5/30/14

From Jim McGuiggan... CHRISTIAN ADVANTAGE [7]


CHRISTIAN ADVANTAGE [7]

These “Christian Advantage” pieces are supposed to address the question of Christian empowerment. Let me see if I can make myself clear about what I’m working with.

The NT expressly says that the Spirit of God that indwells Christians strengthens them [see]. This is not to be denied.

The pieces I’m working with are not aimed at denying that truth or robbing Christians of the power given to them by the indwelling Spirit. Presuming that my present understanding of the Scriptures in this matter is correct [limited as it is] I just want to contribute to the Christian’s empowerment. I’d like to remove some worry that gnaws at the hearts of many sensitive Christians, give them peace and free them to rejoice in some of what the Holy Spirit does in, through and for them.

I want to help them not to be at all disappointed in God or overly disappointed in themselves. I’d like them to shift their gaze to God’s purpose in them rather than a constant checking of their spiritual/moral pulse and temperature.

My own experience [if I can judge by a huge number of people I’ve known down the years and the many letters I get] is the experience of a vast number of Christians. And what is that?

For more than one reason their experience of the biblical promises of empowerment fall short of their personal moral experience—the promises are not fulfilled and there’s always some fine print that explains why.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Paul says in Philippians 4:13 and Christians who find themselves defeated by Sin and sins—not just now and then but year after year after—wonder why they haven’t morally matured and experienced that blessing despite the truth of Philippians 4.

One of the worst fruits of this sense of defeat is this—they begin to doubt the truth of Philippians 4:13. Another is this— they begin to wonder if they truly belong to the Lord Jesus because, if they did, they would surely have the strength to become the devoted and morally mature Christians they long to be and aren’t. But I would suppose that the most commonly experienced bad fruit is that they think there is some fine print they aren’t seeing.

“Fine print” like, “One day but not in this lifetime you will be able to do ‘all things’ through Christ who strengthens you.” [It’s true that the passage doesn’t read like that but maybe that’s the unstated “fine print”.]

“Fine print” like, “Of course the strength of the Lord is offered to you but you have to have the strength to grasp and use it.” [That sounds plausible because the Lord doesn’t turns us into puppets, we must accept what he offers. Still, we wonder what good the offer of the Lord’s strength is if we have to have our own strength to get it. What if we don’t have the strength to get his strength?]

The trouble with these “explanations” as to why we don’t have Christ’s strength to do all these lovely things [like defeat recurring sins, grow in the lovely ways we long for and such]—the trouble with these “explanations” is that they confirm that we lack the strength the passage speaks of.

Two things make matters entirely worse. There are smug and self-righteous Christians who insist we should have already become as morally mature and lovely as they are. [Smugness is a fourth bad fruit that develops in this area.] And if the self-righteous ones are subtle about their “accusation” and confident about their own success the very sensitive tend to believe them—“We should be successful like them.”

The second thing is the realization that countless people who have made no commitment to Jesus as Lord live moral lives at least as morally upright and fine as these disappointed-in-themselves Christians. Setting aside the question: where do these non-Christians get the power? the disappointed follower of Christ wonders why his/her moral life with Christ doesn’t compare favorably with the moral life of those without Christ.

All this and more leads to other bad fruit. “Spiritual depression” and dismay deepen in the defeated and so does impatience in the mature and untroubled believers who can’t understand why no marked growth is seen in the “weaklings”. From pulpits, lecterns and bulletins verses are directed at the weaklings. Passages from the book of Hebrews, for example, which were written to people in danger of apostasy, are used to rebuke people who have no desire whatever to leave the Lord. In truth they hunger for the opposite—they want to please him more, they want his strength to help them to please him.

The concerns of the weak aren’t dealt with. Passages such as Philippians 4 or Ephesians 3 or James 4:7 are quoted as though they were self-explanatory and as though the speakers knew by experience what these passages were talking about. If the preachers, teachers and writers have already “arrived” at great moral power everyone else should have or soon should. If others are not devoted, not truly involved or not morally mature it can only be that they don’t want to be. After all, there’s Philippians 4:13 and Ephesians 1:13, 19 and 3:16.

When believers who cannot and do not want to turn from the Lord Jesus come to believe that the promises are in some definite way beyond their grasp they’re tempted to settle for less. The leaders who see this end up offering the banal and the status quo as teaching/preaching because they have tried constant rebuke or cajoling and it didn't work. It's either that or turf the "weaklings" out.

That’s what these pieces are about.

For clarity’s sake let me just spell out some points and if you choose to pursue me on them DO write me, please.

1. God is at work and always has been at work in the hearts and lives of humans down the centuries. It doesn’t matter who or what they are or where they live. God’s truth though it has been suppressed by the human family as a family has had lovely effects on countless souls though they are all sinners.

2. The Spirit of God did not begin his moral work on Christians only when they became Christians. He was already at work in them long before they came to Christ. Cornelius is a perfect illustration of that truth.

3. The same is true about talents and giftedness [in Christians and non-Christians]—they are gifts from God that develop variously in us in light of our nature and nurture. The idea that the Spirit’s gifts are newly created as if by magic when we become Christians is simply not true. People don’t become Christians and all of a sudden have administrative ability, medical brilliance, patience and other various virtues.

