"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalms For Living And Worship OBJECTIVES OF THIS SECTION 1) To illustrate the value of Psalms in our lives in different ways and at different times 2) To provide a quick reference guide for using the Psalms PSALMS FOR LIVING AND WORSHIP Like the skilled fingers on the strings of a harp, the Psalms touch and move the hearts of those individuals who will read and meditate upon them. Every emotion known to man is expressed in the Psalms, including fear and faith, hope and doubt, trust and anxiety, as inspired men of God shared their personal spiritual journeys in the service of God. The Psalms should be a constant resource to help the Christian learn how to praise and pray, to meditate and contemplate, to face life and death. In an attempt to illustrate the value of the Psalms and encourage their frequent reading, I offer the following sampling of what Psalms might be read at different times in your life. Are you remorseful and penitent for your sins? Read Psalms 51, 32 Are you experiencing affliction, and remain comfortless? Read Psalm 22 Are you steadfast in times of distress, and want encouragement? Read Psalms 27, 31 Are you under various mental strains? Read Psalms 41, 70 Are you falsely accused? Read Psalm 7 Are you in trouble? Read Psalms 54, 63 Are you tempted? Read Psalm 130 Are you wanting in confidence? Read Psalms 61, 91 Are you envious of the wicked? Read Psalm 73 Are you in a position of authority and need to be reminded of your responsibilities? Read Psalms 82, 101 Do you need to be reminded of the importance of humility? Read Psalm 131 Do you need to be reminded of the futility of this life? Read Psalms 39, 49, 90 Do you desire to pray for others? Read Psalm 20 Do you wish to praise God for His mercies in helping people through adverse circumstances? Read Psalms 34, 40 Do you wish to praise God for common blessings He has bestowed upon people? Read Psalm 46, 48, 66, 67 Do you desire to meditate upon the characteristics of God and praise Him especially for His grace and mercy? Read Psalms 23, 103, 121, 145, 146 Do you desire to meditate upon the attributes of God, such as His power? Read Psalms 8, 19, 65, 66, 97, 99, 104, 111, 139 Do you desire to mediate upon the magnificence of the Scriptures? Read Psalms 19, 119 Do you wish to gain instruction regarding the contrast between the righteous and the wicked? Read Psalms 1, 15, 25, 32, 34, 36, 37, 52, 127, 128 Do you wish to reflect upon the Messiah and His kingdom? Read Psalms 2, 16, 22, 40, 45, 72, 110 Do you desire to review the history of Israel? Read Psalms 78, 105, 106 To Accompany Morning Prayer - Read Psalms 5, 94, 95 To Accompany Evening Prayer - Read Psalms 4, 90, 139, 141 To Prepare For Private Devotion - Read Psalms 23, 27, 91, 103, 104, 138, 146 To Prepare For Public Worship - Read Psalms 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 122, 133, 134, 145, 147, 148 To Enhance The Observance Of The Lord's Supper - Read Psalm 22 To Enhance The Collection For The Saints - Read Psalms 41, 112
"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 51 - The Penitent's Prayer OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS PSALM 1) To learn "the art of confessing our sins" from the example of David confessing his sins 2) To consider whether one can rightly argue for "total hereditary depravity" based upon the figurative language in verse 5 SUMMARY This psalm was written by David when Nathan had come to him after committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband Uriah (cf. 2Sa 11:1- 12:15). It is an outstanding example of a "penitential psalm" (cf. also Ps 6, 38, 130) in which David confesses his sin and prays for forgiveness. We do well to learn from it "the art of confessing our sins" to help us when we have sins to confess to God (cf. 1Jn 1:9). David begins with his plea for God to forgive him, appealing to His loving kindness and tender mercy. Note that he does not ask God to forgive him based upon any good he may have done in the past. He acknowledges his sin against God (in very figurative terms), and how it is contrary to God's desire for him. He prays not only for God to cleanse him, but also to renew and restore to him the joy of salvation (1-12). David's plea is followed by his promise to teach other sinners, that they too might be converted to God. He promises also to sing aloud of God's righteousness, for he knows that God delights in such when it comes from a broken and contrite spirit (13-17). The psalm ends with his prayer for God to do good for Zion and Jerusalem, that He might be pleased by the burnt offerings offered on the altar. Note that David has not forgotten to pray for God's interest, while praying for his own (18-19). This penitential psalm should be studied along with Psalm 32, in which David describes the blessedness and joy of one who has received the forgiveness prayed for in this psalm. OUTLINE I. DAVID'S PLEA (51:1-12) A. HIS APPEAL TO GOD'S LOVE AND MERCY (1-2) 1. He pleads mercy according to God's loving kindness 2. He implores forgiveness according to God's tender mercies 3. He begs washing and cleansing from his sin B. HIS CONFESSION OF SINFUL CONDUCT (3-4) 1. He admits his sin which is ever before him 2. He confesses that he has sinned against God, and done evil in His sight 3. God is just and blameless in judging him C. HIS ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOD'S DESIRE (5-6) 1. His expression of sinfulness a. He was brought forth in iniquity b. In sin his mother conceived him 2. His awareness of what God's desire a. God wants truth in the inward parts b. God wills to make him know wisdom in the hidden part D. HIS PRAYER FOR FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION (7-12) 1. He prays for forgiveness, for God to... a. Purge him with hyssop, that he might be clean b. Wash him, that he might be whiter than snow c. Hide His face from his sins d. Blot out all his iniquities 2. He prays for restoration, for God to... a. Make him hear joy and gladness b. Make his broken bones rejoice c. Create in him a clean heart d. Renew a steadfast spirit in him e. Not cast him away from His presence f. Not take His Holy Spirit from him g. Restore to him the joy of His salvation h. Uphold him with His generous Spirit II. DAVID'S PROMISE (51:13-17) A. TO TEACH OTHERS (13) 1. He will teach transgressors the ways of God 2. Sinners will be converted to God B. TO OFFER PRAISE (14-17) 1. If the God of his salvation will deliver him from bloodguiltiness and open his lips... a. He will sing aloud of God's righteousness b. His mouth will show forth His praise 2. For he knows in what God delights a. Not sacrifice or burnt offering, or he would have offered it b. But a broken spirit and a contrite heart, God will not despise III. DAVID'S PRAYER (51:18-19) A. FOR ZION AND JERUSALEM (18) 1. That God do His good pleasure to Zion 2. That God build the walls of Jerusalem B. THEN GOD WILL BE PLEASED (19) 1. With the sacrifices of righteousness 2. With burnt offering and whole burnt offering -- Then they shall offer bulls on His altar REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE PSALM 1) What are the main points of this psalm? - David's plea (1-12) - David's promise (13-17) - David's prayer (18-19) 2) What is David praying for in this psalm? (1-2) - For God to have mercy upon him - For God to blot out his transgressions - For God to wash and cleanse him from his sin 3) Upon what does David base his appeal for God's forgiveness? (1-2) - According to His loving kindness - According to the multitude of His tender mercies 4) How does David describe the extent of his guilt? (3-4) - His sin is ever before him - Against God alone has he sinned (figuratively speaking, for David sinned against his wife, Uriah, and many others) 5) How does David further describe the extent of his sinfulness? (5) - He was brought forth in iniquity, in sin his mother conceived him (figuratively speaking, in contrast to what God desires of him as expressed in verse 6) 6) What does God desire of David? (6) - Truth in the inward parts - Wisdom in the hidden part 7) In praying for forgiveness, what does David ask God to do? (7-12) - Purge him with hyssop, that he might be clean (note the figurative language again) - Wash him, that he might be whiter than snow - Hide His face from his sins - Blot out all his iniquities 8) In praying for restoration, what does he ask God to do? (7-12) - Make him hear joy and gladness - Make his broken bones rejoice - Create in him a clean heart - Renew a steadfast spirit in him - Not cast him away from His presence - Not take His Holy Spirit from him - Restore to him the joy of His salvation - Uphold him with His generous Spirit 9) What two things does David promise to do when forgiven? (13-15) - Teach transgressors the ways of God - Sing aloud the righteousness of God 10) What does God desire more than burnt offering? (16-17) - A broken and contrite heart 11) For what does David pray as he concludes this psalm? (18-19) - For God's good pleasure regarding Zion and Jerusalem, and the sacrifices of righteousness
