5/5/15

From Gary... Inside a "rainbow"


A picture of a boat going into a rainbow; so what? Well, it really isn't going INTO the rainbow, is it? Rather, it is crossing the earthly reflection of the rainbow on the water.  Being blessed in this world is like this picture; our blessings are a reflection of the true blessings which abide in heaven.  Paul writes...

Ephesians, Chapter 1 (WEB)
  3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ;  4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without defect before him in love; 5 having predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his desire,  6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he freely bestowed favor on us in the Beloved,  7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  8 which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,  9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him  10 to an administration of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, in him;  11 in whom also we were assigned an inheritance, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his will; 12 to the end that we should be to the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ:

First the blessings in heaven and then on earth. Material things are important in our temporal existence, but they will fade with time.  True blessings are found only in the things that money can not buy;love, hope, faith, trust, happiness, etc.. The sooner we realize this, the better. And when we do, we will be blessed and become a blessing to others.

From Mark Copeland... "A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD" Growing In The Knowledge Of Jesus Christ




                        "A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD"

                Growing In The Knowledge Of Jesus Christ

INTRODUCTION

1. An important element in having a closer walk with God is fulfilling
   the command given by the apostle Peter in 2Pe 3:18
   a. What does it mean to "grow in the knowledge of our Lord and
      Savior Jesus Christ"?
   b. How can we be sure that we are growing in this "knowledge"?

2. Peter has defined what is meant to grow in the knowledge of Christ,
   and his definition is found in 2Pe 1:2-11

3. In this lesson, we shall:
   a. Look more closely at what is involved in "Growing In The
      Knowledge Of Jesus Christ"
   b. Consider reasons why we should desire to grow in this "knowledge"

I. WHAT "GROWING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST" INVOLVES

   A. FIRST, IT INVOLVES THE DEVELOPMENT OF EIGHT "GRACES"...
      1. These "graces" are listed in 2Pe 1:5-7
      2. Briefly defined...
         a. FAITH is "conviction, strong assurance"
         b. VIRTUE is "moral excellence, goodness"
         c. KNOWLEDGE is "correct insight"
         d. SELF-CONTROL is "self-discipline"
         e. PERSEVERANCE is "bearing up under trials"
         f. GODLINESS is "godly character out of devotion to God"
         g. BROTHERLY KINDNESS is "love toward brethren"
         h. LOVE is "active goodwill toward those in need"
      3. Notice carefully 2Pe 1:8
         a. We must "abound" in these eight "graces"
         b. Only then can it be said that we are "growing in the
            knowledge of Jesus Christ"
      4. Therefore we are discussing something more than simply
         increasing our "intellectual" knowledge of Jesus Christ!
         a. Though such knowledge has a place, it is just one of the
            graces necessary
         b. Peter is talking about growing in a FULLER AND MORE
            PERSONAL knowledge of Jesus Christ!
            1) Which comes by developing the "Christ-like" attributes
               defined above
            2) The more we grow in these "graces", the more we really
               "know" Jesus (for He is the perfect personification of
               these "graces")
      5. That it involves more than intellectual knowledge is also
         evident from the Greek word used for knowledge in 2Pe 1:2-3,8
         a. The word is epiginosko, meaning "to become thoroughly
            acquainted with, to know thoroughly, to know accurately,
            know well" (THAYER)
         b. Such knowledge comes only as we DEMONSTRATE these "Christ-
            like graces" in our lives

   B. SECOND, IT INVOLVES DEVELOPING THESE "GRACES" IN CONJUNCTION
      WITH EACH OTHER...
      1. Notice the word "add" (or "supply") in 2Pe 1:5
         a. Before each grace mentioned, the word is implied
         b. The word in Greek is epichoregeo
            1) "Originally, to found and support a chorus, to lead a
               choir, to keep in tune"
            2) "Then, to supply or provide"
         c. This word then suggests the idea of "each grace working in
            harmony with the others to produce an overall effect"
      2. Notice also the preposition "to" (or "in") in 2Pe 1:5-7
         a. This suggests that "each grace is to temper and make
            perfect the grace that goes before it"
         b. To illustrate:
            1) "to knowledge (add) self-control" - the grace of self-
               control enables one to apply properly the knowledge one
               has
            2) "to self-control (add) perseverance" - self-control in
               turn needs the quality of perseverance to be consistent
               day after day
      3. Thus each grace is necessary!
         a. They must all be developed in conjunction with each other
         b. We cannot be selective and just pick the ones we like and
            leave others behind

   C. THIRD, IT INVOLVES DILIGENT EFFORT...
      1. Notice the word "diligence" in 2Pe 1:5,10
      2. It means "earnestness, zeal, sometimes with haste"
      3. To grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ requires much effort
      4. We do not "accidently" or "naturally" develop these graces!

[Is the effort worth it?  In the context of this passage Peter gives
FIVE reasons why we should "give all diligence" to grow in this
knowledge of Jesus Christ...]

II. WHY WE SHOULD BE "GROWING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST"

   A. GRACE AND PEACE ARE "MULTIPLIED" IN THIS KNOWLEDGE - 2Pe 1:2
      1. "Grace" and "peace" are common forms of greeting in the New Testament
         a. Grace - the greeting which requests God's unmerited favor
            upon the person addressed
         b. Peace - the greeting requesting the natural result of God's favor
      2. Note that these two blessings are "multiplied" in the
         knowledge of Jesus Christ
         a. All men experience God's favor and its result to some
            degree - cf. Mt 5:45
         b. But only in Christ can one enjoy the "fulness" of God's
            favor and peace - Ep 1:3; Php 4:6-7

   B. ALL THINGS PERTAINING TO LIFE AND GODLINESS ARE GIVEN THROUGH 
      THIS KNOWLEDGE - 2Pe 1:3,4
      1. "Life" in this context refers to our spiritual life and well-being
      2. "Godliness" refers to the pious conduct which comes out of
         devotion to God
      3. Only as we grow in this knowledge do we enjoy the true, full 
         life available by God's divine power!
         a. Which includes "exceedingly great and precious promises" 
         b. Which enables us to be "partakers of the divine nature"
         c. Which can free us from the "corruption that is in the world
            through lust"

   C. FAILURE TO GROW IN THIS KNOWLEDGE RESULTS IN SPIRITUAL "MYOPIA"
      AND "AMNESIA" - 2Pe 1:9
      1. Our religion is "short-sighted" if we are not growing in the
         knowledge of Jesus Christ!
         a. For what is the ultimate objective of being a Christian?
         b. To become like Christ! - cf. Ro 8:29; Col 3:9-11
         c. As we have seen, this is what it really means to grow in
            the knowledge of Christ
      2. Failure to so grow is an indication that we forgot why we were
         redeemed by the blood of Christ in the first place!
         a. To have our sins forgiven, yes...
         b. But then, that we might present ourselves to God and become
            what He wants us to be - LIKE HIS SON!