4. The same is true about the baggage we bring with us when we become Christians. Unhealthy fears, ingrained evil habits, ugly attitudes, cruel tendencies and such, these don’t appear by magic—nature and nurture, played on by the “world-spirit” result in our sinfulness and our choosing to sin. These are aspects of who we are when we come to the Lord Jesus for salvation, rescue and the privilege of being his companions [see].

5. The level and nature of our “bentness” differs depending on so many things that there’s no getting to the bottom of an individual profile. We have much in common as humans, of course, but no one’s life runs on the same tracks and while some of the more obvious things about us are predictable [concerning our evil or our moral decency] it’s almost humorous to listen to the gurus who know everything about everyone.

6. The same thing that happens to me and to you is not the same thing that happens to you and me. Part of “the event” is the person to whom it happens. Your father dies and my father dies—same thing! No, not the same thing! I am fragile and you are strong. My marriage falls apart and your marriage falls apart—same thing. No, not the same thing! I have a strong support network and you have no one. The “burden” is never the same because the ones bearing the burden are not the same.

7. What is true about sadness and tragedy is true about blessing and joy. Last year I was capable of "seeing" well; this year [due to trouble] I lack that good vision. It’s true about moral strength and weakness. Children raised in lovely homes with warmth, healthy authority, acceptance and such, have an advantage over children raised in homes of abuse, hyper-criticism and apathy. This is true whether the warm authoritative parents are Christians, Muslims, Jews or Hindus or agnostics.

8. People aren’t shaped by magic, not even divine magic. You want magic? Go to the movies! People are shaped by the Spirit of God but not by his working magic. People are also shaped by an invisible [but real] power of evil that the Scriptures would call satanic or demonic, but not by demonic magic.

9. All this, and more, means that when people come to the Lord Jesus they are people who enter the new creation with different weaknesses or strengths, out of different environments, with different personality traits and different support networks [or none], with different susceptibilities to different forms of sin and different sensitivity to different virtues. All these strengths and weaknesses they bring and they lay them, as part of their very selves, at Jesus’ feet.

10. Since God won’t work magic we shouldn’t expect everyone to be healed in the same way, at the same speed and to the same degree. We shouldn’t even expect to know how to judge such matters. We don’t know enough nor are we pure enough to make such judgments. We certainly know what the obvious evils are but we don’t know the strength of the currents against which people are swimming. You aren’t me! I’m not you! Judge the deed with care and truth but don’t overestimate what you know and don’t overestimate your ability to know!

11. So what’s the difference between the Christian and the non-Christian if the non-Christian is as morally upright as the Christian? So what advantage does the Christian have if God’s Spirit is at work at the moral level in the lives of both non-Christians and Christians?

12.  Paul severely critiques the Jewish nation in Romans 2:17-29 and uses circumcision and the Torah to rebuke the nation. This leads to the question [3:1], “What advantage then has the Jew?” Some scholars think the answer should have been, “None at all!” But Paul says [3:2], “Much in everyway! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.”

13. But how was that an “advantage” if the nation as a nation proved itself faithless to God? The scriptures, the promises were “entrusted” to the Jews but it’s patently obvious from Israel’s history as a nation that the scriptures and promises didn’t transform them into paragons of moral uprightness or faithfulness.

14. The modern scholars I’ve read [I’ve read quite a few] tell us that Israel didn’t have the Holy Spirit so they couldn’t be faithful. Their story is that Christians now have the Holy Spirit so that they can do what Israel could not do because, as they say, Israel didn’t have the Holy Spirit to empower them to keep the law. I think this is nonsense but it’s a discussion for another time [see this and also note the list of faithful heroes in Hebrews 11 whose faith Christians are called to emulate].

15. Passing that by for now, Paul says that the Jews had all kinds of advantage and in particular they had been entrusted with God’s scriptures. Yes, but again, how was that an advantage if i they didn’t morally transform them into devoted followers of God? Well, since Paul said they were advantaged and since it's true that the advantages didn’t morally transform them we need to take a close look at advantage. Since it is true that Christians have been entrusted with God’s scriptures and they haven’t been transformed into moral exemplars and are no better or worse than the decent and upright non-Christian people what advantage do they have, what is the power the Spirit gives?

16. What power do Christians have that non-Christians don’t have? Since OT Israel did have the Holy Spirit’s help what is it that NT believers have that they didn’t? What does the Holy Spirit do for Christians that he doesn’t do for non-Christians?

God enabling I’d like to take that up in part 8.

If you choose, please pursue me on what I’ve said already.


