From Mark Copeland... Evangelism Made Personal Perspectives For Success In Evangelism (Maintaining A Positive Attitude)

Evangelism Made Personal

Perspectives For Success In Evangelism

(Maintaining A Positive Attitude)
It is important to maintain certain perspectives while engaging in the enterprise we call "evangelism." Many people start out with great enthusiasm, but often get discouraged and in some cases become apathetic. This happens even to those who are highly skilled in teaching others.
The problem is one that Zig Ziegler might call "stinkin' thinkin'." Armed with the wrong perspectives (or way of looking at things), many personal workers eventually lose heart. Before long, evangelistic efforts dwindle and in some cases stop altogether.
What follows are some perspectives that have helped me to keep a positive attitude about doing personal work.


In nearly every example of conversion found in the Book of Acts, God worked in some way to create the opportunity for the person to hear the gospel. For example, Philip was sent toward Gaza where he would meet the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8). The Lord saw to it that Saul and Ananias would get together (Acts 9); likewise, that the household of Cornelius would have a chance to hear the gospel from Peter (Acts 10). The evangelization of Europe that started with the conversion of Lydia and the Philippian Jailor occurred after the "Macedonian Call" led Paul and his companions in that direction (Acts 16).
Granted, these circumstances are in keeping with the miraculous events in establishing the Lord's church, but I believe they illustrate a principle that is just as valid for us today. That principle is this: The Lord, who knows the hearts of all men and seeks those who are seeking Him (cf. 2Ch 16:9), will make sure that those who "hunger and thirst for righteousness" will somehow be "filled" (Mt 5:6).
This is where the "providence of God" comes in. When the Lord knows there are people who would be receptive to the gospel (e.g., those in Corinth, Ac 18:9-11), He will "open doors" to give those who are seeking the truth the opportunity to be reached by those who are prepared to do the teaching. It may not happen immediately, but I am persuaded that if there is someone who is "asking, seeking, and knocking" for the truth, the Lord will see to it that at some point in that person's life they will have an opportunity to hear the gospel.
It encourages me to know that we are not alone in our efforts to lead the lost to Christ. God will see that every soul who has an honest, good, and seeking heart will one day come across someone who is prepared to explain the Gospel to him or her. Indeed, when we engage in evangelism, we are "God's fellow workers" (1Co 3:5-9).
Of course, how useful we can be to the Lord leads us to the second perspective for success in evangelism...


The Scriptures often speak of the Lord "opening doors" for His servants who are ready to serve Him. Paul wrote about an "open door" of opportunity that prompted him to remain longer at Ephesus (1Co 16:9). He even wrote of one occasion where there was an "open door," but circumstances were such that he did not take advantage of it (2Co 2: 12-13).
From the Lord's remarks to the church in Philadelphia, we learn that the Lord opens doors for those people He can use (Re 3:8). The implication regarding evangelism is this: If we desire to be used by the Lord in His providence to reach those who are seeking the truth, then we must prepare ourselves to be useful (cf. 2Ti 2:19-21)!
The principle of preparation applies to both individuals and congregations. Individuals must prepare themselves to be able to teach, or to lead souls to those ready to teach. But congregations must also be ready to assimilate new converts into the family of God where they can be nurtured and protected during a vital stage of their newfound life.
I fear that many congregations do not find "open doors" to reach others because they have not prepared themselves to be a place where "babes in Christ" will be cared for properly. Do we really believe that the Lord through His "providence" would "open doors" for a congregation filled with "carnal Christians" who would only devour the new Christian? I would not be surprised if the Lord often waits a long time before providentially working to see that a truth seeker has an opportunity to hear the gospel. Of course, I would also understand that the Lord would use His providence to spare that truth seeker's life until there are people ready to teach and receive him or her into the family of God.
Whether the above is true, I believe the following point is both valid and encouraging: If we will "prepare" ourselves to be useful to the Lord, His providence will "open doors" of opportunity to reach those in our community who have honest and good hearts that are seeking for the truth.
An important part of preparation involves another "perspective"...


If the providence of God is at work and it involves the lives of those who are prepared to be used as well as those who are seeking the truth, it should be easy to see that prayer would play an important role. In the conversion of Cornelius, it was his prayers that prompted God to take notice (Ac 10:1-4), and it was a man given to prayer that the Lord chose to use in order to reach him (Ac 10:9).
I get the impression sometimes that much preparation for evangelism is not too different from preparing to make a sales pitch. It is almost as though people think that if you follow the right procedure with anyone, the desired results must necessarily follow. Now, I realize that is no one's intention. Yet I do find that prayer is not often stressed in many books on "how to do evangelism." In contrast, we find Paul teaching the Colossians to pray that God would open a door for the Word (Col 4:3).
I like to think of prayer as a "catalyst," one that starts the process of God's providence in bringing together the lost but seeking soul with the prepared and seeking servant of the Lord. When we have prepared ourselves to be useful to the Lord and then diligently pray "Lord, lead me to some soul today," I am convinced that doors will open and we will begin to find souls who themselves have been praying and who will be receptive to the gospel!
Now for some "perspectives" that are especially crucial to maintaining a high level of enthusiasm and persistence in evangelism. From "THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER" and elsewhere in the Scriptures we can learn some more things that can help:
  • Remove the discouragement and prevent the apathy that paralyzes so many today
  • Instill enthusiasm in serving as laborers in the vineyard of the Lord!
The parable itself is found in Lk 8:4-8, and the explanation is found in Lk 8:11-15 (please read). The first principle we can glean from this parable is that...