   D. WE WILL NEVER STUMBLE - 2Pe 1:10
      1. This does not mean we will never sin - cf. 1Jn 1:8,10
      2. The word "stumble" in Greek means "to fall into misery, become
         wretched; cf. the loss of salvation" (Thayer)
      3. We will never stumble so as to fall short of our ultimate salvation!
      4. But this is true ONLY if we are "giving all diligence" to grow
         in the knowledge of Christ and thereby "making our calling and
         election sure"

   E. AN ENTRANCE INTO THE "EVERLASTING KINGDOM"  WILL BE ABUNDANTLY
      SUPPLIED - 2Pe 1:11
      1. This "everlasting kingdom" is likely the "heavenly kingdom"
         referred to by Paul in 2Ti 4:18
      2. In other words, the ultimate destiny of the redeemed!
      3. What is meant by the idea of an "abundant entrance"?
         a. "You may be able to enter, not as having escaped from a
            shipwreck, or from fire, but as it were in triumph."
            (Bengel)
         b. By possessing the eight graces, we will be able to live
            victoriously in this life and to joyously anticipate what
            lies ahead - cf. 2Ti 4:6-8

CONCLUSION

1. These five reasons should sufficiently motivate us to be diligent in
   growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ

2. Give all diligence to make our calling and election sure, and have a
   closer walk with God, by making every effort to add these "graces"
   to our lives!

3. Or have we forgotten that we were purged from our old sins?
   a. We have, if we are apathetic in our desire to grow in these
      "graces"!
   b. If so, we need to repent and pray for forgiveness!

SOME QUESTIONS TO STIMULATE YOUR THINKING...

1. Which of these "graces" do you think you have developed best?

2. In which are you most lacking?

3. Do you feel you are making progress in the "knowledge of Jesus
   Christ"?

4. If not, what can you do to begin making progress?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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Muhammad's Polygamy by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=1161