From Bert Thompson, Ph.D. ... The Anthropic Principle




The Anthropic Principle

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

INTRODUCTION

On more than one occasion, evolutionary scientists, while diligently struggling to banish God from His own Universe, have inadvertently accomplished exactly the opposite, and in so doing, have come face-to-face with evidence so powerful, and so astonishing, that it enshrines Him all the more as Creator. However, rather than simply admitting that their findings confirm both a creation and a Creator, they have gone to great lengths to “explain away” the data, or their implications, so that evolution can persist as the most popular explanation for origins. The literature provides multiple instances of this kind of thinking.
For example, Stephen Hawking, in his book, A Brief History of Time, observed: “The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired” (1988, p. 122). But, after acknowledging the “underlying order” in nature, Dr. Hawking quickly dispensed with it, and throughout his book extolled the rich virtues of evolution as “the way it happened.” Paul Davies, the eminent British physicist, has written a book in which the beauty, structure, and extreme complexity of both the Universe and the Earth are examined in depth. Yet Dr. Davies says we exist because of “apparent numerical accidents” and “many more apparent accidents of fortune” (1982, p. 111). Not surprisingly, then, do we discover that he titled his book The Accidental Universe. In that volume, we find this amazing statement:
Many of the rather basic features of the Universe are determined in essence by the values that are assigned to the fundamental constants of nature,...and these features would be drastically altered if the constants assumed even moderately different values. It is clear that for nature to produce a cosmos even remotely resembling our own, many apparently unconnected branches of physics have to cooperate to a remarkable degree (1982, p. 111).
John Gribbin, the renowned evolutionary cosmologist, has voiced his belief that “our form of life depends, in delicate and subtle ways, on several apparent ‘coincidences’ in the fundamental laws of nature which make the Universe tick. Without those coincidences, we would not be here to puzzle over the problem of their existence.... What does this mean? One possibility is that the Universe we know is a highly improbable accident, ‘just one of those things’ ” (1981, pp. 307,309). In the May, 1983 issue of Science Digest, Dr. Gribbin penned an article that discussed in clear terms the design which is apparent in every aspect of the creation. The article concentrated specifically on the Earth, noting how it had exactly the right distance from the Sun, exactly the right distance from the Moon, exactly the right tilt, exactly the right mass, exactly the right atmosphere, and so on. Ironically, the article was titled “Earth’s Lucky Break” (p. 36).

THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE

Perennially, evolutionists have busied themselves with avoiding the obvious design in nature, and the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from such design: there must be a designer. Realizing that design demands a designer, they have spent considerable time and effort attempting to ignore, explain away, or otherwise weaken the implications of the data. Valiant attempts have been made to give their distorted views respectability. Various “principles” of science have been elucidated to confer such respectability. For example, there is the Copernican Principle, which holds that no part of the Universe is more privileged than any other part. The Principle of Mediocrity holds that life on Earth is nothing special and that because of this, the galaxies are likely filled with other civilizations. The Perfect Cosmological Principle states that the Universe should be identical at all times. And so on.
It is, then, astonishing indeed to learn of the naming and development of one of the newest principle in science—the Anthropic Principle. As its name (from the Greek anthropos, meaning “man”) implies, this principle hinges on man’s part in the existence of the Universe. To quote Gribbin: “The ‘Anthropic Principle’ says that our Universe seems to be tailor-made for us because people like us can only evolve in this kind of Universe” (1981, p. 309).
Did Dr. Gribbin say “tailor-made”? Yes, and Robert Jastrow, founder and former director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA, explained why:
Thus, according to the physicist and the astronomer, it appears that the Universe was constructed within very narrow limits, in such a way that man could dwell in it. This result is called the anthropic principle. It is the most theistic result ever to come out of science, in my view.... I really do not know what to make of this result—the Anthropic Principle (1984, pp. 21,22, emp. in orig.).
Dr. Jastrow hardly is alone in his consternation over these latest findings in science. The obvious implications of a “tailor-made” Universe have not escaped many of his colleagues. Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton commented: “As we look out into the Universe and identify the many accidents of physics and astronomy that have worked together to our benefit, it almost seems as if the Universe must in some sense have known we were coming” (1971, p. 50). Sir Fred Hoyle of Great Britain has stronger feelings on the matter. In speaking of the precise requirements needed in nature to synthesize the proper carbon and hydrogen atoms necessary to life, Dr. Hoyle observed:
If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just about where these levels are actually found to be.... A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature (1954, p. 121).
Paul Davies also is troubled over these events.
A clear inspection shows that the Earth is endowed with still more amazing “conveniences.” Without the layer of ozone above the atmosphere, deadly ultraviolet radiation from the sun would destroy us, and in the absence of a magnetic field, cosmic subatomic particles would deluge the Earth’s surface. Considering that the Universe is full of violence and cataclysms, our own little corner of the cosmos enjoys a benign tranquility. To those who believe that God made the world for mankind, it must seem that all these conditions are in no way a random or haphazard arrangement of circumstances, but reflect a carefully prepared environment in which humans can live comfortably, a pre-ordained ecosystem into which life slots naturally and inevitably—a tailor-made world (1980, p. 143).
What is the origin of this novel and controversial position? While the words “anthropic principle” are not new, their use in this respect is. They were first applied to these matters by Brandon Carter in 1974 in a lecture to the International Astronomical Union. Dr. Carter, then at Cambridge and now at the Paris Observatory, published his comments in an article titled “Large Number Coincidences and the Anthropic Principle in Cosmology.” In his lecture, Dr. Carter observed: “What we can expect to observe must be restricted by the conditions necessary for our presence as observers” (1974, p. 291). In other words, the conditions that we observe in the Universe must include those necessary to give rise to intelligent life, or else we would not be here to observe them.
Stephen Hawking paraphrased Carter’s point like this: “We see the Universe the way it is because we exist.” He elaborates as follows: “The idea is that there are certain conditions which are necessary for the development of intelligent life: out of all conceivable universes, only in those in which these conditions occur will there be beings to observe the Universe. Thus our existence requires the Universe to have certain properties...” (1974, pp. 285-286). In his lecture, and subsequent scientific articles, Dr. Carter set forth what he called the Weak Anthropic Principle, as opposed to what he called the Strong Anthropic Principle. Here is the difference.

