4/16/15

From Jim McGuiggan... The real basis for hope

The real basis for hope

Hope is that thing that looks harsh reality in the eye, recognises it for what it is and still believes that everything is working toward a satisfying and glorious conclusion because God has said so with an eternal "yes!" It isn’t a silly optimism that can only make sense on a lovely spring morning when everything is going our way—that’s not hope! Hope—at least the biblical kind—is made of stronger stuff than that. It doesn’t close its eyes to tough truth, hard to handle arguments, distressing mysteries and the unceasing pain of a wrong and wronged world.
And what is there that’s strong enough to look these awful realities in the eye, give them their due and then dismiss them with confidence? Cosmic troubles can only be dealt with by cosmic assurance! Only galactic-sized answers can satisfy galactic-sized questions and only the "God of all comfort" can comfort universal suffering. We Christians hope and cry one to another in the words of one of our ancient fellow-believers, "Hope thou in God!"
With money in the bank, good health and an extensive support system of friends and family we’re conned into thinking that we can truly hope. When we’ve elected the "right" President or Prime Minister and the various government houses are well-stocked with the kind of politicians we approve, we have a sense of security—hope is well grounded. But when our dwindling money can only buy us medicine and not health, when our friends have troubles of their own and can’t be there for us all the time and when our pain is only augmented by the pain our families are bearing we move from dismay toward despair. When our political leaders prove to have clay feet and prove to have promised too much--more than they can deliver, we stupidly look for others or we descend into cynicism.
I’ve no wish to deny that these realities and more are part of daily living as humans and that they matter! I want to say that the hope of the world and the hope of each one of us as part of that human family is grounded nowhere else but in the work of God as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. It isn’t the denial of harsh realities that we proclaim it’s the affirmation of undeniable truth as it is seen in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Shame on all that minister the word in God’s name who feed us nothing but "nice" little sermons and "delightful" little points and "interesting" little biblical portraits and "informative" glances at this or that! These are not the truths that give us a sense of our destiny and mission to the world. These are not what fill us with purpose and the power to defy the chaos of the world and the entrenched evils that would strip us of dignity and meaning. It’s the cross and what it means that disarms the authorities and powers and makes a spectacle of them; and nothing less than feeding the church on all these massive truths is the minister’s business.
We need more than correct "answers" to biblical questions and more than tanker-loads of moral opinions while starving for the meaning and implications of the Incarnation, life, death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ to God’s right hand. We need more than a "gospel" that is almost an apologetic invitation instead of a bold declaration of the fact of Christ’s Lordship!
We don’t need leaders whose aim is greater numbers in their churches, whose central aim is to please the religious consumers they have helped to create. We don’t need ministers who are especially concerned with making a name for themselves as "fearless"; men that spend their lives correcting people at important points while depriving the church of the indispensable "gospel" that enables it to face a fierce world like ours with radiant hope in their hearts. The hope and radiance the world needs to see and hear is that which is generated by God’s redeeming work in Jesus Christ. And if we don’t know or really care how to develop that and make it the steady diet of our people then we ought to get an honourable job like digging ditches or driving a taxi.

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

Are You Informed About Islam? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=2108

Are You Informed About Islam?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

With the advent of 9/11, our world, and the way we view it, has been forever altered. As you well know, Islam has not only captured international attention, it is expanding its influence and making extensive encroachments into American culture. Over 1,200 mosques dot the American landscape—most built within the last two decades. Influential American authorities, from politicians to public school educators, are promulgating the equal acceptance and pluralistic promotion of Islam in public life. The first Muslim in recent American history was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and took the oath of office on a Quran (Warikoo, 2007). The Democratic National Committee recently invited a Shi’ite Imam to lead the opening prayer at their winter meeting (“Imam Leads...,” 2007).
The time is here. Christians, and for that matter, Americans, can no longer afford to be uninformed about the threat that Islam poses to Christianity and the nation. It is imperative that Christians recognize the critical need to influence the expanding numbers of Muslim converts in our prisons as well as those entering the country. We simply must “be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
Allow me to remind you that Apologetics Press has produced a book that will both inform you about Islam, as well as prepare you to help Muslims see the truth. The Quran Unveiled examines Islam’s holy book with a view toward ascertaining whether it is, in fact, of supernatural origin. If the Quran is from God, it must possess the self-authenticating attributes and characteristics of divine inspiration. If it is not from God, though it may possess certain positive, even valuable, qualities, it must be rejected as disqualified to legislate human behavior in an absolute and ultimate sense.
The Quran Unveiled provides the reader with a meticulous assessment of several significant teachings of the Quran. Here are some of the critical questions answered in the book:
  • Does the Quran teach that a man may have up to four wives?
  • Does the Quran teach that Christians are “infidels”?
  • Does the Quran endorse violence and killing in order to advance Islam?
  • Does the Quran teach that Jesus is the Son of God—or simply a human prophet?
  • Does the Quran teach that virgins await those who enter Paradise?
Allowing the Quran to speak for itself, The Quran Unveiled provides sufficient evidence to bring the reader to the firm realization that the Quran and the Bible stand in stark contradistinction to each other.
Many people refuse to consider the beliefs of others, and simply stick with those beliefs to which their family and cultural environment exposed them. But in order to grasp the full extent of the chasm that exists between the Bible and the Quran, one should read both thoroughly. Muslims should read the Bible, and Christians should read the Quran. The disparity between the two is monumental.
Apologetics Press continues to pursue its cutting-edge articulation of New Testament truth as it relates to current culture. The Quran Unveiled is one more important resource in the “A.P. arsenal” in our ongoing defense of the Christian Faith and our warfare against the forces of Satan. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. We urge you to secure your personal copy today. Or, if you prefer, we also have available The Islam Seminar DVDs that allow you to view a live lecture and PowerPoint presentation of much of the material contained in the book.

