"A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD" The Christian And Good Works INTRODUCTION 1. In a previous lesson we discussed the matter of devotion or worship to God, especially in our public assemblies 2. One objective of such activities is to stir us up to "good works" - He 10:24-25 3. In this short but important lesson, we shall examine the matter of "good works" which Christians are to do... I. CHRISTIANS ARE TO DO "GOOD WORKS" A. DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND THE "PURPOSE" OF GOOD WORKS... 1. They are not done to "buy" or "earn" our way into heaven 2. God saves us by His GRACE, not by our WORKS - Ep 2:8-9;Tit 3:4-7 3. Yet, as God's People, we have been created in Christ Jesus to do good works! - Ep 2:10; Tit 2:11-14; 3:1,8,14 B. WHY, THEN, ARE WE TO DO GOOD WORKS? 1. They bring glory to God! - Mt 5:16; 1Pe 2:11-12 2. They can prepare unbelievers to be more receptive to the gospel - 1Pe 2:12; 3:1-2 3. They demonstrate the living nature of our faith - Jm 2:14-17 4. They are necessary if we are to be like Jesus - cf. Lk 6:46 with Ac 10:38 II. WHAT "GOOD WORKS" CAN WE DO? A. SOME GOOD WORKS ARE "SPIRITUAL" IN NATURE... 1. Telling others of God's grace - 1Pe 2:9-10 a. We may not all be "teachers" in a formal sense - 1Co 12:27-31; Jm 3:1-2 b. But all of us can share with others the wonderful grace of God available in Christ Jesus! 2. Encouraging other Christians - He 3:12-13 a. We can be a "Philemon" or a "Stephanus" - Phm 7;1Co 16:15-18 b. For example, through cards, calls, visits, Bible studies 3. Restoring weak brethren - Ga 6:1-2 a. We can be a "Barnabas" (who helped John Mark) b. The importance of this work is seen in light of Jm 5:19-20 B. OTHER GOOD WORKS ARE MORE "PHYSICAL" IN NATURE... 1. Jesus did not limit His good works to things spiritual - Lk 7:22 2. Nor did He expect His disciples to so limit their good works a. Cf. the "Limited Commission" - Mt 10:7-8 b. Cf. the "judgment scene" - Mt 25:34-40 3. Just as some may be gifted in talent and opportunities to "teach", so others are gifted to "serve" in areas of physical service - Ro 12:3-8 a. Such as "giving" b. Such as "showing mercy" 4. Women can be especially fruitful in this area... a. For they often have a more flexible use of their time b. Why not be a "Dorcas"? - Ac 9:36-39 CONCLUSION 1. No matter how we may serve the Lord, "good works" are a MARK OF PURE RELIGION - cf. Jm 1:27 2. It is also A KEY TO SPIRITUAL BLESSEDNESS (happiness) - Jm 1:25; Ac 20:35 3. So let's be sure to keep in mind the admonition of Paul to Titus... "Those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works." (Tit 3:8) SOME QUESTIONS TO STIMULATE YOUR THINKING... 1. What kind of "spiritual" good works are you doing, or are preparing yourself to do? 2. What kind of "physical" good works are you doing, or hope one day to do? 3. Who should get the glory when you are praised for good works?
Submit to God
|by||Alden Bass, Ph.D.|
For the Muslim, submission is a way of life. The very name of their religion, Islam, means “to submit.” In Islam, religion rules every aspect of life—the food that is eaten, the clothes that are worn, even the time taken for breaks at work. Nearly every phrase uttered regarding future plans begins with “Glory to Allah” and ends with “If Allah wills,” and any activity is interrupted if necessary for the five daily prayers. This is one reason that certain Islamic fundamentalist groups view the United States as they do. They see it as a “Christian nation,” yet a terribly inconsistent one. Christians claim to be religious, they say, but it shows only on Sundays. Instead of allowing Christianity to control their lives, they govern when and where God will be involved. God does not reign in every aspect of their lives, just certain spheres. Christians “turn on the religious button” at times, but then turn it off and flip on the entertainment switch, the vacation switch, etc., and leave God out. Muslims accuse Christians of partitioning their lives, and of not giving God the key to certain rooms. It is not so much the immorality that Muslims find distasteful, but the inconsistency.
It seems that, at least in some respect, Muslims may be onto something here. Despite their many errors, they are a model for Christians in this regard. The Qu’ran teaches: “The wandering Arabs say: We believe. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Ye believe not, but rather say ‘We submit,’ for the faith hath not yet entered into your hearts” (Surah 49:14). Is this not the essence of New Testament teaching? The Lord said while on this Earth: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). If this is not a call to submission, what is? It is not enough to believe in God. The demons believe and tremble (James 2:19). Belief is essential, but without submission, it means nothing.
While the idea is a simple enough concept to grasp, it can be very difficult to submit. We understand Christ’s command to mean that we must put away our own personalities, desires, and hopes, and take on His personality, desire, and hopes. This submission is not limited to certain aspects of our life either. It is not enough to submit to Christ only under certain circumstances or in certain crowds. It’s all or nothing. Christ wants nothing less than our whole person. We must not divide our lives into different spheres as the postmodernists assert we all inevitably do. Our life is knit together, and is unified by our submission to Christ.