The "Word of God" has always been capable of influencing people, accomplishing its intended purpose (Isa 55:10-11). As the author of Hebrews wrote, it is both "alive and powerful" (He 4:12). This is especially true of the GOSPEL OF CHRIST, the "power of God unto salvation" (Ro 1:16).
If people are going to be truly converted, it will not be through smooth speech or fancy presentations involving "hi-tech" equipment, but through the life-changing truth of the gospel. We can certainly use modern aids to present the gospel, but we must make sure that they are faithfully communicating the Word.
True conversion (which involves a spiritual regeneration) will occur only if we plant the proper "seed." Perhaps we don't get the desired result, because we don't sow the right seed!
But even when we plant the proper seed, we often do not see the desired results. Understanding the reason why helps one to maintain the right perspective...


In the Parable of The Sower, we see that the same seed, when sown, produced different results. One result was no reaction whatsoever. Two others had only temporary success. Only one out of the four resulted in bearing fruit! Where lies the blame?
  • Upon the SEED? No!
  • Upon the SOWER? No!
  • Upon the TYPE OF SOIL? Yes!
This illustrates where the area of responsibility lies. The SOWER fulfills his responsibility by sowing the seed (Eze 3:17-19). If the SOIL rejects the seed, the soil is responsible; the sower should not feel accountable (Mt 10:14-15Ac 13:44-46).
The positive implication is this: Every time we sow the seed, we are successful! If a person rejects it, we have not failed, they have!
What is the significance of this perspective of evangelism? We need to learn the JOY of sharing the Word for its own sake! There is joy in sharing Christ with others (we've got GOOD NEWS!), whether or not people accept Him (we are glad to serve our Lord in this way!). Of course, we are delighted when someone believes and truly accepts Jesus as the Lord of their lives, but we should consider it as the "icing on the cake." Even if we don't experience the "icing," we can still enjoy the "cake!"
Another significance of this principle concerns our GOALS. They should center on how many are being TAUGHT, NOT CONVERTED! Too often, we make the number of baptisms (conversions) the measure of success or even faithfulness on the part of the teacher. But even the most faithful teachers may find themselves in circumstances like JEREMIAH or JESUS, where very few people gave heed to their message. Shall we count them failures? Rather, let us count them faithful, if they have faithfully sowed the seed!
Closely related to all this is the perspective concerning...


As illustrated in the parable and elsewhere, we are simply "SEED- THROWERS" and "WATER-BOYS" (cf.1Co 3:5-7). One may plant the seed, another may water, but it is GOD (through His Word in a receptive heart) Who gives the increase! Because of this, there is no place for boasting about numbers of people being converted.
But there is another significance to this. God can even use "DEFECTIVE" seed-throwers (cf. Php 1:15-18). Not only defective in MOTIVE (as seen in the text), but also in EXPERIENCE! This is because the POWER is in the SEED, not the SOWER!
Therefore we should not feel like we have to be an accomplished salesman to present the Gospel. Even those who tremble and may not be eloquent can be used by the Lord to reach others (cf. 1Co 2:1-5).
And then there is...


In 2Co 9:6 we find this principle stated, and it easily seen in many different areas of life:
  • In SALES, the ratio of success is often one sale out of nine calls.
  • In ACTING, the ratio can be as high as one job out of thirty auditions, even for successful actors.
  • In THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER, only one out of four produced favorable results.
Successful people in different walks of life understand that the key to success is to increase the number of their efforts. The conclusion for us is obvious: If we desire to REAP more, we must be willing to SOW more! Many people fail in the area of evangelism because they "sow sparingly" and get discouraged by the meager results.
If we increase the level of SOWING, the level of REAPING will rise proportionately. But again, to avoid discouragement, we need to set goals on how many are being TAUGHT, not on how many are CONVERTED!
Finally, one last perspective for success in evangelism...


Winning souls involves both "sowing" and "reaping." Jesus used these terms in talking to His disciples as recorded in Jn 4:35-38. Exactly what is the difference between "sowing" and "reaping?"
Sowing is the work necessary to one day being able to reap! In agriculture, sowing involves preparing the soil and planting the seed. In winning souls to Christ, sowing likewise involves preparation and planting:
  • In which the hearts are being prepared for the reception of the gospel
  • In which the hearts are first introduced to the gospel and its principles
Reaping is the actual "harvesting" of what has been sown. In agriculture, reaping is the collection of the fruits which have produced by the sowing. In winning souls, reaping is that harvesting which occurs when souls who have had the Word planted in their hearts decide to obey it!
What is important to appreciate is the statement quoted by Jesus in Jn 4:37, "One sows and another reaps." Those who sow do not always witness the reaping that may one day occur. And many times those who reap are benefiting from the efforts of those who did the sowing before them. In evangelism, this means that oftentimes you will be sowing the seed and it may appear that you are not getting any results. But some time later those souls you were trying to reach may decide to finally obey the gospel and another Christian may actually do the reaping in your place! Then again, there will be times when people just sort of "fall into your lap," ready and anxious to obey the gospel with little effort on your part. In this case, you are reaping what others have sown!
The point to keep in mind is that evangelism involves both "sowing" and "reaping," and there will be times when what you sow will be reaped by someone else. Let this be an encouragement to you when it appears that you are not reaping as you would hope. You might actually be making it much easier for some brother or sister in the future!


