Weekly sermons from New Life Church in Ithaca, NY featuring our pastor, Rev. Dr. Timothy R. LeCroy. Visit our website at: www.newlifeithaca.org
How Can a Loving God Allow Suffering? Hard Questions, Real Answers, Part 4
Can’t God just stop pain if he wants to? Why does he allow suffering if he is all powerful? Doesn’t this make God unloving and unjust?
Pastor Tim takes on this important question in today’s sermon.
Free will was the cause of our doing evil, and Your righteous judgment of our suffering it.
-St. Augustine, Confessions 7:3, 5th c.
Meanwhile let us remember that our ruin is attributable to our own depravity, that we may not insinuate a charge against God himself, the Author of nature. It is true that nature has received a mortal wound, but there is a great difference between a wound inflicted from without, and one inherent in our first condition. It is plain that this wound was inflicted by sin; and, therefore, we have no ground of complaint except against ourselves.
-John Calvin, Institutes 2:1:10, 16th c.
A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil. The fact that free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God’s omnipotence nor against His goodness; for He could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.
-Alvin Plantiga, The Nature of Necessity, 1974
The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs– heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
This is part four of a new
How Can We Take the Bible Literally? Hard Questions, Real Answers, Part 3
The Bible has some really strange and difficult things in it. How can Christians say that they take it literally? We explore this important question, delving into the Bible’s complexity as an ancient religious text.
This is part three of a new sermon series at New Life Presbyterian Church called, Hard Questions, Real Answers. Here is the schedule of our sermon series with the topics we will cover:
How can we say that Christianity is the one true religion?
How can we say that the Bible is the only true religious text?
How can we take the Bible literally?
How can a loving God allow suffering?
Doesn’t science disprove religion?
Doesn’t Christianity allow slavery?
How can you believe in hell?
How can I be in the Church when it has hurt me and so many others?
Isn’t Christianity anti-women?
Isn’t Christianity homophobic?
How can we adhere to a religion with so many problems?
“How Can We Take the Bible Literally?” a sermon preached by Pastor Tim LeCroy on Sunday, September 24, 2023 at New Life Presbyterian Church, 950 Danby Rd., Ithaca, NY. Join us for worship every Sunday at 10:00AM.
The post How Can We Take the Bible Literally? Hard Questions, Real Answers, Part 3 first appeared on New Life Ithaca.
Apocrypha and Canon: Hard Questions, Real Answers, Part 2 – Sermon Follow-up Podcast
A new weekly feature where we follow up on the previous week’s sermon and highlight some of the Q&A. This week we tackle the topics of canonicity and apocrypha.
Listen to the previous week’s sermon as background. Leave your questions in the comments.
The post Apocrypha and Canon: Hard Questions, Real Answers, Part 2 – Sermon Follow-up Podcast first appeared on New Life Ithaca.
How Can We Say That the Bible is God’s Only True Word? Hard Questions, Real Answers, Part 2
Doesn’t the Bible have many contradictions and errors? Wasn’t it written well after the events of Jesus’s life? How can we say that the Bible is the true religious text when there are other religious texts that claim to be true?
In this sermon Pastor Tim attempts to address this question about the exclusivity of the Christian Bible.
2 Peter 1:16-21
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
2 Timothy. 3:16
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
2 Peter 3:15-16
And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
1 Clement 47:1-3
Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. 2 What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? 3 Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you.
Ignatius to the Romans 4:3
I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you. They were apostles; I am but a condemned man: they were free, while I am, even until now, a servant. But when I suffer, I shall be the freedman of Jesus, and shall rise again emancipated in Him. And now, being a prisoner, I learn not to desire anything worldly or vain.
New Testament Papyri
The oldest extant New Testament Papyrus is P52, which contains a snippet of John (John 18:31-33, 18:37-38) and is estimated by scholars to be dated to between 125 and 175 A. D.
How Can We Say that Christianity Is the Only True Religion? Hard Questions, Real Answers, Part 1
Isn’t it arrogant or disrespectful to claim that one’s own religion is the only true one? And don’t all religions have an equal claim to what is true? We tackle this and more in the first sermon in our series: Hard Questions, Real Answers
Sermon text: John 14:1-6
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
“How Can We Say that Christianity is the Only True Religion?” the first sermon in the series Hard Questions, Real Answers was preached by Pastor Tim LeCroy on Sunday, September 10, 2023 at New Life Presbyterian Church, 950 Danby Rd, Ithaca, NY. Join us each Sunday at 10am for worship and Holy Communion.
The post How Can We Say that Christianity Is the Only True Religion? Hard Questions, Real Answers, Part 1 first appeared on New Life Ithaca.
The Final Hallelujah
The Psalter closes out with a song of praise. But there is more than meets the eye. Psalm 150 gives a rich theology of and apologetic for gathered worship.
Sermon text: Psalm 150
Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! 2 Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! 3 Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! 4 Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! 5 Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!
The Final Hallelujah, a sermon on Psalm 150, preached by Rev. Dr. Timothy R. LeCroy, Senior Pastor. New Life Presbyterian Church is located at 950 Danby Rd., Ithaca, NY. Join us for worship each Sunday at 10:00am.
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