the armies came, the doctors came, and the convoys came and blah, blah, blah came. Until then, nobody came. That’s an example of the hidden world. The world of suffering that we either consciously or subconsciously want to do away with from our consciousness. You see? That’s the world I live in. I call that the crucified Christ.

Where the average—I’m now speaking to the women in your audience, if I may—the average daily monetary allowance for the African woman by in large, sub-Sahara Africa, by in large is about two dollars a day, two dollars a day. I want your women listening, mothers, to tell me what can they do for two dollars a day? Now, I’m telling you, sixty-percent of the world’s population, Hank, sixty-percent, that’s six people out of ten, are living under two dollars a day, sixty percent. We are a small minority on this planet. We’re a small minority. Even when I go up to eighty percent it’s still under three dollars, again. If we are looking at the reality that is facing us, out of seven or eight billion people that live upon the earth, half of us, half of us are living under two or three dollars a day. The other half of us are enjoying the abundances and the luxuries that exists in the rich world and we are not even aware that we have them, and we’re not even aware because all the depressions and, you know, the so called anxieties, and all these things, and we are not aware of how much we have around us. You know? Because we’re not aware of it, we don’t appreciate it. But, if you get an African immigrant coming to the United States, they will appreciate everything. They will see everything. They will see the electric lightbulbs that work. They will see the toilet that works. They will see the water tap that runs water. They will see a button on the door there that switches on and off the light. They will see a beautiful table. They will see it. But, an American coming or a Westerner coming to your office, Hank, would take all this for granted.  That’s the difference. That’s one of the great differences.

Now, how many children are dying a day? Let’s get down to that. Twenty-two thousand children die every day in Africa, mostly in Africa. Twenty-two thousand children die every day. That’s unacceptable to my reality. That’s unacceptable.

I’m there firstly to what? To repent for all my sins as a rock star, as a Marxist. I’m repenting. And I’m living with them, and understanding them. We have beggars coming to us every day and you have to help. What we do, Hank, is this: First of all, we identify with them. We don’t try to lord it over them. The worst attitude is I am the White man who has come here to help you, you poor unfortunates, you the poor of the world. That would be so anti-gospel and yet it exists. You know fly by night missionaries who come I am the great missionary who come two or three days in Africa and then go away. I’m afraid that’s not the right attitude. You have to be—you identify in solidarity with the beggar. You do not talk down to him. You do not abuse him. You do not lose patience with him. You talk to him on an equal basis with a beggar, with the beggars of the bottom of the barrel of this world. Once you do that something extraordinary happens, Hank. You begin to see the crucified Christ. You begin to see in the desperation, in the cry.

“Where are you sleeping tonight?”

“I have nowhere to sleep father.”

“Have you ate today?”

“No, father.”

“Where are you sleeping?“

“I’m sleeping out on the porch, father.”

“Father, do me a favor. When I die, will you bury me?”

“Nobody will bury you?”

Now, if you understand that, then you understand the crucified Christ, the voice of the crucified Christ, the pathos of the pain of the destitute of the world. Where else can I be but with them. That is our mission.

Hank: The mission’s called Paradise for Kids.

Father Themi: Whoa, Paradise for Kids is our sponsor; the mission is the Orthodox Church. It’s the Orthodox Patriarch of Alexander and we are a branch of that. We are jurisdiction of the Orthodox Patriarchy, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchy of Alexandria. That’s where we are.

Hank: You’re getting your hands dirty, talk to people, we only have a few minutes left, about getting their hands dirty.

Father Themi: Well, know that, I’m not requesting people to come to Africa. That’s not what I’m doing here. I am saying this: Be aware of what you have. Be aware of the riches that are around you, the material riches. Be aware of the comfort, no matter how little you have, you have far more. Just the hospitals you go to. Just the— I mean, when I get sick, I have to fly out of there to come all the way to New York just to be seen . You know I have some poor eye, I have to have eye surgery, I have to come all the way to New York in order just to get something simple like a cataract thing, replacement. Be aware of your medical service here. Be grateful to God for all the things you have. At the same time, you have an obligation to the poor. I mean the poor here, the poor in this country, the poor here, the destitute here. You have an obligation as a Christian. It’s not negotiable. I was hungry and you fed me. Matthew 25. I was naked and you clothed me. I was thirst and you gave me to drink. And you will hear the words, come ye who fed me, you who gave me to drink, come and enjoy the riches of the kingdom of heaven. May we become aware of that brothers and sisters, and Hank thank you for the invitation, God, bless you.

