Where Did God Come From? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.



Where Did God Come From?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Where did God come from? Most everyone knows the Christian’s response to this question: “God is eternal. He did not ‘come from’ anywhere.” Although atheists may think that this answer is unscientific and merely an attempt to avoid the question, in truth, observation and reason declare otherwise.

The question “Where did God come from?” (or “What caused God?”) assumes that God had a cause. However, by definition, an eternal spirit (“the everlasting God”) cannot logically have a cause. Asking about God’s cause (or origin) is as incoherent as asking “Why matter is eternal?” Matter is not eternal. Matter is no more an eternal essence without a cause than God is a physical being with a cause. Asking “where did God come from?” is like asking “when did eternity start?” By definition, eternity never began. Eternity, by definition, is without beginning and end. By definition, so is God.

Consider that in nature, matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed. Scientists refer to this observed fact as the First Law of Thermodynamics. Evolutionists allege that the Universe began with the explosion of a ball of matter 13 to 14 billion years ago, yet they never have provided a reasonable explanation for the cause of the “original” ball of matter. Evolutionist David Shiga made an attempt a few years ago in an issue of New Scientist magazine in his cover story, “The Beginning: What Triggered the Big Bang.” Interestingly, in the last line of the article, Shiga admitted: “[T]he quest to understand the origin of the universe seems destined to continue until we can answer a deeper question: why is there anything at all instead of nothing?”1 The fact is, a logical, naturalistic explanation for the origin of the “original” ball of matter that supposedly led to the Universe does not exist. It cannot exist so long as the First Law of Thermodynamics is true (that matter and energy cannot create themselves).

Since the physical Universe exists, and yet it could not have created itself, then the Universe is either eternal, or else some thing or some One outside of the Universe must have created it. Relatively few scientists propose that the Universe is eternal. In fact, there would be no point in attempting to explain the “beginning” of the Universe (with a Big Bang, for example) if scientists believed it has always existed. What’s more, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that matter and energy become less usable over time, has led scientists to conclude that the Universe has not always existed; that is, it is not eternal.2

So why don’t the laws of thermodynamics or the law of causality3 apply to God? Because these scientific laws, like all scientific laws, apply to what we find and study in nature. Again, by definition, God is not natural and thus logically is not subject to the laws of nature.

In short, if matter is not eternal, and it cannot create itself, then the only logical conclusion is that some thing or some One outside of nature (i.e., supernatural) caused the material Universe and everything in it. Christians call this Someone, “the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 40:28).


1 David Shiga (2007), “The Universe Before Ours,” New Scientist, 194[2601]:33, April 28.

2 For additional information on the Laws of Thermodynamics, see Jeff Miller (2013), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?article=2786

3 This law states that “every material effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause.” For more information, see Jeff Miller (2011), Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Law of Causality,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=3716.

What Our “Lower Cousins” Teach Us About Infanticide by Kyle Butt, M.Div.



What Our “Lower Cousins” Teach Us About Infanticide

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Journalist Jeffrey Kluger recently penned an article titled, “Scientists Discover Mother Monkeys Who Kill Their Babies.” In that piece, he reported on the work done by primatologist Laurence Culot. Culot and his team spent a considerable amount of time studying wild mustached tamarins, a type of monkey that lives in Peru (Kluger, 2011).

Culot’s research uncovered the fact that mother tamarins sometimes allow their babies to fall to their deaths from the tops of trees. In addition, mother tamarins occasionally cause the death of their offspring in a more direct way. The team reported one incident in which the mother bit her own baby’s head off and proceeded to eat its brain and upper body.

Kluger’s article focused on why tamarins would be so brutal. Several factors are thought to be responsible for a mother tamarin’s decision to kill her offspring. The article noted that if there were not enough supporting males to help the mother raise the baby, or if there were too many other babies born at the same time, a mother would often kill her own baby or allow it to die without attempting to protect it. Apparently, if it does not look like the baby has a high probability of survival, the mother will terminate its life and wait for a more opportune time to give birth. As Kluger said: “The explanation for such pitiless behavior is as cold as it is unavoidable: tamarin mothers are simply very good at balancing their genetic ledgers and know when they’re heading for a loss” (2011).

