"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN" Chapter Five John writes of faith in Christ, loving God, and overcoming the world (1-5). He then reviews God’s witness that gives us certainty regarding eternal life in Christ (6-13), and concludes with teaching on prayer (14-17) and the sure knowledge found in the Son of God (18-21). POINTS TO PONDER * The importance of faith, love, and obedience * The nature of eternal life as a present possession * Sin which does not lead to death versus sin which does lead to death REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Faith, love and obedience as children of God - 1Jn 5:1-5 - The sureness of God’s testimony - 1Jn 5:6-13 - Confidence and compassion in prayer - 1Jn 5:14-17 - Concluding remarks - 1Jn 5:18-21 2) To be born of God, what is absolutely necessary? (1) - Believing that Jesus is the Christ 3) How can be sure that they love the children of God? (2) - When they love God and keep His commandments 4) How can one overcome the world? (4-5) - Being born of God and believing that Jesus is the Son of God 5) What three things bore witness concerning Jesus Christ? (6-8) - Water (Jesus’ baptism?), blood (Jesus’ death?), the Holy Spirit 6) What does one receive as they believe in the Son of God? (10) - The witness in himself (cf. Jn 7:17) 7) What has God give us? Who has this? (11-12) - Eternal life; he who has the Son 8) Why did John write these things in his epistle? (13) - That we might know that we have eternal life, and continue to believe 9) What confidence do we have in prayer? (14-15) - That if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us 10) What is described as the true God and eternal life? (20) - To know Him who is true, and that we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ
"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN" Chapter Four John cautions his readers not to believe everyone who claims to be led by the Spirit, but to test them (1-6). He then exhorts them to manifest brotherly love in keeping with the character and example of God’s love as demonstrated in the sacrifice of His Son (7-21). POINTS TO PONDER * Distinguishing the spirit of truth from the spirit of error * How God’s love should impact our love for one another REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Test the spirits - 1Jn 4:1-6 - God is love - 1Jn 4:7-21 2) Why should one not believe every spirit? (1) - Because there are many false prophets 3) If one is truly led by the Spirit of God, what will they confess? (2) - That Jesus Christ has come in the flesh 4) What did John say about the coming of Antichrist? (3) - It was already in the world at the time John was writing 5) What did John write about their ability to overcome? (4) - He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world 6) How does one discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error? (6) - By whoever listens to the apostles (cf. 1Co 14:37; 1Th 2:13) 7) Why should we love one another? (7-8) - Love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God 8) How was God’s love for us manifested? (9-10) - By sending His Son into the world to be the propitiation for our sins 9) How can we ensure that God will abide in us? (12-16) - By loving one another 10) When we love one another as we should, what does it give us? (17-18) - Boldness in the day of judgment; i.e., no fear 11) If we claim to love God, but hate our brother, what does that make us? Why? (20) - Liars; if we do not love someone we’ve seen, how can we love Him we’ve not seen?