Apologetics

Father Themi’s Road to the Crucified Christ

Father Themi-Christianity No Expiration

Father Themistoclese Athony Adamopoulo, “Father Themi,” is a Greek Orthodox priest. He was born in Egypt, grew up in Australia, but was looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. At one point he was a neo-Marxist, at another stage a rock star, (founding member of the 1960s Australian rock-n-roll band The Flies), on another level an academic with a PhD from Brown University and a Master of Theology from Princeton Divinity School, but then he had a radical encounter with God. He had a Damascus road experience, and as a result of that he has given up everything to serve the poor.

Hank Hanegraaff invited Father Themi to be a guest on the March 14, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast. The following are some highlights of their conversation.

Hank Hanegraaff: I continue my conversation with Father Themi. He is someone, as I said just before the break, who was not only talking theology, but he has taken his faith and put it into practice. He was once a rock star, but now he’s in Sierra Leone and this is what I am really interested in. I’m really interested, Father Themi, in a communication from you as to why Christians are losing the culture wars. We have a said faith often times not a real faith, or we give intellectual ascent to logical truth propositions, but were not living out the faith. The reality is Christ has not only saved us by His death, He has saved us into His life, so that we can give life to others.

Father Themi Adamopulo: I guess, Hank, I can only speak for myself. Unfortunately, that’s the reality. Having gone through all these other phases in the world, even as you mentioned before, rock star, you know we played on the same stage as the Rolling Stones, when they came to Australia. I went to a party with Mick Jagger. We did all the things that rock stars, I’m ashamed to say, do. So in a way I understand the secular world. I understand what is attractive to a young person of the secular world. But I want to tell your young listeners, those who are aspiring to become rock stars, those who are aspiring for fame, those who are aspiring for whatever it is that the latest fashion is, my friends, it’s empty! Beyond the glamour, beyond the glory, you know, beyond the fans that scream at you one day and the next day you’re forgotten. The very people who turned up and screamed their heads off and were going absolutely crazy over you one day, and you couldn’t, we couldn’t even reach the stage door before we were mobbed, just to get to the cars to get away, it was just an ordeal, you know, I would lose half my hair just being torn apart by fans, and then having fans outside your door camped all day just to get a glimpse of you, these things people dream of, I tell you now, I’ve been through that, it’s empty. Because after your expiration date, there’s a complimentary expiration date to fame, there’s an expiration date to rock stardom—except if you’re the Rolling Stones for some reason, its incomprehensible, though I think the time has almost come, I’m not sure, I’m not quite sure there—but there is an expiration date. I can mention rock groups that were huge—The Who, The Yardbirds, just so many groups that have come and gone, The Young Rascals, Chicago, so many groups that have come and gone—who has ever heard of them anymore? What happened to the fame? It’s gone. It’s all gone, right? So it is all ephemeral. It doesn’t last. This fame business, this success business in the world, doesn’t last forever. Even if you’re the greatest baseball player, or the greatest football player—by the way I can’t really call American football “football” but that’s another story. Nevertheless, even there, I think your expiration date is obvious. It’s obvious.

What I’ve discovered in Christianity is that that is not applicable anymore. There is no expiration date. You don’t expire after a certain period. If anything you go from glory to glory to glory until eventually we reach that kingdom of heaven. So it’s an amazing contradiction to all the propaganda that we’ve had heard in the secular world. Oh, in order to make it you’ve got to have a lot of money. In order to make it, you’ve got to get famous, and this and that. My friends, you know, those of us who’ve been through fame and stardom and so forth, behind the scenes you’re still the same human being, behind the scenes it’s still you, before you go on stage you going to face one-hundred-thousand people, it’s still you. You haven’t changed, it’s still you. So, you being alone, where are you at the moment of death? You see, you’re still the same person. That’s the comfort of Christianity. That’s the strength of Christianity that we have. We are not restricted. We are not restricted by time or period or phases. We keep going as long as we are faithful to the Lord.