This submission is one of action, not just of words. Muhammad’s problem with his fellow Arabs 1400 years ago was that they gave an oral profession of faith, but failed to demonstrate that faith in their lives. This is the same problem modern Muslims have with most Americans—we say one thing, but live another. Christ, our example, asks us to do no more than He Himself has done. “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). He submitted to the Father wholly, and He expects us to do the same.
One of the great differences between Islam and Christianity, however, is the result of godly submission. The Muslim submits himself in the hope that Allah one day will pardon him and allow him a place in glory. There is no assurance in this life though, because Allah, unlike the God of the Bible, is a transcendent deity so far above man that there is no interaction. He is not a personal God, nor is he ever called “father.”
After encouraging Christians to submit to God, James gave these comforting words: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). The Muslim has no assurance of salvation, but Christians have a God Who is near, and by following His will and submitting to His Son we may know that we have been saved. Let us therefore submit.
Contents of the Ark of the Covenant
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Following Israel’s exodus from Egypt, God instructed them to make a small wooden ark (box) overlaid with gold. The ark was 2.5 cubits long, 1.5 cubits wide, and 1.5 cubits high (or about 3.75 x 2.25 x 2.25 feet) and was called the “Ark of the Testimony” or the “Ark of the Covenant” because it contained the tablets of stone whereon the Ten Commandments were written (Exodus 25:16). According to 1 Kings 8:9, “Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone” (emp. added; cf. 2 Chronicles 5:10). The writer of Hebrews, however, indicated that the ark contained “the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant” (9:4). How can both of these passages be correct?
First, it may be that the Hebrews writer was indicating that the pot of manna, Aaron’s rod, and the tablets were in close proximity to the ark, but not necessarily that all three were “in” the ark. Although most English translations refer to what was “in” (NKJV; Greek en) the ark or what the ark “contained” (NIV, RSV), the uses of the Greek preposition en “are so many and various, and oft. so easily confused, that a strictly systematic treatment is impossible” (Danker, 2000, p. 326). Greek lexicographers give numerous definitions for this word, including: among, within the range of, near, before, in the presence of, etc. (Danker, pp. 326-330). Perhaps the writer of Hebrews only intended to communicate that Aaron’s rod, the container of manna, and the tablets of stone were all in close proximity to the ark in the Most Holy Place (the tablets being in the ark, while the manna and rod were “before” the ark; cf. Exodus 16:33-34; Numbers 17:10).
Second, it is also very possible that all three items were literally inside of the ark at one time, but not all of the time. Whenever comparing two or more Bible passages that might initially appear contradictory, one must be sure that the same time frame is under discussion. Such is not the case with Hebrews 9:4 and 1 Kings 8:9. In Hebrews 9, the inspired writer refers to the time of Moses, when “a tabernacle was prepared” (vs. 2; cf. Exodus 25-40). The statement in 1 Kings 8:9 (as well as 2 Chronicles 5:10) is from the time of Solomon, when he built the Temple, approximately 500 years after the tabernacle was constructed. Is it possible that the Ark of the Covenant once contained the tablets of stone, the pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod, while at another time (i.e., five centuries later) the ark contained only the tablets of stone? Most certainly (cf. 1 Samuel 4-5).
What about the allegation that “Aaron’s staff could hardly have fit anyway, since the ark was a box only 2.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 cubits” (Wells, 2009)? The fact is, no one knows the length of Aaron’s rod. Rods served many purposes (e.g., for support, for administering punishment, as a symbol of authority, etc.; see Allen, 1996, p. 1022) and came in various sizes. In Aaron’s case, it appears that his rod was more of a symbol of his God-given authority than just a mere walking stick. What’s more, even if Aaron had used his rod for support, he may have only been five feet tall and needed a walking stick that was just 3½ feet long. Considering that an average walking cane today is only about three feet long, it should not be surprising that Aaron’s rod could have fit into a box that was nearly four feet long.
Indeed, the wording of 1 Kings 8:9 and Hebrews 9:4 are different. But reasonable explanations exist for the variation. There is no doubt that two different time periods are under discussion. Furthermore, as with many Hebrew and Greek words, it may be that the Greek en (in Hebrews 9:4) should be understood in a broader sense. Whatever the precise contents of the Ark of the Covenant at any given time in history, rest assured, 1 Kings 8:9 and Hebrews 9:4 are not contradictory.
Allen, L.C. (1996), “Rod,” New Bible Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), third edition.
Danker, Fredrick William (2000), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago), third edition.
Wells, Steve (2009), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL:http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/.
Atheism and Liberal, Missouri
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
In the summer of 1880, George H. Walser founded the town of Liberal in southwest Missouri. Named after the Liberal League in Lamar, Missouri (to which the town’s organizer belonged), Walser’s objective was “to found a town without a church, [w]here unbelievers could bring up their children without religious training,” and where Christians were not allowed (Thompson, 1895; Becker, 1895). “His idea was to build up a town that should exclusively be the home of Infidels...a town that should have neither God, Hell, Church, nor Saloon” (Brand, 1895). Some of the early inhabitants of Liberal even encouraged other infidels to move to their town by publishing an advertisement which boasted that Liberal “is the only town of its size in the United States without a priest, preacher, church, saloon, God, Jesus, hell or devil” (Keller, 1885, p. 5). Walser and his “freethinking” associates were openly optimistic about their new town. Excitement was in the air, and atheism was at its core. They believed that their godless town of “sober, trustworthy and industrious” individuals would thrive for years on end. But, as one young resident of that town, Bessie Thompson, wrote about Liberal in 1895, “...like all other unworthy causes, it had its day and passed away.” Bessie did not mean that the actual town of Liberal ceased to exist, but that the idea of having a “good, godless” city is a contradiction in terms. A town built upon “trustworthy” atheistic ideals eventually will reek of the rotten, immoral fruits of infidelity. Such fruits were witnessed and reported firsthand by Clark Braden in 1885.