"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN" Chapter Three John describes God’s wonderful love for us, how hope as His children should motivate us to pure lives. Righteous living should be expected when we know what sin is, that Christ came to destroy it, and that one truly born of God will not persist in sin (1-9). True righteousness includes loving one another, even as Christ loved us, which in turn gives us confidence and assurance that we are abiding in Him and are of the truth (10-24). POINTS TO PONDER * God’s love for us, and our love for one another * The definition of sin, and the meaning of "does not sin" (6,9) * The outworking of love, and the assurance it gives of our salvation REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Living as children of God - 1Jn 3:1-9 - Loving one another - 1Jn 3:10-24 2) What should motivate us to live pure lives? (2-3) - The hope that when God (Jesus?) is revealed, we shall be like Him 3) How is sin defined by John? (4) - As lawlessness ("transgression of the law", cf. KJV) 4) What is true of one who abides in Jesus? Who has been born of God? (6,9) - Does not "sin" ("keep on sinning", cf. ESV, NLT) - Does not "sin" ("make a practice of sinning", ibid.) - Cannot "sin" ("keep on sinning", ibid.) 5) What distinguishes children of God from children of the devil? (10) - The former practices righteousness and loves the brethren 6) What serves as evidence that we have passed from death to life? (14) - That we love the brethren 7) How do we know what true love is? How then should we love? (16-18) - By the example Jesus set; sacrificially, in deed and truth 8) What gives us assurance and confidence that we are of the truth? (19-23) - Loving one another and keeping His commandments, especially having faith in Jesus 9) How can we know that He abides in us and we in Him? (24) - When we keep His commandments, and by His Spirit whom He has given us
"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN" Chapter Two We have an Advocate who is also the propitiation for our sins and to truly know Him we must keep His commandments (1-6), especially to love one another (7-11). Describing his original readers’ spiritual state (12-14), John cautions against loving the world and being deceived by antichrists (15-23), by letting truth abide in them and they in Christ (24-29). POINTS TO PONDER * The true test of knowing Jesus as our Advocate and our propitiation * Things in the world we cannot not love * The identity of antichrists in the writings of John REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Our Advocate and how we know Him - 1Jn 2:1-6 - A new commandment - 1Jn 2:7-11 - Their spiritual state - 1Jn 2:12-14 - Love not the world, beware of antichrists - 1Jn 2:15-23 - Let truth abide in you, and you in Christ - 1Jn 2:24-29 2) How can Jesus be of aid to us when we have sinned? (1-2) - He is our Advocate with the Father, and the propitiation for our sins 3) What are two proofs that we know Jesus and that we abide in Him? (3-6) - Keeping His commandments and walking as He walked 4) What commandment is both "old" and "new"? (7-11) - To love one’s brother (cf. Jn 13:34-35) 5) List three groups of people and how John describes their spiritual state. (12-14) - Little children: forgiven of sins, and having known the Father - Fathers: Having known Him (Jesus) who is from the beginning - Young men: Strong, the word of God abides in them, have overcome the wicked one 6) What three things in the world should we not love? (15-17) - The lust of the flesh (immorality) - The lust of the eyes (materialism) - The pride of life (self-importance) 7) What does John reveal about antichrist? (18-23) - There will be many: whoever denies 1) Jesus is the Christ, 2) the Father and the Son 8) How can we be sure that we will abide in the Son and in the Father? (24-29) - By abiding in the truth spoken from the beginning and practicing righteousness
"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN" Chapter One John begins his first epistle like he does his gospel: with a prologue regarding the Word of Life (Jesus Christ) who dwelt in the flesh among men and made fellowship with the Father possible (1-4). Fellowship with God is maintained as we walk in the light and confess our sins that we might enjoy continual cleansing through the blood of Jesus (5-10). POINTS TO PONDER * The witness of John concerning the Word of Life * The nature of the evidence for faith in Jesus * The basis of our fellowship with God REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Prologue: The Word of Life - 1Jn 1:1-4 - Fellowship with God - 1Jn 1:5-10 2) How is John’s beginning in this epistle similar to his gospel? (1-4, cf. Jn 1:1-14) - Both begin with a prologue regarding the Word who became flesh 3) How does John describe the pre-incarnation of Jesus? (1) - As "that which was from the beginning" 4) What empirical evidence does John provide concerning the Word? (1) - He has heard, seen