“The God Who Is There” Resources

Resources and Bibliography for Studying and Teaching on the Existence of God

I have given some thought to the value of having a balanced and readily accessible set of resources on the existence of God.

  • Allows the preacher, teacher and student of the Word to give an answer (with documentation) both to seekers and to critics to the Faith (1 Peter 3:15).
  • Makes it possible to more accurately and persuasively strengthen the faith and equip believers.
  • Demonstrates integrity in having familiarized ourselves with, and accurately represented, the views on those on "the other side" (those promoting a strictly naturalistic, materialistic explanation).
  • Keeps us conversant about some of the leading apologists…
    • of the Christian view: Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, William Lane Craig, John Warwick Montgomery, C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, etc.
    • of the materialistic view: Anthony Flew, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Dan Barker, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, etc.
  • Makes the agenda of "the other side" more transparent and the urgency of the Christian's opposition more obvious.
  • Keeps close to hand something to pass along to Christians struggling with their faith in this arena.
  • Helps show that many in the scientific and educational fields are believers in God in some form, contrary to assertions by some in the "no God" movement.
  • Provides a contrast to the postmodern philosophy that truth and evidence is relative. Even atheists who espouse this view in theory reject it in the scientific practice. So should we.

Below is a list of websites, multimedia materials, and books which I have found of great value in my research, preparation and presentation on this subject. I am sure that with the help of www.christianbook.com and www.amazon.com you will be able to fill in the details of publishers and copyrights on those books without those details. Books marked with an asterisk* I consider especially useful for sharing with teens (and adults, church leaders and preachers!) with questions but who may lack strong backgrounds in science or philosophy.

Websites:
www.apologetics315.com
www.pleaseconvinceme.com
www.apologeticsguy.com
www.apologeticspress.com
www.focuspress.org
www.josh.org
www.doesgodexist.org
www.carm.org
www.leestrobel.com
www.reasonablefaith.org – William Lane Craig’s apologetics website
bible.org/series/faith-has-its-reasons – 24 articles on the subject of apologetics (downloadable)
www.cslewisinstitute.org/node/1185 – free online apologetics course with 20 videos

 

Francis A. Schaeffer books:
The God Who Is There — deals with the existence and relevance of God, and modern man's rejection of belief in Him
Escape from Reason — How the rejection of the biblical God causes man to lose contact with reality and reason
He Is There and He Is Not Silent — How God speaks to man through the Bible
A Christian Manifesto — Christian principles and people need to be in the political and public arenas

John Warwick Montgomery books:
Evidence for Faith: Deciding the God Question, edited by John Warwick Montgomery
How Do We Know There Is a God?, Bethany House Publishers, 

C.S. Lewis books:
Mere Christianity
The Problem of Pain
Miracles
The Case for Christianity

Lee Strobel books:
*The Case for a Creator, Zondervan, 2004
The Case for Faith, Zondervan, 2000
Access to a number of videos on existence of God, resurrection of Jesus, etc. at www.leestrobel.org

William Lane Craig books & media:
On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision, David C. Cook, 2010
Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Crossway Books, Third Edition 2008
Creation Out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical and Scientific Exploration, by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Baker Academic, 2004
God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible, IVP Books, 2009
(DVD) What Is the Evidence For – Against the Existence of God, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, 2006
(DVD) Does God Exist?, Debate between Christopher Hitchens and William Lane Craig, La Mirada Films, 2009

Other books:
*The Source, by John Clayton
*The Presence of a Hidden God, by D. James Kennedy
Evidence for God: Seven Reasons to Believe in the Existence of God, by Andy Christofides
*God and the Atheist: A Lawyer Assesses the Evidence for the Existence of God, by Paul Ferguson
Thinking God's Thoughts After Him: Great Scientists Who Honored the Creator, by Christine Dao
Is There a God?, Richard Swinburne, Oxford university Press
*Is There a God?, by Dr. John Oakes, Illumination Publishers

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“The God Who Is There” Series

A Dire Situation

A great battle is now in progress in our American culture. It's a battle that has been going on for perhaps half a century now. Unfortunately the spiritual forces opposing belief in God and all that comes with it have been winning this battle.

At present we wonder why we are seeing the majority of our own youth abandoning their faith as they leave home. Perhaps it is because they have no deep conviction about the existence of God and the absolute necessity of seeking Him with all their hearts and lives (Hebrews 11:6).

Consider this. Our youth do not hear affirming evidence and acknowledgement of God in their public schools, their university classes, their favorite music, in Hollywood produced films and television programs, or in American public life in general. The forces of atheism and scepticism have essentially won the day in all these arenas already! Where then will they hear (and faith does come by hearing!)?