So what does such brutal animal behavior have to do with human behavior and morality? Absolutely nothing if a person understands the truth that God created all humans in His own image, and that every human child has a right to life simple because it is human (Lyons and Thompson, 2002). Unfortunately, however, that fact is not understood by many in our world today. An increasing number of people have chosen rather to believe in the false idea of atheistic evolution. If, according to the atheistic evolutionary belief, humans evolved from animals and are related to primates, then primate behavior can help us understand human behavior. If we can find a naturalistic explanation for why tamarin mothers kill their babies, then we can use that same reasoning to account for why human mothers kill their babies. As James Rachels stated:

Animal behaviour is routinely studied with an eye to acquiring information that can then be applied to humans. Psychologists who want to investigate maternal behaviour, for example...might study the behaviour of rhesus monkey mothers and infants, assuming that whatever is true of them will be true of humans—because, after all, they are so much like us (1990, p. 166, emp. added)

Kluger applied this type of reasoning to the research on tamarins:

Humans recoil at such stark genetic number crunching, but while infanticide among our species is socially and criminally proscribed, it does happen—and far too often. And when mothers are the perps, they are often facing some of the same kinds of pressures as tamarins—uncertain resources (read: money) and an absent or unreliable male (2011).

The sickening, immoral connections Kluger makes between murderous tamarin mothers and humans is all too clear. If tamarins murder their babies because they don’t have the resources to raise them, and humans are related to tamarins, then it is “natural” for human mothers to kill their babies as well. Kluger attempted to soften the implications of his statement by saying that humans have options that “tamarins don’t” and “nothing excuses willful neglect, never mind murder.” His attempt failed, however, in light of his concluding statement: “We may be the highest primates, but we remain members of that sometimes brutish club, and our lower cousins still do have plenty to teach us” (2011, emp. added). What, pray tell, are our alleged “lower cousins,” the mustached tamarins, teaching us? They are teaching us that if you convince humans that they are nothing more than animals, they will act like nothing more than animals.


Kluger, Jeffrey (2011), “Scientists Discover Mother Monkeys Who Kill Their Babies,” Time, http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110615/hl_time/08599207678600/print.

Lyons, Eric and Bert Thompson (2002), “In the Image and Likeness of God: Part 1,” Reason & Revelation, 22[3]:17-23, /apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=149.

Rachels, James (1990), Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (New York: Oxford University Press).

What is Bigger and More Incomprehensible than the God of Christians? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


What is Bigger and More Incomprehensible than the God of Christians?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In a recent TIME magazine article, wherein senior staff writer David Van Biema interviewed renowned atheist Richard Dawkins and theist Francis Collins, Dawkins made a comment about the existence of God that revealed a serious flaw in his case against Creation and Christianity. Although he believes the idea of “a supernatural intelligent designer” is “refutable,” he speculated, saying, “If there is a God, it’s going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed” (quoted in Van Biema, 2006, 168[20]:55). Thus, every “God” ever conceptualized by mankind is simply too small and too comprehensible for Dawkins.

It certainly is the case that gods of various religious groups of the past and present have lacked size and intelligence. The gods of ancient Egypt were exposed as counterfeit when the God of Israel demonstrated His superiority over them. He brought 10 plagues on Egypt, executing judgment “against all the gods of Egypt” (Exodus 12:12; Numbers 33:4), that (among other things) man might “know that Jehovah is greater than all gods” (Exodus 18:11, ASV). In Elijah’s day, Jehovah God revealed His supremacy over Baal on Mount Carmel when He sent fire down from heaven, totally consuming Elijah’s sacrifice (1 Kings 18:20-38), while the sacrifices of Baal’s prophets lay quiescent. Then, “[w]hen all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God’” (1 Kings 18:39). Furthermore, the millions of Hindu gods of the past and present also lack sufficient magnitude and intelligence. They are lifeless, powerless, man-made idols that both atheists and theists rightly refuse to acknowledge.

To conclude, however, that no one from any religion has ever proposed a God that is of adequate size and mystery is simply untrue. What about the God of the Bible? Considering that approximately two billion people on Earth claim to believe in this God (see “Major Religions...,” 2005), Dawkins no doubt had the God of Christians in mind when he said, “If there is a God, it’s going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed.” What (or Who) could be larger, mightier, and more incomprehensible than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God that Christians worship and serve?

The God of the Bible is omnipresent. The psalmist proclaimed: “Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Thy hand will lead me, and Thy right hand will lay hold of me (139:7-10, NASB). Try as he might, no one can hide from God (Jeremiah 23:23-24). He is everywhere. His eyes “are in every place” (Proverbs 15:3). “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13, emp. added).

God not only is omnipresent, He also knows everything. Numerous passages of Scripture clearly teach that God is omniscient. The psalmist declared that God “knows the secrets of the heart” (44:21) and that “His understanding is infinite” (147:5). Of Jehovah, the psalmist also wrote:

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether (139:1-4).

God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (1 John 3:20, emp. added). Not only does He know the past and the present, but the future as well (Acts 15:18; cf. Isaiah 46:10). There is nothing outside of the awareness of God. What’s more, at the end of time, He “will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14, emp. added).