REFERENCES

“Imam Leads Democrats in Prayer of Conversion” (2007), World Net Daily, February 3, [On-line],URL: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54085.
Warikoo, Niraj (2007), “Ellison: Quran Influenced America’s Founding Fathers,” Detroit Free Press, January 5, [On-line], URL: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070105/NEWS01/70105032/ 0/NEWS02.

An Inspiring Glimpse into the Text of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Thomas Tarpley, B.S.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=1231

An Inspiring Glimpse into the Text of the Dead Sea Scrolls

by Thomas Tarpley, B.S.

Thanks to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we are able, with greater confidence, to believe in the Bible, knowing beyond any doubt that it is authentic. The significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, in relation to biblical studies, can be separated into different areas. In this article, I would like to examine specifically the matter of the Old Testament text. As we study that text, we find that, prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, witnesses of the Old Testament text and canon were confined mainly to the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible.
For many years, scholars doubted that extremely ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament would ever be found. Sir Frederick Kenyon, in the 1948 printing of Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts,stated: “There is indeed, no probability that we shall ever find manuscripts of the Hebrew text going back to a period before the formation of the text which we know as Masoretic. We can only arrive at an idea of it by a study of the earliest translations made from it.…” Ironically, as his book was being printed, evidence that would invalidate such statements was being uncovered (see Pfeiffer, 1969).
Until the year 1947, the earliest manuscripts we possessed dated back to only around the tenth century A.D. These manuscripts composed what is known as the Masoretic Text, which was put into a fixed form in approximately A.D. 500. In the year 1947, a significant-yet-unexpected event occurred that would help document the authenticity of our present-day Bible. This special event took place in the northwestern corner of the Dead Sea, at a place known as Qumran. In a cave at Qumran, a young Bedouin boy accidentally stumbled upon a treasure trove of clay jars containing several ancient manuscripts—a find that proved to be one of the greatest discoveries of all time. These manuscripts take us back 1,000 years earlier than the Masoretic Text, to the first century B.C. The manuscripts, which are part of the Qumran library, are known collectively as the Dead Sea Scrolls. There are several lines of evidence that have put to rest the question of how old they are. This evidence was confirmed by paleography (the study and interpretations of ancient writings), orthography (the study of letters and their sequences in words), and archaeology.
Because these manuscripts have been proven to be so old, some initially questioned their quality (Geisler and Nix, 1986). Admittedly, there is indeed a scarcity of very ancient Hebrew manuscripts, due to the mere fact of how old and fragile, by necessity, they would be. Such documents would have to survive for two to three thousand years—a very long time considering the destructive nature of the elements (and man). Exactly how good, then, are the surviving manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls?
The quality of the Old Testament manuscripts from Qumran is actually very good, because there are relatively few variants in the texts. After the Masoretes copied manuscripts, they destroyed the old copies. The documents from which the Masoretes copied were handed down from two ancient sources. The first was the work of a man called Rabbi Akiba. He was a leader in the movement of biblical interpretation who, toward the end of establishing an official text, was assisted by a man named Aquila. This process of establishing an official text was completed in Palestine between the years A.D. 132-135, which was fairly close to the time the Qumran texts were written (Pfeiffer, 1969). The second source was the work of the sopherim. The term sopherim, as used in the second and third centuries, referred to the rabbis. In studying early rabbinical writings, we can see a clear picture of their work. While studying the text of Scripture that had been passed on to them, they attempted to “set” the pronunciation of certain words, and remove what they deemed insignificant pieces of the text. In the margins of the Scriptures, they made notes, indicating changes they felt should be made, and they placed points above letters or words that they thought were unneeded. Scholars are not always in agreement with the rabbis’ judgments, but the traditions they represent are helpful in the study of textual problems.