"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 38 - The Penitent Plea Of A Sick Man OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS PSALM 1) To note the physical consequences that may often follow sin 2) To consider the connection David made between his illness and God's chastening for sin SUMMARY This is a penitential psalm, a prayer for deliverance from God's chastening for his sins. Physical ailments have come upon David because of sin, which he perceived as God's righteous anger (3). The impact of the illness on his body was devastating (5-10). It affected his relationship with family and loved ones (11), while his enemies used it as opportunity to plot against him (12,16,19-20). The heading says "To Bring To Remembrance." This may mean to remind God of His mercy, as its preface here and in Psalm 70 both introduce pleas for God to make haste in providing deliverance (cf. 22; 70:1,5). Leupold suggests that Psalms 38 may have been written after Psalms 51 and 32, following the events surrounding David's sin with Bathsheba. While forgiven of his sin, David was told he would still suffer consequences (2Sa 12:10-14). If David contracted a venereal disease due to his sin (7), he may have viewed it as a form of chastening from which he sought deliverance. Whatever the nature of his illness, this psalm is the penitent plea of a sick man who understood that he was suffering because of his sin and God's anger. OUTLINE INTRODUCTORY PLEA FOR MERCY (38:1-2) A. THAT THE LORD NOT... (1) 1. Rebuke him in His wrath 2. Chasten him in His hot displeasure B. FOR THE LORD HAS... (2) 1. Pierced him deeply with His arrows 2. Pressed him down with His hand I. THE WRETCHEDNESS OF HIS CONDITION (38:3-12) A. ILLNESS BECAUSE OF SIN AND GOD'S ANGER (3-10) 1. Because of his foolish sin and God's anger... a. There is no soundness in his flesh, no health in his bones b. His iniquities are a heavy burden c. His wounds are foul and festering 2. Description of his illness a. Troubled, bowed down greatly, mourning all day long b. Loins full of inflammation, no soundness in his flesh c. Feeble and broken, groaning because the turmoil of his heart d. Heart pants, strength fails him e. The light of his eyes has gone from him B. MISTREATMENT BY FRIENDS AND ENEMIES (11-12) 1. Forsaken by those close to him a. Loved ones and friends stand aloof from his plague b. Relatives stand far off 2. Plotted against by his enemies a. Those who seek his life lay snares b. Those who seek his hurt speak of destruction II. THE BASIS FOR HIS HOPE THAT GOD WILL HEAR (38:13-20) A. OTHERWISE ENEMIES WILL REJOICE (13-16) 1. His response to this abuse a. Like a deaf man he does not hear b. Like a mute he does not respond 2. His hope is the Lord that He will hear a. Since his enemies will rejoice if he falls b. Since they will exalt themselves if he slips B. SORROW AND CONFESSION OF SIN (17-18) 1. He is ready to fall, his sorrow continually before him 2. He will declare his iniquity, be in anguish over his sin C. PERSISTENCE IN DOING GOOD (19-20) 1. His enemies are strong, those who hate him wrongfully are multiplied 2. They render evil for good, they are his adversaries because he follows what is good CONCLUDING PLEA FOR HELP (38:21-22) A. TO NOT FORSAKE HIM NOR BE FAR FROM HIM (21) B. TO MAKE HASTE TO HELP HIM (22) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE PSALM 1) What are the main points of this psalm? - Introductory plea for mercy (1-2) - The wretchedness of his condition (3-12) - The basis for his hope that God will hear (13-20) - Concluding plea for help (21-22) 2) For what does David plead? Yet what has already occurred? (1-2) - For God not to rebuke or chasten him in His wrath - The Lord's arrows have pierced him; His hand pressed him down 3) To what two things does David attribute his poor condition? (3) - God's anger; his own sin 4) What does David acknowledge as the cause of his "heavy burden" and "wounds"? (4-5) - His iniquities; his foolishness 5) What two descriptive phrases may imply some sort of venereal disease? (6-7) - "I am bowed down greatly" - "For my loins are full of inflammation" (NKJV) 6) What other symptoms does David describe? (8-10) - He is feeble and severely broken; he groans because of the turmoil of his heart - His heart pants, his strength fails him - The light of his eyes has gone from him 7) What is said of his loved ones, friends, and relatives? (11) - They stand afar off 8) What about those who seek his life? (12) - They lay snares, speak of his destruction, plan deception 9) How does David respond to this mistreatment by others? (13-14) - He does not hear and does not respond 10) In whom does David put his trust? (15) - The LORD his God 11) Upon what three things does David base his plea to be heard? (16-20) - Lest his enemies rejoice and exalt themselves over him - His sorrow and confession of his sin - His persistence in doing good, while others render evil for good 12) What is David's concluding plea? How does David view the LORD? (21-22) - For God not to forsake him or be far from him; for God to help him - As his God and his salvation
"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 37 - The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS PSALM 1) To learn why we should not fret, become angry, or be envious of the wicked when they prosper 2) To see the importance of trusting in the Lord and committing our ways to Him 3) To note the context from which came the beatitude "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." SUMMARY This psalm of David is didactic in nature, filled with instruction for God's people. It was evidently written late in life, in which David shares his observations (25). A recurring theme is who will inherit the earth (9,11,22,29,34), and the answer of the psalmist is one of the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 5:5). From the context of the psalm, we might understand the beatitude to refer to blessings in this life for those who trust in God (cf. Mt 6:33; Mk 10:29-30). Not that they may literally possess more of this earth's riches, but their ability to enjoy it is blessed by God (16; cf. Ec 5:19-6:2). Acrostic in the original Hebrew, the psalm is somewhat difficult to outline. It begins with a series of exhortations directed to the righteous, to trust in the Lord and not fret or be angry when the wicked prosper (1-8). It continues with an exposition contrasting the wicked and the righteous, illustrating the futility of the wicked and the steadfastness of the righteous (9-26). It ends with counsel for one to do good and depart from evil, to wait on the Lord and keep His way, and to take careful note of the future of the righteous as opposed to the end of the wicked (27-40). OUTLINE I. EXHORTATION FOR THE RIGHTEOUS (37:1-8) A. DO NOT ENVY EVILDOERS (1-2) 1. Do not fret nor be envious of the workers of iniquity 2. They shall soon wither and be cut away B. PUT YOUR FAITH IN THE LORD (3-8) 1. Trust in the Lord and do good a. Dwell in the land, feeding on His faithfulness b. Delight in the Lord, who will give you the desires of your heart 2. Commit your way to the Lord, trusting in Him a. He shall bring your plans to pass b. He shall bring forth your righteousness and justice 3. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him a. Do not fret because of the prosperous or wicked b. Cease from anger, wrath and worry, it only causes harm II. EXPOSITION ON THE WICKED AND RIGHTEOUS (37:9-26) A. THE FUTILITY OF THE WICKED (9-17) 1. The wicked shall be cut off and be no more a. While those who wait on the Lord shall inherit the earth b. While the meek shall inherit the earth and enjoy an abundance of peace 2. The wicked shall be defeated a. Despite their plots against the just and gnashing of teeth 1) The Lord laughs 2) He sees their day coming b. Despite their weapons against the poor and righteous 1) Which they have drawn to cast down and slay 2) Which shall enter their own hearts and be broken 3. Better than the riches of the wicked is the poverty of the righteous a. The arms of the wicked shall be broken b. The Lord will uphold the righteous B. THE STEADFASTNESS OF THE RIGHTEOUS (18-26) 1. The LORD knows the days of the righteous a. Their inheritance shall be forever b. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time c. They shall be satisfied in the days of famine 2. The wicked and enemies of the LORD shall perish a. They shall vanish like the splendor of the meadows b. They shall vanish away like smoke 3. The righteous shows mercy and gives, the wicked who borrows and does not repay a. For those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the earth b. While those cursed by Him shall be cut off 4. The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD a. The Lord delights in his way b. Even though he falls, he is not utterly cast down c. For the Lord upholds him with His hand III. COUNSEL FOR THE RIGHTEOUS (37:27-40) A. DEPART FROM EVIL, DO GOOD, AND DWELL IN THE LAND (27-33) 1. For the LORD loves justice and does not forsake His saints a. They are preserved, while the wicked shall be cut off b. The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell in it forever 2. The virtues of the righteous a. His mouth speaks wisdom, his tongue talks of justice b. The law of his God is in his heart, none of his steps shall slide 3. The protection of the LORD a. Despite the attempts of the wicked to slay the righteous b. The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged B. WAIT ON THE LORD AND KEEP HIS WAY (34-36) 1. He shall exalt you to inherit the land 2. You shall see it when the wicked are cut off a. Even as the wicked once grew like a tree in great power b. But later could not be found for he was no more C. NOTE THE BLAMELESS AND UPRIGHT (37-40) 1. Mark the blameless, observe the upright, in contrast to the wicked a. The future of that man is peace b. The future of wicked shall be destroyed and cut off 2. The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD a. He is their strength in times of trouble b. He shall help and deliver them from the wicked, because they trust in Him REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE PSALM 1) What are the main points of this psalm? - Exhortation for the righteous (1-8) - Exposition on the wicked and the righteous (9-26) - Counsel for the righteous (27-33) 2) What does David tell us not to do when others are wicked and prosperous? Why? (1,7,8) - Do not fret, be envious, or angry; it only causes one harm 3) Why should we not be bothered about the prosperity of the wicked? (2,9,10) - They shall soon be cut off; they shall soon be no more 4) What are we encouraged to do? (3-7) - Trust in the Lord, do good - Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness - Delight in the Lord - Commit your way to the Lord - Trust in Him - Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him 5) Who is said to inherit the earth? (9,11,22,29,34) - Those who wait on the LORD - The meek - Those blessed by the LORD - The righteous - Those who wait on the LORD and keep His Way 6) What will happen to the efforts of the wicked against the just? (12-15) - Their efforts will turn on to themselves 7) What is better than the riches of many wicked? Why? (16-17) - A little that a righteous man has; because the LORD upholds the righteous 8) What is said concerning the upright? (18-19) - The LORD knows their days - Their inheritance shall be forever - They shall not be ashamed in the evil time - They shall be satisfied in the days of famine 9) What will happen to the wicked and the enemies of the LORD? (20) - They shall perish and vanish away 10) What difference is noted between the wicked and righteous concerning money? (21) - The wicked borrows and does not repay; the righteous shows mercy and gives 11) What is said about the steps of a good man? (23-24) - They are ordered by the LORD, He delights in his way - If he falls, he will not be utterly cast down, for the LORD upholds him 12) What observation has the psalmist made in life? (25-26) - He has never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread - The righteous is ever merciful and lends, his descendants are blessed 13) Why should we depart from evil and do good? (27-29) - For the LORD loves justice and does not forsake His saints - They are preserved, and the righteous shall inherit the land 14) What is noted about the mouth and heart of the righteous? (30-31) - The mouth speaks wisdom and tongue talks of justice; the law of his God is in heart 15) Who protects the righteous from the wicked? (32-33) - The LORD 16) What is one exhorted to do in verse 34? Why? - Wait on the LORD and keep his way; He shall exalt you to inherit the land 17) What has the psalmist seen? (35-36) - The wicked in great power, spreading like a tree; yet he passed away and could not be found 18) What are we told to notice about the blameless and upright man? The wicked? (37-38) - His future is peace; their future shall be cut off 19) What is said about the righteous in the last two verses? (39-40) - Their salvation is from the LORD - He is their strength in time of trouble - They LORD shall help them and deliver them from the wicked 20) Why will the LORD save the righteous? (40) - Because they trust in Him
Are You Informed About Islam?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
With the advent of 9/11, our world, and the way we view it, has been forever altered. As you well know, Islam has not only captured international attention, it is expanding its influence and making extensive encroachments into American culture. Over 1,200 mosques dot the American landscape—most built within the last two decades. Influential American authorities, from politicians to public school educators, are promulgating the equal acceptance and pluralistic promotion of Islam in public life. The first Muslim in recent American history was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and took the oath of office on a Quran (Warikoo, 2007). The Democratic National Committee recently invited a Shi’ite Imam to lead the opening prayer at their winter meeting (“Imam Leads...,” 2007).
The time is here. Christians, and for that matter, Americans, can no longer afford to be uninformed about the threat that Islam poses to Christianity and the nation. It is imperative that Christians recognize the critical need to influence the expanding numbers of Muslim converts in our prisons as well as those entering the country. We simply must “be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
Allow me to remind you that Apologetics Press has produced a book that will both inform you about Islam, as well as prepare you to help Muslims see the truth. The Quran Unveiled examines Islam’s holy book with a view toward ascertaining whether it is, in fact, of supernatural origin. If the Quran is from God, it must possess the self-authenticating attributes and characteristics of divine inspiration. If it is not from God, though it may possess certain positive, even valuable, qualities, it must be rejected as disqualified to legislate human behavior in an absolute and ultimate sense.
The Quran Unveiled provides the reader with a meticulous assessment of several significant teachings of the Quran. Here are some of the critical questions answered in the book:
- Does the Quran teach that a man may have up to four wives?
- Does the Quran teach that Christians are “infidels”?
- Does the Quran endorse violence and killing in order to advance Islam?
- Does the Quran teach that Jesus is the Son of God—or simply a human prophet?
- Does the Quran teach that virgins await those who enter Paradise?
Allowing the Quran to speak for itself, The Quran Unveiled provides sufficient evidence to bring the reader to the firm realization that the Quran and the Bible stand in stark contradistinction to each other.
Many people refuse to consider the beliefs of others, and simply stick with those beliefs to which their family and cultural environment exposed them. But in order to grasp the full extent of the chasm that exists between the Bible and the Quran, one should read both thoroughly. Muslims should read the Bible, and Christians should read the Quran. The disparity between the two is monumental.
Apologetics Press continues to pursue its cutting-edge articulation of New Testament truth as it relates to current culture. The Quran Unveiled is one more important resource in the “A.P. arsenal” in our ongoing defense of the Christian Faith and our warfare against the forces of Satan. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. We urge you to secure your personal copy today. Or, if you prefer, we also have available The Islam Seminar DVDs that allow you to view a live lecture and PowerPoint presentation of much of the material contained in the book.
“Imam Leads Democrats in Prayer of Conversion” (2007), World Net Daily, February 3, [On-line],URL: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54085.
Warikoo, Niraj (2007), “Ellison: Quran Influenced America’s Founding Fathers,” Detroit Free Press, January 5, [On-line], URL: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070105/NEWS01/70105032/ 0/NEWS02.
A Subtle Argument for Inspiration
|by||Wayne Jackson, M.A.|
The Bible—is it God’s Word, or is it a mere human production? This is a question of supreme importance.
For many years this writer has made a special study of the various lines of evidence that substantiate the Bible’s claim of being a book given by God. There are numerous areas one may explore in confirming such an affirmation.
EVIDENCE WITHIN THE PAGES
There are many segments of information contained within the writings of Scripture that argue for an originating source that lies beyond human genius.
For example, the sixty-six documents that compose the Book are characterized by such a flow of continuity, and such an amazing harmony, that it is impossible that they could have been authored over a span of sixteen centuries by some forty writers, and then fortuitously flow together in the fashion now found. The Bible’s unity argues for a supreme, orchestrating Mind.
There are approximately 7,000 prophecies that adorn the pages of this body of literature. The fact that these fore-statements (dealing with nations, people, and events) were fulfilled in a precise way (e.g., the more than 300 that previewed the coming Messiah) is more than incredible.
One can only marvel at the uncanny accuracy of the Scriptures in the academic areas upon which they touch—whether history, science, geography, etc.
We have discussed this matter in detail in our book, The Bible & Science.
But there are other lines of evidence that add weight to the biblical claim of supernatural origin. Some of these are more indirect in nature.
For example, there are omissions in the Bible that are puzzling had its composition been directed by mere human impulse.
Why are there no descriptions of God or of Jesus Christ? Other volumes of religious literature abound with portrayals of the features of their divine characters.