Perhaps the most awesome attribute of Jehovah is His unlimited power. He is “God Almighty” (Genesis 17:1). Nothing is too hard for Him (Genesis 18:14). As Job confessed to God, “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (42:2, emp. added). By simply speaking, God can create that which is visible from that which is invisible (Hebrews 11:3; cf. Genesis 1), and can turn the physical into the celestial (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). He can turn water into wine simply by desiring it to happen (John 2:1-10). He can miraculously heal a paralytic by merely willing it to “be done” (Matthew 8:13). He can raise a man from the dead simply by commanding him to “come forth” (John 11:43). The God of Christians is omnipotent.

What more does Dawkins need from a god? By definition, the God of the Bible could not be any bigger, more powerful, or more intelligent than He already is. Jehovah is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present. In addition, He is eternal (cf. Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 102:27; Revelation 1:8). He is from “everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2). What could be “bigger” and “more incomprehensible” for finite humans to grasp?

Nothing is bigger than God. Nothing is more powerful than God. And no one can rationally fathom a being more intelligent than God. As far as being “a whole lot more incomprehensible,” the psalmist addressed God’s unfathomable intelligence, confessing that “[s]uch knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it” (139:6, emp. added). God said: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.... For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Centuries later Paul praised the “depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God,” exclaiming “[h]ow unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33, emp. added). Indeed, there are “the secret things” that “belong to the Lord our God,” which we will never know this side of eternity, and perhaps not even on the other side (Deuteronomy 29:29). Thankfully, the one true and living God did reveal a substantial amount of information about Himself through nature, and much more through the Scriptures (Romans 1:20; Deuteronomy 29:29), that we might “have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

The God that the prominent, militant atheist Richard Dawkins said would exist, “if there is a God,” actually does exist. Sadly, Dawkins and millions of others simply have “refused to have God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28, ASV), for which “they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).


“Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents” (2005), [On-line], URL: http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html.

Van Biema, David (2006), “God vs. Science,” TIME, 168[20]:48-55, November 13.

"THE GOSPEL OF JOHN" The Way, The Truth, And The Life (14:6)



The Way, The Truth, And The Life (14:6)

  1. Two of the most remarkable statements by Jesus are found in one verse...
    1. "I am the way, the truth, and the life." - Jn 14:6
    2. "No one comes to the Father except through Me." - ibid.
  2. These statements were made in a discussion with His disciples...
    1. As He prepared them for His impending death - Jn 14:1-4
    2. Which prompted questions by Thomas and Philip - Jn 14:5,7-9

[In making such statements, Jesus claims to be three things: "The Way, The Truth, And The Life." Let's take a closer look, where we first observe that Jesus is...]

  1. THE WAY
      1. Jesus clearly claims to the be only way to God - Jn 14:6
      2. As Peter would later proclaim, there is no salvation but through Him - cf. Ac 4:12
      -- This may sound politically incorrect, but Jesus states it nonetheless
      1. By revealing Him, stressed in the gospel of John - Jn 14:7-9; cf. Jn 1:18; 12:44-45
      2. By opening the way to Him, emphasized in the book of Hebrews - He 10:19-20
      3. By serving as our high priest, another theme in Hebrews - He 2:17-18; 4:14-16; 10:21-22
      4. He now intercedes for us
        1. As our Advocate - 1Jn 2:1
        2. At the right hand of God - Ro 8:34
        3. The one (and only) Mediator between God and man - 1Ti 2:5
        4. Who ever lives to intercede for us! - He 7:24-25
        -- By virtue of His life on earth, His death on the cross, and now His service in heaven, Jesus is truly the only way to God!

      [Jesus not only is the way to God, He is also...]

    1. WHAT IS TRUTH...?
      1. The very question posed by Pontius Pilate - Jn 18:38
      2. Consider the meaning of the Greek words translated as "true" and "truth":
        1. True (alethes) - "unconcealed, manifest...actual, true to fact" - Vine
        2. True (alethinos) - "denotes 'true' in the sense of 'real, ideal, genuine;'" - ibid.
        3. Truth (aletheia)
          1. "objectively, signifying 'the reality lying at the basis of an appearance; the manifested, veritable essence of a matter' (Cremer)" - ibid.
          2. "subjectively, 'truthfulness,' 'truth,' not merely verbal, but sincerity and integrity of character" - ibid.
          -- When Jesus speaks of truth, it describes that which corresponds to reality, what is factual and absolute, not relative
      1. He proclaims that truth is real and knowable - Jn 8:32
      2. He proclaims that truth can set one free from the bondage of sin - Jn 8:32-34
      3. His doctrine is the way to truth that frees one from sin - Jn 8:31-32,34-36
      4. He faithfully proclaimed His Father's Word, which is truth - cf. Jn 17:14,17
      -- By abiding in Jesus' teachings, we can know the truth and the freedom it offers!