The Weak Anthropic Principle

Carter said that there was a “biological selection effect” in operation. These were his words, but the idea for them, and thus the idea for the Weak Anthropic Principle (which is based on the concept of “biological selection”) actually were presented thirteen years earlier in a paper in Nature by Robert Dicke (1961, 192:440). Here, using Dicke’s illustration, is how the Weak Anthropic Principle would work. Dicke (as an evolutionist) was attempting to answer the question, “Why do we observe the Universe to be approximately 10 billion years old?” One response, of course (from a strictly evolutionary viewpoint) might be that it is merely a coincidence that we see a Universe that is 10 billion years old. Tony Rothman, writing in the popular science magazine Discover, explained how this problem was solved.
But Dicke reasoned that the Universe must be at least old enough to have generated elements as heavy as carbon because “it is well known that carbon is required to make physicists”—at least physicists as we know them.
Carbon, as it happens, was not created in the Big Bang. Rather it was first synthesized in the earliest stars, and then scattered through space when the stars exploded in supernova, a process that continues today. The cooking time for carbon depends on the mass of a star, but averages a billion years or so. Thus, said Dicke, it would be impossible to observe a Universe younger than the shortest-lived stars, because the very elements we’re composed of wouldn’t exist. On the other hand, if the Universe were much older than it is, most stars would already have collapsed into white dwarfs, neutron stars, or black holes, rendering our type of life impossible for many reasons. Dicke concluded that the fact that we see the Universe to be about ten billion years old is no accident but a necessary result of the biological selection effect. The Universe’s observed age, he said, “is limited by the criteria for the existence of physicists” (1987, 8[5]:91-92).
This is an example of the weak anthropic principle, and is a good illustration of what Carter meant when he said, “What we can expect to observe must be restricted by the conditions necessary for our presence as observers.” The observed values of physical quantities are restricted by the requirement that they be compatible with the development of Homo sapiens.
Stephen Hawking, in his book, A Brief History of Time, provided a simple explanation of what this means:
The weak anthropic principle states that in a Universe that is large or infinite in space and/or time, the conditions necessary for the development of intelligent life will be met only in certain regions that are limited in space and time. The intelligent beings in these regions should therefore not be surprised if they observe that their locality in the Universe satisfies the conditions that are necessary for their existence. It is a bit like a rich person living in a wealthy neighborhood not seeing any poverty (1988, p. 124).
And, said Dr. Hawking, “Few people would quarrel with the validity or utility of the weak anthropic principle” (1988, p. 124).
Of course, creationists would agree, but for different reasons. We accept the fact that the Universe is intricately designed so that it supports life as we know it. We accept the fact that if this were not the case, we wouldn’t be here to observe it (for how, pray tell, could we exist in a Universe that would not support our existence?). We accept Dr. Dyson’s conclusion that the Universe looks as if it “knew we were coming.” We accept Dr. Hoyle’s assessment that a superintellect has “monkeyed with” the physics, chemistry, and biology of the Universe, and that “there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” We even would gladly accept Dr. Davies’ suggestion that our Universe appears to be “tailor-made.” And we concur with all these statements because: (a) The scientific evidence is in agreement with them; and (b) We know the Tailor!