Why were most of the biographical data of Jesus’ thirty-three years upon this earth passed over in silence? Why do we know almost nothing of the life-long labors of most of the apostles?
Writers guided by their own literary inclinations would scarcely have neglected such intriguing details. This is not a circumstance easily explained from a naturalistic vantage point.
Elsewhere we have dealt with this material in more detail.
In summarizing these two major points we may say:
- There are things in the BibIe that could not have been the result of mere human intellect.
- There are things not in the Bible that surely would have been there if the documents had been humanly engineered.
Now we will direct our attention to yet another class of data. We are prepared to affirm that there are incidents recorded in the Bible that would not have been placed there if mere human impulse had been the guiding force in its composition.
In this section we will restrict our discussion to material in the New Testament.
If a writer is attempting to perpetrate religious hoax by means of fabricated documents, he will make every effort to avoid controversial issues which would “turn off” those he hopes to persuade by his propaganda. In view of this well-recognized principle, one is shocked to note some very strange inclusions to the New Testament record—if the narratives were prepared by writers who knew Christianity to be a bogus system, yet, nonetheless, wanted to persuade first-century citizens to accept it. Consider some of the following cases.
AN OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTH
The New Testament record begins with the account of the birth of Jesus. Joseph, a Hebrew man of the city of Nazareth, was “betrothed” to a virgin girl named Mary. In Jewish custom, from the time of a woman’s betrothal, she was treated as if she were “married,” though the union had not been consummated. A betrothal could not be dissolved except by divorce, and sexual activity with another was treated as adultery (Edersheim, p. 148). At the very least Mary would have been disgraced, had Joseph “put her away,” when he discovered that she was with child (Matthew 1:19).
Now here is the significant point. If one aims to construct a religion that he hopes will find acceptance within the ancient society of Judaism, he would hardly begin it with the hero of the “plot” being born out of wedlock! Such was scandalous to the Jewish mind. Yet this is precisely the situation to which one is introduced—in both Matthew and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ birth. The only reasonable view of this circumstance is this: the story of the birth of Christ is presented the way it is because that is precisely how it happened—as unappealing as that was to the Jews. The account has a significant sense of authenticity.
A DESPISED TAX COLLECTOR
Let us reflect upon the fact that one of the apostles of Christ was a Hebrew named Matthew (Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27-28). He is the only apostle whose individual call is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. By occupation, he was a publican (tax collector) who worked on behalf of the Roman government. Barclay has noted that “there was no class of men in the ancient world more hated than tax gatherers” (1959, p. 59). Ancient writers—both pagan and Jewish—put tax collectors in the same category with harlots, robbers and a variety of other scoundrels (Green, et al., p. 805). Even the New Testament associates publicans with the most disreputable people (cf. Matthew 21:31-32; Mark 2:15; Luke 15:1). The Jews distrusted the publicans so intensely that they “declared them incapable of bearing testimony in a Jewish court of law” (Edersheim, p. 57).
These facts being the case, who can imagine that forgers, contriving to put together the New Testament documents in order to provide a rationale for the success of Christianity, would have invented the character of a “publican” as one of Jesus’ apostles?
To compound the matter, this “tax collector” is the writer who is reputed to have composed the gospel record that was specifically designed to present the case of Jesus, as the fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophecy, to the Hebrew people! The selection of Matthew, as one of the apostles, has the “ring” of absolute truth.
A VOLATILE MIXTURE
Add to the foregoing situation the fact that there was another controversial figure in the apostolic band. In Luke’s writings he is called Simon the Zealot, the latter expression signifying his political persuasion (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). Palestine had come under Roman domination in 63 B.C., and the Jews “choked” on that reality. Accordingly, there developed a band of the most radical patriots imaginable. They eventually became known as the Assassins, the name being derived from sica, a small, curved dagger which they concealed beneath their robes. With these weapons, when opportunity arose, they dispatched their enemies into eternity. Needless to say, the Zealots hated the publicans (considering them traitors), and the publicans feared the Zealots. It is hard to imagine a more unlikely combination in the apostolic company, than Matthew the publican, together with Simon the Zealot. Who, in the name of common sense, would have invented this scenario in attempting to explain the astounding success of Christ’s apostles? It is a mark of authenticity.
THE “WOMAN” ISSUE
Some of the movements of Jesus, among the different elements of Hebrew society during the days of His ministry, utterly defy explanation on naturalistic bases. Think about these episodes for a moment.
Jesus once accepted an invitation from a Pharisee (the strictest sect of the Jews) to dine at his home (see Luke 7:36ff.). During the course of the meal, a woman (widely known as a “sinner,” i.e., likely a prostitute) came into the house. Immediately, she went to the Lord’s feet. She kissed the Savior’s feet profusely (so the Greek indicates), and her tears of joy bathed them. She used her long hair as a “towel” to gently dry them. Simon, the host, mentally criticized Christ for permitting this disreputable lady to touch Him in this fashion (vs. 39). Jesus, however, censured His Pharisaic host, yet commended the woman! Christ is placed in a bad light from two common vantage points.
First, Jewish men normally did not associate with women in public (cf. John 4:27). The Jewish attitude towards women was less than ideal. While the Old Testament afforded significant dignity to womanhood (cf. Proverbs 31:10ff.), the Hebrews, over the years, had imbibed some of the attitudes of paganism. Many a Jewish man started his day with prayer to God, expressing thanks that he was neither a Gentile, a slave, or a woman! Hebrew men did not talk with women “in the street”—not even with a mother, sister, daughter, or wife (Lightfoot, 3:286-287). According to the most liberal view of Deuteronomy 24:1, a Hebrew husband could divorce his wife if she was found “familiarly talking with men” (Edersheim, p. 157). William Barclay tells of a segment of the Jews known as the “bleeding and bruised” Pharisees; when they saw a woman approaching, they would close their eyes; hence, were running into things constantly (1956, 1:142-143). Jesus broke this mold.
Second, the tarnished reputation of the dear soul would intensify an already smoldering atmosphere. This episode, therefore, is hardly one that would have enhanced the gospel record with the Jews of the first century. It is an unlikely event to be incorporated into the biblical narrative by an imposter.
A MEDICAL PROBLEM
One of the dreaded diseases of the first century was leprosy. (NOTE: The Greek term lepra is generic, embracing a number of scaly skin diseases, e.g., psoriasis, lupus, ringworm, etc., and possibly including the modern malady known as Hansen’s disease.)
There are several instances recorded in the gospel accounts wherein Jesus had contact with lepers. For instance, following the sermon on the mount, a man “full of leprosy” encountered Christ, and fell at the Lord’s feet, worshipping Him (cf. Matthew 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-44; Luke 5:12-14). Jesus had compassion on the man (Mark 1:41). All three writers agree that Christ “touched” the poor soul. Contrast this with the general rabbinic custom. A rabbi would not eat an egg that was purchased on the same street where a leper lived. Occasionally rabbis would throw rocks at lepers to insure that these unfortunate souls kept their distance (Elwell, 2:1124-1125).
If a leper approached the average Jew in biblical times, the Hebrew, being fearful of becoming “unclean,” or even of being seen in proximity with the afflicted victim, would flee the area (Hendricksen, p. 391). How very unlikely, then, would it have been that a sympathetic biographer would write that Christ was on familiar terms with such wretched folks. It is not an association that would endear the Lord to the Jews.
A similar example is seen in Jesus’ attitude toward the Samaritans. In his gospel account, John makes the simple remark that “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” (4:9). The Hebrews did not even regard Samaria as a part of the Holy Land; rather it was merely a strip of foreign territory separating Galilee from Judaea (Edersheim, p. 12). Quite frequently, Jews would not even go through Samaria—when traveling from one end of the country to the other. The common route was to cross the Jordan and avoid the dreaded territory altogether.
While there was some casual mingling between Jews and Samaritans (see John 4:8), the hostility between the groups was often quite bitter. One rabbi (Eliezer) said that “he who eats the bread of the Samaritans is like to one who eats the flesh of swine.” Another saying suggested that the daughters of the Samaritans were “unclean” from the cradle (Morris, p. 229). And one cannot but recall that on one occasion even James and John asked the Lord if he would like for them to call fire from heaven to consume some inhospitable Samaritans (Luke 9:51-56).