An important element of success in personal work is perseverance. Those who persist in sowing the seed eventually bear fruit. The problem with many people is wrong perspectives and negative attitudes. That translates into failure, no matter what the task is at hand.
I hope that the perspectives shared above can help us maintain the positive attitude necessary to persevere until Harvest Time is no more!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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Genesis: Myth or History? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Genesis: Myth or History?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

What do we mean by “myth”? German theologian Rudolf Bultmann popularized the notion that the New Testament must be stripped of its mythical elements, specifically, its supernatural features (e.g., Jesus Christ and Mythology, 1958). “Myth,” therefore, in theological circles refers to a traditional, non-literal story in a particular culture that manifests that culture’s world view. The story serves as a vehicle to convey a truth, without necessarily being historically true. The Bible’s depictions of heaven, hell, demons, evil spirits, and Satan are viewed as symbols for deeper meanings rather than being literally existent. Many theologians, and now many Americans, insist that the Bible is a pre-scientific document that is riddled with the errors that accompanied early man’s quest for knowledge.
Along with the onset of modern scientific discovery and understanding has come a widespread tendency to compromise the biblical text of Genesis 1-11. Otherwise conservative thinking Christians have not been immune to this deadly cancer that ultimately undermines the entire Bible and one’s ability to arrive at the truth. In the 1980s, it was discovered that evolution was being taught by two Abilene Christian University professors. One of the biology professors provided his class with a handout that included a photocopy of the first page of Genesis. In the margin he scrawled the words, “Hymn, myth” (Thompson, 1986, p. 16). The university mobilized in an attempt to discredit the charge and sweep it under the proverbial carpet, but the evidence was decisive, as acknowledged even by objective outsiders (see Morris, 1987, 16[5]:4). The fact is that evolution has been taught on other Christian college campuses as well. The lack of outcry testifies to the fact that even Christians and their children have been adversely influenced by secular education.
It is amazing, even shocking, to see the extent to which the authority of the biblical text in general, and the book of Genesis in particular, has been undermined in the minds of the average American, especially in the last half century. In virtually every corner of our country, relaxed and compromised views of the Bible prevail—even among otherwise conservative Americans and those who profess to be Christian. Before leaving office, President Bush (“W”) was interviewed by Cynthia McFadden on ABC’s “Nightline.” When asked if he believed the Bible to be literally true, he responded: “You know. Probably not.… No, I’m not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it, but I do think that the New Testament for example is…has got… You know, the important lesson is ‘God sent a son’” (“Bush Says…,” 2008). When asked about creation and evolution, Bush said:
I think you can have both. I think evolution can—you’re getting me way out of my lane here. I’m just a simple president. But it’s, I think that God created the earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an Almighty and I don’t think it’s incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution (“Bush Says…”).
Myriad instances could be cited in which Americans manifest the degrading effects of skepticism, atheism, evolution, and liberal theology.
What a far cry from most of America’s history. It is hard to believe that—up until the 1960s—American education was thoroughly saturated with the biblical account of Creation (e.g., New England Primer, 1805, pp. 31-32; Webster’s The Elementary Spelling Book, 1857, p. 29). The book of Genesis was taken as a straight-forward account of the formation of the Universe and the beginning of human history. People took God at His word. Though liberal theology swept through Europe in the late 19thcentury, which included attacks on the verbal, inerrant inspiration of the Scriptures, and though the Creation account began to be openly challenged at the 1925 Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee, still, the majority of Americans continued to accept the biblical account right on up to World War II. Since then, however, sinister forces have been chipping away at belief in the inspiration and integrity of the Bible. They have succeeded in eroding confidence in its trustworthiness and authority.
But there are no excuses. The evidence is available, and it is overwhelming. No one can stand before God at the end of time and justify themselves for their rejection of Genesis as a straightforward record of literal history. Failure to take Genesis at face value can easily result in acceptance of views and/or practices that will jeopardize one’s standing with God.


If we had no other means by which to determine whether Genesis is myth or history, the New Testament alone is ample proof. Depending on how one calculates the material, the New Testament has at least 60 allusions to Genesis 1–11, with over 100 allusions to the entire book (Cosner, 2010). Jesus and the writers of the New Testament consistently treated Genesis as literal history. As a matter of fact, every New Testament author refers to Genesis, and nearly every New Testament book does as well. Their handling of the Genesis text demonstrates that they considered the events to have actually occurred, rather than being mythical or legendary folklore that merely contained useful lessons.


Consider a sampling of allusions made by Jesus:
  • He indicated the foundation of the marriage institution, quoting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as historical precedent and proof that carte blanche divorce is unacceptable to God (Matthew 19:4-5; Mark 10:6-8). Did He mean to ground marriage on fairytales?
  • Jesus mentioned Abel as a real person whose blood was shed on account of his righteous behavior, just like other historical personages in human history (Matthew 23:35). If Abel was not an actual person who lived on Earth, neither was Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom Jesus said the Jews “murdered between the temple and the altar”—an actual physical location.
  • Jesus declared Satan to be a “murderer from the beginning” and the father of lies—referring to the Fall (John 8:44; Genesis 3:4,19; cf. Romans 5:12; 1 John 3:8).
  • Jesus referenced Moses’ writings as genuine representations of history (John 5:46-47).
  • Jesus spoke of the “days of Noah” and the Flood as an actual historical event that has many parallels to the future coming of the Son of Man in terms of what people will be doing with their time (Matthew 24:37-39).
  • Jesus compared Capernaum to Sodom, saying, “for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you” (Matthew 11:23-24). Sodom would have had to have been an actual city for it to “have remained until this day” and for it to fare more tolerably in the Day of Judgment (cf. 10:15).
  • The genealogical lists of Jesus’ physical lineage identify actual historical persons in the first century all the way back to persons originally named in Genesis, including Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and Tamar (Matthew 1:1-2), as well as Adam, Seth, Enoch, and Noah (Luke 3:36-37).