Muhammad's Polygamy

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Muhammad was the founder of the religion we know today as Islam. Through the centuries, much has been written that is critical of Muhammad’s multiple marriages. It is estimated that he had as many as nine wives simultaneously. The reported total number of wives is at least twelve: Khadijah, Sawdah, A’ishah, Hafsah, Zaynab, Umm Salamah, Zaynab, Juwariyah, Mariyah, Safyyah, Umm Habeeba, and Maymunah (Brooks, 1995, pp. 77-88). The usual Islamic response to this criticism is that Muhammad did not form these marriages out of lust or a desire for sex. Rather, the marriages were due to: (1) the desire to form alliances with diverse clans due to the swift expansion of Islam, thereby bringing peace with enemies by marrying their daughters; (2) the need to emancipate conquered clans by linking them to Muslim family clans; and (3) Muhammad’s desire to render benevolent assistance and care to widows (especially widows of men killed in battle), or to a displaced slave or captive (e.g., Pickthall, n.d., pp. 300-301). Muslim apologist Osama Abdallah offered the following justification for Muhammad’s polygamy:
Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was a Messenger of God (filled with sympathy and mercy to people) and a leader for all Muslims. He didn’t practice polygamy for the sake of sexual pleasure at all. Most of his wives were either widows (older than him in age, too) or divorced women (also most of them were either older or same age). Only one of his wives was a virgin, and he only married her because her father was his best friend. He wanted to strengthen that relationship. And it was her father who offered her to our Prophet peace be upon him anyway.
If our beloved Prophet peace be upon him really seeked [sic] sexual pleasure, then he would’ve married young virgins from the Muslims. Back then, people loved Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him so much, that they would literally do anything for him. Certainly fathers would’ve given him their young virgin daughters if he wanted to. Many people offered him their young virgin bosomed daughters anyway to raise their families’ honor, but our Prophet never seeked [sic] that sexual privilege in life.
Because Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was a smart political leader and a wonderful humble merciful true Messenger of Allah Almighty, he chose to marry the weak from his people to encourage the Muslim men to do the same; to create a balance in the Muslim society. Again, another emergency case that existed during Islam’s weak times that forced the Muslims (including Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) to practice polygamy (Abdallah, n.d.).
Another defense of Muhammad’s polygamy is seen in the following general advocacy of the institution of polygamy [NOTE: “B.A.P.U.H.” stands for “Blessings and peace be upon him”]:
The ProphetB.A.P.U.H in his lifetime took eleven women in marriage. Majority of these marriages as described above were contracted due to cultural, social, political and moral necessity. In war when a large number of men are killed, the women outnumber men and in this situation, polygamy becomes a social and economic necessity. In case of chronically ill and infertile wife, polygamy prevents break up of marriage as the husband can contract another wife to have children. Polygamous instinct of men as compared to women is also recognised in science. Restriction of number of marriages to one for some men would most certainly encourage society to embark on adultery and prostitution. The modern world where such restrictions have been legally imposed is full of evidence to such evils.
It is universally recognised that laws, orders and limitations imposed on ordinary people are not enforced on special people chosen from among the people by themselves or by the Almighty Allah. Let us first take the rights of the leaders chosen by people such as kings, presidents, prime ministers, chief justices and general managers. They all enjoy special privileges, usually defined by the constitution or parliament of the country. When we do not object to these privileges given to ordinary men, how can we question the privileges given to the prophets? (“Polygamy,” n.d.).
Notice that the latter remarks justify Muhammad’s excessive polygamy on the basis of his special status as the prophet of Allah.
Of course, no one is in a position to know what was in Muhammad’s mind at the time these relationships were formed. Hence, no one can prove his motives to be either legitimate or illegitimate. If Muhammad’s polygamy is justifiable on the grounds that he was simply extending assistance to war widows, why not allow all Muslim men to take as many widowed wives as Muhammad? Even Muhammad could not accommodate all the widows of war. If their deprived and needy status was truly the issue, surely God would want all widows to be cared for in a similar fashion—thus opening the door to Muslim men besides Muhammad to marry more than four wives. The same may be said if polygamy is justifiable on the grounds of forming political alliances. Why not allow all Muslim men to assist with the strengthening of alliances, as well as the emancipation of conquered clans?
Regardless, these alleged justifications do not account for all of Muhammad’s marriages. A’ishah was only six years old when Muhammad claimed to receive dreams instructing him to marry her. He was past fifty at the time. What possible rationale can be offered to legitimize this intention? Much is made of the fact that Muhammad did not consummate the marriage at this point. Yet, it is admitted that he did so within three years when A’ishah was nine (see al-Bukhari, Vol. 5, Bk. 58, #234; Vol. 7, Bk. 62, #64). But whether he did so or not, the propriety of such a marriage, both in terms of the age of the child as well as the disparity in their respective ages, is appalling, repugnant, and, to say the least, unacceptable to the unbiased observer.
An even greater objection centers on Muhammad’s conduct with regard to the wife of Zayd, the freed slave whom Muhammad had adopted and reared as his own son. Seeing Zaynab, Zayd’s wife, in her home (some accounts say partially unclad) during Zayd’s absence, sparked the circumstances that led to Zayd divorcing his wife in order to accommodate Muhammad’s desire to have her. The shock waves that reverberated across the community elicited a string of curt, even stinging, revelations: (1)Surah 33:37, which declared the marriage of Muhammad to Zaynab as a “done deal”; (2) Surah 33:4-5,40, which clarified the previous revelation that forbade men from marrying the wives of sons by birth (4:23). The new revelation insisted that adopted sons were not included in the previous prohibition; (3)Surah 33:50-51, which granted special dispensation to Muhammad to exceed the Quran’s restrictive limitation of no more than four wives (4:3); and (4) Surah 33:53, which made three sweeping declarations. First, it chided visitors to Muhammad’s home for delaying their departure and overstaying their welcome. The guests who came to celebrate Muhammad’s marriage to Zaynab lingered longer than the Prophet preferred, delaying his desire to be alone with his newest wife. Second, it required all future conversations with Muhammad’s wives to be conducted with a veil or curtain separating the guest from the wife. Third, no Muslim was ever to marry one of Muhammad’s wives. Also, henceforth, Muslims were to invoke blessings on Muhammad (vs. 56).
Once again, for the unbiased, objective observer, this event brings the credibility of Muhammad and his revelations into serious question. In the first place, the Bible consistently represents God as impartial and perfect in justice (e.g., Deuteronomy 10:17; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25; 1 Peter 1:17). The God of the Bible simply would not grant special dispensation to one man over others. He would not exempt one person from a law while expecting others to keep it. Prophets and inspired spokesmen of God in the Bible were never given the right to sidestep laws of God—let alone laws that all men are under obligation to obey.
Second, how can Zaynab’s divorce from Zayd be morally justifiable on any grounds? Observe carefully the wording of the Surah that speaks to this point:
And it becometh not a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His messenger have decided an affair (for them), that they should (after that) claim any say in their affair; and whoso is rebellious to Allah and His messenger, he verily goeth astray in error manifest. And when thou saidst unto him on whom Allah hath conferred favor and thou hast conferred favor: Keep thy wife to thyself, and fear Allah. And thou didst hide in thy mind that which Allah was to bring to light, and thou didst fear mankind whereas Allah had a better right that thou shouldst fear Him. So when Zeyd had performed the necessary formality (of divorce) from her, We gave her unto thee in marriage, so that (henceforth) there may be no sin for believers in respect of wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have performed the necessary formality (of release) from them. The commandment of Allah must be fulfilled. There is no reproach for the Prophet in that which Allah maketh his due (33:36-38).
One cannot help but be suspicious. This surah is worded the way one would expect it to be worded if it were produced by a man, unguided by God, who was seeking to justify his desire for another man’s wife. Likewise, the unbiased observer surely is stunned, incredulous, and dismayed at the lax attitude toward divorce. Absolutely no justification existed for Zayd to divorce his wife—except to make her available to Muhammad, under the guise that it was an unhappy marriage (see Pickthall, p. 300).
What a far cry from the teaching of the New Testament. Jesus declared in no uncertain terms: “Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9, emp. added). Jesus gave one, and only one, reason for divorce in God’s sight. In fact, even the Old Testament affirmed that God “hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16). The teaching of the Bible on divorce is a higher, stricter, nobler standard than the one advocated by the Quran. The two books, in fact, contradict each other on this point.
Separate from the question of Muhammad’s motives for contracting multiple marriages (whether to unite clans or aid widows), the more pressing question pertains to whether polygamy, itself, is a legitimate social institution—i.e., is it sanctioned by God? It certainly is true that plural marriages were commonplace in the Old Testament. Some prominent men of the Bible are said to have contracted multiple marriages, including Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon. Yet, this circumstance is simply reported (along with other violations of divine law) without any indication that God approved of it. One does not find the Bible stating explicitly that polygamy is God’s will. But that is precisely what the Quran does: “And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess” (Surah 4:3).
In contrast, quite the opposite is the case in the Bible. God ordained the institution of marriage at the very beginning of the Creation. He enjoined strict heterosexual monogamy (e.g., Genesis 2:24). Whatever human beings did throughout the centuries prior to Christ’s advent in their relaxation of the divine will on this point, God legislated one man for one woman for life. Disobedient man introduced polygamy into the world (Genesis 4:19). God tolerated (not endorsed) this sordid state of affairs prior to Christ, but with the institution of New Testament Christianity, God’s original intention for the human race received definitive reaffirmation and reinstatement: “Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2). Polygamy is sinful. Every New Testament passage that addresses the marriage relationship presupposes monogamy (e.g., Matthew 5:31-32; Mark 10:1-12; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6; Hebrews 13:4).
Even as the church is represented as the bride of Christ (e.g., Ephesians 5:23-32), Jesus would no more have multiple brides than He would endorse men having multiple wives. In fact, God would be guilty of being a respecter of persons if He allowed men to have a plurality of wives, while disallowing women from having a plurality of husbands. Likewise, who could successfully deny that polygamy is damaging to the psyche and self-worth of women?
The Hadith confirms that Muhammad’s polygamy created jealousy, bickering, and bitter rivalry among his wives (see Brooks, p. 83). In fact, the Quran itself reflects this turmoil on the occasion of Muhammad adding to his harem the Coptic Christian slave girl, Mariyah. The bitter jealousy of his wives caused him to separate from her initially, only to reinstate her standing when the newly received surah commanded him to do so (Surah 66). The result was that Muhammad lived a month with Mariyah—undoubtedly spiting his other wives. Another surah then followed that reprimanded the wives and ordered them to make a choice as to whether they desired to be married to Muhammad (Surah 33). Was this special treatment extended to Mariyah, which punished the other wives by depriving them of their usual turn with Muhammad—a violation of the equal treatment clause of the Quran (Shorrosh, 1988, p. 65; cf. Lings, 1983, pp. 276-279)? Additionally, the consensus of the Islamic community has ever been that A’ishah was Muhammad’s favorite wife and that she received preferential treatment—a circumstance in direct violation of the Quran.