with his eyes, handled with hands 5) What does John declare? What does he want to share? Why does he write? (2-4) - Eternal life; fellowship with the Father and His Son; that our joy may be full 6) What message has John heard that he now declares to us? (5) - That God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all 7) If we say we have fellowship with God but walk in darkness, what are we? (6) - Liars who do not practice the truth 8) What do we enjoy as we walk in the light together with God? (7) - Cleansing of all sin by the blood of Christ 9) What if we say that we have no sin? (8,10) - We deceive ourselves, make God a liar, His word and the truth are not in us 10) What’s required to be forgiven of sin and cleansed of all unrighteousness? (9) - To confess our sins
"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN" Introduction When Jesus to earth, He came not only to live a life, but to give life: "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." - Jn 10:10 The Gospel of John was designed to produce faith so that we might have life (Jn 20:30-31). However, it is The First Epistle of John which describes the nature of that life in greater detail (e.g., 1Jn 3:14). That we might be sure to live the sort of life God offers through His Son Jesus Christ, a careful study of The First Epistle Of John is in order. AUTHOR It is assumed in this study that the author is John, the beloved disciple of Jesus (Jn 13:23; 19:26-27; 20:2; 21:7,20). Similarities in style, vocabulary, and themes in both this epistle and the Gospel of John certainly offer internal evidence for this conclusion. There is also external evidence that John is the author. Polycarp, a close associate of John, appears to make reference to this epistle in a letter to the Philippians at the beginning of the second century. Irenaeus, a student of Polycarp, quoted from the epistle and attributed it to John. RECIPIENTS No one is specifically mentioned by name. John may have been in Ephesus at the time, and some think this was a general epistle to Christians throughout Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Comments in 1Jn 2:20,27 could imply that John was addressing a specific group of Christians that possessed certain spiritual (miraculous) gifts. DATE Estimates range from 60 A.D. to 100 A.D. Most modern scholarship places it around 95 A.D., but there are also good reasons for believing it was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (Re-dating The New Testament, John A. T. Robinson). PURPOSE AND THEME In his epistle John frequently states why he was writing: * "these things we write to you that your joy may be full" - 1Jn 1:4 * "these things I write to you, that you may not sin" - 1Jn 2:1 * "these things I have written to you...that you may know that you have eternal life" - 1Jn 5:13 * "these things I have written to you...that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" - 1Jn 5:13 While these reasons may state the positive purpose for John's letter, it appears he was also responding to errors prevalent at the time ("these things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you" - 1Jn 2:26). If not fully developed in John’s day, there was at least a precursor to Gnosticism. Those who later came to be called Gnostics claimed to have a superior knowledge (the Greek word for knowledge is gnosis). A fundamental presupposition was that all matter was evil. Therefore they believed that God did not create or have anything to do with the material universe (rather, it was created by a demi-god). Also, that Christ could not have come in the flesh (cf. 1Jn 4:1-3). One branch of Gnosticism, Docetism (dokein, "to seem"), taught that Jesus only seemed to be physical (contrast that with John’s statement in 1Jn 1:1). Cerinthus, a contemporary of John, taught that "Jesus" was physical, but that the "Christ" came upon Him at his baptism, and then left before His death, so that the "Christ-spirit" never suffered (cf. 1Jn 5:6). The Gnostics’ application to everyday living took two different directions. Since all matter was considered evil, some taught one should abstain altogether from anything that would satisfy the flesh. Others claimed it did not matter what one did in the flesh (it was evil anyway), and to have "full knowledge" it was proper to explore everything. John’s purpose therefore appears to be two-fold: * Assure Christians that they have eternal life (1Jn 5:13) * Counter those who denied that Jesus had come in the flesh (1Jn 4:1-6) As the theme of this epistle, may I suggest: Eternal life is in Jesus Christ, who has come in the flesh OUTLINE Here is an outline of the book, from the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary... Prologue: The Word of Life (1:1-4) 1. God Is Light (1:5-3:10) a. Walk in the Light (1:5-2:2) 1) God is Light (1:5-7) 2) Resist sin (1:8-2:2) b. Obey the command to love (2:3-11) 1) Know God and keep His commands (2:3-6) 2) Learn the new command and