Your question, Hank, was why is it, I guess you’re asking, forgive me if I got the wrong question, why is it that more people are trapped into the secular world than Christianity, is that what your question was?

Hank: Essentially what I want to talk about is you call from, not only you call to salvation, but your call from salvation to service.

Father Themi: A ha. Having been an academic, therefore, after conversion naturally there is a period of reorientation, where you find yourself. Who am I? I’m a Christian. Ok, what do I give up now? The Bible says he who wishes to be perfect come sell everything you have give it to the poor and come and follow me and I’ll will show you the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:16-26). That’s very difficult to do. It’s very difficult to do. I tried it, I sold my car, I sold my things, and so gave it to the poor kind of thing. Now what? Where do you go from here? You know? You allow the grace of God to come and work into your life. There was a period of some difficulty in the beginning, because I was discovering what Christianity meant. I was discovering for the first time the grace of God. I was discovering for the first time the forgiveness of God, the new avenues the new horizons that God was giving, but I was still the old man. I was still the old person. The old rock star. The old Marxist. The baggage’s you see. All that had to be knocked out. All that had to be cleansed clean, you see, and that took time, because yes we talk about conversion, but let us not imagine that one day you’ll become a brand new person. There’s still a lot of the old luggage, a lot of the old baggage, a lot of the old things you are carrying from the old life. These things have to be removed slowly and gradually. I guess my initial years were the removal of the old baggage, until, you know there is a period of catharsis, it’s sort of like a purgatory, going through purgatory.

Eventually, I started teaching schools but because of my need for repentance and for my past sins, I began to, you know everywhere I was I would talk about Jesus. If I was in the classroom I would tell the kids about Jesus. If I went on a bus, I would tell the conductor about Jesus. If I was sitting in a chair on the bus, I would tell my next door neighbor about Jesus, you see. Fine. That was great, but then I thought, you know, I need to systematize this, I need to make it more systematic, more effective, right?

The way I did it was I went back to academia. I went back to theology. I started theology in Australia, here in America, the Lord led me to Princeton, Harvard, Brown, some of the greatest schools that you have in this country, and I’m very honored to have gone to these schools. I have learned a lot. So, I went back and became an academic in my tradition in Australia.

But the call to serve the poor was irresistible. Here I was. I think one of the dramatic moments was this. I had prepared a lecture for one of the universities in Sydney, and the lecture was, are you ready, Hank, the Trimorphic Protennoia of the Nag Hammadi corpus, and the Johannine Prologue. Now if you understand what I’m saying, you’ve got problems.

Hank: [laughs] Unfortunately, I’ve got problems.

Father Themi: You do understand it? Oh my goodness. So, well you do understand. So, here I am three months working on this Coptic text, trying to see whether it was John’s Gospel that was impacted by it or it was the Coptic gospel that was impacting John, blah, blah, blah, and I was very happy with my work, and I went to deliver the lecture, and I was convinced that I was defending the priority of John’s Gospel as opposed to this Nag Hammadi Coptic Gnostic text, and there were four people in the lecture. You know, three months’ work, whatever, a published article, and there was like three or four people. I don’t want to lie to you, let say at minimum, right, and I’m thinking, is this what the Lord, you know, is this how I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life? You know, researching obscure Coptic texts and Syriac texts and so forth, or is there something else the Lord wanted?

When I saw the work of Mother Theresa, when I heard of the great work Mother Theresa was doing, and the impact that this eighty-year-old elderly senior woman was having on the lives of people around the world, particularly in India, Calcutta, of course, but also around the world, she would have an enormous impact on people, young and old, I thought, surely this is the model that you should be following, rather than the more pedantic, though necessary but pedantic academic way to the kingdom of heaven. In particular, trying to teach Hebrew to stubborn Greek Orthodox seminarians, didn’t help either. So, I decided to give it up. Give up academia, as it were, and to follow the road to the crucified Christ. The road to the poor. The road to serving among the poor. The poorest in the world. Not in Australia, but the poorest in the world.