CONCLUSION

The religion of Islam and the Quran have a great many features that the Christian mind (i.e., one guided by the New Testament) finds objectionable. Polygamy is simply one among many such “difficulties.” The Bible and the Quran are in significant conflict on this subject.

REFERENCES

Abdallah, Osama (no date), “When is Polygamy Allowed in Islam?” http://www.answering-christianity.com/polygamy.htm.
al-Bukhari, Sahih (no date), The Hadith, http://www.sahih-bukhari.com/.
Brooks, Geraldine (1995), Nine Parts of Desire (New York, NY: Anchor Books).
Lings, Martin (1983), Muhammad (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
“Polygamy” (no date), http://www.answering-christianity.com/islam_polygamy.htm.
Shorrosh, Anis A. (1988), Islam Revealed: A Christian Arab’s View of Islam (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson).

Bush Interview - Bible Literal? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=2637

Bush Interview - Bible Literal?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Recently, when an ABC News reporter asked President Bush if the Bible is “literally true,” the president responded that he is “not a literalist,” and that one can read the Bible and not take it literally (Escherich, 2008). Sadly, many Americans have been duped by over a century of propaganda perpetrated by higher critics who seek to undermine confidence in the inspiration of the Bible. Nevertheless, the evidence is decisive: the Bible possesses the attributes of inspiration that prove its divine origin (Jackson, 1982; Butt, 2007).
To suggest that the Bible is not to be taken literally is nonsensical. True, the Bible contains much figurative language, i.e., it includes figures of speech (e.g., simile, metaphor, hyperbole, metonymy, synecdoche, etc.)—just like our own English language (e.g., “quit cold turkey,” “stretch my legs,” “died laughing”). But figurative language still communicates meaning that can be comprehended. Did the ABC News reporter’s questions communicate “literal truth” that the president could grasp? Of course. And so does the Bible. Any diligent student can ascertain the original intent of the divinely-guided writers. Could it be that the “can’t take the Bible literally” crowd simply does not want to be restrained by the Bible’s admonitions to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts” and “live soberly, righteously, and godly” (Titus 2:12)? Could it be they do not want to hear that “fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4), and the “sexually immoral...shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8)?

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Escherich, Katie (2008), “Excerpts: Cynthia McFadden Interviews President George W. Bush,” ABCNews: Nightline, Dec. 8, [On-line], URL: http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Politics/story?id=6418908&page=1.
Jackson, Wayne (1982), The Holy Scriptures—Verbally Inspired,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/holyscri.pdf.

Are Diamonds “Life’s Best Friend”? by Kyle Butt, M.A.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1127

Are Diamonds “Life’s Best Friend”?

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

The theory of organic evolution is fraught with irreconcilable errors. One of the foremost is the fact that evolution demands that living organisms arose from non-living, inorganic chemicals. As all origin-of-life researchers are well aware, this idea flies in the face of the Law of Biogenesis, the most experimentally substantiated biological law in the history of science. Be that as it may, evolutionists continue their futile efforts to explain how life could have arisen from primitive, non-living substances.
According to three German scientists from the University of Ulm, diamonds most likely helped get life off the ground. In an article reporting on the work, Robert Britt stated:
Diamonds are crystallized forms of carbon that predate the oldest known life on the planet. In lab experiments aimed to confirm work done more than three decades ago, researchers found that when treated with hydrogen, natural diamonds formed crystalline layers of water on the surface. Water is essential for life as we know it. Also, the tests found electrical conductivity that could have been key to forcing chemical reactions needed to generate the first birth (2008).
Those who read Britt’s article are struck by the numerous qualifying statements such as “diamonds may have been,” “the resulting reaction may have been,” and “the new research does not conclusively determine how life began” (emp. added). Such qualifying statements are certainly needed in light of the “evidence” that is presented. Supposedly diamonds would have made a good platform for life because they can form layers of water and can possess electrical conductivity. Yet, in labs all across the globe for the past 50 years, scientists have been able to work with an endless supply of water and electricity and still have not produced life from non-life—as if water and conductivity are equivalent to life production.
Furthermore, diamonds supposedly “predate the oldest known life forms” on Earth. The ancient age of diamonds, however, has fallen upon very hard times. In 2005, Donald DeYoung published results from a team research project referred to as RATE. The name RATE is an acronym for Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth. This team of scientists studied 12 diamond samples, each about 50 milligrams in weight. If diamonds are as old as suggested, they certainly would not contain any traces of Carbon-14, since C-14 should have escaped from the samples billions of years ago. After closely analyzing the samples, however, Carbon-14 was present in every one. DeYoung wrote: “The presence of C-14 in ‘very old’ fossils, rocks, coal, and diamond samples is clearly a major conflict with the long-age time scale” (2005, p. 56, emp. added).
Britt appropriately included in his brief article the fact that some scientists postulate the idea of panspermia, in which aliens allegedly seeded planet Earth with life. In truth, there is as much evidence for little green men dropping off packets of bacteria as there is that life spontaneously generated on the surface of a diamond. All such concepts are devoid of experimental verification. The presence of life on this Earth is not a scientific mystery that remains to be solved. It is a historic occurrence that most elementary school children can explain: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1), including all kinds of living organisms.