The Jews possessed a great reverence for the Bible, and as a result, they laid down numerous exact specifications for the process of copying the Scriptures. These specifications related to the kinds of skin that were to be used, the types of ink, the size of columns, the spacing of words, and the fact that nothing could be written from memory. There also was a ritual that had to be performed before they could write the name of God. The lines, and even the letters, were counted methodically. If a manuscript was found to contain even one mistake, it was systematically destroyed. This scribal formalism accounts for the extreme care in copying the Scriptures (Geisler and Nix, 1986).
In accordance with scribal formalism, the extreme care for the Scriptures was carried over to the Masoretes. The work that is associated with Akiba and the sopherim was placed into its final form by the Masoretes, whose work was completed about the tenth century. They strove diligently to preserve the text that had been handed down to them. The traditional pronunciation was indicated by a system of vowels and accents. Hebrew (along with other Semitic languages) is written with a consonantal alphabet. Numerous precautions were taken by the Masoretes to ensure the purity of the text, including such things as counting the verses, the words, and even the letters of the books of the Old Testament. The Masoretes recorded how often the same word appeared at the beginning, middle, or end of a verse. They also recorded the middle verse, middle word, and middle letter of each book. The corrections suggested by the sopherim were carefully noted in the margins, but the integrity of the text itself remained basically unaltered. We today owe a great debt to the Masoretes for their strictness and care in safeguarding the text of God’s Word so carefully for so many centuries.
Another line of evidence that supports the innate quality of the Qumran manuscripts is the duplication of passages within the Masoretic text itself. Several psalms occur more than once; much of Isaiah 36-39 is also found in 2 Kings 18-20; Isaiah 2:2-4 is parallel to Micah 4:1-3; Jeremiah 52 is a repeat of 2 Kings 25; and large parts of Chronicles are found in Samuel and Kings. When examined, these passages not only show textual agreement but, in many cases, there is word-for-word identity (see Geisler and Nix, 1986).
The nature of the Dead Sea Scrolls is crucial to the establishment and confirmation of the true text. Because the Dead Sea Scrolls contain countless fragments of every book in the Old Testament except for Esther, there are plenty of samples with which to make comparisons to the Masoretic Text. But why would we need to compare the Dead Sea Scrolls with the Masoretic Text? What would such a comparison reveal? The purpose in making such a comparison is to determine if the Dead Sea Scrolls are similar to the Masoretic Text, and if so, in what ways. The evidence of these comparisons actually ends up providing an overwhelming confirmation of the fidelity of the Masoretic Text. Millar Burrows, writing in his book, The Dead Sea Scrolls, concluded: “It is a matter of wonder that through something like a thousand years the text underwent so little alteration. As I said in my first article on the scroll, ‘Herein lies its chief importance, supporting the fidelity of the Masoretic tradition’ ” (1955, p. 304).
Other scholars have noted that the differences between the standard text of A.D. 900 and the text from 100 B.C. are extremely minor. Gleason Archer, in his work, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, observed that two copies of Isaiah from cave 1 of Qumran “proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95% of the text. The 5% of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling” (1974, p. 44). Further studies have supported the conclusion that the Dead Sea Scrolls are very similar to the Masoretic Text, which leads us to conclude that today’s Hebrew text faithfully represents the original as was written by the authors of the Old Testament.
There are other lines of evidence that I will not have the space to discuss in this brief article, such as support from archeology, the close parallel between the LXX and the Masoretic Text, and the agreement of the Qumran manuscripts with the Samaritan Pentateuch. As a result of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars now have access to ancient Hebrew manuscripts that are 1,000 years older than the Masoretic Text manuscripts, which has enabled scholars to confirm the incredible accuracy of the Hebrew Text. In fact, a comparison of the standard Hebrew texts with that of the Dead Sea scrolls has revealed that the two are virtually identical. The variations (about 5%) occurred only in minor spelling differences and minute copyists’ mistakes. Thus, as Rene Paché noted: “Since it can be demonstrated that the text of the old Testament was accurately transmitted for the last 2,000 years, one may reasonably suppose that it had been so transmitted from the beginning” (1971, p. 191).
By way of conclusion, we may observe that all the thousands of Hebrew manuscripts (in whole or in part), with their confirmation by the LXX and the Samaritan Pentateuch, as well as the numerous cross references from without and within the text, give overwhelming evidence for the reliability of the Old Testament text. Therefore, it is safe to conclude, as did Sir Frederick Kenyon, that “the Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries” (1948, p. 55).