|St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Saturday, May 2, 1885|
Braden was an experienced preacher, debater, and author. In his lifetime, he presented more than 3,000 lectures, and held more than 130 regular debates—eighteen of which were with the Mormons (Carpenter, 1909, pp. 324-325). In 1872, Braden even challenged the renowned agnostic Robert Ingersoll to debate, to which Ingersoll reportedly responded, “I am not such a fool as to debate. He would wear me out” (Haynes, 1915, pp. 481-482). Although Braden was despised by some, his skills in writing and public speaking were widely known and acknowledged. In February 1885, Clark Braden introduced himself to the townspeople of Liberal (Keller, 1885, p. 5; Moore, 1963, p. 38), and soon thereafter he wrote about what he had seen.
In an article that appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on May 2, 1885, titled “An Infidel Experiment,” Braden reported the following.
The boast about the sobriety of the town is false. But few of the infidels are total abstainers. Liquor can be obtained at three different places in this town of 300 inhabitants. More drunken infidels can be seen in a year in Liberal than drunken Christians among one hundred times as many church members during the same time. Swearing is the common form of speech in Liberal, and nearly every inhabitant, old and young, swears habitually. Girls and boys swear on the streets, playground, and at home. Fully half of the females will swear, and a large number swear habitually.... Lack of reverence for parents and of obedience to them is the rule. There are more grass widows, grass widowers and people living together, who have former companions living, than in any other town of ten times the population.... A good portion of the few books that are read are of the class that decency keeps under lock and key....
These infidels...can spend for dances and shows ten times as much as they spend on their liberalism. These dances are corrupting the youth of the surrounding country with infidelity and immorality. There is no lack of loose women at these dances.
Since Liberal was started there has not been an average of one birth per year of infidel parents. Feticide is universal. The physicians of the place say that a large portion of their practice has been trying to save females from consequences of feticide. In no town is slander more prevalent, or the charges more vile. If one were to accept what the inhabitants say of each other, he would conclude that there is a hell, including all Liberal, and that its inhabitants are the devils (as quoted in Keller, 1885, p. 5).
According to Braden, “[s]uch are the facts concerning this infidel paradise.... Every one who has visited Liberal, and knows the facts, knows that such is the case” (p. 5).
As one can imagine, Braden’s comments did not sit well with some of the townspeople of Liberal. In fact, a few days after Braden’s observations appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he was arrested for criminal libel and tried on May 18, 1885. According to Braden, “After the prosecution had presented their evidence, the case was submitted to the jury without any rebutting evidence by the defence (sic), and the jury speedily brought in a verdict of ‘No cause for action’ ” (as quoted in Mouton, n.d., pp. 36-37). Unfortunately for Braden, however, the controversy was not over. On the following day (May 19, 1885), a civil suit was filed by one of the townsmen—S.C. Thayer, a hotel operator in Liberal. The petition for damages of $25,000 alleged that Clark Braden and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article in which they had made false, malicious, and libelous statements against the National Hotel in Liberal, managed by Mr. Thayer. He claimed that Braden’s remarks, published in the St. Louise Post-Dispatch on May 2, 1885, “greatly and irreparably injured and ruined” his business (Thayer v. Braden). However, when the prosecution learned that the defense was thoroughly prepared to prove that Liberal was a den of infamy, and that its hotels were little more than houses of prostitution, the suit was dismissed on September 17, 1886 by the plaintiff at his own cost (Thayer v. Braden). Braden was exonerated in everything he had written. Indeed, the details Braden originally reported about Liberal, Missouri, on May 2, 1885 were found to be completely factual.
It took only a few short years for Liberal’s unattractiveness and inconsistency to be exposed. People cannot exclude God from the equation, and expect to remain a “sober, trustworthy” town. Godlessness equals unruliness, which in turn makes a repugnant, immoral people. The town of Liberal was a failure. Only five years after its establishment, Braden indicated that “[n]ine-tenths of those now in town would leave if they could sell their property. More property has been lost by locating in the town than has been made in it.... Hundreds have been deceived and injured and ruined financially” (Keller, p. 5). Apparently, “doing business with the devil” did not pay the kind of dividends George Walser (the town’s founder) and the early inhabitants of Liberal desired. It appears that even committed atheists found living in Liberal in the early days intolerable. Truly, as has been observed in the past, “An infidel surrounded by Christians may spout his infidelity and be able to endure it, but a whole town of atheists is too horrible to contemplate.” It is one thing to espouse a desire to live in a place where there is no God, but it is an entirely different thing for such a place actually to exist. For it to become a reality is more than the atheist can handle. Adolf Hitler took atheism to its logical conclusion in Nazi Germany, and created a world that even most atheists detested. Although atheists want no part of living according to the standards set out by Jesus and His apostles in the New Testament, the real fruits of evolutionary atheism also are too horrible for them to contemplate.