REFERENCES

Britt, Robert Roy (2008), “Diamonds May Have Jumpstarted Life on Earth,” LiveScience.com, [On-line], URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20080726/sc_livescience/ diamondsmayhavejumpstartedlifeonearth.
DeYoung, Don (2005), Thousands...Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).

Faith, Evidence, and Credible Testimony by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=4146

Faith, Evidence, and Credible Testimony

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

It might surprise some to learn that Thomas was not the only “doubting disciple” immediately following Jesus’ resurrection. Do you recall what happened when Mary Magdalene, the first person to whom Jesus appeared, went to alert the mourning apostles of Jesus’ empty tomb and resurrection? When the apostles “heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe” (Mark 16:11, emp. added). According to Luke, the words of Mary Magdalene and the women who accompanied her seemed to the apostles “like idle tales” (24:11) or “nonsense” (24:11, NASB). Later, when the two disciples on the road to Emmaus reported to the apostles how Jesus had appeared to them as well, the apostles “did not believe them either” (Mark 16:13). When Jesus finally appeared to the apostles (not including Thomas) on the evening of His resurrection (John 20:19), He questioned their “doubts” (Luke 24:38) and “rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen” (Mark 16:14). Then, when Jesus appeared to the apostles eight days later, this time with Thomas present, Jesus instructed him to “not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27).
Those closest to Jesus during His ministry initially doubted His resurrection from the dead and were justifiably rebuked for their unbelief. Although many of us likely would have been guilty of the same doubts, still, the apostles should have believed the witness of Mary Magdalene as soon as she testified to the empty tomb and risen Savior. Believers today, however, must be careful not to misinterpret Jesus’ rebukes of unbelief as promoting the popular notion that Christianity is an emotion-based, feel-good religion where evidence is unavailable or unnecessary.

EVIDENCE

Since the Bible repeatedly testifies that the faith of Christians is grounded in truth, reason, knowledge, and evidence (Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1-4; John 5:31-47; Acts 1:3; 26:25), some wonder why Jesus rebuked the apostles for doubting His resurrection prior to seeing Him alive (Mark 16:14; cf. Luke 24:38). Had Jesus expected His apostles to have faith in His resurrection without proof? And why did Jesus tell Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29, emp. added)? Was Jesus commending an unverifiable, fickle faith?
The fact is, neither Thomas nor any apostle was rebuked for wanting evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. They were rightly rebuked, however, (1) for doubting the credible evidence they had already received, and (2) for demanding more evidence than was necessary for them to have solid faith in the risen Savior.

Prophecies

The same Man Whom Peter confessed was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16); the same Man Whom the apostles had seen raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44); the same Man Whom they saw transfigured (Matthew 17:5-9); the same Man Who had worked many amazing miracles in their presence (John 20:30); the same Man Who foretold precisely Peter’s triple denial (Matthew 26:34,75); the same Man Who accurately prophesied His own betrayal, scourging, and crucifixion (Matthew 20:18-19): this same Man repeatedly prophesied of His resurrection, even foretelling the very day on which it would occur (John 2:19; Matthew 12:40; 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; 26:32). So well known were Jesus’ prophecies of His resurrection from the dead on the third day that even His enemies were aware of them. In fact, the “chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, ‘Sir, we remember, that while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise.” Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal Him away’” (Matthew 27:62-64).
So why did Jesus rebuke His apostles for their unbelief following His resurrection? Was He implying that they should have behaved like simpletons and believed everything they ever heard from anyone? (“The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps”—Proverbs 14:15.) Not at all. Jesus had every right to rebuke His apostles’ unbelief, first and foremost, because they refused to believe His Word (cf. Romans 10:17). They had seen Him raise the dead. They had witnessed His perfect life. They had heard His consistent words of Truth, including His repeated and accurate prophecies of various matters, including His betrayal, arrest, scourging, and crucifixion. They had every logical reason to believe what Jesus had prophesied about His resurrection. Everything they had ever seen and heard from Jesus was pure, right, and true. However, rather than expect a risen Redeemer on Sunday morning, such an idea “appeared to them as nonsense” (Luke 24:11, NASB, emp. added). Rather than traveling to Galilee and searching for the living Lord as soon as the Sun appeared on the third day (Matthew 26:32), they remained in Jerusalem behind closed doors “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19).
Jesus wanted His disciples to understand about His death and resurrection. He told them: “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men” (Luke 9:43, emp. added). He desired for them to have a sincere, strong, evidence-based faith. Sadly, fear, preconceived ideas about the Messiah and His kingdom, and spiritual blindness (Luke 9:44; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4) initially interfered with the apostles’ belief in His resurrection.