In spite of the gulf that existed between Jews and Samaritans, it is incredible that the New Testament elevates some of these people to a very noble status. In a well-known parable, it is a Samaritan who becomes the compassionate and generous hero, while a Jewish priest and a Levite are represented as uncaring villains (Luke 10:25ff.). And when Jesus miraculously “cleansed” ten men who were afflicted with leprosy, only one was grateful enough to turn back and, glorifying God, give thanks to the Lord (Luke 17:11ff.). It was a Samaritan who was commended for his faith (vss. 16,19).
Jesus’ attitude toward the Gentiles was similarly unusual. In the early days of His ministry, when He returned to His hometown of Nazareth, He read from the book of Isaiah in the local synagogue. The text was from Isaiah 61:1ff., which proclaimed a host of spiritual blessings in the distant future. Christ declared that those promises were in the process of being fulfilled as He spoke. The Lord then suggested that, generally speaking, these folks would be unlikely to receive His teaching—due to their familiarity with Him. “No prophet is acceptable in his own country” (Luke 4:24). Jesus then shocked His people by citing two examples of faith in the days of Elijah and Elisha—Naaman and the widow of Zarephath—both of whom were Gentiles. Clearly there is an implication regarding the character of the Jews at that time. The allusion so infuriated the citizens of Nazareth that they attempted to murder the Son of God (vs. 29). This act of Christ, in complimenting Gentiles, combined with the frank description of the rejection He would receive from His hometown folks, is hardly the sort of information that would be included in a record designed to woo the favor of the first-century Israelite people.
Anyone familiar with the tactics of politicians is painfully aware of how they generally tailor their programs to what their constituents desire, rather than what is in harmony with the will of the sovereign Creator. Such was not the case with Jesus Christ—He “cut across the grain,” teaching what was right, not what was popular.
Jesus declared that families would be divided over loyalty to Him; He insisted that to be faithful to Him one must be willing to sacrifice everything if necessary, bearing His “cross” (a term of great reproach) daily (Matthew 10:34ff.; cf. Luke 9:23). Christ laid down a rigorous law enforcing the stability of marriage. Only an innocent victim of marital infidelity would be able to divorce and subsequently remarry (Matthew 5:32; 19:9). He demanded that His followers subordinate material possessions to spiritual interests (Matthew 19:16ff.; Luke 12:13-21). He peeled back the hypocrisy of religious charlatans whose hearts were light-years away from God (Matthew 6:1ff.; 23:13ff.).
Who would have expected any success in his mission by making demands like these? This is not the level of dedication that appeals to most people; it is not a philosophy that man would craft. Of the Christian system it aptly has been said: “Man could not have invented it if he would; he would nothave fashioned it if he could.”
Then there is that matter of the conciliatory ideology of the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) with reference to His enemies. When men look for heroes, they generally want rugged men—those who will not stand by and take abuse from evil adversaries. The exploits of military leaders dominate the literary historical terrain.
In 63 B.C. the renowned Roman general Pompey swept through Palestine and the Hebrew people came under the dominating heel of the imperial throne. Fuelled by the Zealots, the Jews developed an intense hatred for the Romans. The oppressors must be overthrown! Following the miraculous feeding of a great multitude, many of the Jews felt that Jesus just might be the leader to accomplish this ambition. They were on the verge of forcing Him to be their king, but He would have none of it (John 6:15). A poet has well described the situation. “They were looking for a king to slay their foes and lift them high. Thou camest a little baby thing—that made a woman cry.”
Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would be oppressed and afflicted, and yet He would humbly submit to His enemies (cf. 50:6; 53:7,9). In the course of His trial, Jesus amply demonstrated the accuracy of those predictions. He taught His disciples not to resist their persecutors with violence; rather they were to love (agape—act in the benevolent interest of) their foes (Matthew 5:38ff.; cf. Romans 12:17ff.). The difficulty of this challenge is highlighted by the fact that, even today, some Christians resort to fanciful modes of textual manipulation in order to escape the force of the instruction.
Our continuing argument, then, is this. Christ’s example, and His demanding admonition to His followers regarding their enemies, would never have been the basis of a doctrinal platform conceived by men with the design of attracting great throngs to the Christian Way. The rigors of the requirements provide evidence of divine origin.
The authenticity of Christianity, as set forth in the New Testament, is supported by many lines of converging evidence—from the most obvious to the brilliantly subtle. Only those who have not carefully studied the matter, or who are steadfast in their willfull resistance of the evidence, can remain unconvinced of the genuine nature of the religion of Jesus Christ. Those who have probed the theme in depth are increasingly awed by the sanctity of the Scriptures.
Barclay, William (1956), The Gospel of John (Philadelphia: Westminster).
Barclay, William (1959), The Master’s Men (New York: Abingdon).
Edersheim, Alfred (1957), Sketches of Jewish Social Life (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).
Elwell, Walter (1988), Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker).
Green, Joel, Scott McKnight, Howard Marshall (1992), Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity).
Hendricksen, William (1973), Exposition of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Baker).
Lightfoot, John (1979), Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and the Hebraica (Grand Rapids: Baker).
Morris, Leon (1995), The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).
7 Reasons to Believe in God
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Kyle Butt, M.Div.
How can you know that God exists? You can’t see, hear, touch, smell, or taste Him. You can’t weigh Him like you can a five-pound bag of potatoes. You can’t put Him under an electron microscope to show your friends what He looks like on an atomic level. You can’t experiment on Him with probes and scalpels. You can’t take a picture of Him to show your neighbor that He’s not just an imaginary friend. You can’t magically make Him appear in the classroom of an atheistic professor who is challenging anyone to prove that God exists. So how can you know that God exists?
Although atheists contend that God does not exist and agnostics allege that there is a very high probability that He does not exist, theism is the rational belief that there is a God. A sincere pursuer of truth who follows the available evidence will come to the logical conclusion that God exists. Admittedly, this belief in the 21st century is not the result of seeing God’s Spirit or touching His actual essence (cf. John 4:24; Luke 24:39). What we have at our fingertips, however, is a mountain of irrefutable, indirect, credible evidence that testifies on God’s behalf. Consider seven lines of evidence that warrant the conclusion that an eternal, supernatural Creator (God) exists.
1. MATTER DEMANDS A MAKER
No rational person denies the fact that matter exists. The Universe and every atom that makes it up is a reality. The logical question to ask is, “Where did it all come from?” From the Milky Way to the most-distant galaxy in the Universe—what was the cause? What made matter?
A study of the material Universe reveals that every physical effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause (an idea known as the Law of Cause and Effect or the Law of Causality). The American flag that stood erect on the surface of the moon in 1969 was neither eternal nor without a cause. Its existence on the Moon demands a sufficient cause. The robotic rovers that have rolled across the surface of Mars since the early 21st century are the effect of adequate causes. No one believes that they popped into existence from nothing or that they are the result of any number of ridiculous, insufficient causes that could be suggested (e.g., an accidental explosion in a junk yard on Earth sent metal objects spiraling toward Mars that assembled themselves into the robotic rovers). Simply put, all material effects demand adequate causes (see Miller, 2011 for more information).
So what caused the Universe and all of the matter in the Universe? The theory that atheistic evolutionists have advanced for several decades now, which supposedly best explains our existence from a purely naturalistic perspective, is known as the Big Bang. Allegedly, approximately 14 billion years ago all of the matter and energy in the Universe was concentrated in a tiny ball of matter that exploded, causing the eventual formation of galaxies throughout the Universe.
The obvious problem with this explanation is that even if the Big Bang actually happened (and sound science argues against such a theory—see May, et al., 2003), a person must still explain whence came the “original” ball of matter. It must have an adequate cause. What do some leading atheists and agnostics around the world argue about the cause of matter? Atheistic cosmologist Stephen Hawking stated on national television in 2011, “Nothing caused the Big Bang” (“Curiosity…,” emp. added). In the book The Grand Design that Dr. Hawking co-authored, he and Leonard Mlodinow asserted: “Bodies such as stars and black holes cannot just appear out of nothing. But a whole universe can” (2010, p. 180, emp. added). In 2006, Todd Friel asked Dan Barker, one of America’s leading atheists, “Do you really believe that something came from nothing?” (emp. added). Barker responded with a simple, “Yes” (“Wretched…”).