Paul, likewise, treated persons, places, and incidents in Genesis as if historically real. Here is a sampling of some of his allusions:
  • He quoted Genesis 1:3 to note how God caused light to shine out of darkness (2 Corinthians 4:6).
  • Quoting Genesis 2:7, Paul said Adam was the first human being on Earth (1 Corinthians 15:45).
  • He claimed that Adam was made from dust (1 Corinthians 15:47)—as Genesis records.
  • He noted how the woman is “from” (ek—out of) man (1 Corinthians 11:8,12), referring to the fact that Eve was literally taken out of Adam’s body.
  • Paul quoted Genesis 2:24 to verify how a man and woman “become one flesh” (1 Corinthians 6:16), comparing marriage to the church (Ephesians 5:31).
  • Adam was as historically real as Christ and Moses, having introduced sin into the world, causing death to reign during the historical interval “from Adam to Moses” (Romans 5:14-15).
  • Paul identified Adam and Eve by name, noting that Adam was created before the woman was created, and also noting the deception to which Eve succumbed (1 Timothy 2:13-14), which occurred via the “serpent” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
  • Paul claimed that God’s deity and attributes have been evident “since the creation of the world” (Romans 1:20).
  • Paul said that Jesus fulfilled the promises that had been made to “the fathers,” i.e., Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Romans 15:8).
  • Paul quoted the promise God made to Abraham concerning Sarah giving birth to Isaac (Romans 9:9), and also mentions Jacob, Esau, and Rebecca by name (vss. 9-10).


Peter, too, endorsed the historicity of Genesis:
  • He alluded to the watery mass at Creation from Genesis 1:12,6-7,9 (2 Peter 3:5).
  • He regarded the Flood as an actual historical event, mentioning Noah by name and specifying the number of survivors as eight, and the Flood’s extent being global (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5; 3:6).
  • Peter believed in the historical personage of Lot and that God actually turned “the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes” to make them “an example to those who afterward would live ungodly.” The incident also serves the purpose of demonstrating how God “knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Peter 2:6-9). If the incident was not historical, it would serve no legitimate parallel purpose.
  • Peter also noted the actual, historical relationship sustained by Sarah and Abraham (1 Peter 3:6).


The writer of the Hebrews letter bases his entire argument on the historicity of Genesis and the Old Testament system:
  • His quotation of Psalm 102 includes the fact that even as God created the heavens and the Earth, so they will perish (1:10). Both circumstances require literal historicity.  
  • Alluding to the fact that God “finished” His creative activities—a direct allusion to Genesis 2:1—he then quotes Genesis 2:2 to call attention to the literal cessation of God’s actions on the seventh day of the week (4:3-4; cf. vs. 10—“as God did from His”).
  • The comparison of Christ to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18) in contrast with Aaron demands that both of these figures were actual historical personages (5:1-10; 6:20; 7:1-21).
  • God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:17 was a literal promise to a literal person (6:13-14).
  • God’s creation of the Universe was by His “word” (11:3)—even as the Genesis record indicates that God spoke the created order into existence (“God said…”).
  • Hebrews chapter 11 is a veritable “Who’s Who” of historical personalities from Genesis whose historicity is assumed: Cain and Abel (vs. 4), Enoch (vs. 5), Noah (vs. 7), Abraham (vss. 8-10), Sarah (vs. 11-12, who literally produced a multitude of descendents), Isaac (vss. 17-20), Jacob (vss. 20-21), and Joseph (vs. 22).
  • Esau sold his birthright for food (12:16).
  • Abel’s shed blood is as historically real as Christ’s (12:24).

Other N.T. Writers

The other writers show the same respect for bona fide history portrayed in Genesis. James refers to Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac (2:21). Jude mentions Cain, Enoch, and Sodom and Gomorrah (vss. 7,11,14). John notes that Cain murdered his brother because of his own sinful actions (1 John 3:12). Even the book of Revelation, though highly figurative, nevertheless contains numerous allusions to Genesis that indicate an historical understanding of the book (e.g., 5:5; 10:6; 20:2; 22:2). To suggest that the book of Genesis is actually a compilation of interesting fables, myths, folklore, popular anecdotes, and stories, rather than actual history, is to suggest that the doctrines of Christianity are rooted in and dependent on fairytales and imaginary stories. Indeed, if the events of Genesis did not historically occur, the New Testament writers—and Jesus Himself—were either in error or flat out liars, since they unquestionably referred to the events of Genesis as being historically true.