Although the town of Liberal still exists today (with a population of about 800 people), and although vestiges of its atheistic heritage are readily apparent, it is not the same town it was in 1895. At present, at least seven religious groups associated with Christianity exist within this city that once banned Christianity and all that it represents. Numerous other churches meet in the surrounding areas. According to one of the religious leaders in the town, “a survey of Liberal recently indicated that 50% of the people are actively involved with some church” (Abbott, 2003)—a far cry from where Liberal began.
There is no doubt that the moral, legal, and educational systems of Liberal, Missouri, in the twenty-first century are the fruits of biblical teaching, not atheism. When Christianity and all of the ideals that the New Testament teaches are effectively put into action, people will value human life, honor their parents, respect their neighbors, and live within the moral guidelines given by God in the Bible. A city comprised of faithful Christians would be mostly void of such horrors as sexually transmitted diseases, murder, drunken fathers who beat their wives and children, drunk drivers who turn automobiles into lethal weapons, and heartache caused by such things as divorce, adultery, and covetousness. (Only those who broke God’s commandments intended for man’s benefit would cause undesirable fruit to be reaped.)
On the other hand, when atheism and all of its tenets are taken to their logical conclusion, people will reap some of the same miserable fruit once harvested by the early citizens of Liberal, Missouri (and sadly, some of the same fruit being reaped by many cities in the world today). Men and women will attempt to cover up sexual sins by aborting babies, children will disrespect their parents, students will “run wild” at home and in school because of the lack of discipline, and “sexual freedom” (which leads to sexually transmitted diseases) will be valued, whereas human life will be devalued. Such are the fruits of atheism: a society in which everyone does that which is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6)—a society in which no sensible person wants to live.
Abbott, Phil (2003), Christian Church, Liberal, Missouri, telephone conversation, April 7.
Barnes, Pamela (2003), St. Louis Post-Dispatch, telephone conversation, March 12.
Becker, Hathe (1895), “Liberal,” Liberal Enterprise, December 5,12, [On-line], URL: http://lyndonirwin.com/libhist1.htm.
Brand, Ida (1895), “Liberal,” Liberal Enterprise, December 5,12, [On-line], URL: http://lyndonirwin.com/libhist1.htm.
Carpenter, L.L. (1909), “The President’s Address,” in Centennial Convention Report, ed. W.R. Warren, (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing Company), pp. 317-332. [On-line], URL: http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/wwarren/ccr/CCR15B.HTM.
Haynes, Nathaniel S. (1915), History of the Disciples of Christ in Illinois 1819-1914 (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing Company), [On-line], URL: http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/nhaynes/hdcib/braden01.htm, 1996.
Keller, Samuel (1885), “An Infidel Experiment,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Special Correspondence with Clark Braden, May 2, p. 5.
Moore, J.P. (1963), This Strange Town—Liberal, Missouri (Liberal, MO: The Liberal News).
Mouton, Boyce (no date), George H. Walser and Liberal, Missouri: An Historical Overview.
Thayer, S.C. v. Clark Braden, et. al. Filed on May 19, 1885 in Barton County Missouri. Dismissed September 10, 1886.
Thompson, Bessie (1895), “Liberal,” Liberal Enterprise, December 5,12, [On-line], URL: http://lyndonirwin.com/libhist1.htm.
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Imagine your mother asking you to do something for a neighbor, and you responding to her by saying, “Woman, what does that have to do with me?” If your mother is anything like mine, she probably would have given you “the look” (among other things) as she pondered how her son could be so rude. Responding to a mother’s (or any woman’s) request in twenty-first-century America with the refrain, “Woman…,” sounds impolite and offensive. Furthermore, a Christian, who is commanded to “honor” his “father and mother” (Ephesians 6:2), would be out of line in most situations when using such an expression while talking directly to his mother.
In light of the ill-mannered use of the word “woman” in certain contexts today, some question how Jesus could have spoken to His mother 2,000 years ago using this term without breaking the commandment to “[h]onor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12; cf. Matthew 15:4; Matthew 5:17-20). When Jesus, His disciples, and His mother were at the wedding in Cana of Galilee where there was a depletion of wine, Mary said to Jesus, “They have no wine” (John 2:3). Jesus then responded to His mother, saying, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). Notice what one skeptic has written regarding what Jesus said in this verse.
In Matt. 15:4 he [Jesus—EL] told people to “Honor thy father and thy mother”; yet, he was one of the first to ignore his own maxim by saying to his mother in John 2:4, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” (McKinsey, 1995, p. 44).Imagine someone talking to his own mother is such a disrespectful manner and addressing her by such an impersonal noun as “woman.” Talk about an insolent offspring! (1995, p. 134).Jesus needs to practice some parental respect… (2000, p. 251).Apparently Jesus’ love escaped him (n.d., “Jesus…”).Why was Jesus disrespectful of his mother? In John 2:4, Jesus uses the same words with his mother that demons use when they meet Jesus. Surely the son of God knew that Mary had the blessing of the Father, didn’t he, (and she was the mother of God—Ed.) not to mention the fact that the son of God would never be rude? (n.d., “Problems…”, parenthetical comment in orig.).
As one can see, Mr. McKinsey is adamant that Jesus erred. He used such words to describe Jesus as disrespectful, insolent, unloving, and rude. Is he correct?
