Archive for December, 2017

Mapping the Swamp

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

Today, released their report on Mapping the Administrative State.  Here are their key findings:

1. The federal government pays its disclosed workforce $1 million per minute, $66 million per hour, and $524 million per day. In FY2016, the federal government disclosed 1.97 million employees at a cash compensation cost of $136.3 billion.

2. Over a six-year period (FY2010-2016), the number of federal employees making $200,000 or more has increased by 165 percent; those making $150,000 or more has grown by 60 percent; and those making more than $100,000 has increased by 37 percent.

3. On average, federal employees are given 10 federal holidays, 13 sick days, and 20 vacation days per year. If each employee used 13 sick days and took 20 vacation days in addition to the 10 federal holidays, it would cost taxpayers an estimated $22.6 billion annually.

4. In FY2016, a total 406,960 employees made six-figure incomes – that’s roughly one in five disclosed federal employees. Furthermore, 29,852 federal employees out-earned each of the 50 state governors receiving more than $190,823.

5. At 78 out of the 122 independent agencies and departments we studied, the average employee compensation exceeded $100,000 in FY2016.

6. With 326 employees at a total cash compensation of $28.8 million, we found a federal agency in San Francisco – Presidio Trust – paid out three of the top four federal bonuses including the largest in the federal government in FY2016. The biggest bonus went to an HR Manager in charge of payroll for $141,525.

7. Together, the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employ more than half of the disclosed federal workforce. As the largest civilian employer within the federal government, the USPS employed 32 percent of all disclosed federal employees, totaling 621,523 people on payroll in FY2016. The VA employed the second most employees with 372,614 or 19 percent of the disclosed federal workforce.

8. Only one-third of the 35,000 lawyers in the federal workforce work at the Department of Justice. The entire staff of federal lawyers earned $4.8 billion in FY2016.

9. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employed 3,498 police officers at a total cost of $172 million in FY2016. When asked about corresponding crime statistics, the VA was unable to provide any information on the number of crimes or incidents.

10. There are an additional 2 million undisclosed employees at the Department of Defense and in the active military. Their estimated cash compensation value, combined with $1 billion in undisclosed bonuses and $125 billion in hidden pension data, amounts to roughly $221 billion in undisclosed federal cash compensation per year.

Did Stephen See God?

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Question from a reader:

My boss, who is LDS, and I have frequent discussions about Biblical matters. I was saved by God’s grace out of Mormonism so we’ve had some very interesting conversations (to say the least). 

Today, my boss asked me this question: “Luke is quite emphatic that Stephen saw God with Jesus. If God is without substance, what did Stephen see?” 

Then, he followed with this statement: “Further, if Stephen didn’t see God with Jesus, then Luke’s account is incorrect. Luke is advocating false doctrine, and the Bible is far from inerrant. I would presume that Luke was sincere in his belief that Stephen saw God.”

I know in Whom I believe and I trust the Bible completely. However, my boss is a retired attorney and he asks questions and make statements like the above for which I’m unable to give a succinct reply. I’m just not able to put what I believe into words of explanation. 

Can you, PLEASE, help me with a reply that will make sense to my employer?

Thank you for your question. I believe that one of the best translations to study for this passage is the New American Standard, which describes what Stephen saw as:

“… the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55b)

An even more accurate translation is: “… the glory of God, even Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

Yes, Stephen was given the unique privilege of seeing God. However, technically, this passage does not say that he “saw God;” i.e., it doesn’t say that he saw God, the Father (the first person of the Godhead). It says that he saw “the glory of God,” and he saw this glory of God through Jesus Christ. In other words, by seeing Jesus Christ, he saw the glory of God, because Jesus is God; i.e., He is the second person of the Godhead (although your Mormon friends may have trouble with this interpretation).

