1. REASONABLY EXPLAIN THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
- Dr. Vivek A. Gundimi
Answer: God is eternal. He is the uncaused effect in terms of His existence. But He is the uncaused cause for my (human) existence. God has no beginning and no end, because He is eternal. In order to find the cause for God’s existence would simply mean that the cause is greater than God. To explain the existence of God in relation to cause and effect would indicate that we are framing a question of His existence in limitation to time and space; questions concerning existence and death relate under the occurrence of time and space. But the problem with that is – God is not bound to time and space, as God created time and space. For a supernatural being such as God it is reasonable enough to have existed without a cause. If anything caused God, then God too would not be infinite and perfect in respect to power, ethics, etc. But He too on the other hand will be controlled in some sense. But however, that is not real! Since we do see His involvement in the history of Mankind, we cannot deny nevertheless His existence in the universe.
2. “Is it right for Christians to believe in Horoscopes, consult Astrologers, Numerologists, Vastu-shastra and do all such Superstitious things?”
-Dr. Vivek A. Gundimi
It’s obviously not right for a Christian to believe or consult Superstitious modes. The purpose of a horoscope is to gain insight into a person’s character and foretell the future. The basic belief of astrology is that planets and stars exercise an influence upon our lives. Vastu shastra i.e. “science of construction” is an ancient doctrine which consists of precepts born out of a traditional and archaic view on how the laws of nature affect human dwellings. It is primarily applied in Hindu architecture, especially for Hindu temples, although it covers other domains. Vaastu shastra combines all the five elements of nature and balances them with the person and the material.
The Bible explicitly forbids divination, sorcery, and hidden arts (Deuteronomy 18:10-14). Christians are to regard only God (Deuteronomy 18:15). Any other source of guidance, information, or revelation is to be discarded completely. The Bible points to Jesus Christ as the only focus of faith (Acts 4:12; Hebrews 12:2). Our trust is in God alone, and we know that He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). Faith in anything besides God is a misplaced risk and an illogical endeavor. Therefore, Superstitious beliefs oppose biblical teaching in two ways: First, it advocates faith in something other than God and, Second it is a form of divination. As Christians, we are to read the Bible and pray to God in order to gain wisdom and guidance. Consulting a superstitious mode is a violation of God’s means of communicating with His children.
3. HOW LONG WAS JESUS DEAD IN THE TOMB?
– Dr. Vivek A. Gundimi
Matthew 12:40 and Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1
Three days and three nights
(Matthew 12:40) – “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Less than three days and three nights
- (Matt. 28:1) – “Now after the Sabbath [SABBATHS-PLURAL], as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.”
- (Mark 16:2) – “And very early on the first day of the week, they *came to the tomb when the sun had risen.”
- (Luke 24:1) – “But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared.”
- (John 20:1) – “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.”
The Jewish day was measured from sun down to sun down. If Jesus was in the grave for three 24 hour periods, then He could not have been raised on the third day because the third day had not yet been completed. He would have to be raised on fourth day for three 24 hour periods to have been completed, and that wouldn’t make sense to then say He was raised on the third day. So, what is going on?
|DAY 1||DAY2||DAY 3|
sundown on Wed.
ends at sundown
starts at sundown on Thu..
starts at sundown on Fri.
ends at sundown
starts at sundown on Sat.
ends at sundown
The solution is simple when we learn that according to Jewish custom any part of a day, however small, is included as part of a full day. “Since the Jews reckoned part of a day as a full day, the ‘three days and three nights’ could permit a Friday crucifixion.” This phenomena is exemplified in scripture in the book of Esther. “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way,” (Esther 4:16 ). Then, in Esther 5:1 it says, “Now it came about on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace in front of the king’s rooms, and the king was sitting on his royal throne in the throne room, opposite the entrance to the palace.” We can see that even though the three days and nights had not been completed, Esther went in to see the King on the third day even though she said to fast for three days and nights. We see that “on the third day” is equivalent to “after three days.”
Jewish Day and hours
The Jewish day is of no fixed length. The Jewish day is modeled on the reference to “…there was evening and there was morning…” in the Creation account in the first chapter of Genesis. Based on the classic Rabbinic interpretation of this text, a day in the Rabbinic Hebrew calendar runs from sunset (start of “the evening”) to the next sunset.
One complicating factor is that there is no clear cut sunrise or sunset time at the extreme latitudes during certain seasons. At higher latitudes in summer, when the sun does not sink below the horizon, a day is counted from midday to midday, and in the winter, when the sun does not rise above the horizon, from midnight to midnight.
There is no clock in the Jewish scheme, so that a civil clock is used. Though the civil clock, including the one in use in Israel, incorporates local adoptions of various conventions such as time zones, standard times and daylight saving, these have no place in the Jewish scheme.
In Judaism, an hour is defined as 1/12 of the time from sunrise to sunset, so during the winter, an hour can be much less than 60 minutes, and during the summer, it can be much more than 60 minutes. A Judaic hour is known as a ‘sha’ah z’manit’ which means a timely hour.
The weekdays start with Sunday (day 1, or Yom Rishon) and proceed to Saturday (day 7), Shabbat. Since some calculations use division, a remainder of 0 signifies Saturday. For convenience, the modern day using Sha`oth Zemaniyoth is often discussed as if sunset were at 6:00pm, sunrise at 6:00am and each hour were equal to a fixed hour.
4. What should be the focus of Christians on Thanksgiving?
– Dr. Vivek A. Gundimi
It’s very evident today, that in thanksgiving we often miss the reason for giving thanks. And so the question for debate is a very pivotal one. It is crucial for us as Christians to understand that the intrinsic point of reference to ‘thanksgiving’ is a grateful heart. The Hebrew word for ‘thanksgiving’ is Towdah which basically indicates two things: confession and praising God (Ps 26:7; 42:4). Christians everywhere have one focus on thanksgiving, and that is to be grateful to God with a heart that confesses the greatness of God’s redemptive work in the world.
5. “Should we be baptized in Jesus’ name (Acts 2:38), or in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)?”
Answer: Acts 2:38 records the Apostle Peter’s words on the day of Pentecost, “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” This was a strong affirmation by Peter that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Being baptized in the name of Jesus indicates an understanding by the person being baptized that Christ is the Savior.
In the Book of Acts, new believers were baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:12; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5). Per Jesus’ own instructions, believers should be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but as the book of Acts proves, baptizing in the name of Jesus is also done. The bottom line is that the name/names in which we are baptized is not as important as the recognition that baptism identifies us with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, our Savior. We are buried with Him and risen to walk with Him in newness of life.
Christian baptism is also in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Being baptized in this manner simply means we are identifying ourselves with the Trinity. We belong to the Father, are saved by the Son, and indwelt by the Spirit. This is similar to how we pray in Jesus’ name (John 14:13). If we pray in the name of Jesus, we are praying with His authority and asking God the Father to act upon our prayers because we come in the name of His Son, Jesus. Being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is being baptized in identification with them and their power over and in our lives. Jesus Himself specifically tells us to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).