The Strong Anthropic Principle

What, then, is the Strong Anthropic Principle? Carter stated it as follows: “The Universe must be such as to admit the creation of observers within it at some stage.” Most scientists interpret this strong version of the Anthropic Principle to mean that the Universe must be nearly as we know it, or life could not exist. Conversely, if life did not exist, neither, then, would the Universe.
But some scientists, while passively content to accept the Weak Anthropic Principle, are visibly upset over the implications of the strong version. There is good reason for their discomfiture. Paul Davies explained why.
Now clearly the strong anthropic principle is founded on a quite different philosophical basis from the weak principle. Indeed, it represents a radical departure from the conventional concept of scientific explanation. In essence, it claims that the Universe is tailor-made for habitation, and that both the laws of physics and the initial conditions obligingly arrange themselves in such a way that living organisms are subsequently assured of existence. In this respect the strong anthropic principle is akin to the traditional religious explanation of the world: that God made the world for mankind to inhabit (1982, pp. 120-121).
Astronomers, physicists, astrophysicists, biologists, and many others of an evolutionary bent have seen the serious implications of the Strong Anthropic Principle. Dr. Hawking thus observed:
The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron. We cannot, at the moment at least, predict the values of these numbers from theory—we have to find them by observation. It may be that one day we shall discover a complete unified theory that predicts them all, but it is also possible that some or all of them vary from Universe to Universe or within a single Universe. The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life. For example if the electric charge of the electron had been only slightly different, stars either would have been unable to burn hydrogen and helium, or else they would not have exploded. Of course, there might be other forms of intelligent life, not dreamed of even by writers of science fiction, that did not require the light of a star like the Sun or the heavier chemical elements that are made in stars and are flung back into space when the stars explode. Nevertheless, it seems clear that there are relatively few ranges of values for the numbers that would allow the development of any form of intelligent life. Most sets of values would give rise to Universes that, although they might be very beautiful, would contain no one able to wonder at that beauty. One can take this either as evidence of a divine purpose in Creation and the choice of the laws of science or as support for the strong anthropic principle (1988, p. 125, emp. added).
Dr. Davies similarly stated: “If we believe in only one Universe then the remarkable uniform arrangement of cosmic matter, and the consequent coolness of space, are almost miraculous, a conclusion which strongly resembles the traditional religious concept of a world which was purpose-built by God for subsequent habitation by mankind” (1980, p. 162). Dr. Rothman was quite blunt in his remarks about where acceptance of the Strong Anthropic Principle will lead.
It’s not a big step from the SAP to the Argument from Design. You know the Argument from Design: it says that the Universe was made very precisely, and were it ever so slightly different, man wouldn’t be here. Therefore, Someone must have made it.
Even as I write these words my pen balks, because as a twentieth century physicist I know that the last step is a leap of faith, not a logical conclusion.
When confronted with the order and beauty of the Universe and the strange coincidences of nature, it’s very tempting to take the leap of faith from science into religion. I am sure many physicists want to. I only wish they would admit it (1987, p. 99).
Realizing the obvious implications of the scientific evidence supporting both the weak and strong versions of the Anthropic Principle, many evolutionary scientists have rebelled at even the mere mention of it in the halls of science. Yet, in their more candid moments, even these evolutionists are hard pressed to avoid the clear implications of their findings. Listen to Dr. Hawking’s admission on this very topic.
In the hot big bang model described above, there was not enough time in the early Universe for heat to have flowed from one region to another. This means that the initial state of the Universe would have to have had exactly the same temperature everywhere in order to account for the fact that the microwave background has the same temperature in every direction we look. The initial rate of expansion also would have had to be chosen very precisely for the rate of expansion still to be so close to the critical rate needed to avoid recollapse. This means that the initial state of the Universe must have been very carefully chosen indeed if the hot big bang model was correct right back to the beginning of time. It would be very difficult to explain why the Universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us (1988, pp. 126-127, emp. added).
Little wonder, then, that Dr. Jastrow referred to the Anthropic Principle as “the most theistic result ever to come out of science.” And, it hardly is surprising to hear Dr. Davies state: “Many people of a religious persuasion will no doubt find support from these ideas for the belief that the Creator did not aim the cosmic pin at random, but did so with finely computed precision, with the express purpose of selecting a Universe that would be suitable for habitation” (1982, p. 123). That is exactly what the creationists have said all along! It is comforting to see that certain evolutionary scientists finally understand why.

REFERENCES

Carter, Brandon (1974), “Large Number Coincidences and the Anthropic Principle in Cosmology,” Confrontation of Cosmological Theories with Observational Data, ed. M.S. Longair (Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel).
Davies, Paul (1980), Other Worlds (New York: Simon & Schuster).
Davies, Paul (1982), The Accidental Universe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
Dyson, Freeman (1971), Scientific American, September.
Gribbin, John (1981), Genesis: The Origins of Man and the Universe (New York: Delacorte Press).
Gribbin, John (1983), “Earth’s Lucky Break,” Science Digest, 91[5]:36,37,40,102, May.
Hawking, Stephen (1974), “The Anisotropy of the Universe at Large Times,” Confrontation of Cosmological Theories with Observational Data, ed. M.S. Longair (Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel).
Hawking, Stephen (1988), A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam).
Hoyle, Fred (1954), in Astrophysics Journal Supplement, Vol. I; see also Hoyle, Fred (1964), Galaxies, Nuclei and Quasars (New York: Harper & Row).
Jastrow, Robert (1984), “The Astronomer and God,” The Intellectuals Speak Out About God,” ed. Abraham Varghese (New York: Regnery Gateway).
Rothman, Tony (1987), “A ‘What You See Is What You Beget’ Theory,” Discover, 8[5]:90-99, May.
[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Probably the most definitive book yet written on the subject of the Anthropic Principle is the 706-page volume, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, co-authored by John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler (1986, Oxford University Press). Those interested in additional information on this topic may wish to examine this book for further insight.]

Originally published in Reason & Revelation, December 1990, 10[12]:49-52. Copyright © 1990 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

From Mark Copeland... The Conversion Of Cornelius (Acts 10:1-48)

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                 The Conversion Of Cornelius (10:1-48)

INTRODUCTION

1. Up to this point, the gospel had been somewhat limited in its
   outreach...
   a. It had spread throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria - Ac 9:31
   b. Other than Samaritans (who were half Jewish), it had gone only to
      the Jews

2. With "The Conversion Of Cornelius" the first Gentile is saved...
   a. A conversion noted not only because he was the first Gentile
   b. But also for the miraculous events that accompanied his conversion

3. As with Saul of Tarsus, we have more than just one account of his
   conversion...
   a. There is Luke's description, given as it occurred - Ac 10:1-48
   b. There is Peter's description, when he is called to defend his
      actions - Ac 11:1-18

[In this lesson, we will focus our attention to Luke's description of the
events as they occurred...]