As with most Bible critics, Mr. McKinsey is guilty of judging Jesus’ words by what is common in twenty-first-century English vernacular, rather than putting Jesus’ comments in its proper first-century setting. It was not rude or inappropriate for a man in the first century to speak to a lady by saying, “Woman (gunai)….” This “was a highly respectful and affectionate mode of address” (Vincent, 1997) “with no idea of censure” (Robertson, 1932, p. 34). The New International Version correctly captures the meaning of this word in John 2:4: “ ‘Dear woman, why do you involve me?’ ” (NIV, emp. added). Jesus used this word when complimenting the Syrophoenician woman’s great faith (Matthew 15:28), when affectionately addressing Mary Magdalene after His resurrection (John 20:15), and when speaking to His disconsolate mother one last time from the cross (John 19:26). Paul used this same word when addressing Christian women (1 Corinthians 7:16). As Adam Clarke noted: “[C]ertainly no kind of disrespect is intended, but, on the contrary, complaisance, affability, tenderness, and concern, and in this sense it is used in the best Greek writers” (1996).
As to why Jesus used the term “woman” (gunai) instead of “mother” (meetros) when speaking to Mary (which even in first-century Hebrew and Greek cultures was an unusual way to address one’s mother), Leon Morris noted that Jesus most likely was indicating
that there is a new relationship between them as he enters his public ministry…. Evidently Mary thought of the intimate relations of the home at Nazareth as persisting. But Jesus in his public ministry was not only or primarily the son of Mary, but “the Son of Man” who was to bring the realities of heaven to people on earth (1:51). A new relationship was established (Morris, 1995, p. 159).
R.C.H. Lenski added: “[W]hile Mary will forever remain his [Jesus’—EL] mother, in his calling Jesus knows no mother or earthly relative, he is their Lord and Savior as well as of all men. The common earthly relation is swallowed up in the divine” (1961, p. 189). It seems best to conclude that Jesus was simply “informing” His mother in a loving-yet-firm manner that as He began performing miracles for the purpose of proving His deity and the divine origin of His message (see Miller, 2003, pp. 17-23), His relationship to His mother was about to change.
Finally, the point also must be stressed that honoring fathers and mothers does not mean that a son or daughter never can correct his or her parents. Correction and honor are no more opposites than correction and love. One of the greatest ways parents disclose their love to their children is by correcting them when they make mistakes. Similarly, one of the ways in which a mature son might honor his parents is by taking them aside when they have erred, and lovingly pointing out their mistake or oversight in a certain matter. How much more honorable would this action be than to take no action and allow them to continue in a path of error without informing them of such. We must keep in mind that even though Mary was a great woman “who found favor with God” (Luke 1:30), she was not perfect (cf. Romans 3:10,23). She was not God, nor the “mother of God” (viz., she did not originate Jesus or bring Him into existence). But, she was the one chosen to carry the Son of God in her womb. Who better to correct any misunderstanding she may had had than this Son?
Clarke, Adam (1996), Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1961), The Interpretation of the St. John’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
McKinsey, C. Dennis (no date), “Jesus, Imperfect Beacon,” Biblical Errancy [On-line], URL: http://members.aol.com/ckbloomfld/bepart11.html#issref113.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (no date), “Problems with the Credentials and Character of Jesus,” Biblical Errancy [On-line], URL: http://mywebpages.comcast.net/errancy/issues/iss190.htm.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (1995), The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern-day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation,”Reason & Revelation, 23:17-24, March.
Morris, Leon (1995), The Gospel According to St. John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), revised edition.
Robertson, A.T. (1932), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman).
Vincent, Marvin R. (1997), Word Studies in the New Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
“With God One Day is a Thousand Years”?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
If I had a dollar for each time I heard someone use this phrase to add thousands of years to the biblical, six-day Creation, I finally might be able to purchase that newer model minivan my wife would love to have. It seems as if whenever there is a discussion of the days of Creation, someone mentions how those days may have been long periods of time. After all, the Bible does say, “With God one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day.” Does this phrase really support the Day-Age Theory as many suggest?
First, the Bible does not say, “With God one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day.” The apostle Peter actually wrote: “[B]eloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Peter used a figure of speech known as a simile to compare a day to a thousand years. It is not that one day is precisely equivalent to 1,000 years or vice versa. Rather, within the specific context of 2 Peter 3, one could say that they share a likeness.
What is the context of 2 Peter 3? In this passage, Peter reminded Christians that “scoffers” would arise in the last days saying, “Where is the promise of His [Jesus’] coming?” (vss. 3-4). Peter declared: “[T]he heavens and the earth...are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (vs. 7). Regardless of what the scoffers alleged about the Second Coming, Peter wanted the church to know that “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise [of a return], as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (vs. 9). Sandwiched between these thoughts is the fact that the passing of time does not affect God’s promises, specifically the promise of His return. If Jesus promised to return 1,000 or 2,000 years ago, it is as good as if He made the promise yesterday. Indeed, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” With men, the passing of long periods of time generally affects their keeping of promises, but not with God. Time has no bearing on whether He will do what He said He would do: “a thousand years are like a day” (vs. 8, NIV).