REFERENCES

Alexander, David and Pat Alexander, eds. (1973), Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible (Oxford, England: Lion Publishing).
Archer, Gleason (1974), Survey of Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody), revised edition.
Burrows, Millar (1958), The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking).
Geisler, Norman L. and William E. Nix (1986), A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Kenyon, Frederick (1948), Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (New York: Harper).
Paché, Rene (1971), The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Pfeiffer, Charles F. (1969), The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

A Coherent Definition of a God by Kyle Butt, M.A.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1022

A Coherent Definition of a God

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

Renowned atheistic spokesperson, Dan Barker, has been debating the existence of God for over two decades. One of his favorite assertions is that no one can coherently define God. Since, he claims, no one can define God, we should conclude that there is an extremely high probability that God does not exist. In my debate with him on God’s existence, two minutes and four seconds into his opening speech, he stated: “There’s no coherent definition of a God. How can we debate something that we can’t even define? God is defined as a spirit, but what is that?” He admitted that this argument does not disprove God, but he claimed that it makes the idea of God so unlikely and improbable that we should simply “round up” and disbelieve in God (Butt and Barker, 2009).
As with many of Barker’s other statements, his “no coherent definition” idea is simply an assertion that seems plausible only until it is critically analyzed in light of sound reasoning. First, God can be defined in such a way that brilliant men and women for thousands of years have been able to intelligently discuss God’s attributes, existence, and qualities? In fact, the vast majority of standard dictionaries give a working definition that most third-graders understand. For instance, the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary gives the following definition for “God”: 1. “the supreme or ultimate reality: as a: the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe” (2009). The American Heritage Dictionary’s primary definition of “God” is: “1. God a. A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions” (2000, p. 753). Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, a massive volume of almost 3,000 pages, defines “God” as: “the supreme or ultimate reality: the Deity variously conceived in theology, philosophy, and popular religion: as (1): the holy, infinite, and eternal spiritual reality presented in the Bible as the creator, sustainer, judge, righteous sovereign, and redeemer of the universe who acts with power in history carrying out his purpose...” (1993, p. 973).
So coherent, in fact, is the definition of God that it is absent from books such as The New York Times’ Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, Mispronounced Words (1972). The term “God” is defined in every major dictionary, it is absent from the books that compile words that are difficult to understand, and the term has been used in meaningful conversation for thousands of years since the dawn of humanity. In order for a person to say that God cannot be coherently defined, he would need to change the meanings of the words “coherent” or “defined.” The fact that the term “God” is included in this article, and the reader can differentiate it from all the other concepts and terms being discussed, goes a long way to proving that the term can be meaningfully defined.
But let us dig deeper into Barker’s assertion and deal with another idea he presents. Barker has a problem with the term “spirit,” and he claims that no one knows exactly what a spirit is. Thus, he suggests, God cannot be something that no one can explain. In answer to Barker’s assertion, we could simply give another list of dictionary definitions of the word “spirit.” The Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary gives several meanings of the word, including: “1: an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms” or “4: the immaterial intelligent or sentient part of a person” (2009). A lengthy list of dictionary definitions would most likely bore the reader, but it would show that the term “spirit” is used in common parlance, easily understood, and discussed.
The idea that Barker seems to be presenting, then, is not that people have a difficult time defining or discussing terms like “God” or “spirit.” Barker seems to be indicating that since everybody’s definition of a “spirit” is not identical, and since we do not know everything about a “spirit,” then the concept must be unproductive. Of course, if we eliminate all the concepts that we do not unanimously agree upon or that we do not completely understand, our discussions would be extremely limited. For instance, in Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene, Dawkins attempted to define the word “gene,” but he noted: “My definition will not be to everyone’s taste, but there is no universally agreed definition of gene” (2006, p. 28, emp. added). Charles Darwin himself, when discussing the term “species” (which term was in the title of his most famous book) wrote: “Nor shall I here discuss the various definitions which have been given of the term species. No one definition has satisfied all naturalists; yet every naturalist knows vaguely what he means when he speaks of a species” (1860, p. 38, emp. added). Quotes like these two could be multiplied and are sufficient to show that there need not be unanimous agreement about a term in order for it to have meaning.
Furthermore, it would be impossible to limit our vocabulary to concepts that are completely and fully understood. Can we use words that describe things that we do not totally understand? Indeed, not only is it permissible, but it is commonly practiced by all. For instance, in his book, The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins stated: “Nobody has yet invented the mathematics for describing the total structure and behaviour of such an object as a physicist, or even of one of his cells. What we can do is understand some of the general principles of how living things work, and why they exist at all” (1996, p. 3, emp. added). Notice that Dawkins admits that we cannot fully understand and describe a single cell, but that does not stop us from defining its generalities and using them to discuss the concept of a “cell.” In Robert Hazen’s series, Origins of Life, he has an entire lecture titled “What is Life?” In that lecture, he attempted to define the term “life,” but he noted that he had seen at least 48 definitions, “Yet, remarkably, no two definitions are the same” (2005, p. 49). He further stated: “As you can imagine, scientists crave an unambiguous definition of life. Such a definition remains elusive” (p. 50). Hazen quipped that many scientists are “loath to draw too narrow a definition [of life—KB] in our present state of ignorance” (p. 51, emp. added); “I would argue that scientists in the early 21st century are in the same boat [as those in the 18th century—KB]—no position to define life.... To summarize this lecture, there is no simple answer to the question, ‘What is life?’” (p. 58). Using Barker’s line of reasoning in light of Dr. Hazen’s lecture on life, there must be no such thing as life, since we do not have a definition upon which all scientists agree. As you can see, such a conclusion is irrational. Furthermore, Barker and the scientific community have no qualms discussing ideas such as dark matter, dark energy, and black holes, even though these concepts cannot be accurately defined.

DEFINING “SPIRIT” POSITIVELY

In the cross-examination section of our debate, Barker asked me what a spirit is. I stated that a spirit is a “non-physical, incorporeal mind.” He responded by saying, “But that doesn’t answer the question. You told us what it is not. You said it is non-corporeal, non-physical. But positively, what is a spirit?” (2009). Notice that my definition included the positive concept of a spirit being a mind. Barker conveniently focused on the words “non-physical” and “incorporeal,” but intentionally ignored the definition of spirit as a mind. Barker refuses to deal with the concept of an immaterial mind because he is a materialist. In his debate with Peter Payne, Barker stated: “We are natural creatures. The natural world is all there is” (2005). What Barker means by the term “natural” is: “composed of physical matter.” His atheistic philosophy will not allow him to admit that there is anything other than matter. This false, materialistic assumption is his fundamental problem with the term “spirit.” It has been shown extensively and definitely, however, that humans possess an immaterial, rational mind that cannot be relegated to mere physical matter (see Harrub and Thompson, 2004; Thompson and Harrub, 2004). The mere fact that you can read, comprehend, analyze, and assess Barker’s assertion proves that something immaterial is at play.
Incidentally, Barker’s assertion that negative terms cannot be used to give positive meaning to something is vacuous. In his book godless, Barker gives a lengthy definition of what he believes the term “atheism” means. He stated: “It turns out that atheism means much less than I had thought. It is merely the lack of theism. It is not a philosophy of life and it offers no value.... [T]o be an atheist, you don’t need any positive philosophy at all.... Basic atheism is not a belief” (p. 98, emp. added, italics in orig.). According to Barker, atheism can be defined in purely negative terms without offering a single positive concept, the very thing he accuses those who define “spirit” of doing.
Furthermore, in answering his question during the cross-examination, I mentioned two words, darkness and cold, that are often understood in negative terms. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionarydefines darkness as: “1 a: devoid or partially devoid of light: not receiving, reflecting, transmitting, or radiating light” (2009, emp. added). Even though “darkness” is defined in negative terms as the absence of light, there is no doubt that darkness exists.