Credible Testimony

When Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29), was He condoning a careless faith? Was He advancing the idea of an emotion-driven, feel-good religion? Should we expect Christians living 2,000 years this side of the resurrection of Christ to have a reasonable faith in the risen Savior? If, unlike Thomas and the rest of the apostles, Jesus has never appeared to us, how can we expect to have a fact-based faith?
The same God Who rightly expects His human creation to examine the evidence and come to a knowledge of Him without ever literally seeing Him, is the same God Who expects man to follow the facts that lead to a resurrected Redeemer without ever personally witnessing His resurrection. No one believes in God because they can put Him under a microscope and see Him. No one can prove He exists by touching Him. We cannot use the five senses to see and prove the actual essence of God (cf. John 4:24; Luke 24:39). What we have at our fingertips, however, is a mountain of credibleevidence that testifies on God’s behalf. The very existence of finite matter testifies to a supernatural, infinite, eternal Creator. The endless examples of design in the Universe bear witness to a grand Designer. The laws of science (e.g., the Law of Biogenesis) testify to God’s existence. [NOTE: For additional information on the existence of God, see http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12.]
A reasonable faith in Jesus’ resurrection is, likewise, based upon a mountain of credible testimony. Just as credible testimony (and not first-hand knowledge) has lead billions of people to believe, justifiably so, that Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and George Washington were real people, millions of Christians have come to the logical conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead. Nineteen-hundred-year-old eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ resurrection exist in the most historically documented and accurate ancient book in the world—the New Testament. The event was foreshadowed and prophesied in the Old Testament (Psalm 16:10; Jonah 1:17-2:10; Matthew 12:40). Though very serious preventative steps were taken to keep the lifeless body of Jesus buried (Matthew 27:62-66), the tomb was found empty on the exact day He promised to arise. The body of Christ was never found (and, no doubt, first-century skeptics, especially the impenitent Jews who put Him to death, would have loved nothing more than to present Jesus’ dead body to early Christians).
The once fearful and skeptical disciples quickly transformed into a courageous, confident group of Christians who suffered and eventually died for their continual belief and teachings regarding the resurrected Lord. Hundreds of early Christians were able to testify to having seen Jesus firsthand after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Tens of thousands of once-skeptical Jews, not the least of which was Saul of Tarsus, examined the evidence, left Judaism, and confessed Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 2:41,47; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7; 21:20). What’s more, these same Jews changed their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). As with evidence for the existence of God or the inspiration of the Bible, the cumulative case for the resurrection of Christ from credible testimony lies at the heart of a fortified faith.

CONCLUSION

Jesus rightly rebuked His apostles following His resurrection. They should have believed Mary Magdalene because she was a credible witness who said nothing more than what the Son of God had previously said many times would happen: He would arise on the third day following His death. What’s more, the blessing that Jesus mentioned to the apostle Thomas (“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”—John 20:29) was not an endorsement of a blind, emotion-based, feel-good religion, but Heaven-sent support for the truthful, credible evidence that leads the open-minded, truth-seeker to confess Him as “Lord and God.”

“So We Make Up Stories” About Human Evolution by Kyle Butt, M.A


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2431

“So We Make Up Stories” About Human Evolution

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

Dr. Richard Lewontin is the Alexander Agassiz Research Professor at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. Harvard University Press describes him as one of their “most brilliant evolutionary biologists.” A Harvard professor since 1973, he has impeccable academic credentials, and has gained worldwide notoriety for authoring several books, including The Triple HelixThe Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change, and Biology as Ideology.
During the week of February 14-18, Dr. Lewontin was invited to speak at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting held in Boston, Massachusetts. Michale Balter, writing for Science magazine, reported briefly on Lewontin’s comments that caused quite a stir in the evolutionary community. Balter titled his article “How Human Intelligence Evolved—Is It Science or ‘Paleofantasy’?” (2008). In the first paragraph, Balter quipped that Lewontin really “knows how to grab an audience’s attention.”
What did Lewontin say that was so noteworthy and attention-grabbing? Lewontin “led off a session titled ‘The Mind of a Toolmaker’ by announcing that scientists know next to nothing about how humans got so smart. ‘We are missing the fossil record of human cognition,’ Lewontin said at the meeting. ‘So we make up stories’” (Balter, 2008, emp. added). While Balter spent the rest of his article scrambling to show that Lewontin’s conclusions are not recognized by all in the scientific community, Lewontin’s devastating blow to evolution’s long-cherished scenario of human development could not be papered over so easily.
James Randerson, science correspondent for the United Kingdom’s Guardian, wrote an article titled “We Know Nothing About Brain Evolution” in which he, too, reported on Lewontin’s speech. Lewontin titled his speech, “Why We Know Nothing About the Evolution of Cognition.” Randerson reported that, in the lecture, the eminent Harvard professor “systematically dismissed every assumption about the evolution of human thought, reaching the conclusion that scientists are still completely in the dark about how natural selection prompted the massive hike in human brain size in the human line” (2008, emp. added).
Lewontin then turned his attention to the fossil record. Randerson summarized Dr. Lewontin’s statements by saying: “The main problem is the poor fossil record. Despite a handful of hominid fossils stretching back 4m [million—KB] years or so, we can’t be sure that any of them are on the main ancestral line to us. Many or all of them could have been evolutionary side branches” (2008). Randerson continued, stating: “Worse, the fossils we do have are difficult to interpret. ‘I don’t have the faintest idea what the cranial capacity [of a fossil hominid] means,’ Lewontin confessed. What does a particular brain size tell us about the capabilities of the animal attached to it?” (2008).
Of course, Lewontin’s comments fly in the face of everything the general population has been led to believe about human evolution. The beautiful drawings showing ape-like creatures gradually evolving in a straight line into humans have been plastered on science-lab walls, in science textbooks, and in popular science magazines for the last five decades. We have been told that the hominid fossil record is so complete that it provides irrefutable evidence verifying human evolution. We have been told that our “ancestral” fossils indicate exactly when our ancient great-grandparents began to walk upright, when they evolved greater cognitive skills, and when they evolved into us.
Lewontin was not finished tearing into the standard evolutionary party line about hominid fossils. Randerson noted that Lewontin “is even skeptical that palaeoanthropologists can be sure which species walked upright and which dragged their knuckles. Upright posture is crucial for freeing up the hands to do other useful things” (2008).
What, then, did Lewontin conclude regarding the prevailing status of ignorance that pervades the scientific community regarding the supposed evolution of humans? He said: “We are in very serious difficulties in trying to reconstruct the evolution of cognition. I’m not even sure what we mean by the problem” (as quoted in Randerson, 2008).
The bombshell that Lewontin dropped on the 2008 AAAS annual meeting will leave devastating and lasting carnage in its wake in the evolutionary community. He debunked 50 years of orchestrated evolutionary propaganda. Randerson concluded his summary of Lewontin’s statements by observing: “All in all, despite thousands of scientific papers and countless National Geographic front covers, we have not made much progress in understanding how our most complicated and mysterious organ [brain—KB] came about” (2008).
After reviewing Lewontin’s statements and the various journal articles describing them, the writers ofCreation/Evolution Headlines appropriately admonished the reader:
Remember this entry the next time you get a National Geographic cover story of a hominid with a philosopher’s gaze. Remember it when you are told stories about hominids walking upright, their hands now freed to scratch their chins and think. Remember it when you are shown a chimpanzee on NOVA performing memory tricks for a banana or smashing bugs with a rock. Remember it when a stack of erudite scientific papers on human evolution is placed on the witness table at a trial over whether students should be allowed to think critically about evolution in science class (“Paleofantasy...,” 2008).