Will they hear what they need in their homes as they grow up? They know that their parents believe in God and (hopefully) in the Bible as His Words. But can they, have they, heard believable, persuasive, oft repeated reasons to believe in God from their parents? Likely not! The parents themselves may not be able to explain why they believe.

Have they and their parents heard regular, persuasive presentations about the evidence for the God of the Bible at church — in Bible classes, youth gatherings, Sunday sermons? Again, unfortunately, we think not!

A Wake Up Call

It is time for every minister of the Gospel to devote time and effort to regularly and thoroughly teach on this subject. Our Christian homes and our church gatherings are the last bastion for confirming this ultimate truth. We must not lose any further ground!

I have regularly preached on this topic for most of my ministry of 40 plus years. Now I am engaged again in trying to thoroughly teach our congregation, both young and old. I cannot assume that anyone should be exempt.

My next several postings on Effective Bible Study will include first a kind of bibliography, and then my series of audio messages and accompanying notes. I hope this will encourage others to pursue this same type of series in their ministry.

Free Book on Jerusalem

In doing a recent series of lessons on the city of Jerusalem throughout the Bible, I cast a wide net to find resources of a historical, geographical, and archeological nature concerning this great city in the Old and New Testaments. One very valuable resource has been a free (for download) 250 page book written by Galyn Wiemers from www.generationword.com. Entitled, "Jerusalem: History, Archeology and Apologetic Proof of Scripture," it contains over 500 photos, maps and charts along with much explanatory text. Most or all the photos seem to have been taken by Mr. Wiemers during visits to Jerusalem. In addition to the free book, he has made available most/all the photos for download in color from his website as well. He also has provided over 270 Old Testament maps for free download. He has granted permission for the use of this material when used in Bible teaching. Here are the links to get these great resources:

Jerusalem book and photos link

270+ maps for Old Testament

Be sure to look around his website for four additional free books, Bible study materials, hundreds of audio lessons, and more. Mr. Wiemers is a teacher and minister in the Evangelical Free Church, so will no doubt differ from me in his understanding of some points of Scripture. However, overall I am very impressed with his materials.

“Portraits of Jesus” Series Available

 

Without argument, more paintings, drawings, images and statues have been made of Jesus than of any other person who has ever lived! Early catacomb images pictured Him with short hair and clean-shaven. Western artists of the Middle Ages up until today give Him longer hair, a beard, and more Western European features. But the truth is, the eye-witness records do not give us one shred of evidence about his actual appearance. Why? The answer is not clear. But this is clear: the gospel writers were not interested in what He looked like – they wanted everyone to know what He WAS like! Welcome to our study entitled, "Portraits of Jesus."

We will look at twelve different "portraits" drawn of Jesus in the Scriptures, inlcuding His deity, Sonship, humanity, temptations, and more. The study covers a total of 18 messages since some topics are too extensive to adequately complete in less than two sessions.

‟I, Paul: The Life and Teachings of the Great Apostle” – MP3 Series

At the Tanglewood Church of Christ we have just completed a 38 lesson series on the apostle Paul, entitled, “I, Paul.” It was a comprehensive and in-depth examination of the historical record of the New Testament, and the cultural and historical background, together with Paul’s writings – all woven into a narrative of his life (as much as we can know of it) from birth to death.

Raised in the most strict Jewish family, educated by the leading rabbi of the day, and well connected with the Sanhedrin leadership, Saul of Tarsus seemed incapable of being touched by the gospel message. . . until that fateful day outside Damascus! This is a study of this man who became the most prominent, and perhaps most effective, spokesman for Jesus the world has ever known.

Follow this link, or go to our Free Resources page, to listen.

The Gospel According to Apple, Inc.

On October 5 news spread like wildfire across the internet that Steve Jobs, co-founder and long-time CEO of Apple, Inc. had passed away after a 7+ year battle with pancreatic cancer. The news coverage of his death as well as the huge outpouring of tributes and honors from all quarters spoke to the tremendous influence this man and his company has had on our modern, technological world.

He has been variously described as a genius, a visionary, a secular prophet (see the Wall Street Journal), a “P. T. Barnum” marketeer, a tyrant… or all the above! He is compared to Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford all rolled into one. He and his company did not invent the personal computer, portable music player, laptop, cell phone or tablet computer. But they managed to re-think and redesign each of them in such a way that they became objects of great desire, and turned Apple, Inc. into one of the most valuable companies in the entire world.