CONCLUSION

God is the uncaused, all-powerful, all-knowing, merciful, gracious, eternal Spirit whose personality and attributes are manifested in the pages of the Bible. Virtually every dictionary gives an understandable and reasonable definition of God, books that deal with difficult words omit God, and God has been the main subject of discussion and study of the vast majority of the most brilliant thinkers for millennia. The rhetorical tactic suggesting that God cannot be defined is nothing more than an assertion based on a materialistic philosophy that is unfounded. In truth, God can be clearly defined and delineated from all other entities to such an extent that Dan Barker and I can be involved in a formal debate and both know exactly what (or rather Who) we are discussing—God, the God of the Bible.

REFERENCES

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
Barker, Dan and Peter Payne (2005), Does Ethics Require God? [On-line], URL:http://www.ffrf.org/about/bybarker/ethics_debate.php.
Barker, Dan (2008), godless (Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press).
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Darwin, Charles (1860), On the Origin of Species By Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life (New York: The Modern Library), second edition.
Dawkins, Richard (1996), The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W.W. Norton).
Dawkins, Richard (2006), The Selfish Gene (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 30th Anniversary Edition.
Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2004), “The Origin of the Brain and Mind—Parts 1 & 2,” [On-line],URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1.
Hazen, Robert (2005), Origins of Life(Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company).
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2009), [On-line], URL: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary.
The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, Mispronounced Words (1972), ed. Laurence Urdang, (New York: Weathervane Books).
Thompson, Bert and Brad Harrub (2004), “The Origin of Consciousness—Parts 1 & 2,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/498.
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1993), (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster).

A Messiah Who "Sneaks" Into History? by Kyle Butt, M.A.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=172

A Messiah Who "Sneaks" Into History?

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

As Paul stood before King Agrippa’s throne, relating the story of Christ, he declared of the Messiah’s life: “This thing was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). Those few words have reverberated through centuries of history as one of the hallmarks of the story of Jesus. Never was the life, death, or resurrection of Christ meant to be kept secret—as something might be when it is stored away in a box in an abandoned attic, to be discovered later by accident only by a fortunate few. Rather, the many facets of Christ’s earthly ministry were readily available for inspection by anyone, anytime, anywhere.
In fact, centuries before Christ set foot on the Earth in human form, the prophets of old repeatedly had spoken of His impending arrival. Over 300 messianic prophecies fill the pages of the Old Testament. God did not try to “sneak” the Messiah into human affairs under cover of darkness and without warning. Truth be told, He went to considerable effort to announce to the world the news of its heralded Savior.
One such instance can be found in Genesis 49:10, wherein Moses wrote: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes.” The word “Shiloh” has long been recognized by biblical scholars as another name for the Messiah. This verse, then, explains exactly when the Messiah was to arrive—when the scepter had departed from Judah.
So what is the “scepter,” and when did it depart from Judah? The scepter was a staff kept in possession of the elders of each of the twelve tribes of Israel and engraved with the name of the tribe. It symbolized the national sovereignty and judicial power of God’s people. As long as the scepter was in place, the Jews could govern themselves, excommunicate one of their own, and even administer corporeal punishment (including the death penalty).
Figure 1
Artist’s concept of Paul before King Agrippa
(image courtesy of ArtToday.com)
Interestingly, the scepter remained in place even while the Jews were in captivity under both the Babylonians and the Medes and Persians. It also remained in place for a time under Roman captivity—until the Emperor instituted procurators. When that occurred, even first-century Jews recognized the departure of the scepter because the Romans (around A.D. 11) took away the Jews’ right to administer capital punishment. One Jewish teacher, rabbi Rachmon, put the situation in these terms: “When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them; they covered their heads with ashes, and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming: ‘Woe unto us, for the scepter has departed from Judah, and the Messiah has not come’ ” (as quoted in McDowell, 1999, p. 195).
When the members of the Sanhedrin found that they could not put Jesus to death themselves, but had to request instead that Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, do so on their behalf (Luke 23:24), they should have known the Messiah was in their midst, for that was the exact prophecy Moses had recorded. The scepter had indeed departed from Judah—and the Messiah had indeed come! Yet the Jews ignored the voice of God and demanded the death sentence for His only begotten Son. Why? Because they were the people who “always resisted the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51).
Woe to those individuals in our day and age who ignore the powerful evidence that God has provided as proof of the deity of His precious Son, Jesus Christ! Let us ensure that we today do not become as blind to Christ’s Sonship as those first-century Jews.

REFERENCES

McDowell, Josh (1999), The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson).

"No Dinosaur…Ever Breathed Fire" by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1180