The observable truth is, however, in nature, matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed. Scientists refer to this fact as the First Law of Thermodynamics. Though evolutionists have alleged that the Universe began with the explosion of a ball of matter several billion years ago, they never have provided a reasonable explanation for the cause of the “original” ball of matter. “Nothing” is nota reasonable explanation. In 2007, the pro-evolutionary New Scientist magazine ran a cover story titled “The Beginning: What Triggered the Big Bang?” in which the publication attempted to explain the origin of the Universe. But consider the last line of the featured article: “[T]he quest to understand the origin of the universe seems destined to continue until we can answer a deeper question: why is there anything at all instead of nothing?” (“The Universe…,” 194:33, emp. added). The implication of such a question is quite clear: if at one time in the past “nothing” existed, then nothing should exist today. A reasonable, naturalistic explanation for the origin of the “original” ball of matter that supposedly led to the Universe does not exist. One of the world’s leading atheists, Richard Dawkins, has basically admitted such.
In a panel discussion in 2012 on Australian national television, Dr. Dawkins was asked “how it is that something as enormous as the universes came from nothing?” Notice what Dawkins admitted: “Of course it’s counterintuitive that you can get something from nothing. Of course common sensedoesn’t allow you to get something from nothing. That’s why it’s interesting. It’s got to be interesting in order to give rise to the universe at all. Something pretty mysterious had to give rise to the origin of the universe” (“Q&A...,” emp. added). Indeed, atheism’s explanation for the origin of matter is “not agreeing with what seems right or natural” (“Counterintuitive,” 2014). According to Dawkins’ own admissions, the idea of getting something from nothing in nature defies “common sense.” It is far from “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts” (“Common Sense,” 2014).
What’s more, atheists cannot logically argue that the Universe is eternal. It seems that relatively few scientists even propose an eternal Universe anymore. (In fact, there would be no point in attempting to explain the “beginning” of the Universe in a Big Bang if atheists believed it always existed.) Furthermore, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that matter and energy become less usable over time, has led most scientists to conclude that the Universe has not always existed (else we would be out of usable energy; see Miller, 2013). The fact is, the Universe had a beginning. Alex Vilenkin, cosmologist from Tufts University, pressed this fact in his book titled Many Worlds in One: “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of acosmic beginning” (2006, p. 176, emp. added).
At one time in the past, the material Universe did not exist. Then, at some point, matter came into existence. But since matter is not eternal and cannot create itself from nothing, then something outside of the material realm must have brought matter into existence.
In short, matter demands a Maker. The evidence clearly indicates that the cause of the Universe is inexplicable without a supernatural Being. Something has to be eternally powerful, but we know it cannot be natural or material. That is why Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Without some type of eternal power, our Universe cannot exist, and the atheistic answer that our Universe created itself from nothing is the furthest thing from either a scientific or a rational explanation.
2. LIFE DEMANDS A LIFE GIVER
Life does not pop into existence from nothing. Neither the puppy at the pound nor the bacteria on the doorknob spontaneously generated. Every scientist, whether theist or atheist, knows this observation to be true.
In biology, one of the most widely recognized laws of science is the Law of Biogenesis. “Biogenesis” is composed of two words—“bio,” which means life, and “genesis,” which means beginning. Thus, this law deals with the beginning of life, and it simply says that in nature life comes only from previous life of its own kind. Over the years, the truthfulness of this law has been documented by thousands of scientists, most notably Louis Pasteur. His work dealt a crushing blow to the notion of spontaneous generation.
In 1933, evolutionist John Sullivan admitted that “it became an accepted doctrine that life never arises except from life. So far as the actual evidence goes, this is still the only possible conclusion” (p. 94, emp. added). Okay, but that was 1933. As we move further into the 20th century the obvious question was “Is it still the only possible conclusion?” What have we learned since the days of Louis Pasteur in the 19th century and John Sullivan in the first half of the 20th century? Observational science has reached the same conclusion experiment after experiment, year after year. The eminent evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson and his colleagues observed that “there is no serious doubt that biogenesis is the rule, that life comes only from other life, that a cell, the unit of life, is always and exclusively the product or offspring of another cell” (1965, p. 144, emp. added). Evolutionist Martin Moe noted that “a century of sensational discoveries in the biological sciences has taught us that life arises only from life” (1981, 89:36, emp. added). More recently, staunch evolutionist Neil Shubin conceded the following in his book titled Your Inner Fish:
I can share with you one true law that all of us can agree upon. This law is so profound that most of us take it completely for granted. Yet it is the starting point for almost everything we do in paleontology, developmental biology, and genetics. This biological “law of everything” is that every living thing on the planet had parents. Every person you’ve ever known has biological parents, as does every bird, salamander, or shark you have ever seen.... To put it in a more precise form: every living thing sprang from some parental genetic information (2009, p. 174).
The importance of Shubin’s concession must not be missed. He recognizes that the actual scientific information verifies that life in the natural world must come from previously existing life. Yet he refuses to carry that fact to its proper conclusion: that life could not have sprung from non-living chemicals. Materialistic evolution cannot adequately account for or explain the most basic laws of science, not the least of which is the Law of Biogenesis.
If it is the case that the “only possible conclusion” which scientific evidence demands is that in nature “life never arises except from life,” then, pray tell, how did the first life come into being? Did it somehow break the most fundamental natural law of biology and arise “naturally” from non-life? Or is there another possibility? The truth is, there is another possibility (which science has not disproved), but it is one that evolutionists such as John Sullivan admitted that “scientific men find very difficult of acceptance” (p. 94, emp. added). According to Sullivan, “So far as the actual evidence goes,” biogenesis “is still the only possible conclusion. But...it is a conclusion that seems to lead back to some supernatural creative act” (p. 94, emp. added). Do not miss the point: real, true, operational science indirectly supports a “supernatural creative act,” which implies a supernatural Creator.
Evolutionist and Harvard University Professor George Wald similarly admitted in an article he wrote titled “The Origin of Life” that there ultimately are two options for life’s origin: (1) spontaneous generation and (2) “the only alternative, to believe in a single, primary act of supernatural creation. There is no third position” (1954, p. 46). Sadly, though “[m]ost modern biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis,” they are “unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation” (p. 46). Rather than follow the evidence where it ultimately leads (to a supernatural Creator!), atheists would rather put their confidence in a theory that was disproven long ago. Antony Flew, who for five decades was the world’s leading atheistic thinker, was forced in the end to conclude: “The only satisfactory explanation for the origin of such ‘end-directed, self-replicating’ life as we see on earth is an infinitely intelligent Mind” (2007, p. 132; see Miller, 2012 for more information).
3. DESIGN DEMANDS A DESIGNER
Everyday observation reveals and confirms the obvious fact that complex, functional design demands a designer. Paintings demand painters. Poems demand poets. Architecture demands architects. And on and on we could go. Everyone knows that cars and computers, pianos and projectors all require engineers, technicians, and tuners for them to exist and function properly. But what about the Universe as a whole? Can it be described accurately as “designed”? If so, what could such design imply about its origin?
No honest, informed person can deny that the Universe is extremely fine-tuned and functionally complex. From the Earth’s precise orbit around the Sun to a shorebird’s 15,000-mile yearly migration pattern, literally millions of examples of fine-tuned design in nature could be pondered. But consider just one example involving electrons and protons. The ratio of the mass of an electron to a proton is 1:1836, which means that a proton is 1,836 times more massive than an electron. Even with this mass difference, however, electrons and protons have the same electrical charge. Scientists suggest that if the electrical charge of the electron were altered by one part in 100 billion, our bodies would instantly explode (Barrow and Tipler, 1986, pp. 293, 296). Is such precision indicative of precise design? Most certainly.