Your boss’s assumption, “… if God is without substance…” may need closer examination as well. John 4:24 does indeed say that, “God is spirit.” If this does mean that God is without substance, then the above explanation still holds, since Stephen saw “the glory of God.” Still, we must be careful with this assumption. For example, Jesus is God, and Jesus has a body, so technically, God (i.e., Jesus, the second person of the Godhead) does indeed have a body (even if God the Father, the first person of the Godhead) does not have a body. Even by this, the above explanation still stands.

Furthermore, we must be careful with any assumptions of what it is like to see things in eternity. In our mortal bodies, we simply cannot understand the eternal things of God which are beyond time and space. Perhaps it was difficult for Luke to describe exactly what Stephen saw. Luke, in his physical body, may not have understood the things that Stephen saw in his unique opportunity, just before death (i.e., entering into the very presence of God).

Still, with any of these reasonable explanations, it is still a fact that Luke is not advocating false doctrine, and that the Bible (in its original manuscripts) is indeed inerrant. God, for whatever reason, has given you the challenge of defending your faith to a Mormon who is intelligent and articulate, and an experienced debater–one who is probably capable of twisting his opponents words and thoughts for the purpose of confusion. I can only encourage you in this awesome task.



How is Abortion Argued?

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

Abortion is the killing of unborn children and it is morally defended on the ground that the unborn are not full persons. It is very important that you should understand that right up front. The killing is justified on the basis that the unborn are not full persons. The developing child therefore is described as a mere mass of protoplasm in a pre-human state. This ignores the fact that the developing child quickly assumes human form and that it can never become anything but a human being made in the image of God.

How is abortion argued, based upon medicine, science, humanity, and the Bible?  To find out, click Abortion.

What is Our Purpose?

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

Question from a reader: 

I researched the ‘first cause’ by Thomas Aquinas, and found it to be wanting of a very important nature, purpose. We are all taught that God created us for only one purpose … to worship him … to do his bidding and his will … and if we don’t we get punished for all eternity. God is a dictator … not a loving creator. Because even though we have free will, God doesn’t say that’s O.K. He says that if we don’t do conduct our behavior according to his will, we will be punished. The bible also says that God loves us more than our parents do. That is not true. If we go against our parents’ wishes. They do not punish us for all eternity. Good parents tell their children that they should do as their hearts tell them to. That is real love. Everything that God created, he created for a purpose. Yet what purpose did God have before he created the angels?

Thank you for your question. My perspective is somewhat different than yours, but I hope that I can shed some light on these issues, and maybe learn from each other.

I believe that our purpose is to glorify God. We are a part of His Creation, so everything we do must please Him and bring Him glory–our obedience, our trust, our conduct, etc. (Romans 15:6, 2 Corinthians 5:9). Please see my article on Pleasing God.

We all have the sinful nature of the flesh. We each have sinned, both by committing personal sins and by the imputation of sin from Adam (Romans 5:14-10): Imputation. Yet, since God cannot coexist with sin, there’s nothing that we can do to deserve eternal life in God’s presence, so we have a dilemma. Only God can do anything about this, and He would have been perfectly justified to let us all die in our sins and to separate Himself from us for all of eternity. However, in His love, He instituted a system of grace to solve this problem for us. All we have to do is to believe and trust Him for eternal salvation (John 3:16).

If God is a dictator, then He is a benevolent one. I must simply disagree with you because I believe that God is a loving creator (1 John 4:8, 16). Yes, we have free will, but it is a limited free will (Predestination). God loves us so much that it is only by His plan of grace that there is a solution to our problem. Ephesians 2:4-6 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

God does indeed love us more than our parents love us. He loved us so much that He sacrificed His own son Jesus Christ for us (John 3:16, Romans 5:5), so that all we have to do is to believe Him for our eternal salvation. (Who among us would be willing to sacrifice our own child for others?) God imputes all of our sin onto Jesus Christ who died for our sins and was resurrected for our eternal life. Christ took the punishment for our sin, if we only believe in Him, so God can now look at each of us believers as being sinless.