love others (2:7-11) c. Know your spiritual status (2:12-14) d. Be warned of enemies of the faith (2:15-27) 1) Beware of the world (2:15-17) 2) Beware of the antichrists (2:18-27) e. Live like children of God (2:28-3:10) 1) Be confident and ready for His coming (2:28-3:3) 2) Be righteous and do not sin (3:4-10) 2. God Is Love (3:11-5:12) a. Love one another: part one (3:11-24) 1) Love in action (3:11-18) 2) Live in confidence (3:19-24) b. Test the spirits (4:1-6) c. Love one another: part two (4:7-21) 1) Love others because God loves you (4:7-10) 2) Love others because God lives in you (4:11-21) d. Obey God and experience the victory of faith (5:1-5) e. Believe in the Son and enjoy eternal life (5:6-12) Conclusion: Confidence and Characteristics of the Child of God (5:13-21) a. Know you have eternal life (5:13) b. Be confident in prayer (5:14-17) c. Do not continue in sin (5:18-20) d. Keep yourself from idols (5:21) REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) Who is author of The First Epistle Of John? - John the apostle, the beloved disciple who also wrote The Gospel Of John 2) Who were the original recipients of this epistle? - Christians in general, likely in Ephesus or scattered throughout Asia Minor (Turkey) 3) When was it written? - Most date it in 90s A.D. 4) List four reasons John stated for writing this epistle. (1:4; 2:1; 5:13) - "that your joy may be full" - "that you may not sin" - "that you may know that you have eternal life" - "that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" 5) List another reason John wrote this epistle. (2:26) - "Concerning those who try to deceive you" 6) What doctrine later found in Gnosticism is addressed in this epistle? - Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh 7) What has been suggested as its two-fold purpose? - Assure Christians that they have eternal life - Counter those who denied that Jesus had come in the flesh 8) What has been suggested as its theme? - Eternal life is in Jesus Christ, who has come in the flesh 9) What are the main divisions of this epistle as outlined above? - Prologue: The Word of Life (1:1-4) - God Is Light (1:5-3:10) - God Is Love (3:11-5:12) - Conclusion: Confidence and Characteristics of the Child of God (5:13-21)
Has Noah's Ark Been Found?
|by||Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.|
Has Noah’s ark been found?
In short, no, the ark has not been found. However, it is worth digging into this question a little deeper, because claims of discovery or sightings are so frequent.
People have reported seeing the ark many times over the last 150 years. They include Turkish soldiers, Russian pilots, Kurdish villagers, and foreign travelers. Most of the sightings and searches have focused on Greater Ararat (17,011 feet above sea level), although the biblical “mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4), where the ark came to rest, probably refers to a much larger geographic area. The mountains are located in a politically troubled part of eastern Turkey, bordering Armenia and Iran. Ararat’s size and location have contributed to a variety of proposed sites, and some colorful adventures.
Most search efforts in the last few decades have attempted to pinpoint the locations given by previous “eyewitness” reports. One such report receiving much attention in the past year came from George Jammal—a Palestinian living in California. In an unsolicited letter to the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), and in a taped interview with ICR scientist John Morris, Jammal claimed to have discovered the ark in 1984. He alleged also to have a piece of wood from the ark, although Morris (1994) says he never was able to confirm this or the location of the find. Then in 1992, Sun Pictures began work on a film called The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark. Although Morris had little confidence in the details of Jammal’s story, he referred Jammal to Sun, who used him extensively. During that interview, Jammal produced the mysterious timber.
The two-hour show, which aired on CBS in February 1993, switched between sensational stories about the discovery of the ark, and excellent scenes portraying evidence for a global flood. In either case, the anti-creationists were not happy. They expected CBS to make a public apology, but CBS and Sun maintained that the show was simply entertainment. What really caused a stir, however, was the revelation that Jammal literally cooked up his piece of wood, working in collusion with prominent humanist Gerald LaRue. Critics have had a field day using this incident to discredit the whole Ark show. Yet while the humanists snicker over their prank, we may ask which is worse: that Sun Pictures naively accepted someone’s claims at face value, or that people worked deliberately to lie and defraud? In any case, the film did not present a verifiable discovery of Noah’s ark, and Morris now regrets his involvement with Jammal (1994, p. 3).