The truth is, atheists frequently testify to the “design” in nature. Australian atheistic astrophysicist Paul Davies has admitted that the Universe (which according to atheists is the result of mindless, naturalistic, random processes) is “uniquely hospitable” (2007, p. 30), “remarkable” (p. 34), and “ordered in an intelligible way” (p. 30). He even admitted to the “fine-tuned properties” of the Universe. In a 2008 National Geographic article titled “Biomimetics: Design by Nature,” the word “design” (or one of its derivatives—designs, designed, etc.) appeared no less than seven times in reference to “nature’s designs.” The author, evolutionist Tom Mueller, referred to nature’s “sophistication” and “clever devices” (2008, p. 79) and praised nature for being able to turn simple materials “into structures of fantastic complexity, strength, and toughness” (p. 79). After learning of the uncanny, complicated maneuverability of a little blowfly, Mueller even confessed to feeling the need to regard the insect “on bended knee in admiration” (p. 82). Why? Because of its “mysterious” and “complicated” design. The fact is, as evolutionist Jerry Coyne admitted, “Nature resembles a well-oiled machine…. The more one learns about plants and animals, the more one marvels at how well their designs fit their ways of life” (2009, pp. 1,3).
But how can you get design without purpose, intelligence, and deliberate planning? The first three definitions the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary gives for “design” (noun) are as follows: “1a: a particular purpose held in view by an individual or group…b: deliberate purposive planning… 2: a mental project or scheme in which means to an end are laid down; 3a: a deliberate undercover project or scheme” (“Design,” 2014, emp. added). After defining “design” as a drawing, sketch, or “graphic representation of a detailed plan…,” the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Languagenoted that design may be defined as “[t]he purposeful or inventive arrangement of parts or details” (“Design,” 2000, p. 492, emp. added). A design is preceded by “deliberate purposive planning,” “a detailed plan,” or an “inventive arrangement.” A design is the effect, not of time, chance, and unintelligent, random accidental explosions (what nonsense!), but of the purposeful planning and deliberate actions of an inventor or designer. Literally, by definition, design demands a designer; thus the designed Universe demands a Designer.
According to Paul Davies: “Our universe seems ‘just right’ for life. It looks as if…a super-intellect has been monkeying with physics” (2007, p. 30). Similarly, well-known skeptic Michael Shermer conceded, “The reason people think that a Designer created the world is because it looks designed” (2006, p. 65, emp. added).
Indeed, both honest observation and rational thought should lead every truth-seeking individual to the same conclusion that the psalmist came to 3,000 years ago: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (19:1). “The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Both the heavens and the Earth testify day after day and night after night to anyone and everyone who will listen (Psalm 19:2-4). “Lift up your eyes on high, and see Who has created these things” (Isaiah 40:26).
Since the Universe exhibits complex, functional design, and (by definition) complex, functional design demands a designer, then the Universe must have an intelligent designer. This argument for God is logically sound and observationally true. A person can know (without a doubt) that God exists if for no other reason than that the Universe’s design demands a Designer. “For every house is built by someone, but He Who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).
4. INTELLIGENCE DEMANDS AN INTELLIGENT CREATOR
Intelligence is defined as “the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge” (“Intelligence,” 2000, p. 910); “the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations” (“Intelligence,” 2014). It is not difficult to identify certain things that have some measure of “intelligence,” while recognizing other things that have no intelligence. Man obviously has an extremely high level of intelligence. He has constructed spaceships that he can guide 240,000 miles to the Moon while both the Earth and the Moon are in motion. He has built artificial hearts that can extend the lives of the sick. He continues to construct computers that can process billions of pieces of information a second. He can write poetry, calculate where Mars will be 50 years from the present, and build everything from pianos to PlayStation video game consoles. Man is an intelligent being.
Although there is a great chasm between mankind and the animal kingdom, animals do possess a measure of intelligence. Dogs can learn to sit, stay, roll over, and play dead. Dolphins can learn to jump through hoops on command. Birds can make helpful “tools” from twigs in order to accomplish some basic tasks. A few years ago, two colorful, eight-legged cephalopods, known as cuttlefish, graced the cover of the journal New Scientist. The authors referred to this amazing sea creature as a “sophisticated,” “inventive,” eight-legged “genius” with “intelligence” and a “secret code” (Brooks, 2008).
According to atheistic evolution, billions of years ago “nothing” caused a tiny ball of matter to explode. Then, billions of years after this Big Bang, galaxies began to form from lifeless, mindless, unintelligent particles floating around in space in massive clouds of dust. Allegedly, Earth eventually evolved from such a dust cloud. Hundreds of millions of years later, intelligent animals and humans evolved.
What humans have consistently observed in nature, however, is that intelligence demands previous intelligence. The reason that humans in the 21st century are intelligent is because our ancestors were intelligent. The reason that animals have some measure of intelligence is due to intelligent creatures that came before them. Dust does not give way to organized dust particles that have “the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge.” Water does not think. The mindless mud that evolutionists contend gave way to intelligent life on Earth is nothing but a delusional tale unsupported by everything we know from observation and experience. Neither “nothing” nor inorganic matter ever produces intelligent creatures. So how did the first intelligent creatures come to inhabit the Universe? Just as the first life demands a supernatural life Giver, so the first intelligent beings demand a self-existent, miracle-working Creator of intelligence.
5. MORALITY DEMANDS A MORAL LAW GIVER
Why do people generally think that some actions are “right” and some actions are “wrong,” regardless of their subjective opinions? Why do most people believe that it is “evil” or “wicked” (1) for an adult to torture an innocent child simply for the fun of it? (2) for a man to beat and rape a kind, innocent woman? or (3) for parents to have children for the sole purpose of abusing them sexually every day of their lives? Because, as evolutionist Edward Slingerland noted, humans have metaphysical rights—rights that are “a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses” (“Metaphysical,” 2014)—and “rely on moral values” (as quoted in Reilly, 2007, 196:7). The fact is, most people, even many atheists, have admitted that real, objective good and evil exist.
Although objective morality may be outside the realm of the scientific method, every rational person can know that some actions are innately good, while others are innately evil. Antony Flew and Wallace Matson, two of the leading atheistic philosophers of the 20th century, forthrightly acknowledged the existence of objective morality in their debates with theistic philosopher Thomas B. Warren in the 1970s (see Warren and Flew, 1977; Warren and Matson, 1978). Atheist Michael Ruse admitted in his book Darwinism Defended that “[t]he man who says that it is morally acceptable to rape little children, is just asmistaken as the man who says that 2 + 2 = 5” (1982, p. 275, emp. added). Philosophers Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl said it well: “Those who deny obvious moral rules—who say that murder and rape are morally benign, that cruelty is not a vice, and that cowardice is a virtue—do not merely have a different moral point of view; theyhave something wrong with them” (1998, p. 59, emp. added).
Most rational people do not merely feel like rape and child abuse may be wrong; they are wrong—innately wrong. Just as two plus two can really be known to be four, every rational human can know that some things are objectively good, while other things are objectively evil. However, reason demands that objective good and evil can only exist if there is some real, objective point of reference. If something (e.g., rape) can be legitimately criticized as morally wrong, then there must be an objective standard—“some ‘higher law which transcends the provincial and transient’ which is other than the particular moral code and which has an obligatory character which can be recognized” (Warren and Matson, p. 284, emp. added).
Recognition by atheists of anything being morally wrong begs the question: How can an atheistlogically call something atrocious, deplorable, evil, or wicked? According to atheism, man is nothing but matter in motion. Humankind allegedly evolved from rocks and slime over billions of years. How could moral value come from rocks and slime? Who ever speaks of “wrong rocks,” “moral minerals,” or “corrupt chemicals”? People do not talk about morally depraved donkeys, evil elephants, or immoral monkeys. Pigs are not punished for being immoral when they eat their young. Komodo dragons are not corrupt because 10% of their diet consists of younger Komodo dragons. Killer whales are not guilty of murder. Male animals are not tried for rape if they appear to forcibly copulate with females. Dogs are not depraved for stealing the bone of another dog. Moral value could not arise from rocks and slime.