Again I disagree where you said, “Good parents tell their children that they should do as their hearts tell them to.” Good parents tell their children that they should glorify and obey God; and, that until they’re old enough to thoroughly understand this, they should obey their parents.

Unfortunately, the Bible does not tell us about God’s purpose before He created the angels. Remember that God is an eternal being, so He is not limited by words such as “before” and “after.” Eternity transcends time and space, so these are not boundaries for God, although we (in our physical being) cannot fully understand these concepts. We can simply be assured that since God created everything, then the purpose of everything (including us and the angels) has always been to glorify Him, and this will always be so.

I hope this helps.



Killing during War

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

Hi Owen,

My stepfather is now in his early 80s. He has served in both WWII and the Korean War. During the Korean War, he was in a rice patty where a young Korean boy suddenly popped up in front of him. In a split-second, he had to decide… kill a young boy or be killed. He shot.

To this day, he cannot forgive himself for this in particular above all of the other horrors or war that he has seen and experienced. And, he does not feel that he is worthy of forgiveness by God and Christ for this act.

Are there any Scriptures that you can point to help him gain any sense of peace and comfort?

Thank you.

Thank you for your question.

Many people have misunderstood the Bible on the subject of killing, often because of an incorrect translation in the old King James Version of the Bible. The sixth commandment, in Exodus 20:13, does not actually say, “Thou shalt not kill” as translated in the old King James. A more accurate translation is provided in many of the modern versions, such as the NIV, which says, “You shall not murder.” The Bible forbids the act of murder, which means the unjustified taking of a person’s life (including suicide, abortion, and euthanasia), but it doesn’t forbid all killing. In fact, it is sometimes very adamant that killing is the right thing to do, but it must be justified in God’s eyes.

The Bible tells us quite clearly that killing is not only justified in warfare, but it’s also necessary. It offers many examples where God commands His people to kill their enemy aggressors in warfare. In Genesis 10 through 12 (specifically 10:5 and 11:9), God created the institution of nations, and determined that people would be divided according to national entities. God condemned aggression from one nation against another, and he sanctioned warfare as a means of protection from aggressors. The Old Testament is filled with commands from God to Moses, Joshua, David, and many others, to kill their enemy aggressors. Deuteronomy 20:1 says, “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.”

Sometimes God even commanded the unmerciful annihilation of evil nations. Deuteronomy 2:33-34 says, “The LORD our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army. At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed them–men, women and children. We left no survivors.”

In your stepfather’s experience in Korea, the nations of North Korea and China were the aggressors. They invaded South Korea which was our ally, so we helped them in their defense against those aggressors. Your stepfather explicitly obeyed the Scripture above that says, “… do not be afraid of them, …” He had been trained to obey orders, and that he did. He bravely fulfilled his duty in killing the aggressors, even when he had some moral questions about it.

Remember also that our armed forces work as a team in defeating our enemies. Consider a particular service man whose sole responsibility was to load the proper coordinates for a 90 MM anti-aircraft cannon, perhaps under a cloudy nighttime sky. After the coordinates were loaded, another man positioned and aimed the gun. Another man loaded a mortar shell, and yet another man fired the weapon. If the artillery (hopefully) hit its target aircraft, it likely killed all of the enemy onboard. In many cases, none of these men even saw the far away explosion, but each was (proudly) a part of the killing of the enemy. The unfortunate thing in your stepfather’s incident is that it took place in such close physical proximity to the aggressor. Even if this is a recurring nightmare for him, he should be proud of the part he played in defense of freedom. In fact, the enemy soldier that he killed may have been destined to kill him, or another American soldier, if he had not done the right thing as he did.

Your story reminded me of the movie, Saving Private Ryan. I love the scene with the American sniper, whose job it was to hide, take careful aim with his rifle, and kill German soldiers. Each time, just before pulling the trigger, he would quote a Scripture from the Bible. In other words, He was demonstrating his obedience to God and to his commanding officers by killing the enemy. Such a man, so learned in the Scriptures, probably also said a prayer for his enemies (Matthew 5:44), while he also thanked God for the opportunity for obedience to Him.