Another point to consider is that Peter used the term “day” (Greek hemera) and the phrase “thousand years” (chilia ete). This in itself is proof that God is able to communicate to man the difference between one day and 1,000 years. (For similes to make sense, one first must understand the literal difference between what is being compared. If there were no difference, then it would be meaningless to use such a figure of speech.) What’s more, within Genesis chapter one God used the terms “days” (Hebrew yamim) and “years” (shanim). Many rightly have questioned, “If a day in Genesis is really a thousand years (or some other long period of time), then what are the years mentioned in Genesis chapter one?” Such a definition of “days” makes a reasonable interpretation of Creation impossible. The facts are: (1) God knows the difference between a day and a thousand years; (2) Peter and Moses understood this difference; (3) their original audience comprehended the difference; and (4) any unbiased reader today can do the same.
Finally, even if 2 Peter 3:8 could be tied to the length of the Creation days (logically and biblically it cannot), adding 6,000 years to the age of the Earth would in no way appease evolutionary sympathizers. A person could add 600,000 years or 600 million years and still not come close to the alleged age of the Universe. According to evolutionary calculations, one would still be 13+ billion years away from the Big Bang and four billion years this side of the formation of Earth. Truly, even an abuse of 2 Peter 3:8 will not help Day-Age theorists.
America and Atheistic Evolutionists
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Amid militant cries by evolutionists to ban God from science, the public school, and America, how ironic that such talk is permissible only because America was founded by theists. For some fifty years now, atheistic evolutionists have been chipping steadily away at belief in God and the Christian religion throughout the public school and university system of this country. They have successfully indoctrinated many young people with their godless theory. Virtually every department in state universities has been infiltrated by humanistic presuppositions. Study and research are conducted from an evolutionary, relativistic framework that either jettisons the notion of God altogether, or dilutes it sufficiently to exclude the biblical portrayal of deity. Many American universities are now firmly under the control of atheists, agnostics, and skeptics who forthrightly reject belief in God, embrace a materialistic view of origins, and are determined to eradicate any residue of belief in God that may linger in the minds of their victimized pupils.
But the United States was born under such drastically different circumstances. Indeed, the foundational premise for severing ties with England, and the central rationale and justification for establishing a new nation, was articulated by the Founders in their declared intention to establish their independence (Declaration of..., 1776). In the very first sentence of that seminal document, they insisted that “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle[d] them” to achieve “the separate and equal station” of a new nation. The “Nature’s God” to whom they referred was the God of the Bible. In the second sentence they declared that they had been “created” (not evolved) by their “Creator” who invested them with “certain unalienable Rights.” In other words, the American Republic had a right to exist on the basis of the authority of the God of the Bible. Further, they justified their intentions by “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world.” And they staked the entire enterprise on “a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.” Four times in the brief literary missive that launched the United States of America, the Founders alluded to the God of the Bible; yet now, over two centuries later, evolutionists have declared war on those who believe in that God!
The architects of this country would be outraged—and thoroughly alarmed for national survival. As Benjamin Franklin declared to Thomas Paine:
For without the Belief of a Providence that takes Cognizance of, guards and guides and may favour particular Persons, there is no Motive to Worship a Deity, to fear its Displeasure, or to pray for its Protection. If Men are so wicked as we now see them with Religion what would they be if without it? I intend this Letter itself as a Proof of my Friendship.... (1840, 10:281-282, emp. added).
John Adams played a central role in the birth of our nation, as delegate to the Continental Congress (1774-1777) where he signed the Declaration of Independence, signer of the peace treaty that ended the American Revolution (1783), two-time Vice-President under George Washington (1789-1797), and second President of the United States (1797-1801). In a letter to Thomas Jefferson on April 19, 1817, John Adams insisted: “Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell” (1856, 10:254). He declared in 1778 that atheism ought to be treated with “horror” and those who embrace it are traitors, hypocrites, and guilty of treason:
The idea of infidelity cannot be treated with too much resentment or too much horror. The man who can think of it with patience is a traitor in his heart and ought to be execrated as one who adds the deepest hypocrisy to the blackest treason (1977-1989, 6:348).
Writing to Noah Webster on July 20, 1798, Dr. Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, said: “I anticipate nothing but suffering to the human race while the present systems of paganism, deism, and atheism prevail in the world” (1951, 2:799). Another signer of the Declaration, Samuel Adams, stated in a letter written in 1772: “I have a thorough contempt for all men...who appear to be the irreclaimable enemies of religion” (1906, 2:381). Signer of the Constitution, Gouverneur Morris, insisted in 1816:
There must be religion. When that ligament is torn, society is disjointed and its members perish. The nation is exposed to foreign violence and domestic convulsion. Vicious rulers, chosen by vicious people, turn back the current of corruption to its source. Placed in a situation where they can exercise authority for their own emolument, they betray their trust. They take bribes. They sell statutes and decrees. They sell honor and office. They sell their conscience. They sell their country. By this vile traffic they become odious and contemptible.... But the most important of all lessons is the denunciation of ruin to every State that rejects the precepts of religion” (Collections of..., 1821, pp. 32,34, emp. added).
Speaking to the senior class at Princeton College in 1775, Declaration signer John Witherspoon declared: “Shun, as a contagious pestilence,...those especially whom you perceive to be infected with the principles of infidelity or [who are] enemies to the power of religion” (1802, 6:13).