    [Freedom from the bondage of sin becomes even more meaningful when we consider how Jesus is...]

      1. As He promised in His discourse as the Good Shepherd - Jn 10:10-11
      2. Jesus offers a peace the world cannot give - Jn 14:27; 16:33; cf. Php 4:6-7
      3. He gives us His love, which passes knowledge - Jn 15:10; cf. Ep 3:19
      4. He provides His joy, that is inexpressible - Jn 15:11; cf. 1 Pe 1:8
      -- With such peace, love, and joy, what an abundant life Jesus offers!
      1. By His doctrine regarding the new birth
        1. We must be born again - Jn 3:3
        2. We must be born again of water and the Spirit - Jn 3:4-5
      2. By sending the Spirit who gives the new birth and new life
        1. The Spirit who regenerates us in baptism - Tit 3:5-6
        2. The Spirit who becomes for us "rivers of living water" - Jn 7:37-39; cf. Ga 5:22-23
        -- Jesus provides abundant life His through gospel, by which we are born again to a new life which the Spirit makes possible - cf. 1Pe 2:22-25
  1. Jesus is truly the way, the truth, and the life...
    1. The way to knowing and experience God as our Heavenly Father
    2. The embodiment of truth that provides freedom from the guilt and bondage of sin
    3. The source of life that is blessed now and lasts forever!
  2. Has Jesus become your way to God, your truth, and your life...?
    1. To a close and personal relationship with God?
    2. To deliverance from the guilt of sin through the blood of Christ?
    3. To an abundant life by virtue of a spiritual rebirth and the blessings that follow?

Jesus may be "the" way, truth, and life, but He is of no value unless He becomes "your" way to the true salvation that leads to eternal life with God. Have you responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ...? - cf. Mk 16:15-16; Ac 2:38; 22:16

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2021
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Happy Birthday America by Ken Weliever, The Preacherman



Happy Birthday America

Good morning!

I hope you’re enjoying this 4th of July holiday. Hopefully, it is a restful day for you. Peaceful. And family focused.

America is 241 years old today. As we get older, we like to reminiscence and reflect about the past.  

So, I have decided to take a break from blogging today. Sort of. I’m not posting something new, but am sharing some links to some previous posts that I’ve written about America over past 5 ½ years.

My first Fourth of July post was in 2012 and asked, “What can the Righteous Do?”

“Is America a God Fearing Nation?” was a post from July 4, 2013

You might be interested to know “What do Past Presidents Think of the Bible?”

From the column “It’s Friday. But Sunday’s Coming” is this post about “An Uncommon Freedom”

During the election last year we raised the question, “Does God want America to be Great Again?”

Following the election, we shared some thoughts about “7 Things Unchanged by the Election”

If you missed yesterday’s post, it was about freedom.

Have a great day!

Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

"Calling on the Name of the Lord" by Eric Lyons, M.Min.



"Calling on the Name of the Lord"