I thought where are the poorest in the world? Automatically, of course, Africa came to mind, and because I was born in Africa, I was born in Alexandria, I mentioned before, North Africa, I thought this is what I should do. I have, of course, to get permission from my bishops, my archbishops. I think my archbishop was happy to get rid of me so he gave me his blessings. No, I’m just joking. You know, he was very kind and very, very understanding, and gave me his blessings to move on. In fact, I remember his words, you have the blessings of Abraham. That was it. I move to Alexandria, from Alexandria to Kenya, and in Kenya I learned about world poverty. I learned about the poor of this world.

Apologetics

Talking The Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition Revised and Expanded with Hank Hanegraaff and Jack Countryman.

Hank Hanegraaff invited Jack Countryman on the February 9, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast to discuss Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition Revised and Updated. The following are some of the highlights from the conversation:

Hank HaCBAB_Revisednegraaff: I want to talk for at least a few minutes with the publisher of the Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition Revised and Updated. The reason I want to do this is because he is really the primal force behind this book. If it were not for my publisher Jack Countryman, this book would not exist today. From the very beginning, many, many years ago, he told me to take the questions that I answer on the broadcast, to chisel my answer until just the gym emergence, and to put that in a book, and it took him a number of years before I was convinced to do it. The book has come out now in three different editions. There was an initial edition, then a second volume, then the Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition and now there’s the complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition Revised and Updated. And quite frankly, when Jack started talking about this project, I didn’t know how we could improve on the last one. And it wasn’t until I actually saw it in the studio that I realize that quite frankly this is the most beautiful book that I have ever seen. It is beautiful in its presentation. Of course I love the content, but the presentation is exquisite. It’s bigger than the last Bible Answer Book. It’s etched in silver. It’s, it’s, well its leather bound. It’s just an absolutely exquisite book, and I thought I’d have the publisher my good friend Jack Countryman on to talk about his vision for this book and to thank him for making a reality. Jack, good to have you on the broadcast.

Jack Countryman: Well, Hank it’s just great to be with you today and talk about our favorite subject the Complete Bible Answer Book.

Hank: You have been in this business the business of gift books and you’re the one who talked me into making this a gift book as opposed to what we would call a regular trade book. Talk about the difference between the two and why you thought this was perfectly suited for what is called the gift book category.

Jack: Well, as we discussed so many times, you chisel and really bring about the nuts and bolts of really the subject you’re dealing with, and I just felt like, from my experience with someone who has a beautiful book that they put in their hands, and they say, “My, this is just wonderful,” that first of all, they want to read it themselves, and secondly they want to give it to someone as a gift. And as we talked about putting this book together, I just couldn’t help but feel like this is the perfect subject. I mean after all you’ve done with this book one-hundred-and-ninety-five subjects. Can you imagine? This book is as important as a companion piece to the Bible. Then you added the twenty-five acronyms. So we have six-hundred pages here of just a material that is so valuable to our Christian walk to our Christian belief to our Christian understanding, and I just am thrilled that we’ve been able to do it and bring it out and we’re proud of this particular edition as you are.

Hank: Hard to believe when we started this project, Jack, many years ago that the book now would stand over half a million copies?

Jack: Well, it is a miracle but it also proves that people want to know the truth and truth matters. And people want to know what is the Bible has to say and you have been working for thirty years now? And telling people about the answers that the Bible has and that is just a wonderful experience and we’re hopeful to continue to build the numbers, so that the next time we talk, maybe will be talking about a million books.

Hank: Jack, you have sold so many millions of books in your lifetime. You’re in your eighties, very, very accomplished. A couple years ago I was privileged to attend your lifetime appreciation award. You were appreciated for how many books you have now put in the hands of people with Christian content?

Jack: Well’ we have published over eight-hundred titles, and we have now eighty-two million books in print. The first book that I published, God’s Promises for Your Every Need is now approaching twenty million. So God has really just blessed us beyond all measure.

Hank: Jack, your passion for Christian books. You probably could give many, many examples of people whose lives have been transformed by reading a book.