Now, regarding forgiveness, Acts 13:38 says, “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” Forgiveness of sin is a matter of believing in Christ. If your stepfather is a believer (John 3:16), then, like the rest of us believers, he can simply claim his eternal forgiveness (Romans 4:7), and use the technique of confession (1 John 1:9) to receive temporal forgiveness. However, regarding his specific actions during war, I believe that there is no need for forgiveness in this situation. His was not an act of sin, but of obedience.

For more information on this, please see my article at Killing.

Please be sure to thank your stepfather for the freedom that he provided to me for his faithful service in fulfilling the (sometimes awful) call of duty from God and from our country, in not just one, but two wars. I was never in the military, and, much less, never in his shoes. Because of this, I truly believe that I’ll never be half the man he is. My simple and easy duty is to simply admire and thank him, and it’s my privilege to do so.

BTW, would you allow me to post your question on my website?



Thanks for your thoughtful response Owen. Yes you may post to the website.

I think the primary struggle is looking the young boy in the face and needing to decide will it be him or me? Shoot a young boy or be killed. Should he have let the young boy live?


Thank you for your reply. I certainly have an appreciation for the fact your stepfather is haunted by that moment when he had to look the young boy in the face and decide what to do. I may not have addressed this issue directly enough. I have never had such a difficult decision, but I’ll try to better explain my view from a biblical and moral perspective.

During those wars, and in all of our wars since then, our enemies have often been terrorists who have been willing to sacrifice the lives of their own women and children by using them as decoys, traps, human shields, and suicide bombers. They quickly learned that American soldiers have compassion for innocent women and children. Unfortunately, our soldiers also quickly learned that they had to be cautious and untrusting in all engagements with enemy civilians. Too often an American soldier came to the aid of such a child only to discover that it was a trap to set off an explosion and kill as many Americans as possible.

Your stepfather suddenly faced a situation where he had to make a split-second decision, and his instincts and military training kicked in. Yes, if he had more time, he might have made a different decision. However, he didn’t have more time. Our enemies intentionally try to cause our soldiers to hesitate by exploiting their compassion and sensitivity as weaknesses. There have been many similar situations where American soldiers tried to help an innocent child, then the slightest move by the child set off an explosion, or a trigger from a nearby enemy sniper. For all your stepfather knew, he was saving American lives by sacrificing the life of a child.

I know it had to be terrible for your stepfather to look the young boy in the face and decide whether to shoot him or be killed. I still adamantly believe that your stepfather did the right thing. I believe that this is obvious by the mere fact that this was the decision at hand–to shoot or be killed. In such (horrendous) moments of battle, our soldiers are taught to do the right thing. They must shoot. They would not further our cause to allow themselves to be killed in such a situation. They are still needed for future battles, and to return home safely.

Note that this does not excuse the war-time murder of civilians such as what some American soldiers did during the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War. Killing the enemy in warfare is justified, but intentional murder is an unjustified sin. Unfortunately, sometimes this is a fine line, requiring an instant decision by our soldiers. War is an ugly, but necessary, thing, and part of the ugliness is having to make quick life-threatening decisions.

So, should your stepfather have let the young boy live? I don’t believe so. He demonstrated strength during wartime, making some quick decisions and acting on those decisions. If his training, battle conditions, and momentary decision-making were similar to what I described, then he can take solace in the Scriptures that I have offered. If, for some reason, a sin was committed, then he simply needs to take solace in confession to God (1 John 1:9), as the rest of us do, in order to receive temporal forgiveness.

I hope this helps. Please feel free to reply again if I can be of any further assistance. Meanwhile, I am praying for your stepfather’s peace and comfort in God (Philippians 4:7).