Another controversial claim received wide attention in the early 1990s. Various video tapes and articles were in circulation proclaiming that the ark had been found 12-15 miles south of Greater Ararat (e.g., Yocham, 1991). Actually, this story began more than three decades ago. In 1959, a Turkish pilot had noticed a large, boat-shaped object in aerial photographs of the area, and an article in Life magazine the next year brought it to the world’s attention. Despite high expectations, a scientific expedition in 1960 showed that this was neither a boat nor the remains of Noah’s ark. However, one of the expedition’s members, René Noorbergen, published a book in 1974 claiming that this object was indeed the ark (Shea, 1988, p. 8).
The site’s most vigorous promoter is self-styled biblical archaeologist Ron Wyatt. Since his first visit in 1977, Wyatt has convinced various scientists to investigate the site. While many of these scientists believe in the Flood account, their results, plus surveys carried out by Turkish geologists, have shown convincingly that this boat-shaped object is a natural geologic formation. Various claims, such as having mapped the subsurface structure of a boat or having discovered wooden and metallic artifacts, are all false (Snelling, 1992).
No doubt more claims will come to light in the future. We must ask: Who is making these claims, and can the details be verified? Considering that the Ararat region has experienced volcanic and glacial activity, the likelihood of finding recognizable remains of an ancient wooden vessel is extremely remote. Therefore, Christians should treat ark discovery claims with a high degree of skepticism.
Morris, John (1994), “Noah’s Ark: Setting the Record Straight,” Acts & Facts, pp. 2-3, January.
Shea, William (1988), “Noah’s Ark,” Archaeology and Biblical Research, 1:6-14,35, Winter.
Snelling, Andrew A. (1992), “Amazing ‘Ark’ Exposé,” Creation Ex Nihilo, 14:26-38, September-November.
Yocham, Virgil (1991), Noah’s Ark (Lubbock, TX: Sunset Extension School, VHS tape recorded June 1991).
Divine Design and the Pine Tree
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
The naturalistic explanation given by evolutionists for the existence of the created order cannot meet the dictates of logic that characterize the unencumbered, unprejudiced human mind. The more one investigates the intricacies and complexities of the natural realm, the more self-evident it is that a grand and great Designer is responsible for the existence of the Universe. In fact, the evidence is overwhelming and decisive.
Take, for example, the pine tree. Some 120 species and subspecies of the pine tree exist worldwide (“What Are...?,” n.d.). The Ponderosa pine tree (pinus ponderosa) is one of America’s abundant tree species, covering approximately 27 million acres of land (“Ponderosa Pine,” 1995). A young Ponderosa pine has brownish-black bark that changes to a distinctive orange-brown color as the tree grows older. The bark is segmented into large plate-like structures whose appearance has been likened to a jigsaw puzzle. This unusual design has a purpose. If the tree catches fire, these plates pop off as the bark burns. The tree, in effect, sheds its burning bark! This design, along with the great thickness of the bark, allows the tree to be very resistant to low intensity fires (“Ponderosa Pine,” n.d.). Since design demands a designer, who is responsible forthis intricate design?
Courtesy sxc.hu and Jesse Adams
Another species of pine tree is the Lodgepole Pine (pinus contorta), so named since Native Americans used Lodgepole pine for the “lodge poles” in their tepees. This amazing pine tree grows cones that are slightly smaller than a golf ball, are tan when fresh, but turn gray with age. These serotinous cones remain closed until the heat of a forest fire causes them to open. After the fire, the cones open and reseed the forest. The species thus regenerates itself—even though the forest fire kills the tree itself (“Lodgepole Pine,” n.d.). Since such design demands a designer, who is responsible for this ingenious design?
Yet another species of pine tree is the Whitebark Pine (pinus albicaulis). This tree possesses a symbiotic relationship with a bird species known as the Clark’s Nutcracker. The tree is dependent on this bird for reproduction, while the seed of the tree is a major source of food for the bird. This mutualistic relationship is further seen in the fact that Whitebark pinecones do not open and cast seed when they are ripe. The cones remain closed until the Nutcracker comes along, pries the cone open with its bill, and stores the seed within a pouch beneath its tongue. The bird then caches the seed to be used later as a food supply. Some of these seed caches are forgotten, or are not needed, thus enabling the tree to reproduce (“Whitebark Pine,” n.d.). Such amazing design—with no Mind behind it? Illogical!