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Considering how many people within “Christendom” teach that an individual can be saved merely by professing a belief in Christ, it is not surprising that skeptics claim that the Bible contradicts itself in this regard. Although Peter and Paul declared, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13; cf. Joel 2:32), skeptics quickly remind their readers that Jesus once stated: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21; cf. Luke 6:46). Allegedly, Matthew 7:21 clashes with such passages as Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 (see Morgan, 2003; Wells, 2001). Since many professed Christians seem to equate “calling on the name of the Lord” with the idea of saying to Jesus, “Lord, save me,” Bible critics feel even more justified in their pronouncement of “conflicting testimonies.” How can certain professed followers of Christ claim that they were saved by simply “calling out to Christ,” when Christ Himself proclaimed that a mere calling upon Him would not save a person?
The key to correctly understanding the phrase “calling on the name of the Lord” is to recognize that more is involved in this action than a mere verbal petition directed toward God. The “call” mentioned in Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13, and Acts 22:16 (where Paul was “calling on the name of the Lord”), is not equated with the “call” (“Lord, Lord”) Jesus spoke of in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:21).
First, it is appropriate to mention that even in modern times, to “call on” someone frequently means more than simply making a request for something. When a doctor goes to the hospital to “call on” some of his patients, he does not merely walk into the room and say, “I just wanted to come by and say, ‘Hello.’ I wish you the best. Now pay me.” On the contrary, he involves himself in a service. He examines the patient, listens to the patient’s concerns, gives further instructions regarding the patient’s hopeful recovery, and then oftentimes prescribes medication. All of these elements may be involved in a doctor “calling upon” a patient. In the mid-twentieth century, it was common for young men to “call on” young ladies. Again, this expression meant something different than just “making a request” (Brown, 1976, p. 5).
Second, when an individual takes the time to study how the expression “calling on God” is used throughout Scripture, the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that, just as similar phrases sometimes have a deeper meaning in modern America, the expression “calling on God” often had a deeper meaning in Bible times. Take, for instance, Paul’s statement recorded in Acts 25:11: “I appeal unto Caesar.” The word “appeal” (epikaloumai) is the same word translated “call” (or “calling”) in Acts 2:21, 22:16, and Romans 10:13. But, Paul was not simply saying, “I’m calling on Caesar to save me.” As James Bales noted:
Paul, in appealing to Caesar, was claiming the right of a Roman citizen to have his case judged by Caesar. He was asking that his case be transferred to Caesar’s court and that Caesar hear and pass judgment on his case. In so doing, he indicated that he was resting his case on Caesar’s judgment. In order for this to be done Paul had to submit to whatever was necessary in order for his case to be brought before Caesar. He had to submit to the Roman soldiers who conveyed him to Rome. He had to submit to whatever formalities or procedure Caesar demanded of those who came before him. All of this was involved in his appeal to Caesar (1960, pp. 81-82, emp. added).
Paul’s “calling” to Caesar involved his submission to him. “That, in a nutshell,” wrote T. Pierce Brown, “is what ‘calling on the Lord’ involves”—obedience (1976, p. 5). It is not a mere verbal recognition of God, or a verbal petition to Him. Those whom Paul (before his conversion to Christ) sought to bind in Damascus—Christians who were described as people “who call on Your [Jehovah’s] name”—were not people who only prayed to God, but those who were serving the Lord, and who, by their obedience, were submitting themselves to His authority (cf. Matthew 28:18). Interestingly, Zephaniah 3:9 links one’s “calling” with his “service”: “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord” (emp. added). When a person submits to the will of God, he accurately can be described as “calling on the Lord.” Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 (among other passages) do not contradict Matthew 7:21, because to “call on the Lord” entails more than just pleading for salvation; it involves submitting to God’s will. According to Colossians 3:17, every single act a Christian performs (in word or deed) should be carried out by Christ’s authority. For a non-Christian receiving salvation, this is no different. In order to obtain salvation, a person must submit to the Lord’s authority. This is what the passages in Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 are teaching; it is up to us to go elsewhere in the New Testament to learn how to call upon the name of the Lord.
After Peter quoted the prophecy of Joel and told those in Jerusalem on Pentecost that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21), he told them how to go about “calling on the name of the Lord.” The people in the audience in Acts 2 did not understand Peter’s quotation of Joel to mean that an alien sinner must pray to God for salvation. [Their question in Acts 2:37 (“Men and brethren, what shall we do?”) indicates such.] Furthermore, when Peter responded to their question and told them what to do to be saved, he did not say, “I’ve already told you what to do. You can be saved by petitioning God for salvation through prayer. Just call on His name.” On the contrary, Peter had to explain to them what it meant to “call on the name of the Lord.” Instead of repeating this statement when the crowd sought further guidance from the apostles, Peter commanded them, saying, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (2:38). Notice the parallel between Acts 2:21 and 2:38:
Acts 2:21WhoeverCallsOn the name of the LordShall be saved
Acts 2:38Everyone of youRepent and be baptizedIn the name of Jesus ChristFor the remission of sins
Peter’s non-Christian listeners learned that “calling on the name of the Lord for salvation” was equal to obeying the Gospel, which approximately 3,000 did that very day by repenting of their sins and being baptized into Christ (2:38,41).
But what about Romans 10:13? What is the “call” mentioned in this verse? Notice Romans 10:11-15:
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (emp. added).
Although this passage does not define precisely what is meant by one “calling on the name of the Lord,” it does indicate that an alien sinner cannot “call” until after he has heard the Word of God and believed it. Such was meant by Paul’s rhetorical questions: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” Paul’s statements in this passage are consistent with Peter’s proclamations in Acts 2. It was only after the crowd on Pentecost believed in the resurrected Christ Whom Peter preached (as is evident by their being “cut to the heart” and their subsequent question, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”) that Peter told them how to call on the name of the Lord and be saved (2:38).
Perhaps the clearest description of what it means for an alien sinner to “call on the name of the Lord” is found in Acts 22. As the apostle Paul addressed the mob in Jerusalem, he spoke of his encounter with the Lord, Whom he asked, “What shall I do?” (22:10; cf. 9:6). The answer Jesus gave Him at that time was not “call on the name of the Lord.” Instead, Jesus instructed him to “arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do” (22:10). Paul (or Saul—Acts 13:9) demonstrated his belief in Jesus as he went into the city and waited for further instructions. In Acts 9, we learn that during the next three days, while waiting to meet with Ananias, Paul fasted and prayed (vss. 9,11). Although some today might consider what Paul was doing at this point as “calling on the name of the Lord,” Ananias, God’s chosen messenger to Paul, did not think so. He did not tell Paul, “I see you have already called on God. Your sins are forgiven.” After three days of fasting and praying, Paul still was lost in his sins. Even though he obviously believed at this point, and had prayed to God, he had yet to “call on the name of the Lord” for salvation. When Ananias finally came to Paul, he told him: “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (22:16). Ananias knew that Paul had not yet “called on the name of the Lord,” just as Peter knew that those on Pentecost had not done so before his command to “repent and be baptized.” Thus, Ananias instructed Paul to “be baptized, and wash away your sins.” The participle phrase, “calling on the name of the Lord,” describes what Paul was doing when he was baptized for the remission of his sins. Every non-Christian who desires to “call on the name of the Lord” to be saved, does so, not simply by saying, “Lord, Lord” (cf. Matthew 7:21), or just by wording a prayer to God (e.g., Paul—Acts 9; 22; cf. Romans 10:13-14), but by obeying God’s instructions to “repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38).
This is not to say that repentance and baptism have always been (or are always today) synonymous with “calling on the name of the Lord.” Abraham was not baptized when he “called upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 12:8; cf. 4:26), because baptism was not demanded of God before New Testament times. And, as I mentioned earlier, when the New Testament describes people who are already Christians as “calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 9:14,21; 1 Corinthians 1:2), it certainly does not mean that Christians continually were being baptized for the remission of their sins after having been baptized to become a Christian (cf. 1 John 1:5-10). Depending on when and where the phrase is used, “calling on the name of the Lord” includes: (1) obedience to the gospel plan of salvation; (2) worshiping God; and (3) faithful service to the Lord (Bates, 1979, p. 5). However, it never is used in the sense that all the alien sinner must do in order to be saved is to cry out and say, “Lord, Lord, save me.”
Thus, the skeptic’s allegation that Matthew 7:21 contradicts Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 is unsubstantiated. And, the professed Christian who teaches that all one must do to be saved is just say the sinner’s prayer, is in error.