I am no stranger to the attraction of the Apple brand. One of my first computers was an Apple II clone, followed by the original Macintosh. Over the years I have had Powerbooks, iMacs, Mac Minis, iPods, Touches, and now iPads. Like millions of others, I have found their products generally easier to use and more functional than competing products, even though costing a premium over others.

How did Jobs and Apple reach this pinnacle of success. What is/was so unique about their approach, marketing, design, philosophy, or “secret sauce” which other very competent and capable companies seems to have missed? Certainly the suggestions I am about to make are not original with me but can be widely found in books, articles and internet sources. Nevertheless, these principles ring so true with my experience that I cannot but help seeing a correlation between the “good news of Apple” and its products, and the “Greatest News of Jesus Christ.” Here are a few of those principles:

  • Think Different” – long a slogan at Apple, they chose to lead, not follow, and create more than imitate. They seem to constantly re-think what is important and needed in a product rather than what is simply the cheapest or quickest way to get it to market.
  • Give People What They Don’t Yet Know They Want” – a sense of what people really wanted in a device or technology to improve and enrich their daily lives.
  • Keep Focused on the Most Important Thing” – for Apple and Steve Jobs that was innovative products that opened up new markets in technology, and not diversifying into many areas that would dilute their resources and passion.
  • Make It Your Purpose to Change the World” – Apple was not committed to addressing world hunger, world peace, illiteracy or the cure for cancer. But they were committed to changing the world of computers and personal technology devices.
  • Make Your Happy Users Your Evangelists” – owners of Apple products often exhibit a zeal and even fanaticism scarcely seen in owners of any other company’s products. Happy customers and users are the number one advertisers and recruiters of new “converts.”
  • Keep it Simple & Get it Right” – Steve Jobs is usually credited with seeing how to take very complex, technical concepts and turning them into easy to use, beautiful products which non-techies are not afraid to line up to buy and use.
  • Provide an Immersive, Wholistic Experience” – Their products interconnect in such a way that when someone buys one product they soon feel compelled to buy another and another to extend their enjoyment. Mac computers communicate with the iPod, iPad, iPhone, and iTunes – and they in turn link to each other. Apple stores (350+) around the world give customers and users a place to visit, buy, learn, and socialize.
  • The Customer Is Number One” – Apple’s customer service is legendary, for years ranking the highest in their industry. Going out of their way to satisfy their customers produces repeat customers as well as “evangelists” (as noted above).

Now think of each of these philosophies in regard to the Kingdom of God, the Gospel, and our mission in this world. If you would like to hear a recent lesson I delivered on The Gospel According to Apple, Inc., you can click this link to hear the audio.

‟What Would Jesus Do?” Series Available

Perhaps the most popular book of Christian fiction ever written is In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon. Written in 1897, over 30 million copies have been sold according to Wikipedia. Its premise revolves around a church which tries to answer the question, “What would Jesus do?” in their interaction with each other and within their community.

This past summer, Charley Huffman of the Sunset Church of Christ taught for 13 weeks on this topic. Charley and his wife (and their son and his family) are long-time missionaries to Brazil.

In this series Charley discusses the practical implications of discipleship, and being caring and evangelistic like Jesus was. He has generously given us permission to offer his 13 lesson outlines on EffectiveBibleStudy.com. Right CLICK HERE and select “Save Link” to download, or go over to our FREE RESOURCES section.

The 10,000-Hour Rule

I occasionally have my hearers ask me how I know so much about the historical background of the Scriptures. Perhaps they heard something I taught which connected in a way they had not thought of before, or learned something which had previously eluded them. My response is pretty uniform: I have spent most of my adult life seeking to know more about the Scriptures!

In 2008 a book called Outliers: The Story of Success, by author and New Yorker magazine writer Malcolm Gladwell became a best seller. Gladwell had previously written The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2002) and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2007) – all three books examine the relationship between success, inspiration (i.e., genius), hard work, and opportunity in business and careers.

I mention these books because of their proposal that circumstances and opportunities often outweigh innate talent. But he especially emphasizes over and over that real competency at something (including, I would think, Bible knowledge or teaching) is greatly determined by his so-called “10,000-Hour Rule.” This “rule” states that truly successful or capable people in a given field have invested at least 10,000 hours working at their passion or interest to get to their skill level. He acknowledges that opportunities and “being in the right place at the right time” played a part, but pursuing and working at something consistently and persistently for thousands of hours over 5 or 10 or more years have the most profound effect.