In addition to the New Testament’s inspired treatment of Genesis as an actual account of history, one could also simply examine the literary genre of Genesis. Many in our day insist that Genesis should not be read as literal history because it is written in poetic form and is not a literal description of actual events. But such a claim is, itself, linguistic gobbledygook. Written language, whether from man or God, can be deciphered in terms of its genre. One can identify the author’s use of linguistic elements and extract intended meaning from the words that are used. In other words, though the 50 chapters of Genesis contain figurative language—as does the entire Bible—nevertheless, one can easily distinguish between the literal and the figurative.
Entire volumes have been written on human communication, how human language functions, and how to derive meaning from written language. Many books have been produced that expound the discipline of hermeneutics—the process of interpreting language. These volumes provide self-evident, easily discernible rules and procedures for detecting figurative language. D.R. Dungan’s classic work,Hermeneutics, written in 1888, contains chapters on “Figurative Language,” “The Various Figures of the Bible,” and “Figures of Thought” (pp. 195-369). Clinton Lockhart’s 1901 volume Principles of Interpretation contains chapters on “Figurative Language,” “Poetry,” and “Types” (pp. 156-197,222-228). Christendom has produced many books that demonstrate the means by which biblical language may be understood, including Bernard Ramm’s Hermeneutics and Milton Terry’s 1883 volume Biblical Hermeneutics. Ascertaining whether Genesis and, specifically, the Creation account are “poetic,” “hymn,” or “myth” is not a matter of confusion or uncertainty—except for those who have an agenda and wish to concoct an elaborate smokescreen to avoid the obvious import of God’s Word.
Does Genesis 1 contain any figurative language? Certainly. But not anything that makes the chapter non-literal in its basic import. For example, the term “face” in Genesis 1:2, which is actually plural in the Hebrew (pah-neem—“faces”), is an idiomatic instance of pleonasm, a form of amplificatio, in which more words are used than the grammar requires: “And darkness was upon the faces of the deep.” The noun “deep” (which, itself, is a figurative term for the sea or ocean) is enhanced or emphasized by means of a second, redundant noun “faces.” Instead of simply saying, “darkness was upon the deep,” adding “faces” makes the statement “much more forcible and emphatic” (Bullinger, 1898, p. 406). The use of “saw” in Genesis 1:4,10,12,18,21,25 is the figure of speech known asanthropopatheia in which human attributes are ascribed to God, specifically in this text, human actions (Bullinger, p. 888). The expression in 1:9,10, “Let the dry appear,” is the figure of speech known as antimereia, the exchange of one part of speech for another, in this case, an adjective for a noun. “Dry” in the verses refers to the “land” (see Bullinger, p. 495). Genesis 1:11 uses polyptoton in which the same part of speech is repeated in a different inflection, specifically, the verb “seeding” is repeated by means of its cognate noun “seed”: “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed,” literally, “seeding seed” (see Bullinger, p. 275). In other words, vegetation was created by God in a state of bearing seed, and not vice versa—which militates against the notion of evolution and underscores the instantaneous nature of the Creation. Indeed, this figurative language testifies to theliteral nature of the Creation week!
So, yes, Genesis 1 (and perhaps every other chapter in the Bible) contains figurative language, as does our everyday language. But that language is detectable, discernible, and decipherable—and does not necessarily imply that the overall message being conveyed is not to be taken literally. None of the language of Genesis 1 even hints that the events described were imaginary as opposed to being actual historical occurrences. In fact, simply take your Bible and turn to Genesis chapter 1 and notice how many terms are used that have an obvious, undisputable literal import, including “earth,” “darkness,” “Spirit of God,” “waters,” “light,” “day,” “night,” “evening,” “morning,” “first,” “seas,” “grass,” “herb,” “seed,” “fruit,” “tree,” “seasons,” “years,” “stars,” “fowl,” “fish,” “cattle,” etc. Distinguishing between figurative and literal language is not that difficult! [As a side note, Steven Boyd conducted a statistical analysis using logistic regression, in order to ascertain whether Genesis 1:1-2:3 is Hebrew poetry or historical narrative. He concluded: “The biblical creation account clearly is not poetry but instead is a literal description in real time of supernatural events” (2005, p. 168).]


If the events described in the book of Genesis were not intended to be understood as literal history, one would expect the rest of the Bible to give some indication of that fact. Yet, on the contrary, several passages scattered from the Old Testament to the New Testament allude to the events in such a way that their historicity is assumed. Take, for example, specific verses regarding the creation of the Universe by God. The distinct impression is given in Genesis chapter 1 that God orally spokeeverything into existence, rather than using some naturalistic, time-laden process. In what is obviously an actual historical setting, reported to us in a literal context of Scripture, Moses informs the Israelites situated at the base of Mt. Sinai—
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work…. Forin six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Exodus 20:8-11, emp. added).
No Israelite listening to this declaration would have ever conceived the notion that God created everything in the Universe over a period of millions and billions of years. The correlation between the days of Genesis 1 and the six-day work week enjoined upon people under the Law of Moses would have been unmistakable and could have been understood in no other way but literally.
Another example is seen in Psalm 33—which is certainly written in standard Hebrew metrical verse—but poetry that conveys literal truth. Speaking of God’s creative powers, David declared:
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Psalm 33:6-9, emp. added).
The figurative elements of this poetic passage are seen in the notions of “breath” and “mouth”—physical attributes that would not literally, physically characterize God Who is “spirit” (John 4:24; cf. Luke 24:39). But the oral aspect of God speaking the physical realm into existence is literal, even as God literally and audibly spoke to people throughout history (e.g., Genesis 12:1ff.; 22:12; Exodus 3:4ff.; Matthew 3:17; 17:5).
Still another example is seen in the psalmist’s call for praise by inanimate creation:
Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens! (Psalm 148:1-4).
Here is an excellent instance of figurative language. Obviously, the Sun, Moon, stars, and waters cannot literally, audibly praise God. Yet, having been created by God, they reflect their Maker. They manifest attributes that demonstrate their divine origin (cf. Psalm 19:1ff.). Hence, the next verse declares: “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created” (vs. 5). Here is yet another forthright indication that the impression projected by the Genesis account, that God literally spoke the Universe into existence, is an accurate impression, in spite of the fact that this truth is couched in figurative language.
We must ever remember that the Bible is unlike any other book on the planet. It reflects its own divine origin by the attributes that it possesses. It does not divulge its divine message in a sterile vacuum in which a writer expounds lofty ideals, or by means of a listing of ethical “do’s and don’ts.” Rather, by means of the Bible, God conveys His message to mankind in history (cf. Wharton, 1977). We are introduced to the beginning of the Universe, the beginning of the human race, and thereafter we are treated to a sequential, historical narrative that guides us through 4,000 years of human history, climaxing with God’s own personal visit to the Earth. This is all history! And it is clearly intended to be understood literally.