I. LUKE'S ACCOUNT OF THIS CONVERSION

   A. CORNELIUS HAS A VISION...
      1. Cornelius, a centurion, is a very religious man - Ac 10:1-2
      2. The angel appears to him - Ac 10:3-6
         a. With an announcement that his prayers and alms have been
            noticed by God
         b. With instructions to send for Peter:  "He will tell you what
            you must do."
      3. Cornelius then sends two servants and a devout soldier to Peter
         - Ac 10:7-8

   B. PETER HAS A VISION...
      1. The next day, praying, hungry, Peter has a vision - Ac 10:9-15
         a. A sheet descends from heaven, containing all sorts of 
            creatures
         b. A voice tells Peter to "kill and eat"
         c. Peter objects, for he has never eaten anything common or
            unclean
         d. The voice tells him, "What God has cleansed you must not call
            common."
      2. The vision is repeated three times - Ac 10:16

   C. THE SPIRIT INSTRUCTS PETER...
      1. The men from Cornelius arrive as Peter contemplates the vision 
         - Ac 10:17-18
      2. The Spirit tells Peter to go, "doubting nothing, for I have
         sent them" - Ac 10:19-20
      3. Peter receives the men and takes brethren with him as they go to
         Cornelius - Ac 10:21-23

   D. PETER ARRIVES AT CORNELIUS' HOUSE...
      1. Cornelius has gathered his family and close friends - Ac 10:24
      2. Peter deflects an attempt by Cornelius to worship him - Ac 10:25-26
      3. Peter explains his presence is a violation of Jewish custom, but
         now understands "I should not call any man common or unclean" -
         Ac 10:27-28
      4. To explain why Peter was called, Cornelius recounts the
         appearance and instructions of the angel - Ac 10:29-32
      5. Cornelius and household were ready "to hear all things commanded
         you by God" - Ac 10:33

   E. PETER'S SERMON TO THE HOUSEHOLD OF CORNELIUS...
      1. He begins with a full perception that God shows no partiality 
         - Ac 10:34-35
         a. A perception started with the vision of the sheet and unclean
            beasts
         b. A perception continued with the Spirit's instruction to go 
            with the messengers
      2. Peter then proceeds to proclaim Jesus Christ - Ac 10:36-43
         a. As Lord who was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power - Ac 10:36-38
         b. Who was killed, but then raised from the dead and seen by
            eyewitnesses who knew Him well - Ac 10:39-41
         c. Who has commanded the apostles to proclaim Him as ordained by
            God to be the Judge of the living and dead - Ac 10:42
         d. Through Whom remission of sins is offered to those who
            believe - Ac 10:43
   
   F. THE SPIRIT FALLS ON ALL WHO HEARD...
      1. While Peter was still speaking - Ac 10:44
      2. Astonishing those of the circumcision - Ac 10:45-46
         a. Jewish Christians who had come with Peter
         b. Because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on 
            Gentiles also
         c. Empowering them to speak with tongues and praise God

   G. PETER COMMANDS THEM TO BE BAPTIZED...
      1. How could anyone forbid water to those who had received the
         Spirit just as the apostles did? - Ac 10:47; cf. Ac 2:1-4
      2. So Cornelius and his household were commanded to be baptized in
         the name of the Lord - Ac 10:48; cf. Ac 2:38

[The events surrounding this conversion are certainly remarkable.  They
evidently were intended to convey important truths.  As we endeavor to
glean what those truths were, here are a couple of...]

II. OBSERVATIONS REGARDING THIS CONVERSION

   A. RELIGIOUS PEOPLE NEED SAVING...
      1. Many people believe that if you are religious, you will be saved
         a. That if you go to church, do good, etc., you have a hope of
            heaven
         b. That you will have earned the right to enter heaven
      2. Yet, though Cornelius was a man who...
         a. Was a devout man and feared God with his whole family - Ac 10:2
         b. Gave alms generously and prayed to God always - ibid.
         c. Still needed to be told "words by which you and all your
            household will be saved" - cf. Ac 11:14
      3. Clearly, being religious alone isn't what saves you
         a. Most examples of conversion in Acts involved religious people
         b. It is the blood of Christ that saves! - cf. Ep 1:7

   B. THE GOSPEL IS FOR ALL NATIONS...
      1. Peter perceived that God is no respecter of persons - Ac 10:34-35
      2. Indeed, God desires that ALL men be saved - cf. Jn 3:16; 1Ti 2:3-6; 2Pe 3:9
      3. Therefore He has not predestined some to be saved and others to
         be lost!

   C. THE GOSPEL CULMINATES IN BAPTISM...
      1. It begins with the need to believe in Jesus - Ac 10:42-43
      2. It ends with immersion in water - Ac 10:47-48; cf. Ac 2:38;
         8:35-38; 22:16
      3. "Baptism is here [in Ac 2:38, MAC] a part of the proclamation of
         Christ. In an Apostolic sermon it comes as its logical 
         conclusion.  An effort ought to be made to restore this note in 
         our [Baptist, MAC] preaching." - George Beasley-Murray, Baptism
         In The New Testament, p. 393

CONCLUSION

1. There are other observations to be made...
   a. Which we will consider in the next chapter
   b. As Peter is called to account for his actions

2. While miraculous events surrounded "The Conversion Of Cornelius", his
   salvation was no different from what we have already seen...
   a. He had to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ - e.g., Ac 8:35
   b. He was taught to believe and commanded to be baptized - e.g., Ac 2:36-38; 8:36-38

3. As Peter would later say, it is "through the grace of the Lord Jesus
   Christ" that both Gentiles and Jews are saved - cf. Ac 15:11
   a. We are saved by grace, not works - cf. Ep 2:5,8; Tit 3:4-5
   b. For it is not enough to be religious...
      1) Who could be more religious than Cornelius?
      2) Or the 3000 at Pentecost, the Ethiopian eunuch, Saul of Tarsus,
         Lydia of Thyatira?