Ponderosa pine tree
Courtesy bigstockphotos.com and Angela McElroy
The interdependent, interconnected, interpenetrating features of God’s Creation are beyond the capability of man to trace out—let alone to “manage” or “assist.” Neither a pine tree nor a pinecone is sentient. They have no thinking capacity or consciousness. They possess no personhood, soul, or spirit. Pine trees did not get together and discuss the threat of forest fires to their future survival, and then decide to produce pinecones that would remain closed during a fire only to open afterwards. The standard explanations by evolutionists for such wonders of creation are incoherent and nonsensical. Elihu reminded Job: “Behold, God is exalted in His power; Who is a teacher like Him? Who has appointed Him His way, and who has said, ‘You have done wrong’? Remember that you should exalt His work, of which men have sung. All men have seen it; man beholds from afar” (Job 36:22-25—NASB).
Indeed, the realm of nature literally shouts forth the reality of the all-powerful Maker Who alone accounts for the intelligent design of the created order. As the psalmist so eloquently affirmed: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.... There is no speech, nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4). Indeed, “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made” (Romans 1:20). Only a foolish person would conclude there is no God (Psalm 14:1).
“Lodgepole Pine” (no date), USDA Forest Service, [On-line], URL: http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/helena/resources/trees/LodgepolePine.shtml.
“Ponderosa Pine” (no date), USDA Forest Service, [On-line], URL: http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/helena/resources/trees/PonderosaPine.shtml.
“Ponderosa Pine” (1995), Western Wood Products Association, [On-line], URL: http://www.wwpa.org/ppine.htm.
“What Are Pine Trees?” (no date), The Lovett Pinetum Charitable Foundation, [On-line], URL: http://www.lovett-pinetum.org/1whatare.htm.
“Whitebark Pine” (no date), USDA Forest Service, [On-line], URL: http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/helena/resources/trees/WhitebarkPine.shtml.
Did the Sun Stand Still?
|by||Brad Bromling, D.Min.|
How can I believe the Bible is reliable when it says that the Sun “stood still” at the request of Joshua?
This question relates to the history narrated in Joshua 10. After the defeat of Ai, five kings of Canaan joined forces to attack the city of Gibeon for making an alliance with Israel. Upon hearing of this move, Joshua and his men marched through the night from Gilgal to Gibeon where, with the Lord's help, Israel waged war. In the midst of battle, Joshua prayed to God that the Sun would stand still until Israel could vanquish her enemy. This request was granted, as the record states: “So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of man, for the Lord fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:13-14).
Critics insist that such an event is impossible, and thereby impugn the veracity of the Scriptures. Various solutions to this alleged problem have been proposed. This article will consider four of them. First, some suggest that the text should be understood in a figurative sense and that the event did not involve a miracle. Hence, it is suggested that the Lord helped Israel win the battle in such an incredibly short time that she felt as though the day had been lengthened, when in fact it was not (Keil, 1980, 2:110). Second, some scholars take the language figuratively and attach a purely naturalistic explanation to the event. Donald Patten and his colleagues believe that the planet Mars passed by Earth in an unusually close orbit that caused the Earth to tilt on its axis (1973, pp. 172-198). Viewed from the right geographical location, the Sun actually would hang in the sky longer than normal. Third, others suggest that a local miracle took place. Hence, the Sun’s rays may have been refracted miraculously so that they gave every appearance of daylight-illumination in Palestine, when in reality the Sun had slipped below the horizon (Davis, 1980, p. 69). Fourth, still others take the language literally and accept that the Sun was indeed halted miraculously. Henry Morris explains that even more may have been involved: “Since the account says that the moon also stood still (Joshua 10:13), it may be that the entire solar system stopped in its tracks for a day, with all relative positions and motions simply suspended” (1971, p. 73).