REFERENCES

Balter, Michael (2008), “How Human Intelligence Evolved—Is It Science or ‘Paleofantasy’?” Science, 319 [5866]:1028, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/319/5866/1028a.
“Paleofantasy: Brain Evolution is Mere Storytelling” (2008), Creation/Evolution Headlines, February 22, [On-line], URL: http://www.creationsafaris.com/crev200802.htm.
Randerson, James (2008), “We Know Nothing About Brain Evolution,” Guardian, [On-line], URL:http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/02/the_distinguished_biologist _pr.html.

Adult Stem-cell Research by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=496

Adult Stem-cell Research

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

As the hype and propaganda by liberal politicians and Hollywood entertainers continues to fuel the debate over embryonic stem-cell research, new evidence once again has demonstrated the ongoing success of adult stem-cell research (Serafini, et al., 2007). Stem cells from adult bone marrow, “multipotent adult progenitor cells” (MAPCs), were injected into mice whose immune cells had been neutralized by radiation. The MAPCs replenished the bone marrow, spleen, peripheral blood, and lymph nodes of the immunodeficient mice (Williams, 2007). What’s more, none of the recipient mice developed tumors—an ongoing problem with the use of transplanted embryonic stem cells (ESCs). The conclusion? “The potential of long-term culture followed by tumor-free cell transfer thus givesMAPCs a therapeutic advantage over both ESCs and HSCs” (Williams). In other words, adult stem-cell research continues to produce effective results, while embryonic stem-cell research has yet to demonstrate significant value (see Harrub, 2006; Harrub and Thompson, 2004).
The moral, spiritual, and biblical issue is very simple: the shedding of innocent blood is a despicable thing to God (Proverbs 6:17). Solomon warned: “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, ‘Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause... My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood” (Proverbs 1:10-16, emp. added). Even if embryonic stem cells one day were shown to be beneficial to the infirmed, saving one human at the expense of another is not the right solution. Indeed, murdering millions of innocent babies through both abortion and embryonic stem-cell research is the evil scourge of our time (cf. Jeremiah 19:5; 32:35).

REFERENCES

Harrub, Brad (2006), “False Marketing of Embryonic Stem Cells,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2976.
Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2004), “Presidential Elections, Superman, Embryonic Stem Cells, Bad Science, and False Hope,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2621.
Serafini, Marta, S.J. Dylla, et al. (2007), “Hematopoietic Reconstitution by Multipotent Adult Progenitor Cells: Precursors to Long-Term Hematopoietic Stem Cells,” The Journal of Experimental Medicine, January 16, [On-line], URL: http://www.jem.org/cgi/content/abstract/jem.20061115v1.
Williams, Ruth (2007), “Cell Replacement Therapy—Are MAPCs the Answer?” The Journal of Experimental Medicine, January 16, [On-line], URL: http://www.jem.org/cgi/content/full/jem.2041iti1v1.

Musings on Leadership (4)

Musings on Leadership (4)

God’s equipping
20. The basis of all biblical leadership and authority is God’s blessing of the person; God’s enabling and empowering of that person. Was Deborah recognized as a prophetess? It was God who enabled her. Was Samuel recognized as a judge, priest and prophet? It was God who enabled him. Did Bezalel work at and teach others how to work in metals and other materials? God had equipped him to do so. The OT is filled with this truth and these few instances only bring into focus what permeates the OT scriptures. The NT proclaims the same truth. 1 Cor 12 (in pursuit of loving unity as it reflects the unity of God) develops the thought that all those who lead the congregation have been equipped by God. Eph 4 says with grand simplicity that the leaders are ‘gifts’ of God (to the Body).

21. Once again, much of the time the leader expresses the mind of the community as a spokesman of the community.  At other times he/she shapes and moulds the vision and practice of that community. In this he/she is “leading”. Characteristically the leader embodies and/or promotes the principles on which a group is founded to a “better than average” degree. He would be acknowledged as a leader precisely because he stands for and lives out those esteemed principles to a marked degree. It’s because we recognize others as more capable or devoted than ourselves that we are pleased to acknowledge them as our leaders. Our convictions are important to us so we want our wisest and most articulate people to lead us in this area. There’s nothing strange or sinister about any of this. As C.H. Dodd put it, “Truly religious people recognize their betters.” (Even truly non-religious people can recognize their betters. Christians have no monopoly on humility and honesty.)

22. Whether the leader’s “equipment” consists of moral grandeur in character or expertise in some specific area, he has been equipped by God to lead. The existence of his equipment is the mark God has placed on him and that’s why people receive him as a leader given by God. The basis of a good man’s authority is his goodness. The basis of a great teacher’s authority is the greatness of his teaching. In both cases, these are the gifts of God and that’s the basis of his leadership and authority.

The person’s willingness to lead
23. 1 Pet 5:2 reminds shepherds that they are to exercise leadership willingly. Phillips translates it like this: “Accept the responsibility of looking after them willingly and not because you feel you can’t get out of it...”