Where am I going with this? Certainly Gladwell was not writing about spiritual pursuits but about business. And probably there are many things in his books with which we would take issue. But I think his fundamental proposition stands firm. There are no true shortcuts to success in Bible knowledge and application. Spending 10-20 hours per week for 10 or more years reading, studying, teaching, analyzing, outlining, and exegeting the Bible has its reward. That may not be the message a microwaveable, fast food, instant gratification generation is looking for, but it is the lesson it needs.

Creating a Teaching Series, Part III

Having a theme and resources for my series, now came the execution. There was no shortcut for reading, research, note-taking and “assembling” all my material into individual lessons. Ultimately well over 100 hours of research, study and organizing took place. The final series, which I entitled “A Shadow of Good Things to Come,” consisted of 27 separate lessons, each delivered during the Sunday morning service at the Tanglewood Church of Christ in Odessa, Texas.

Here is how I ultimately laid out the series:

        1 Introductory Lesson
        6 Lessons on Jesus in Prophecy
        2 Lessons on Jesus in Types
        3 Lessons on Jesus and the Sacrificial System
        3 Lessons on Jesus as Priest
        7 Lessons on Jesus in the Holy Days of Israel
        2 Lessons on Jesus in the Tabernacle
                   3 Lessons in Drawing Conclusions

If you still have an interest in this topic:

  • Here is a free Adobe Acrobat file containing the titles of the 27 lessons and a brief summary of each. Click here to open and download.
  • The 7 lessons on “Jesus in the Holy Days of Israel” are available as a set of 4 audio CDs. E-mail me for price.

(Some have asked for copies of my actual outlines. At the present time I do not have those in a downloadable form. I do hope in the future to make them available on this website.)

Article last updated August 25, 2011.

Creating a Teaching Series, Part II

In Part I, I selected a theme and identified some key parts of the teaching series I wanted to present. Now it was time for step two: gathering research resources.

Resources for me come from several sources:

  • My already existing personal library. I do a quick survey of what I have.
  • Input from fellow instructors and teachers. I share my intended subject with a few trusted and experienced co-workers and ask what they would use for resources.
  • Visit the local Christian bookstores (Mardel’s) and Sunset Extension School Bookstore, and online bookstore (Christian Book Distributors). (See my earlier series on Finding Good Books at Bargain Prices.)
  • Take note of reference works quoted or footnoted in the reference works I already have. Continue reading

Creating a Teaching Series – Part I

In late 2006 I wanted to prepare and present an extended series of lessons on the New Testament fulfillment of Old Testament themes — in particular those pointing to Jesus Christ. I chose the title from the three NT passages which refer to the OT as containing shadows of the New (see Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5; 10:1) — “A Shadow of Good Things to Come.”

Out of this study and presentations came the audio series we have entitled, “Seeing Jesus in the Feasts of Israel,” as well as many other sermons.

Fortunately I kept fairly complete notes documenting my methodology as well as the results on my study and research These three articles will first outline my subject development process, and then the execution and presentation of the study.

First came some brainstorming. As I thought about and examined various NT passages, I could see the various ways the authors connected Jesus to the Old Testament. I began to develop a rough set of ideas of what ought to be included:

  • OT prophecies — Jesus is said to have fulfilled, or been the fulfillment of OT predictions.
  • Sacrificial system — Jesus was the “Lamb of God” and his death was a sacrifice for sin.
  • Priestly system — Jesus in Hebrews and elsewhere is called our High Priest.
  • Holy Days & Holidays — Jesus is called our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), the Firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:20-26), and our Sabbath Rest (Hebrews 4:8-9).
  • Clarify concepts and vocabulary — shadow, prophecy, types.
  • Other possible areas

In our next part, I will talk about useful reference works in developing this series.

Article last updated August 19, 2011.

Ask Questions, Seek Answers!

My granddaughter, Natty, is constantly reminding me of one of the most valuable skills a good Bible student can have . . . the willingness to ask questions and seek the answers! At age 7, her favorite questions are, “What’s that?,” “Why?” and, “How come?”

In The Elephant’s Child, by Rudyard Kipling, we have this insightful set of verses entitled, “Six Honest Serving Men:”

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.
I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.

But different folk have different views;
I know a person small –
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!
She sends’em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes –
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

How true it is that we learned much more quickly as children, partly by asking lots of questions and waiting around for the answers. As we have gotten older, we’ve grown busy with other things, and stopped learning! Both in preparing and in teaching lessons from the Bible, we need to be asking questions and seeking the answers… then helping our listeners do the same.

Article last updated August 16, 2011.