4. The grace of God which saves does require a response, however...
   a. A response of faith - Ac 10:43
   b. Faith in Jesus that comes by hearing the gospel - Ac 10:42
   c. Faith which expresses itself in obedience - cf. He 5:9
      1) Particularly, repentance and baptism - cf. Ac 2:38; 3:19; 10:48
      2) Not as works of merit, but as acts of faith by which one 
         receives God's grace

Those of us who are not descended from Israel can rejoice in what God
revealed with "The Conversion of Cornelius". As properly concluded later
by Jewish brethren in Jerusalem:

  "God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life." - Ac 11:18

Have you taken advantage of this wonderful gift, by responding to the
gospel of Jesus Christ in faith, repentance, and baptism...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

From Gary... Bible Reading May 30

Bible Reading  

May 30

The World English Bible


May 30
Judges 17, 18

Jdg 17:1 There was a man of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Micah.
Jdg 17:2 He said to his mother, The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you did utter a curse, and did also speak it in my ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it. His mother said, Blessed be my son of Yahweh.
Jdg 17:3 He restored the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother; and his mother said, I most certainly dedicate the silver to Yahweh from my hand for my son, to make an engraved image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it to you.
Jdg 17:4 When he restored the money to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made of it an engraved image and a molten image: and it was in the house of Micah.
Jdg 17:5 The man Micah had a house of gods, and he made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.
Jdg 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Jdg 17:7 There was a young man out of Bethlehem Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite; and he sojourned there.
Jdg 17:8 The man departed out of the city, out of Bethlehem Judah, to sojourn where he could find a place, and he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he traveled.
Jdg 17:9 Micah said to him, Where did you come from? He said to him, I am a Levite of Bethlehem Judah, and I go to sojourn where I may find a place.
Jdg 17:10 Micah said to him, Dwell with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver by the year, and a suit of clothing, and your food. So the Levite went in.
Jdg 17:11 The Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man was to him as one of his sons.
Jdg 17:12 Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah.
Jdg 17:13 Then said Micah, Now know I that Yahweh will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.

Jdg 18:1 In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for to that day their inheritance had not fallen to them among the tribes of Israel.
Jdg 18:2 The children of Dan sent of their family five men from their whole number, men of valor, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to search it; and they said to them, Go, search the land. They came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there.
Jdg 18:3 When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite; and they turned aside there, and said to him, Who brought you here? and what do you in this place? and what do you have here?
Jdg 18:4 He said to them, Thus and thus has Micah dealt with me, and he has hired me, and I am become his priest.
Jdg 18:5 They said to him, Ask counsel, please, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.
Jdg 18:6 The priest said to them, Go in peace: before Yahweh is your way wherein you go.
Jdg 18:7 Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people who were therein, how they lived in security, after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and secure; for there was none in the land, possessing authority, that might put them to shame in anything, and they were far from the Sidonians, and had no dealings with any man.
Jdg 18:8 They came to their brothers to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brothers said to them, What do you say?
Jdg 18:9 They said, Arise, and let us go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good: and are you still? don't be slothful to go and to enter in to possess the land.
Jdg 18:10 When you go, you shall come to a people secure, and the land is large; for God has given it into your hand, a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth.
Jdg 18:11 There set forth from there of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men girt with weapons of war.
Jdg 18:12 They went up, and encamped in Kiriath Jearim, in Judah: therefore they called that place Mahaneh Dan, to this day; behold, it is behind Kiriath Jearim.
Jdg 18:13 They passed there to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah.
Jdg 18:14 Then the five men who went to spy out the country of Laish answered, and said to their brothers, Do you know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and an engraved image, and a molten image? now therefore consider what you have to do.
Jdg 18:15 They turned aside there, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even to the house of Micah, and asked him of his welfare.
Jdg 18:16 The six hundred men girt with their weapons of war, who were of the children of Dan, stood by the entrance of the gate.
Jdg 18:17 The five men who went to spy out the land went up, and came in there, and took the engraved image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image: and the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men girt with weapons of war.
Jdg 18:18 When these went into Micah's house, and fetched the engraved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image, the priest said to them, What do you?
Jdg 18:19 They said to him, Hold your peace, put your hand on your mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?
Jdg 18:20 The priest's heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the engraved image, and went in the midst of the people.
Jdg 18:21 So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the livestock and the goods before them.
Jdg 18:22 When they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men who were in the houses near to Micah's house were gathered together, and overtook the children of Dan.
Jdg 18:23 They cried to the children of Dan. They turned their faces, and said to Micah, What ails you, that you come with such a company?
Jdg 18:24 He said, you have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and have gone away, and what have I more? and how then do you say to me, What ails you?
Jdg 18:25 The children of Dan said to him, "Don't let your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows fall on you, and you lose your life, with the lives of your household."
Jdg 18:26 The children of Dan went their way: and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house.
Jdg 18:27 They took that which Micah had made, and the priest whom he had, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and secure, and struck them with the edge of the sword; and they burnt the city with fire.
Jdg 18:28 There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with any man; and it was in the valley that lies by Beth Rehob. They built the city, and lived therein.
Jdg 18:29 They called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel: however the name of the city was Laish at the first.
Jdg 18:30 The children of Dan set up for themselves the engraved image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.
Jdg 18:31 So they set them up Micah's engraved image which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.
 