The book of Genesis explains the Creation of the Universe, the corruption of humanity by sin, the catastrophe of the global Flood, and the confusion at Babel. Amazingly, it provides the foundation for anthropology, biology, astronomy, geology, and a host of other disciplines. Critical doctrines that impact all of humanity are rooted in the events described in Genesis, including the necessity of clothing—human modesty—and why we organize our lives in terms of a seven day week. More crucial doctrines that pertain to eternity are also approached early on, including why humans sin, why humans die, and why Jesus would have to die on the cross. The very meaning of human existence is clarified by examining the book of Genesis.
Listen carefully to Charles Darwin’s autobiographical statement regarding the shift that occurred in his thinking that led to his belief in evolution: “I had gradually come, by this time, to see that the Old Testament from its manifestly false history of the world and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian” (pp. 85-86). The integrity of the entire Bible is seriously undermined when anyone compromises the literal, historical nature of the book of Genesis, with its critical teaching on origins. Obstinately clinging to evolution, theistic or otherwise, and stubbornly insisting on a relaxed, devalued interpretation of Genesis, can only end in a diluted religion.
May we love God. May we love His Word. May we defend it against all efforts to destroy its integrity and message. May we pore over its contents—as if our lives, the lives of our family, and the lives of those we influence depend upon it. For, indeed, they do.


Barlow, Nora, ed. (1959), The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882 with Original Omissions Restored (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World).
Boyd, Stephen (2005), “A Proper Reading of Genesis 1:1-2:3,” in Don DeYoung, Thousands…Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
Bultmann, Rudolf (1958), Jesus Christ and Mythology (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons).
“Bush Says Creation ‘Not Incompatible’ With Evolution” (2008), Fox News, December 9, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2008/12/09/bush-says-creation-incompatible-evolution#ixzz1OWvPq9Ma.
Cosner, Lita (2010), “The Use of Genesis in the New Testament,” Creation Ministries International, http://creation.com/genesis-new-testament.
Dungan, D.R. (1888), Hermeneutics (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
Jackson, Wayne (1986), “The Teaching of Evolution at Abilene Christian University,” Christian Courier, 21[9]:33-35, January.
Lockhart, Clinton (1915), Principles of Interpretation (Delight, AR: Gospel Light), revised edition.
Morris, Henry, ed. (1987), “Abilene Christian University Sponsors Seminar on Creation and Age of the Earth,” Acts & Facts, 16[5]:4, May.
New England Primer(1805), http://public.gettysburg.edu/~tshannon/his341/nep1805contents.html.
Ramm, Bernard, et al. (1987), Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Terry, Milton (no date), Biblical Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), reprint.
Thompson, Bert (1986), Is Genesis Myth? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Webster, Noah (1857), The Elementary Spelling Book (New York, NY: American Book Company).
Wharton, Ed (1977), Christianity: A Clear Case of History! (West Monroe, LA: Howard Book House).