With uncanny anticipation of the audacious, avowed determination by evolutionists to rid the nation of belief in God, Alexander Hamilton, another signer of the federal Constitution, condemned France in 1798 for a comparable aspiration: “The attempt by the rulers of a nation to destroy all religious opinion and to pervert a whole people to atheism is a phenomenon of profligacy.... [T]o establish atheism on the ruins of Christianity [is] to deprive mankind of its best consolations and most animating hopes and to make a gloomy desert of the universe” (1979, 21:402-404). Also describing France, John Jay, first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, explained:
During my residence there, I do not recollect to have had more than two conversations with atheists about their tenets. The first was this: I was at a large party, of which were several of that description. They spoke freely and contemptuously of religion. I took no part in the conversation. In the course of it, one of them asked me if I believed in Christ? I answered that I did, and that I thanked God that I did.... Some time afterward, one of my family being dangerously ill, I was advised to send for an English physician who had resided many years at Paris.... But, it was added, he is an atheist.... [D]uring one of his visits, [he] very abruptly remarked that there was no God and he hoped the time would come when there would be no religion in the world. I very concisely remarked that if there was no God there could be no moral obligations, and I did not see how society could subsist without them... (Jay, 1833, 2:346-347, emp. added).
Even Benjamin Franklin chided the French with the near absence of atheism in early America:
[B]ad examples to youth are more rare in America, which must be comfortable consideration to parents. To this may be truly added, that serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practiced. Atheism is unknown there; infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country,without having their piety shocked by meeting with either an atheist or an infidel(1784, p. 24, emp. added).
Even Thomas Paine, who styled himself a deist and opponent of Christianity, nevertheless repudiated the atheism being perpetrated by today’s evolutionists. In his Age of Reason, he claimed to believe in God and afterlife: “I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life” (1794). He also wrote: “Were man impressed as fully and as strongly as he ought to be with the belief of a God, his moral life would be regulated by the force of that belief; he would stand in awe of God and of himself, and would not do the thing that could not be concealed from either” (1794). Paine not only believed in “the certainty of his existence and the immutability of his power,” he asserted that “it is the fool only, and not the philosopher, or even the prudent man, that would live as if there were no God.” In fact, he stated that it is “rational to believe” that God would call all people “to account for the manner in which we have lived here” (1794). According to Paine, today’s atheistic evolutionists are imprudent, irrational fools. The psalmist articulated the same conclusion centuries ago when he wrote: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1).
If atheistic evolutionists have their way in this country by having God expunged from public education, according to the Founders of America, this country will become a nightmare—a “gloomy desert,” or as John Adams believed, a living “hell” on Earth. Russia went down the same road of atheistic evolution a century ago. Because of their inability to discern spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14), the Soviet cosmonauts looked out of their spacecraft in the 1950s and, in ridicule, asked, “Where is God?,” echoing again the words of the psalmist: “Why should the nations say, ‘Where now is their God?’ But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:2-3). Pride is a deadly pitfall that blinds one to the truth: “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 10:4).
The Father of our country, George Washington, would be heartsick to hear the intentions of today’s evolutionists:
I am sure there never was a people who had more reason to acknowledge a Divine interposition in their affairs than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that Agency which was so often manifested during our revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them (1838, 10:222-223, emp. added).
Nevertheless, the physical evidence remains abundantly clear: the Universe “declares” the plain work of the Creator (Psalm 19:1). Those who see “the things that are made” and deny the very One Who made them—are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
Adams, John (1856), The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, ed. Charles Adams (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Co.).
Adams, John (1977-1989), The Papers of John Adams, ed. Robert Taylor (Cambridge: Belknap Press).
Adams, Samuel (1906), The Writings of Samuel Adams, ed. Harry Cushing (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons).
Collections of the New York Historical Society for the Year 1821 (1821), (New York: E. Bliss & E. White).
Declaration of Independence (1776), National Archives, [On-line], URL:http://www.archives.gov/national-archives-experience /charters/declaration.html.
Franklin, Benjamin (1784), Two Tracts: Information to Those Who Would Remove to America and Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America (London: John Stockdale).
Franklin, Benjamin (1840), The Works of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Jared Sparks (Boston, MA: Tappan, Whittemore, & Mason).
Hamilton, Alexander (1979), The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold Syrett (New York: Columbia University Press).
Jay, William (1833), The Life of John Jay (New York: J. & J. Harper).
Paine, Thomas (1794), Age of Reason, [On-line], URL:http://www.ushistory.org/paine/reason/singlehtml.htm.
Rush, Benjamin (1951), Letters of Benjamin Rush, ed. L.H. Butterfield (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Washington, George (1838), The Writings of George Washington, ed. Jared Sparks (Boston, MA: Ferdinand Andrews).
Witherspoon, John (1802), The Works of the Reverend John Witherspoon (Philadelphia, PA: William Woodward).
Musings on Leadership (7)
Care and protection for all
54. ‘Shepherds’ in the OT embraced more than what Christians know as NT ‘elders’. It embraced all those in power whether they were princes, local judges, kings, prophets or priests. In short, those who were granted power over others. In Ezek 34:1-6 the leaders are scathed by God. As Joseph Parker put it, God wasn’t angry because they had won no battles in his name nor filled his coffers with the booty, it wasn’t because they had not gone over the earth to make converts and swell the number of his people. No. It was because he saw his people as sheep without shepherds. No sick were healed, no weak were strengthened, no injured were in splints, no strays were guided back and the lost were left out there wandering in the darkness.