Questionable Bible Doctrines

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

One of the principles of sound biblical interpretation is that one should not build a doctrine based upon only a single verse or idea. Some doctrines, such as the doctrine of justification by faith alone, are stated emphatically and repeatedly in the Bible, as indicated in the article on Justification by Faith. However, throughout the centuries, many have chosen to build various questionable Bible doctrines with little justification from the Scriptures.

For example, what about evangelicals who preach eternal suffering in hell for unbelievers?  Or, the Roman Catholics’ belief in salvation being (partially) by works and water baptism?  Or, Saturday being the “Christian Sabbath,” as touted by the Seventh-Day Adventists?  Or, the Church of Christ which doesn’t allow musical instruments in their worship?  Or, the Amish who don’t believe in the use of electricity?

Read Questionable Bible Doctrines to see where they got these notions, and whether or not they are Biblical.

Is Trump’s New Tax Bill Good or Bad?

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

I’m a middle-class worker, and the new bill will cut my taxes by $3,800 in 2018.  But, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that the Trump Tax Bill is the worst piece of legislation to ever hit the floor of the House.  And, not a single Democratic Congressperson (House or Senate) voted for the bill.  What ever happened to the Democratic party being the party of the middle class?  Well, see what it will do for you with this simple Trump Tax Cut Calculator.

Trump Tax Cuts

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

The Trump tax cuts will save me thousands of dollars–and probably you too.  With all of the confusion in the media about the new tax plan, here’s the real scoop. You can compare what your taxes will be for the next eight years (starting in 2018), compared to 2017 (and compared to 2025, if these cuts are indeed sunset that year as currently planned). Just enter your marital status, your income, your number of exemptions (this goes away with the new plan), and how many children you have up to age 17. We’ll calculate your 2018 taxes and compare them to your 2017 taxes. We have also included the (old and new) tax rate tables at the bottom of the page.

Use this simple calculator to find out how much your taxes will change:  Trump Tax Cut Calculator.

What Judgment Will Christians Face on Judgment Day?

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

I know the Bible says we will all be judged. And I know the Bible says Jesus has wiped away all our sins. (For Christians).

My question then is if Jesus has wiped away all our sins, what will Christians stand in judgment for on judgment day?

Thank you for your question. I’ve included an excerpt below from my True Christianity link below, and I think this should answer your question.




A discussion of the doctrine of the judgment of God requires an understanding of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of all men (John 3:16, Hebrews 12:2). All of our sins are forgiven via this single sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27), and we’ll never be judged for the individual sins that we commit. In eternity, our sins are forgiven and forgotten by God. Jesus supplied our eternal sacrifice, and through confession (1 John 1:9), we can have God’s temporal forgiveness in this life. If so, then what judgment does 1 Peter 1:17 address? “Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” Furthermore, Romans 2:6 says that God will judge every man according to his deeds. Indeed, all men will be judged, but there are two specific categories of judgment based upon the determining factor of believing in Jesus Christ as personal savior. Remember that upon accepting Christ as savior, God imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to each believer. Without this divine power, man can do no good (Romans 3:10, 12, Psalms 53:3). He may do some humanly good deeds, which have as their source the flesh, but unless the Holy Spirit indwells a person and God sees that person through the righteousness of His son, he can’t perform any divinely good works. In the first category of judgment then, believers will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10), and in the second category, unbelievers will be judged at the Great White Throne of God (Revelation 20:11-15).