Decisive Designs: God's Stallion of the Sea by Taylor Reeves


Decisive Designs: God's Stallion of the Sea

by Taylor Reeves

There is a tremendous variety of life in the world. Few of us can identify all of the birds that soar above us, the flowers and grasses that spring forth from the fertile ground, or the 850,000 identified species of insects (the largest single group of extant organisms). The creatures in the seas, however, have fascinated us perhaps more than any other living creatures. Fifteen hundred years before Christ was born, Moses recorded that God had created the oceans and seas with “an abundance of living creatures” (Genesis 1:20). We had no idea just how accurate that statement was until the science of oceanography (and, more specifically, the science of marine biology) came into its own. Once we developed not just the desire to study the Earth’s oceans and seas, but also the technology to master them, it became apparent to us that most of the world’s species of animals live in the water, not on dry land. And many of them certainly rank among the most intriguing!
The oceans teem with extraordinary and wondrous organisms that variously fill us with awe, engulf us with terror, or leave us struggling to find adequate terms to describe their innate beauty. From the largest creature ever to inhabit the Earth (the blue whale—which has a heart the size of a small car!), to the tiniest zooplankton, we often find ourselves filled with astonishment at the extraordinary niches they inhabit, the amazing tasks they perform, and the intricate design they exhibit.
For example, squids manufacture and expel ink. Various species of eels generate electricity. Octopi use undulating tentacles to ensnare prey. Eagle rays dip their wing-like pectoral fins into the mud while using suction to pull out clams. Some mussels produce powerful chemicals that “drill” out holes in hard coral for a habitation. Dolphins use sonar to communicate. And so on (see Macquitty, 2000, pp. 10,25,29,33).
Sea Horse IllustrationCan you imagine a fish that looks like a horse—but swims like a submarine? God apparently did—and then created the “stallion of the sea”—the superb sea horse. These peculiar “horses,” however, do not gallop gracefully through a flowering valley, drink from a long wooden trough, or journey across the dusty, remote trails under a magnificent, vibrant sunset. Rather, these horses stylishly swim within the kelp-filled meadows of the sea.
The head of a chess piece, the tail of a monkey, a rigid body that seems to be carved from wood, eyes like a chameleon, and a father who becomes pregnant—all of these describe the unique sea horse, which, oddly enough, does not resemble a fish in any way (see Parker, p. 22). There are about 35 identified species of “ocean equines,” the largest of which easily can grow to be a foot in length. They live in tepid, shallow seacoasts, and forcefully resist strong currents by grasping tightly to objects. They grip so tightly with their prehensile tails that it is difficult to get them to let go (“Sea Horse,” 1991, p. 342). While sea horses are fish, they have skin, rather than the typical scales. That skin, which is tightly yet carefully stretched over numerous sharp, bony plates, produces growths to match surrounding vegetation. Although the sea horse does not possess teeth or a stomach, it “inhales” small, tough crustaceans and sluggish pieces of floating matter through its elongated, pipe-like snout.
For fish like these, which subsist in weeds and eat plankton, being able to maintain a fixed position, and blend in with their environment, are essential survival skills. Sea horses swim uprightly, propelled by a strong, waving dorsal fin. The small pectoral fins help steer the direction of the animal as it gallantly glides through the waving waters. It has a tapering, muscular, grasping tail that conceals itself in the jungle-like underwater world of seaweed and grasses (Parker, 2000, p. 22). The fins move fast, but the sea horse does not—because it does not have to! What it needs is the ability to perform fast turns, and to move upward and downward quickly. Interestingly, the motion of its fins is perfect for both tasks.
One of the general aspects of nature is that it is the responsibility of the female to produce the young, feed them as they grow, and prepare them to survive on their own. Different creatures handle this task in different ways, but in the case of the sea horse, the female seems to have better things to do than give birth and nurture babies, because these jobs are turned over to the male (Harris, 1991, p. 91). The sea horse exhibits extraordinary design, in that it is the only known animal where the male actually becomes pregnant and gives birth to the offspring. One could say that it performs “double duty!” First, the male produces the sperm necessary to fertilize the egg—just as occurs in most other species. But, second, the male also banks the zygote that will become the embryo, and that eventually will produce the neonate.
During mating, the pair produces unique musical sounds, and then, at the end of the ritual, the female deposits her fertilized eggs in the male’s specialized pouch. Normally, the mating ritual lasts for three days. This ceremony includes color changes, dancing, and grasping random objects. For the two weeks that follow, the male carefully aerates, nourishes, and protects the eggs. When the embryos are mature, the tiny sea horses are born—ready to swim!
God is so creative! He thought up millions of different types of animals, insects, and other living creatures. And as a “finishing touch,” He created one that had the capability to do “double duty” as both mother and father. What decisive design!
As the patriarch Job remarked in the great long ago, “Speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you” (Job 12:8). What, exactly, do the fish “explain”? They speak eloquently of the Creator Whose handiwork is all around us. From the highest reaches of the sky, to the lowest depths of the ocean, the unbiased eye can see the evidence that points unfailingly to God’s existence.


Harris, Bill (1991), Nature’s Curious Creatures (New York: Smithmark).
Macquitty, Miranda (2000), Ocean (New York: Dorling Kindersley).
Parker, Steve (2000), Fish (New York: Dorling Kindersley).
“Sea Horse—Hippocampus” (1991), Reader’s Digest Nature in America (New York: Readers Digest).

Appendix Not Useless, But Evolution Is by Kyle Butt, M.A.