Bales, James (1960), The Hub of the Bible—Or—Acts Two Analyzed (Shreveport, LA: Lambert Book House).
Bates, Bobby (1979), “Whosoever Shall Call Upon the Name of the Lord Shall be Saved,” Firm Foundation, 96:5, March 20.
Brown, T. Pierce (1976), “Calling on His Name,” Firm Foundation, 93:5, July 20.
Morgan, Donald (2003), “Biblical Inconsistencies,” [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/inconsistencies.shtml.
Wells, Steve (2001), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL: http://www.Skepticsannotatedbible.com.


Chapter 9 FAITH AND OBEDIENCE with commentary by C.A. Feenstra



Chapter 9


Man's words

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. — Westminster shorter catechism, Creeds of Christendom, Philip Schaff, page 676.

Q. According to GOD'S WORD, what is the whole duty of man?

"This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man." Eccl. 12:13

"And Samuel said, Hath Jehovah as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." I Sam. 15:22

"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." Matt. 17:5

"He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 3:36

"He (Jesus) became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation." Heb. 5:9

Man's words

Heidelburg Catechism

Q.21 What is true faith?
A. True faith is not only a sure knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also a firm confidence which the Holy Spirit works in my heart by the gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ's merits.

Q.22 What, then, is necessary for a Christian to believe?
A. All that is promised us in the gospel, which the articles of our catholic and undoubted Christian faith teach us in a summary.

Q.23 What are these articles?
A. (The Apostle's Creed)

Q.59 But what does it profit you now that you believe all this (The Apostle's Creed)?
A. That I am righteous in Christ before God, and an heir to eternal life.

Q.60 How are you righteous before God?
A. Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; that is, though my conscience accuse me that I have grievously sinned against all the commandments of God and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil, yet God, without any merit of mine, of mere grace, grants and imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never had nor committed any sin, and myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me; if only I accept such benefit with a believing heart.

Q.61 Why do you say that you are righteous only by faith?
A. Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith, but because only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ is my righteousness before God, and I can receive the same and make it my own in no other way than by faith only.