The Judgment Seat of Christ

The judgment of all believers will occur at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 14:10), but the Bible doesn’t clearly specify when this judgment will occur. I tend to side with those who believe that our day of judgment will occur after the rapture and during the tribulation period, but it’s probably a moot point since time can’t be set in an eternal state. Nevertheless, we’re assured of both the rapture and this judgment which introduce what the Bible calls “. . . the day of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:8), and we’re charged to be prepared for it and remain blameless in this life until that day. In 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, we see that in that day, “. . . his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.” Christ will test the quality of our works with fire, which will burn up the wood, hay, and straw, but leave the pure gold, silver, and precious stones. God will repay us for our deeds in the body, according to what we’ve done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). Christ will reveal whether our good works were only humanly good works produced by the flesh like the wood, hay, and straw similar to that of “good” unbelievers, or whether our good works came from the divine power of the Holy Spirit in the form of gold, silver, and precious stones. For the divine good works that survive the test of fire, Jesus will credit our account (Philippians 4:17). For our human good works, we’ll suffer loss of rewards, but we’ll keep our eternal life (1 Corinthians 3:15). We’re promised that God will repay us for our service to Him (Ephesians 6:8), and we’ll receive “. . . an inheritance from the Lord as a reward” (Colossians 3:24).


We’re not told the details of these rewards, but any reward from God must be wonderful and worthy of our service. Our rewards may be personal commendations from Jesus, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23). They may be in the form of crowns (1 Corinthians 9:25, Revelation 3:11). In 1 Peter 5:4, a special “crown of glory” is specified for leaders who serve well. In 2 Timothy 4:8, we see a crown of righteousness for those who live Godly lives and long for Christ’s return. James 1:12 references a crown of life for those who persevered by God’s grace, while under trial for their faith.
Philippians 4:1 speaks of a crown of joy for those who stand firm in their service to God. Our rewards may be positions of authority or leadership as we reign with Christ (2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 20:6, 22:5). By 1 Corinthians 6:3, we’ll even be given authority to judge the angels. No matter what our rewards are, Christians in this life must have faith that God will make all our service to Him worthwhile. We should understand that the name of the game after salvation while we remain on the earth is service to God and rewards from Jesus Christ Works

This system of judgment and rewards for Christians in return for divinely good works doesn’t at first sound like a grace system, does it? However, God established this system of works within His all-encompassing system of Grace, similar to the way he had a system of works to govern the daily lives of the Jews in the Old Testament, although the two are completely mutually exclusive. When not properly oriented toward God’s grace and sovereignty, a Christian can feel guilty for trying to earn eternal rewards. Of course our works should be motivated from our love for Christ, but Matthew 6:19-20 says not to seek earthly treasures (coveting), but to seek heavenly treasures (rewards) with fervor.

The Great White Throne

The judgment of unbelievers will occur after the Millennium as all unbelievers stand before the Great White Throne of God (Revelation 20:11). God will judge all their deeds (Romans 2:6) and find that they’re all lacking the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22), and God will cast them all into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 20:15). The Bible doesn’t specify how the judgment of their individual human good works will affect their eternal doom in the lake of fire. Perhaps there will be degrees of punishment in hell, although we can’t perceive a punishment worse than hell itself. Romans 1:18-27 tells us that they deserve their punishment, and they have no excuse for their unbelief, since God has revealed Himself to all men.


We’ll all face God’s judgment, whether we’re believers or unbelievers. Believers will be rewarded for their divinely good works, and they’ll spend eternity in paradise, either as wealthy recipients of many rewards, or as paupers in comparison to what they could have had. At the Great White Throne of God, unbelievers will be found to lack the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and they’ll be sentenced to the lake of fire forever. Our concern in this life is that of pleasing God as Christians through our faith, our obedience, and our earning of heavenly rewards.

Will We Know One Another in Heaven?

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Thank you for your question. The Bible is not definitive about what our relationships with others will be like in heaven. The best passage that we have on this is probably Matthew 22:23-33 where Christ is answering a question from the Pharisees concerning the afterlife for a woman who had multiple husbands on earth. In verse 30, Jesus says, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” This implies that people in heaven will know each other, but they won’t have the same relationships, such as marriage.

I believe that our existence in heaven will be overpowered by God’s glory (Revelation 4:9-11). We will be so awe-struck by being in the very presence of God, that we will somehow not even be too concerned with others.

Love in Christ,