The fact that humans even contemplate morality testifies to the huge chasm between man and animals and the fact that moral value could not have arisen from animals. Atheistic evolutionists have admitted that morals arise only in humans. George Gaylord Simpson, one of the most recognized atheistic evolutionists of the 20th century, confessed that “[g]ood and evil, right and wrong, concepts irrelevant in nature except from the human viewpoint, become real and pressing features of the whole cosmos as viewed morally because morals arise only in man” (1951, p. 179, emp. added). Atheists admit that people (i.e., even “atheists”) have “their own innate sense of morality” (“Do Atheists…?, n.d.). No rational person makes such admissions about animals. “Humans,” not animals, “rely on moral values” (as quoted in Reilly, 2007, 196:7).
The moral argument for God’s existence exposes atheism as the self-contradictory, atrocious philosophy that it is. Atheists must either reject the truthfulness of the moral argument’s first premise (“If objective moral value exists, then God exists”) and illogically accept the indefensible idea that objective morality somehow arose from rocks and reptiles, or (2) they must reject the argument’s second premise (“Objective moral values exist”), and accept the insane, utterly repulsive idea that genocide, rape, murder, theft, child abuse, etc. can never once be condemned as objectively “wrong.” What’s more, if atheism is true, individuals could never logically be punished for such immoral actions, since “no inherent moral or ethical laws” would exist (Provine, 1988, p. 10).
If there is no God, then there is no objective basis to say that some things are right and others are wrong. Reason demands that objective good and evil can only exist if there is some real, objective reference point outside of nature. The only reasonable answer to an objective moral law for humans is a supernatural, moral law Giver.
6. THE BIBLE’S SUPERNATURAL ATTRIBUTES DEMAND A SUPERNATURAL AUTHOR
Christians do not believe that God exists simply because the Bible teaches that He does, nor do Christians believe that the Bible is the Word of God simply because the Bible claims to be inspired by God. Anyone can make claims about whatever they wish. Simply because a person claims to have revelation from a supernatural Creator does not make it so (e.g., the Book of Mormon; see Miller, 2009). However, if the Bible possesses attributes that are super-human, then the Bible proves itself to be of supernatural origin and has indirectly proven the existence of the supernatural Author. American atheist Dan Barker alluded to the legitimacy of this argumentation for God’s existence in 2009 when he explained that one of the things which could falsify atheism would be if God spoke to man and gave him specific information about future events (see Butt and Barker, pp. 50-51).
Indeed, one extremely valuable line of evidence that confirms that the Bible is the inspired Word of God is the presence of accurate, predictive prophecy contained in its pages. Not only are the prophecies of the Bible fulfilled in minute detail with complete accuracy, but these fulfillments are often accomplished centuries after the prophecies were made. Even the skeptic understands that if this is the case, a supernatural agent must be responsible for the writing of the Bible. That is why the skeptic attempts to discredit the prophecies by claiming that they were written after the events or by claiming that they were not fulfilled in detail. By attempting to disparage the prophecies using these methods, the skeptic admits that if the prophecies were written centuries before the events, and if they are fulfilled in detail, then a supernatural agent is responsible for them. As the prophet Jeremiah wrote: “As for the prophet who prophecies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent” (28:9). Completely accurate, fulfilled prophecy is a characteristic that verifies the divine inspiration of the Bible.
One such prophecy concerned a man named Cyrus and two nations: Babylon and the Medo-Persian Empire. Isaiah, who prophesied around 700 B.C., vividly described how God would destroy the powerful kingdom of Babylon, “the glory of kingdoms” (13:19). Writing as if it had already occurred (commonly known as the “prophetic perfect,” frequently employed in the Old Testament to stress the absolute certainty of fulfillment, e.g., Isaiah 53), Isaiah declared Babylon would fall (21:9). He then prophesied that Babylon would fall to the Medes and Persians (Isaiah 13; 21:1-10). Later, he proclaimed that the “golden city” (Babylon) would be conquered by a man named Cyrus (44:28; 45:1-7). This is a remarkable prophecy, especially since Cyrus was not born until almost 150 years after Isaiah penned these words.
Not only did Isaiah predict that Cyrus would overthrow Babylon, but he also wrote that Cyrus, serving as Jehovah’s “anointed” and “shepherd,” would release the Jews from captivity and assist them in their return to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the temple. Isaiah's prophecies were recorded almost 200 years before Cyrus conquered Babylon (539 B.C.). Amazing! [NOTE: Secular history verifies that all of these events came true. There really was a man named Cyrus who ruled the Medo-Persian Empire. He did conquer Babylon. And just as Isaiah prophesied, he assisted the Jews in their return to Jerusalem and in the rebuilding of the temple.]
Truly, “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). And, if men were inspired of God to write the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16), then God exists. In short, the Bible’s supernatural attributes logically demand a supernatural Author (see Butt, 2007 for more information).
7. THE HISTORICAL, MIRACLE-WORKING, RESURRECTED JESUS DEMANDS A SUPERNATURAL EXPLANATION
Human beings can do many amazing things. They can run 26.2 miles without stopping. They can show remarkable courage in the face of great danger. They can even walk along a tightrope hundreds of feet above the ground. But there are certain actions that are humanly impossible. Humans cannot walk on water unassisted, give sight to the blind, instantly reattach severed ears with only their hands, or raise the dead. If ever such a “man” existed, his life would logically testify to the existence of a supernatural Being.
Atheists understand the rationality of this argument. Dan Barker once said on record, “If Jesus were to materialize” and work any number of miraculous deeds, atheism would be disproven (see Butt and Barker, p. 51), and thus theism would be established as a fact. The truth is, the very proof that Barker and other atheists request was provided 2,000 years ago when God put on flesh and came to Earth in the form of man. And He did not merely claim to be God; He did what a reasonable person could expect if God were ever to prove His divinity on Earth—He fulfilled precise prophecies and worked supernatural miracles, including coming back from the dead Himself. (For more information, see Butt and Lyons, 2006). The life and works of Jesus testify to the existence of a supernatural Being.
In 2012, renowned atheist Richard Dawkins was questioned about his unbelief in God. Specifically, he was asked, “What proof, by the way, would change your mind?” He quickly responded by saying, “That is a very difficult and interesting question because, I mean, I used to think that if somehow, you know, great, big, giant 900-foot high Jesus with a voice like Paul Robeson suddenly strode in and said, ‘I exist and here I am,’ but even that, I actually sometimes wonder if that would…” (“Q&A...,” 2012). So, though Dr. Dawkins raises the possibility of the legitimacy of disproving atheism with a 900-foot high, hypothetical Jesus, He continually rejects the historical, miracle-working, resurrected-from-the-dead Jesus Who walked the Earth 2,000 years ago. Sadly, such irrational, hard-hearted unbelief is nothing new. Even some in the very presence of Jesus in the first century, who testified to the supernatural feats that He worked, rejected Him (cf. John 11:45-53; 12:9-11). Thus, it should not be surprising that many will reject the Lord God today despite the evidence for His existence.
Atheists are fond of claiming that their way of thinking is logical, reasonable, and intellectual. Yet atheism irrationally says that everything came from nothing. Atheism says that an explosion caused exquisite order. It says that random chances produced precision and that life popped into existence in nature from non-life. Atheism contends that a well-designed Universe could come about without a Designer. Atheism says that fish and frogs are man’s distant forefathers and that intelligence is ultimately the result of non-intelligence. Atheism alleges that either man is on the same moral plane as a moose, or he actually evolved a sense of morality from amoral mice. While trying to convince others he is galloping confidently atop a stallion called Common Sense, atheism stumbles on the back of a donkey called Foolishness.
Theism, on the other hand, is absolutely rational. Why? Because (among other things) (1) matter demands a Maker; (2) life demands a Life Giver; (3) design demands a Designer; (4) intelligence demands an Intelligent Creator; (5) morality demands a Moral Law Giver; (6) the Bible’s supernatural attributes demand a Supernatural Author; and (7) the historical, miracle-working, resurrected Jesus demands a supernatural explanation (which demands God). Indeed, the Christian can say with all confidence, “I know that God exists.” As former atheist Antony Flew so eloquently concluded: “I must say again that the journey to my discovery of the Divine has thus far been a pilgrimage of reason. I have followed the argument where it has led me. And it has led me to accept the existence of a self-existent, immutable, immaterial, omnipotent, and omniscient Being” (2007, p. 155).
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