24. Only the ignorant think that leaders have it easy! Leadership involves lots of work, disappointment, frustration and loss of comforts as well as satisfaction, joy and other perks. Giftedness must be developed by involvement whether one is a concert pianist, a business man or a religious leader. Good leadership (religious or otherwise) means the individual must make a genuine commitment. It must be his/her commitment. When times get tough and they aren't willing to continue to pay the price it won’t impress anyone if they say: “I never wanted to do it anyway. They talked me into it.” A leader worth the name doesn’t have to be endlessly entreated to do his business. Giving room for human frailty, weariness and emotional lows, a leader ought to be willing to face the demands that his place of leadership makes on him.  If he doesn’t want to lead then he shouldn’t allow himself to be placed in that position. If he’s going to do it he must personally commit to it.
The person’s unwillingness to lead
25. The previous point needs to be made but this point balances it. We see it everywhere we look. We see it in school-teachers who are underpaid, unappreciated and over-burdened but who can’t leave the job alone. We see it in decent and powerful business women who have made more money than they can spend and who have no greed for predatory wealth. They thrill to the challenge of building another thriving business which makes life easier for employees and needy families. We see it in business men who have (despite their honest and diligent efforts) failed in the market. They can hardly wait to raise more money to have another shot at it. We see it in over-worked doctors and nurses who could have an easier time in some other job but who won’t turn from medicine or patient-care. We see it in a few genuine statesmen who, without being smug or too sweet to be wholesome, fight corruption and work for “the people”. All the people! And they do this despite the daily harassment by political jackals and self-serving foxes. When they are feeling the strain and you urge people like these to change their jobs, they tell you they can’t. It’s in their blood. They’d be unhappy at anything else. It isn’t so much that they have chosen the vocation; the vocation holds them prisoner. This is biblical-style leadership. In this Christian leaders and non-Christian leaders often share a common experience. Yes! They do!

26. Jeremiah was a glorious prophet! At times he staggered under the pressure. At times he complained that his service to God had brought him nothing but pain. He felt deeply for his people but he had his moments when he felt more deeply for himself and he plainly said so to God. He sometimes wished he had a wilderness house where he could go and have a good cry and on more than one occasion he wasn’t sure about the message God had given him to deliver.  If he found it so tough and complained so much, why didn’t he quit? He couldn’t! He thought about it (20:9) but the message wouldn’t stay inside. He told himself he wouldn’t speak any more but as he walked around silent and fuming the message began to eat at his bones until he could keep it in no longer and off he went again. He was really a prisoner to the vocation. About six centuries later another Jewish prophet, another very human human, confessed he had no choice but to speak for God (1 Cor 9:16-18). Here’s how he put it: “For I take no special pride that I preach the gospel. I feel compelled to do so; I should be utterly miserable if I failed to preach it. If I do this work because I choose to do so then I am entitled to a reward. But if it is no choice of mine, but a sacred responsibility put upon me, what can I expect in the way of reward?” (Phillips)

27. These two illustrations are typical. This is the norm for outstanding biblical leaders. From Moses to Gideon to Elijah to Amos to Nehemiah to Peter. Despite the moments of balking and protest, of discouragement and disillusionment, of self-pity and ‘burn-out’ they couldn’t help themselves. They had been touched by God for a noble endeavour and there was no turning back. Wasn’t it Caruso, the famous tenor, who said he didn’t have a voice, the voice had him? Moses and some unknown modern school-teacher would have a lot to share, wouldn’t they? Daniel and some modern noble statesman could get well acquainted. Deborah and some honourable lady judge or lawyer would have plenty in common. All good leaders, in the Bible or out of it, religious or non-religious, prominent or coming up in the rear have this in common: they feel a sense of vocation so deeply that their commitment has gone beyond willingness into the realm of healthy impulsion. (And to see a school-teacher leaving for home at the end of the day, weary after wrestling for the minds of mainly hard to inspire students—to see him leave with a satisfied look because of some hard-won victory is gorgeous. To see the joy in the faces of a poorly-paid preacher and his wife when their life and message have finally begun to show fruit in the growing selflessness of some of the disciples— that’s contagious. To hear the excitement in a Sunday-school teacher’s voice as she rehearses the bravery of some of her young students in the face of awful family situations is humbling. To share the joy of a successful business woman who has created an honest  stall in the marketplace where people see an island of cheerful fairness operate in a sea of shoddy goods and sharp practices—to share that joy is inspiring.)
The people’s willingness to follow
28. This point can easily be overstated but it does need to be made. In a democratic society (and in a world which is careering toward democratization) and in a culture shaped by such a society, it's necessary to deal with the desire of the people. In societies and cultures where democracy is unknown, leaders are appointed in ways unacceptable to western standards. In some structures (such as some privately owned businesses), the situation is clear—the owner is the leader. If you don’t like that, you indicate your disagreement by clearing out your desk on your way to another job.
29. In theory, in non-religious structures, the difficulties in harmonizing leadership and ‘people power’ should be greater since Bible believers are given clear guidelines about leadership and ‘followership’. But everyone with even a little insight knows that guidelines aren’t what leadership/followership problems are about. It would be pleasing to be able to say that Christian people need only to be told how to handle such challenges and it would be done. But it would be untrue!  Non-Christians have no monopoly on arrogance or excessive self-interest. Christians are very capable of division, pride and unhealthy self-determination. There are men in religious communities who want to call the shots and crack the whips as there are those who will follow no one however gifted or qualified they are.

30. Nevertheless, in a religious community, those who are the gifted and more than willing to serve as leaders and they’ll have the support of the people in general. They’ll be acknowledged as leaders even before any public or formal appointment takes place. (I’ll say more about this shortly.) So, despite the possible problem situations, common sense usually prevails and people are glad to follow leaders of the calibre we’ve sketched in the previous paragraphs. Just the same, the man who is not wanted as a leader by the community cannot serve the community as a leader no matter how qualified he is (or thinks he is)!

31. I’m old enough to know that people have often followed bad leaders and that people have often rejected good leaders. Ultimate goodness lies only in God and that ultimate goodness was manifested in Jesus Christ. Apart from that qualifier, nobody is absolutely good or evil. No leader is without his flaws. Equally, no follower is without his flaws. For good or ill, people only follow leaders they judge to be good and sometimes their appraisal of what is ‘good’ is not good. 
©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.