Q. According to GOD'S WORD, are we saved "through faith" only, OR are we saved "through" many other necessary things?

1. "Through the tender mercy of our God"Lk. 1:78 AV
2. "Through the righteousness of God"II Pet. 1:1 AV
3. "Through grace"Acts 15:11
4. "Through our Lord Jesus Christ"I Cor. 15:57
5. "Through the offering of the body of Jesus"Heb. 10:10
6. "Through his (Jesus') blood"Eph. 1:7
7. "Through (Jesus') death"Col. 1:22
8. "Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ"I Pet. 1:21
9. "Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"Rom. 3:24
10. "Through his (Jesus') name"Acts 10:43
11. "Through the truth"John 17:17, 19 AV
12. "Through the knowledge of Jesus"II Pet. 2:20
13. "Through the word (of Jesus)"John 15:3 AV
14. "Through their (the disciples') word"John 17:20
15. "Through the gospel"I Cor. 4:15
16. "Through the foolishness of the preaching"I Cor. 1:21
17. "Through ... belief of the truth"II Thess. 2:13 AV
18. "Through faith"Eph. 2:8
19. "Through the washing of regeneration (baptism)"Titus 3:5
20. "Through the ... renewing of the Holy Spirit"Titus 3:5
21. "Through sanctification of the Spirit"II Thess. 2:13 AV
22. "Through many tribulations"Acts 14:22
23. "Through patience"Heb. 6:12

Q. Does GOD'S WORD teach that Abraham was justified by faith?

"For what saith the scripture? And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness." Rom. 4:3

"To Abraham his faith was reckoned for righteousness." Rom. 4:9

"Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness." Gal. 3:6

"By faith Abraham..." Heb. 11:8, 9, 17

Q. According to GOD'S WORD, was Abraham justified by "faith only", OR was he justified by a faith that actively obeyed God's commands?

"But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect; and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith." James 2:20-24

"Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee...
So Abram went, as Jehovah had spoken unto him." Gen. 12:1, 4

"In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." Gen. 26:4-5

"And the angel of Jehovah called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the seashore. And thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Because thou hast obeyed my voice." Gen. 22:15-18

"By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise ... By faith Abraham, being tried, offered up Isaac: yea, he that had gladly received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; even he to whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called." Heb. 11:8-9, 17-18

* * *

Q. Although man cannot earn his salvation by doing works, does GOD'S WORD teach that it is possible for man to obey God?

"Noah did according unto all that Jehovah commanded him." Gen. 7:5

"In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou (Abraham) hast obeyed my voice." Gen. 22:18

"Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." Gen. 26:5

"Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of Jehovah their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as Jehovah their God had sent him; and the people did fear before Jehovah." Hag. 1:12

"They turned aside quickly out of the way wherein their fathers walked, obeying the commandments of Jehovah." Judg. 2:17

"By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed..." Heb. 11:8

Q. Although man cannot earn his salvation by doing works, does GOD'S WORD teach that God expects man to obey Him?

"Ye shall walk after Jehovah your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him." Deut. 13:4

"Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of Jehovah thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes." Deut. 27:10

"See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil ... I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed; to love Jehovah thy God, to obey his voice, and to cleave unto him; for he is thy life, and the length of thy days." Deut. 30:15, 19-20

"This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man." Eccl. 12:13

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it." Isa. 1:18-20

"But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you." Jer. 7:23 AV

"And say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant, Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God." Jer. 11:3-4 AV

"But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the LORD." Jer. 12:17 AV

"If thou wouldest enter into life, keep the commandments." Matt. 19:17

"If ye love me, ye will keep my (Jesus') commandments. ... He that hath my (Jesus') commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me ... Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my word." John 14:15, 21, 23

"And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his (Jesus') commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his (Jesus') commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoso keepeth his word, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected." I John 2:3-5

Q. Where in all of GOD'S WORD is it taught that man is born so totally depraved that he cannot obey God?

Where in GOD'S WORD is it taught that man is born so totally depraved that he cannot obey the command of Jesus to believe and to be baptized for the remission of his sins?

Q. Is Calvinism's "faith only" true, OR does GOD'S WORD show that the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 demonstrated their faith by an active obedience to God's commands?

"By faith Abel offered ... a sacrifice"Heb. 11:4
"By faith Noah ... prepared an ark"Heb. 11:7
"By faith Abraham ... obeyed"Heb. 11:8
"By faith he (Abraham) became a sojourner"Heb. 11:9
"By faith Abraham ... offered up Isaac"Heb. 11:17
"By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau"Heb. 11:20
"By faith Jacob ... blessed each of the sons of Joseph; and worshipped"Heb. 11:22
"By faith Moses ... was hid three months by his parents"Heb. 11:23
"By faith Moses ... refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter"Heb. 11:24
"By faith he (Moses) forsook Egypt"Heb. 11:27
"By faith he (Moses) kept the passover"Heb. 11:27
"By faith they (Israel) passed through the Red sea"Heb. 11:29
"By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about seven days"Heb. 11:30
"By faith Rahab ... perished not ... having received the spies with peace"Heb. 11:31