Jack: Well Hank you remember when we were in China together? And Elijah came to us and I was introduced to him and you told him that I was the publisher of God’s Promises for Your Every Need, and his eyes light up and he said, “I have that book! I’ve had that book for seventeen years and it’s all worn and tattered.” And I said to him, “You’ll have a new one in the morning.” I just couldn’t believe that we were over in China in Shanghai and the man had read the book that I published in 1982.

Hank: And I think that’s a great example of the fact that people in America read the book in English and often times fail to recognize that these books are translated into many different languages and they literally touch people around the globe.

Jack: Yes, in fact God Promises is now in twenty-nine different languages.

Hank: Well Jack you have been a great friend to me for many years and I wanted to have you on the broadcast to publicly thank you for not only urging me to do this book—because without you, as I a mention at the opening of the show, the book wouldn’t be a reality—but I appreciate the fact that you and the rest of the staff at Thomas Nelson have put your genius to work in terms of the presentation itself, because it’s not just the cover, leather bound, and etched in silver, but it’s the complementary colors inside, the way the titles are laid out, I mean it’s just a masterpiece.

Jack: Well you know Hank, you’ve often said that you want to equip Christians to mine Bible for all of its wealth, and I appreciate the opportunity that you given us to serve you in this fashion, because you are making a difference in the kingdom and the material that you have in your book is so essential for people to get, to learn, to become aware of what is going on in the world, in the cults, in abortion, in Mormonism, in the gay life, and doctrine. All the different things, the acronyms that you placed in the book are just so essential that I really want to urge people to get this book in their hands and it will change your life, and bring to light the path that God really wants for each and every one of us to take.

Hank: Jack, before you go, I want you to talk for a moment about your age. And the reason I want you to do that is because you are the youngest person I have ever seen in their eighties and you believe that every single moment is precious, and every time I see you, you’re excited about life, you recognize that what you do now counts for all eternity, I want you to share that passion with our audience.

Jack: Well, I’m eighty-six, and I believe that retirement is not in the Bible, it’s never a part of life, and my ambition has always been—I’m an little athlete—and my motto has always been “Lord, don’t put me on the bench. Keep me on the playing field. Keep me out where the action is. Let me be a part of what you’re doing, and if you’ll do that, I will serve you faithfully.” And that is my passion; that is my belief; that is my life.

Hank:  And every single breath is significant. I remember my dad telling me that Jack when he was struggling with a fibrosis in the lungs, it encroached upon his ability to assimilate oxygen and as he was dying, I asked him, “Dad don’t you just want to get out of the misery go home and be with the Lord?” And he said, “No son, every single moment God gives me is precious.” And as I’ve shared with you privately he was able to pray for every one of his children and every one of his grandchildren and every one of his great-grandchildren before he went home to be with the Lord. So, even his last breath was significant. So, what you’re doing is encouraging all of us to run the race to finish the race to complete the race that the Lord our God is given us, so that when we stand before Him, He can say, “Well done.”

Jack: Amen, amen my brother.

Hank: Well Jack you have been a great friend to me as I said, and I really appreciate the work that you’ve done of this book. Give Laura the rest of the team my regards and tell them how deeply grateful I am. I know people—this is been one of the greatest months we’ve had and we’re just into it a few days, people are getting this book and their passing it on to other people, it’s been a wonderful resource to equip people.

Jack: Well we’re just so privileged to be a part of it and be able to bring it into the marketplace and we are as pleased with the beauty of the book as you. You know this book has six-hundred pages of absolute gold. So, I want to encourage everyone to get the book, to read it and make it be a part of their life.

Hank: Jack Countryman, he is the founder of the book division, the gift book division at Thomas Nelson, a great friend of mine for many, many years. Appreciate having you on the show Jack.

Jack: Well, thank you Hank. It’s been my privilege.

See a special video with Hank on The Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition Revised and Updated:

The Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition Revised and Updated is available for your gift to the ongoing work of the Christian Research Institute, the Bible Answer Man broadcast, our outreaches around the world. Get your copy for your gift, all this month. To order, click here. You can also call our resource center at 1-888-700-0274, or send your gift to PO Box 8500, Charlotte, NC 28271.