"No Dinosaur…Ever Breathed Fire"
by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In a book he authored in 1998 titled The Genesis Question, well-known progressive creationist Hugh Ross ridiculed the idea that behemoth and leviathan were dinosaurs. According to Ross, “No creatures on Earth, alive or extinct, fit the literal descriptions” of the animals that God described to the patriarch Job in Job 40:15-41:34. Furthermore, “No dinosaur…ever breathed fire or smoke or had bones of iron and brass” (p. 48). Ross has chosen to believe that the magnificent creatures described by God in His second speech to Job were the hippopotamus and the crocodile.
Like so many professed Christians who have attempted to amalgamate the long evolutionary ages with the biblical account of Creation, Ross’ reservations to accept the likelihood of behemoth being a dinosaur and leviathan being a dinosaur-like, water-living reptile are not the result of a sensible, judicious exegesis of the biblical text. A man who believes that dinosaurs “dominated the Earth’s land and sea life from 250 million to 65 million years ago” (p. 48), and that “no credible evidence whatever suggests the coexistence of primates and the great dinosaurs” (p. 49), obviously will have a difficult time accepting that behemoth and leviathan, which lived as the same time as Job, were dinosaurs. [For information on the cohabitation of humans and dinosaurs, see Harrub and Thompson, 2003. For a discussion on the reality and the identity of behemoth and leviathan, see Lyons, 2001.]
Two of the main reasons Ross gives for rejecting the dinosaur-like features of these creatures are: (1) “no creatures on Earth, alive or extinct, fit the literal descriptions;” and (2) “no dinosaur…ever breathed fire or smoke.” According to Ross, these “facts” present a problem when Bible students understand these creatures as being dinosaurs.
I have two questions for Dr. Ross, which I wonder if he could answer for us. First, although admittedly no creature alive today fits the “literal descriptions” of leviathan and behemoth, how can Ross confidently assert that no extinct animal resembles the description of behemoth or leviathan? How does Ross know what every creature that ever has walked on Earth looked like? How does he know what feats they were able to perform? Ross might suggest: “But common sense tells us no creature had ribs of “iron” or bones of “brass” (cf. Job 40:18). Agreed. But, by employing such metaphors and similes, any reasonable Bible student can understand that God was stressing the fact that behemoth’s bones were extremely solid—like they were made of solid metal. Interestingly, although dinosaurs had the largest, most massive bones of any known animal that has ever walked this Earth (e.g., one fossilized Argentinosaurus vertebra was five feet high and five feet wide—see Meyer, 2002), and even though they are known to have the most massive tails of any animal ever known (e.g., the 40-foot-long tail of Diplodocus), which could reasonably be likened to a “cedar” (Job 40:17), Ross has chosen rather to believe that behemoth was a hippo—an animal with a tail shorter than many dogs and cats.
A second question I wish Hugh Ross could answer for us is how he can be so certain that “no dinosaur…ever breathed fire or smoke.” By his own admission, Ross never has seen a dinosaur (he believes they became extinct 65 million years ago), and thus obviously he never has observed every dinosaur or dinosaur-like creature that ever walked on land or swam in the oceans. Truly, as Henry Morris observed in his book Biblical Basis for Modern Science: “To say that the leviathan could not have breathed fire is to say much more than we know about leviathans (or water dragons or sea serpents)” (1984, p. 359). When a person considers that electric eels can produce enough electricity (500-600 volts) to stun a horse without ever shocking itself, that anglerfish and fireflies can produce “light,” that the komodo dragon can store deadly bacteria inside its own mouth, and that bombardier beetles can produce a stream of noxious gas that can be expelled from their bodies at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, it is not difficult to accept the possibility that certain dinosaurs or dinosaur-like, water-living reptiles were capable of expelling certain hot gaseous fumes that might briefly ignite.
Hugh Ross, it seems, has forgotten that all animals, including the dinosaurs, were designed and created by God on days five and six of Creation. If Jehovah wanted to create one or more dinosaurs that could expel fire, smoke, or some deadly chemical out of their mouths without harming themselves, He certainly could have done so. Bearing in mind the way that He described leviathan to Job in Job 41:18-21, and considering that many secular stories have circulated for millennia that describe “fiery dragons,” it is logical to conclude that He did create such creatures. It seems fitting to ask Dr. Ross the same rhetorical question God asked Abraham long ago: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). Who is Ross to say that “no dinosaur…ever breathed fire”?

REFERENCES

Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2003), “Walking Amidst the Dinosaurs,” Reason and Revelation, [On-line], URLhttps://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=37.
Lyons, Eric (2001), “Behemoth and Leviathan—Creatures of Controversy,” Reason & Revelation, 21:1-7, January, [On-line], URLhttp://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/154.
Meyer, Pedro (2002), “Does the Original Matter?” WashingtonPost.com, [On-line], URL: http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/essays/zonezero/jan_02.htm.
Morris, Henry M. (1984), Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Ross, Hugh (1998), The Genesis Question (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress).

5 Reasons Racism is Ridiculous by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=4171

5 Reasons Racism is Ridiculous

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Atheism has no rational basis upon which to call anything objectively just or unjust, including racism. If mankind is merely the result of billions of years of mindless evolution and is nothing more than animals (as atheistic evolution contends; Marchant, 2008), then man can logically make evolutionary-based racist remarks that are consistent with the godless General Theory of Evolution. In fact, Charles Darwin’s “Bulldog,” atheist Thomas Huxley, did just that in his 1865 essay, “Emancipation—Black and White.” He alleged, for example, “no rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average Negro is the equal, still less superior, of the white man.” In truth, if there is no God, mankind could just as easily look down upon and mistreat others (whom he deems are less evolved), as he does roaches, rats, and orangutans (Lyons, 2011; Lyons and Butt, 2009). Those who are Christians, however, logically contend that since (1) God exists, and (2) the Bible is the Word of God, racism is morally wrong—and completely ridiculous for the following five reasons.

#1—ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD

Not only did God specially create Adam and Eve in His image and vastly different than all other living things on Earth (Genesis 1:26-27), since then, every human being has been made according to God’s likeness. While preaching to Gentiles in Athens thousands of years after the Creation, Paul, a Jew, did not contend that man was once the offspring of God; he said, “We are” the offspring of God (Acts 17:28-29). [The Greek word esmen in 17:28 is the first person plural of eimi (to be). This recognition of being God’s offspring served as a basis for his argument, as the next verse indicates: “Being then the offspring of God….”]
James wrote: “But the tongue can no man tame; it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and therewith curse we men, who are made after the likeness of God: out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My brethren these things ought not so to be” (3:8-9, ASV, emp. added). [The English verb “are made” (ASV) derives from the Greek gegonotas, which is the perfect participle of the verb ginomai. The perfect tense in Greek is used to describe an action brought to completion in the past, but whose effects are felt in the present (Mounce, 1993, p. 219).] The thrust of the expression, “who are made after the likeness of God” (Greek kath’ homoisosin theou gegonotas), is that humans in the past have been made according to the likeness of God, and they are still bearers of that likeness. For this reason, praising the Creator at one moment, while hurling unkind, racist remarks at another time, is terribly inconsistent in a most unChristlike way. All human beings (of every color and ethnicity) are divine image bearers.