Q. Is Calvinism's "faith only" true, OR does GOD'S WORD show saving faith and obedience to be equals?

"Woe to her that is rebellious and polluted! to the oppressing city! She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in Jehovah; she drew not near to her God." Zeph. 3:1-2

"Blessed is the man that trusteth in Jehovah, and whose trust Jehovah is ... I, Jehovah, search the mind, I try the heart, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." Jer. 17:7, 10

"Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself. ... Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith. ... For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead." James 2:17, 24, 26

"He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 3:36

"And it came to pass in Iconium that they entered together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake that a great multitude both of Jews and of Greeks believed. But the Jews that were disobedient stirred up the souls of the Gentiles, and made them evil affected against the brethren." Acts 14:1-2

"And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith." Acts 6:7

"By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with them that were disobedient, having received the spies with peace." Heb. 11:31

"And with whom was he displeased forty years? was it not with them that sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that were disobedient? And we see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief." Heb. 3:17-19

"Peter, ... to the elect
... who through him are believers in God, that raised him from the dead, and gave him glory; so that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth..." I Pet. 1:1, 21-22

"Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we received grace and apostleship, unto obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name's sake." Rom. 1:4-5

"Now to him that is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, ... is made known unto all the nations unto obedience of faith." Rom. 16:25-26

"And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ... And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him." Acts 2:38, 5:32

"In flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all them that believed." II Thess. 1:7-10

Belief and ObedienceContrasted withUnbelief and Disobedience
"Believeth on the Son"John 3:36"Obeyeth not the Son"
"Believeth and is baptized"Mark 16:16"Disbelieveth"
"Jews and Greeks believed"Acts 14:1-2"Jews ... were disobedient"
"Them that believed"II Thess. 1:8-10"Them that obey not the gospel"
"The house of God"
"The righteous"
I Pet. 4:17-18"Them that obey not the gospel"
"The ungodly and sinner"
"Every one ... that heareth these words of mine (Jesus), and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man"Matt. 7:24-26"Every one that heareth these words of mine (Jesus), and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man"
"Them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor"Rom. 2:7-8"Them that ... obey not the truth"
"Ye became obedient from the heart to that form (pattern) of teaching (baptism Rom. 6:3-6) whereunto ye were delivered; and being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness"Rom. 6:17-18"Ye were the servants of sin"
"He saved us through the washing of regeneration" "That they who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works"Titus 3:3-8"For ye also once were ... disobedient"

Q. GOD'S WORD teaches that man can only be saved because of the love and grace of God, but does GOD'S WORD also teach that man himself must show his faith by an active obedience?

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Matt. 16:24

"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 18:4

"And with many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, Save yourselves from this crooked generation. They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls." Acts 2:40-41

"Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." II Cor. 7:1

"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure." Phil. 2:12-13

"Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble." II Pet. 1:10

"Keep yourselves in the love of God..." Jude 21

"Keep thyself pure." I Tim. 5:22

Q. If man can be saved by "faith only", why are the demons who confess Christ, and believe, and tremble, not also saved?

"And crying out with a loud voice, he saith, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God? I adjure thee by God, torment me not. For he (Jesus) said unto him, Come forth, thou unclean spirit, out of the man." Mark 5:7-8

"And the unclean spirits, whensoever they beheld him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God." Mark 3:11

"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" James 2:19-20 AV

* * *

Q. Is Calvinism's "faith only" true, OR does GOD'S WORD teach that we can only be saved by a faith which obeys Jesus?

"Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself. ... Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith. ... For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead." James 2:17, 24, 26

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. ... He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 3:16, 36

"And he (Jesus) said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned." Mark 16:15-16

"And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ... And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him." Acts 2:38, 5:32

"For by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory." Eph. 2:8-9

"Not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." Titus 3:5

"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:5

"He (Jesus) became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation..." Heb. 5:9

"Jesus ... said...
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I spake not from myself; but the Father that sent me, he hath given me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak." John 12:44, 48-49

Q. Is Calvinism's "faith only" true, OR does GOD'S WORD teach that God will punish those who do not obey the gospel of His Son?

"Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. To him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you. And it shall be, that every soul that shall not hearken to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people." Acts 3:22-23

"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." Matt. 17:5

"He that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 3:36

"But unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish." Rom. 2:8-9

"See that ye refuse not him (Jesus) that speaketh. For if they escaped not when they refused him that warned them on earth, much more shall not we escape who turn away from him (Jesus) that warneth from heaven." Heb. 12:25

"For the time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God: and if it begin first at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God?" I Pet. 4:17

"At the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might." II Thess. 1:7-9

Published in The Old Paths Archive