Appendix Not Useless, But Evolution Is

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

In this month’s Reason & Revelation, Dr. Houts explains that for several decades now, evolutionists have been using various worn out, disproven lines of reasoning in an attempt to bolster their increasingly fragile theory of common descent for all organisms. One of these outmoded tactics is the idea that the human body contains leftover, virtually useless vestiges that once, in our early ancestors, were vibrant organs necessary for survival. In fact, in the late 1800s, evolutionary scientists believed that the human body supported more than 180 such organs.
These “useless” vestiges of evolution, however, turned out to be nothing of the sort. Dr. Houts noted that these organs were “useless” only in the sense that scientists and medical doctors were ignorant of their functions. As the medical community applied more research to the human body, the list quickly dwindled to a tiny fraction of the original number. Today, there is not a single organ that scientists can accurately and confidently proclaim to be a useless vestige of evolution. This realization, however, has not yet trickled down to the popularizers of evolution.
Live Science posts several “Top 10” articles that give the alleged Top 10 items in a given category. For example, there is a list of the “Top 10 Killer Tornadoes” and another of the “Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth.” One of their lists is titled, “Top 10 Useless Limbs (and Other Vestigial Organs)” (Miller, 2007). Listed as number one in that article is the human appendix. Concerning the appendix, Miller wrote: “Biologists believe it is a vestigial organ left behind from a plant-eating ancestor” (2007). He then reiterated ideas that Alfred Romer penned in 1949, stating “that the major importance of the appendix would appear to be financial support of the surgical profession, referring to, of course, the large number of appendectomies performed annually” (2007).
As one would expect if God designed the human body, aspects of the body would exist that our finite human minds could assess only after years of intense research. Such is the case with the appendix. Elsewhere in this issue of R&R, Dr. Houts notes several functions and uses already known for the appendix. A recent article published in Theoretical Biology, however, adds another interesting function to the appendix’s increasing workload. Researchers from Duke University believe they have stumbled upon another reason humans have an appendix, and it is not because it is an evolutionary leftover (Borenstein, 2007).
Human digestion requires huge amounts of beneficial bacteria. Certain illnesses, however, destroy or remove both good and bad bacteria from the intestines. In order for digestion to continue, cultures of the good bacteria must be regrown to repopulate the gut. That is where the appendix comes in according to the latest research. Borenstein noted: “Diseases such as cholera or amoebic dysentery would clear the gut of useful bacteria. The appendix’s job is to reboot the digestive system in that case” (2007). Bill Parker, co-author of the latest research, said that the appendix “acts like a bacteria factory, cultivating the good germs” (Borenstein, 2007).
Evolutionists should simply admit that the idea of vestigial organs is false, they should promptly remove it from their arsenals, and reevaluate the data that supposedly prove evolution true. But that is not what happens. Because evolution is so “plastic” and can be expanded to fit any data, even data that is exactly the opposite of what has been used in the past to teach evolution is twisted as new “proof” of evolution. Borenstein quoted Brandies University biochemistry professor Douglas Theobald as saying that the explanation for the function of the appendix “seems by far the most likely” and that the idea “makes evolutionary sense” (2007). So, we are told that the appendix is a useless leftover, and that “fact” proves evolution to be true. Then we are told that the appendix has a very important function and that fact “makes evolutionary sense.” Which is it? In truth, that which proves too much proves nothing. Finding an important function for the appendix is exactly what one would expect if the human body was designed by God.
As for other organs in the human body that have been dubbed vestigial in the past, those who use the vestigial argument should proceed with extreme caution. Borenstein wrote: “The theory led Gary Huffnagle, a University of Michigan internal medicine and microbiology professor, to wonder about the value of another body part that is often yanked: ‘I’ll bet eventually we’ll find the same sort of thing with the tonsils’” (several functions of which already are known, see Bergman, 2000). The only thing that appears to be useless in this discussion is the theory of evolution and the false evidence used to support it.


Bergman, Jerry (2000), “Do Any Vestigial Organs Exist in Humans?” Technical Journal, [On-Line],URL: http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v14/i2/vestigial.asp.
Borenstein, Seth (2007), “Scientists: Appendix Protects Good Germs,” [On-line], URL:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071006/ap_on_he_me/appendix_s_purpose;_ ylt=Ak5.0FtXAiVHNNcRPfiNLsus0NUE.
Miller, Brandon (2007), “Top 10 Useless Limbs (and Other Vestigial Organs),” [On-line], URL:http://www.livescience.com/animals/top10_vestigial_organs-1.html.

Award For Children’s Literature That Pushes Homosexuality by Kyle Butt, M.A.


Award For Children’s Literature That Pushes Homosexuality

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

At the beginning of November, 2010, Associated Press staff writer Hillel Italie wrote an article titled, “Kids’ Book Prizes to Include Gay and Lesbian Award.” In that article, Italie wrote: “An award for gay and lesbian literature will be included in the American Library Associations annual announcement of children’s prizes, a list which features the prestigious and influential Caldecott and Newbery medals” (2010). The award will be called the Stonewall Award and will be issued to “English-language works for children and teens of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered experience” (Italie, 2010).

It is a sad day in our country when a sinful lifestyle such as homosexuality is lauded as deserving an award for those who portray it in a favorable light. One wonders why stop at awards for homosexuality. Should there be an award for the “best” children’s book that portrays bestiality in a favorable light? Are we expecting an adultery or a polygamy award soon? Should we look for an award that lauds the merits of prostitution, pedophilia, or necrophilia? Our nation’s acceptance and promotion of homosexuality is extremely sinful (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Romans 1:26-27), and completely illogical. Furthermore, notice that homosexuals and those who wish to teach the sinful lifestyle are aiming their teaching where it they make the most impact—at our children.

Recently, I did an informal survey of 57 people, mostly teens, in the Lord’ church. The survey contained some standard questions about morality. For instance, one statement was: “Premarital sex is ethical if two people plan to get married.” Fifty-six said that it was not ethical, and one did not know. Notice that 56 of these young people understood in this instance the biblical stance on premarital sex (1 Corinthians 6:18). The statement immediately preceding the one on premarital sex was: “Homosexual behavior is always unethical, even between two people who are committed to each other.” Only 47 of the young people agreed with this statement, four disagreed and five said they did not know. Almost 20% of the young people polled did not understand the biblical position that all homosexual behavior is wrong. And this was a very conservative group of young people, judging by their answers to other questions.

As the Lord’s Church, we simply must be teaching our young people that all forms of homosexuality are sinful. At Apologetics Press, we have attempted to empower parents and teachers with an excellent resource specifically designed for this: Does God Love Michael’s Two Daddies? But whether you use that resource, the Bible, other books, or various other materials, this is not a subject that can be avoided. Mark it down: the homosexual community is trying to expose your children to their agenda at the earliest possible age. If we do nothing to combat their teaching, we can only expect our young people to grow up with distorted views about the sin of homosexuality.


Italie, Hillel (2010), “Kids’ Book Prizes to Include Gay and Lesbian Award,” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101101/ap_on_en_ot/us_books_library_prize/print.