#2—GOD ONLY MADE ONE RACE—THE HUMAN RACE

Although people come in different colors, shapes, and sizes, and although they often associate more closely with those whom they find more similar in ways to themselves, the fact is, there is only one human race. Racism is ridiculous because we are all related, not by means of naturalistic evolution, but by special Creation. No one person is inherently of more value than another person. We are all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve—the specially created couple whom God made thousands of years ago in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:20). What’s more, we are also sons and daughters of Noah and his wife, through whom the Earth was repopulated after the worldwide Flood of Genesis 6-8.
As the apostle Paul informed the idolatrous Athenians 2,000 years ago, God “made from one blood every nation to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Adam and Eve had children, who had children, who had children…who had you and me. We are all physically related. We are all of one race—the one human race. We are all (as modern science classifies us) of the same human species—Homo sapiens. We all trace our ancestry back to Noah, and then back to Adam. We may have different skin color, facial features, hair texture, etc., but we are all brothers and sisters! We are family—a part of the same human race.

#3—GOD DOESN’T PLAY FAVORITES…AND NEITHER SHOULD WE

Although God is omnipotent, He is actually color-blind. His all-loving, perfectly just nature will not allow Him to love someone more than another based upon the color of a person’s skin or the nation in which one was born. Similar to how God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), God cannot show favoritism.
Moses wrote: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord or lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19). Peter said: “God shows no partiality. But inevery nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35, emp. added). According to Paul, God “does not receive a face” (Galatians 2:6, NASB literal footnote rendering); that is, “God does not judge by external appearance” (Galatians 2:6, NIV).
In short, it is impossible to hold “the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, (the Lord) of glory, with respect of persons” (James 2:1, ASV). The Christian’s care and concern for his fellow brother by Creation and by Christ is to be color-blind.

#4—LOVE IS NOT RACIST

Whereas racism is fueled by earthly ignorance and hate, the Christian is filled with the fruit of Heaven’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The child of God is directed by an omniscient, omni-benevolent Father Who expects His children to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). To the Philippians Paul wrote, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (1:9-11, emp. added). 
In two of the more challenging sections of Scripture, Paul wrote: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6, ESV). “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another…. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…. Repay no one evil for evil…. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:9-18).
No Christian can be a racist, and any racist who claims to be a Christian is, in truth, a liar. As the apostle John explained, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21).
“[W]hatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor [regardless of his or her color and ethnicity—EL]. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10, NIV).

#5—JESUS IS EVERYONE’S SAVIOR

In one of the earliest Messianic prophecies, God promised Abraham that it would be through One of his descendants that “all the nations” and “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:18; 12:3, emp. added). It certainly was an honor for Abraham’s family to be chosen as the one through whom the Savior of the world would come, but Jesus did not come only to save the Jews. God did not enact a plan of salvation to save one particular color of people. He did not send Jesus to take away the sins of a particular ethnic group or nation. Jesus is the answer to the whole world’s sin problem; He is “the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17, emp. added).
“God…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4, emp. added). For this reason, “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47, emp. added)—to people of all colors, in all cultures, in whatever countries.
The Gospel “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16, emp. added). And when individuals in the world “obey the Gospel” (2 Thessalonians 1:8; see Lyons and Butt, n.d.) and are added to the Lord’s Church by God Himself (Acts 2:47), we all become one in Christ Jesus. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:29).

CONCLUSION

I do not claim to be an expert on race relations, but I know that some people genuinely struggle with the sin of racism. Some struggle with being the recipients of racism, which in turn may cause them to be tempted to react in racist ways. Others struggle with cowardly silence as they tolerate the sin of racism in their homes, churches, schools, businesses, and communities. Still others seem so preoccupied with advancing their own racial agenda that they appear to hastily interpret most everything as a racial problem, when most things are not.
Jesus once taught the hypocrites of His day, saying, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). May God help us to see as He sees: “for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). What a better world this would be if everyone realized the foolishness of judging a book by its cover. Racism really is ridiculous.

REFERENCES

Huxley, Thomas (1865), “Emancipation—Black and White,” http://aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/CE3/B&W.html.
Lyons, Eric (2011), “The Moral Argument for the Existence of God,” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=4101&topic=95.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (no date), Receiving the Gift of Salvation (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/Receiving%20the%20Gift%20of%20Salvation.pdf.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2009), “Darwin, Evolution, and Racism,” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=2654.
Marchant, Jo (2008), “We Should Act Like the Animals We Are,” New Scientist, 200[2678]:44-45, October 18-24.
Mounce, William D. (1993), Basics of Biblical Greek (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).

From Mark Copeland... "THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT" Other Thoughts Related To Authority


                        "THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT"

                  Other Thoughts Related To Authority

INTRODUCTION

1. We saw in our previous lesson...
   a. What is our obligation regarding authority
   b. How one can use the New Testament to establish authority

2. Two more questions remain in our consideration matters related to
   authority...
   a. Are there limitations placed upon how far we may go in matters      of religion?
   b. Will having the same standard of authority guarantee unity 
                                              among followers of Christ?

[To help answer these questions, first consider these...]