55. And because the shepherds looked after themselves there comes a word from God like the crack of doom (34:7-10) that he would become the enemy of those shepherds. Without them, God would see to it that the flock was fed and watered and protected. Without them God would deliver the flock from being plundered and raped.
56. The feeble and injured and straying need help! Giftedness and authority is for the good of the people. There must be compassion, patience and attention given to the needy among God’s people. In the context of material impoverishment, God calls for kindness from those who have, saying that “the poor will never cease out of the land” (Deut 15:11). If they are kind-hearted in their helping the needy, God assures them their compassion and benevolence will not go unnoticed. The lyrics of a song from Paul Williams (“You And Me Against The World”) keep ringing in my ears:
Remember when the circus came to town,
You were frightened by the clown,
Wasn’t it nice to be around.
Someone that you knew
Someone that was big and strong
and looking out for you...
We see authority and leadership in a vivid and lovely way when we see a five year old boy, in trouble, look to his eight year old brother for protection and the answers to the crisis they’re both facing. No arguments, no jealousy and no sense of superiority. And the eight year old feels the need and fear of his little brother and shoulders the responsibility to give guidance and protection though he himself doesn’t feel so wise or strong.
57. I know leaders get tired and suffer compassion fatigue--at my age how can I not know that?--but people need more than programmes and classes, more than one more Bible study on “growth”. They need to know there are people who are big and strong and looking out for them. I know leaders can’t handle it all alone (and they shouldn’t be expected to) but until we accept that this is indeed a crucial role leaders take on (that of caring for and helping people), we’ll be more easily tempted to call out decisions and ultimatums across a gulf and opt out of costly caring. People need to see leaders caring, doing something.
58. In a speech on ethics, Christina Sommers, gives the essence of a story in a collection of Jewish stories called If Not Higher (edited by Saul Bellow). There was a rabbi in a little Jewish village in Russia, says the story, who vanished every Friday morning for at least several hours. His devoted disciples boasted that during these hours their rabbi ascended to heaven and talked with God. A sceptical newcomer made up his mind to discover where he really went and so one Friday morning he spied on him. After prayers the rabbi dressed in peasant clothes, picked up an axe and headed off into the forest. He cut down a tree, gathered a lot of wood and carried it to a shack in the poorest section of the area where an old woman and her sick son lived. The rabbi left them enough wood to carry them through the week then discreetly returned to his own house. The story concludes, Sommers tells us, with the newcomer staying in the village and becoming a disciple of the rabbi. And whenever one of his fellow villagers would say: “On Friday morning our rabbi ascends all the way to heaven,” the former sceptic would murmur: “If not higher.” The story (like all good stories) has tremendous power to warm and inspire. It makes its demands on everyone and certainly on sensitive leaders. To see and hear leaders in the caring process both matures and sustains and inspires people.
And Truth for all
59. We’ve seen that leaders were appointed, in part, so that believers could be grounded in the truth of God. No error can be prized! We ought to make it our aim to know the truth about anything with which we have to do. Just the same, while Truth is objective and there are absolute truths, people are intellectually capable of error and because of their sinfulness they can miss truth (see John 5:44). This means, while we strive after truth we confess we all err (even those who don’t think they make mistakes make them anyway). The good news is: not every error is life-destroying! But as in OT faith so in NT faith, some errors, can destroy the possibility of life with God.
60. It is for leaders (especially those who are equipped in the Word) to protect the flock against false teachings and those who would lead believers away from foundational truths. See how Deut 13:1-5 and 1 Cor 12:3 use foundational confessions by which everything is to be tested. Central truths are repeated again and again in the OT and around these the worship, ordinances and teaching of Israel were grouped. The same is true in the NT. There is plain talk about heresies which destroy men, demonic teachings that ensnare people (2 Pet 2:1ff) and the People of God are called to pay attention to the words of the apostles and NT prophets (2 Pet 3:2 and elsewhere). 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 is not there for nothing.
61. In ancient times the foundational truths were attacked in various ways and the NT literature responded to it. Wise leaders will protect the life of the Body by responding to modern attacks on those same foundational truths. They will hear what the ‘modern mind’ has to say or ask and expound the changeless truths of the Gospel in response to these new questions or new assaults. They will not seek to shape the Body into a ‘consumer oriented’ club by removing genuine biblical ‘scandals’ in a cowardly compromise but they will genuinely listen to the concerns and difficulties of a modern society and present biblical wisdom adapted to those particular needs. The importance of this role in leadership can hardly be overstated.
62. But it is not required of leadership that it hand down an ‘accepted view’ on every question or in every dispute. There are some questions which cannot be settled beyond dispute. Good men, despite being gifted by God with wisdom and knowledge differ on what the Bible teaches in numerous areas (e.g., War, ‘Social drinking’, divorce, ‘which are essential doctrines?’). Wise men, perhaps, but they aren’t infallible or omniscient. Their business is to discriminate the jugular from the important but not absolutely essential and teach accordingly. (They will answer to God for their judgements in this area.)
To "get it right" in fundamental matters is vitally important because what we believe (our "doctrine") has ethical and moral consequences as well as theological. It was in the middle of a discussion about the bodily resurrection that Paul said (REB, 1 Corinthians 15:33): "Make no mistake: bad company ruins good character."
©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.