May 30, 31
John 8

Joh 8:1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
Joh 8:2 Now very early in the morning, he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him. He sat down, and taught them.
Joh 8:3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman taken in adultery. Having set her in the midst,
Joh 8:4 they told him, "Teacher, we found this woman in adultery, in the very act.
Joh 8:5 Now in our law, Moses commanded us to stone such. What then do you say about her?"
Joh 8:6 They said this testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of. But Jesus stooped down, and wrote on the ground with his finger.
Joh 8:7 But when they continued asking him, he looked up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her."
Joh 8:8 Again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground.
Joh 8:9 They, when they heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning from the oldest, even to the last. Jesus was left alone with the woman where she was, in the middle.
Joh 8:10 Jesus, standing up, saw her and said, "Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?"
Joh 8:11 She said, "No one, Lord." Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. From now on, sin no more."
Joh 8:12 Again, therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life."
Joh 8:13 The Pharisees therefore said to him, "You testify about yourself. Your testimony is not valid."
Joh 8:14 Jesus answered them, "Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from, and where I am going; but you don't know where I came from, or where I am going.
Joh 8:15 You judge according to the flesh. I judge no one.
Joh 8:16 Even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent me.
Joh 8:17 It's also written in your law that the testimony of two people is valid.
Joh 8:18 I am one who testifies about myself, and the Father who sent me testifies about me."
Joh 8:19 They said therefore to him, "Where is your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me, nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also."
Joh 8:20 Jesus spoke these words in the treasury, as he taught in the temple. Yet no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
Joh 8:21 Jesus said therefore again to them, "I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sins. Where I go, you can't come."
Joh 8:22 The Jews therefore said, "Will he kill himself, that he says, 'Where I am going, you can't come?' "
Joh 8:23 He said to them, "You are from beneath. I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world.
Joh 8:24 I said therefore to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins."
Joh 8:25 They said therefore to him, "Who are you?" Jesus said to them, "Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning.
Joh 8:26 I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you. However he who sent me is true; and the things which I heard from him, these I say to the world."
Joh 8:27 They didn't understand that he spoke to them about the Father.
Joh 8:28 Jesus therefore said to them, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing of myself, but as my Father taught me, I say these things.
Joh 8:29 He who sent me is with me. The Father hasn't left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him."
Joh 8:30 As he spoke these things, many believed in him.
Joh 8:31 Jesus therefore said to those Jews who had believed him, "If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples.
Joh 8:32 You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
Joh 8:33 They answered him, "We are Abraham's seed, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How do you say, 'You will be made free?' "
Joh 8:34 Jesus answered them, "Most certainly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bondservant of sin.
Joh 8:35 A bondservant doesn't live in the house forever. A son remains forever.
Joh 8:36 If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
Joh 8:37 I know that you are Abraham's seed, yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you.
Joh 8:38 I say the things which I have seen with my Father; and you also do the things which you have seen with your father."
Joh 8:39 They answered him, "Our father is Abraham." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham.
Joh 8:40 But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham didn't do this.
Joh 8:41 You do the works of your father." They said to him, "We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father, God."
Joh 8:42 Therefore Jesus said to them, "If God were your father, you would love me, for I came out and have come from God. For I haven't come of myself, but he sent me.
Joh 8:43 Why don't you understand my speech? Because you can't hear my word.
Joh 8:44 You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and doesn't stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks on his own; for he is a liar, and its father.
Joh 8:45 But because I tell the truth, you don't believe me.
Joh 8:46 Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?
Joh 8:47 He who is of God hears the words of God. For this cause you don't hear, because you are not of God."
Joh 8:48 Then the Jews answered him, "Don't we say well that you are a Samaritan, and have a demon?"
Joh 8:49 Jesus answered, "I don't have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me.
Joh 8:50 But I don't seek my own glory. There is one who seeks and judges.
Joh 8:51 Most certainly, I tell you, if a person keeps my word, he will never see death."
Joh 8:52 Then the Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets; and you say, 'If a man keeps my word, he will never taste of death.'
Joh 8:53 Are you greater than our father, Abraham, who died? The prophets died. Who do you make yourself out to be?"
Joh 8:54 Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is our God.
Joh 8:55 You have not known him, but I know him. If I said, 'I don't know him,' I would be like you, a liar. But I know him, and keep his word.
Joh 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it, and was glad."
Joh 8:57 The Jews therefore said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?"
Joh 8:58 Jesus said to them, "Most certainly, I tell you, before Abraham came into existence, I AM."
Joh 8:59 Therefore they took up stones to throw at him, but Jesus was hidden, and went out of the temple, having gone through the midst of them, and so passed by.