I. WARNINGS FOUND IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

   A. WE MUST NOT CHANGE ITS MESSAGE...!
      1. This is especially true in regards to the gospel of Christ!
         - Ga 1:8-9
      2. Even if authorized by an angelic messenger, we would be accursed!
      3. Therefore, the gospel of salvation in Christ must be preserved
         in every respect!

   B. WE MUST NOT ADD TO OR TAKE AWAY FROM IT...!
      1. We find such a warning at the conclusion of the last book of
         the Bible - Re 22:18-19
      2. Though primarily applicable to the book of Revelation, this
         warning is consistent with others pertaining to the revelation
         of God's will to man - Deut 4:2; Pr 30:5-6

   C. WE MUST ABIDE IN THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST...!
      1. Otherwise, we will not have fellowship with the Father and the
         Son - 2Jn 9
      2. Is this passage referring to the doctrine about Christ, or the
         doctrine taught by Christ (along with His apostles)?
         a. As pointed out in the Expositor's Bible Commentary, the
            question is of little importance for John holds equally to
            both positions
            1) It is fundamental to the faith to hold to the proper
               views about Christ - 2Jn 7
            2) It is fundamental to the faith to obey the commandments
               of Christ - 1Jn 3:24
         b. Thus what John says here applies in either case

   D. WE MUST NOT ALLOW TRADITIONS OF MEN TO MAKE THE COMMANDS
      OF GOD OF NO EFFECT...!
      1. Jesus charged the Pharisees with 'vain worship' for doing this
         - Mk 7:5-13
      2. In view of this warning, we should evaluate our religious practices:
         a. Are they based upon traditions of men, or the commandments of God?
         b. If traditions of men, does our keeping them render the
            commands of God of no effect?
         c. E.g., by keeping the man-made tradition of sprinkling for
            baptism, we render the command of God for immersion (Grk.
            baptizo) of no effect

   E. WE MUST NOT ABUSE OUR LIBERTY IN CHRIST...!
      1. In Christ we enjoy freedom, but we must be careful in our use
         of it - Ga 5:1,13
      2. We must be considerate of our brothers' consciences - Ro 14:14-15:3
      3. We should be willing to forego our liberty rather than let it
         destroy a brother - 1Co 8:9-13
      4. We should not only ask "Is it lawful?", but also "Does it
         edify?" - 1Co 10:23-24,31-33

[With such warnings weighing upon our hearts, we are more likely to
approach the Word of God with the humility it deserves as we seek to
establish the authority for our service to God.

Now for our last question related to having the same standard of
authority:  Will it guarantee unity among the followers of Christ...?]

II. HAVING THE SAME STANDARD DOES NOT GUARANTEE UNITY

   A. THERE ARE STILL CHALLENGES TO FACE...
      1. Which commands are binding today?
         a. Some commands must be understood to be limited in application
         b. Effort must be made to determine whether a command was
            intended to be limited or universal in application
      2. Which approved examples are to be considered normative for the
         church today?
         a. Much of what we learn about the church pertaining to its
            work and organization is by example, not precept
         b. Effort must be made to determine whether an example should
            be understood as teaching a binding principle for the church
            to observe universally
      3. When are necessary implications really necessary implications?
         a. People often infer things from the Bible and call their
            conclusion a necessary implication
         b. But it may only be a possible implication, not one
            necessarily inferred
      -- These are questions or challenges faced by every congregation
         of Christians

   B. WE NEED THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST...
      1. Barton W. Stone, a promoter of Christian unity in the early
         1800's, had these insightful words in an article entitled
         "Christian Union" published in The Christian Messenger (1828):

         "On no other foundation can the parties ever meet, than on the
         Bible alone, without note or comment; and in no other name will
         they ever unite, but in that given to the disciples at Antioch-
         -CHRISTIAN.  But should all the professors of Christianity
         reject all their various creeds and names, and agree to receive
         the Bible alone, and be called by no other name than Christian,
         will this unite them?  No, we are fully convinced that unless
         they all possess the spirit of that book and name they are far,
         very far, from Christian union." (As quoted by J. M. Powell,
         The Cause We Plead: A Story Of The Restoration Movement, 20th
         Century Christian, 1987, p. 56)

      2. In addition to agreeing on the same standard of authority
         (i.e., the Word of God), we need the proper spirit to "rightly
         divide the word of truth" - cf. 2Ti 2:14-16
      3. As Paul told Timothy, the servant of the Lord must carefully
         apply the Word when seeking to teach others - 2Ti 2:23-25
      4. We need to have the proper attitudes to maintain the unity of
         the Spirit - Ep 4:1-3
      5. We need to have the mind of Christ to be of one accord, of one
         mind - Php 2:1-5

CONCLUSION

1. The Bible teaches us, not only by way of direct commands, but through
   approved examples and necessary implications

2. It is helpful to understand the principles of general and specific
   authority, and when something may be expedient to fulfill things that
   are authorized

3. Warnings throughout the scriptures should serve to keep us on "the
   straight and narrow"

4. But as valuable and needful the same standard of authority may be,
   simple agreement on what the standard is will not guarantee unity
   - we need to apply the proper spirit of love, patience and humility
   as we grow together towards unity in Christ

5. What is our attitude toward the authority of God's Word?  Are we willing...
   a. To accept the authority of Jesus Christ, as delegated to His
      apostles?
   b. To adopt the mind of Christ, as illustrated in His sacrificial
      life and death?

Again, our answer will determine whether we are "The Church Jesus
Built"... - cf. Mt 28:18-20

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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