Each of these solutions has met with criticism. Against the first it has been contended that a cardinal rule of interpretation is that a passage is to be considered literal until proven figurative. Joshua 10 reads like simple, historical narration. The Lord could have made the day “seem” long, but the text says that “the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies” (Joshua 10:13). The second has been challenged for lack of evidence. The notion that the Earth shifted on its axis in response to a fly-by of Mars is purely hypothetical. The third option is rejected out-of-hand by anyone who refuses to accept the possibility of miraculous occurrences. Against the literal reading, it is argued that since the Earth orbits the Sun, it would have been the Earth that ceased to rotate, rather than the Sun stopping, that lengthened the day. Also, if the Earth stopped it would experience incalculable global catastrophes.
If each solution has difficulties, what is one to make of the event? Primarily this: it was a miracle. Joshua prayed for divine assistance, and he received it. An omnipotent God could have helped in any way He chose. Before anyone can dismiss the Bible because it reports miracles as though they really happened, he must do two things. First, he must prove that there is no God Who has the ability to accomplish such tasks. Now, if there is a God Who is capable of speaking the entire Universe into existence (Psalm 33:9), then it must be admitted that He has the power to do with it whatever He wishes. Who is measly man to say that the God of the Universe does not have the power to stop the Earth, Moon, and Sun, and still maintain every other semblance of order? By definition, God is beyond the scope of such criticism.
Second, the critic must be able to prove that the Bible is of purely human origin. However, the Bible itself is one the best-known examples of a miracle. When all of the facts are considered, it is evident that without God, the Bible cannot be explained. The burden of proof rests with the skeptic; until he can prove there is no God, and that the Bible is merely a human production, he has no basis upon which to deny the biblical record of a miracle. To dismiss the Bible because it contains accounts of “impossible” events is inane. With God nothing is impossible except, of course, those things which are at odds with His nature (e.g., He cannot lie—Titus 1:2). As with all miracles, no explanation is given as to how the feat in Joshua 10 was performed. How did the axe head float (2 Kings 6)? How did five loaves and two fish feed over five thousand (Matthew 14)? How did Jesus give sight to the blind (John 9)? That these things happened is sufficient for the man who accepts the omnipotence of God.
Accordingly, two of the above solutions seem to fit the data. First, God may have caused the solar rays to linger over Palestine for the specified time. If God thus made the Sun to appear—from Joshua's perspective—to hang in the sky above Gibeon, it would be correct to report the event in such terms. Or second, it may be that the Sun (and indeed the entire solar system) was suspended miraculously for a day. Whether the miracle was local or universal is not specifically stated in the text. Either way, “there has been no day like that, before it or after it” (Joshua 10:14)!
A final thought on this subject needs to be addressed. The story occasionally circulates that “NASA scientists were checking the position of the sun, moon, and planets 100 years from now and 1,000 years from now in order to plot space craft trajectories. As they ran their computers up and down the centuries, their machines came to a grinding halt because they showed a day missing about the time Joshua lived.” This story is purely fictional. Computers do not have the ability to make such a discovery, and every effort to contact the scientists allegedly involved has resulted in either failure or denial. The July 1989 Bible-Science Newsletter carries an excellent article that debunks this farce (Bartz, 1989, p. 12).
Bartz, Paul A. (1989), “Questions and Answers,” Bible-Science Newsletter, 27:12, July.
Davis, J.J., and J.C. Whitcomb (1980), A History of Israel (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House).
Keil C.F., and Franz Delitzsch (1980), Biblical Commentaries on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, reprint).
Morris, Henry M. (1971), The Bible Has the Answer (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press).
Patten D.W., R.R. Hatch, and L.C. Steinhauer (1973), The Long Day of Joshua and Six Other Catastrophes (Seattle, WA: Pacific Meridian).
Was Jesus Ignorant?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Some claim the Bible reveals that Jesus did not possess superior knowledge. As “proof,” these skeptics refer to such passages as Mark 5:25-34 and Matthew 26:39. In Mark 5, it is recorded that after Jesus’ garment had been touched, He asked the crowd, “Who touched my garments?” (5:30). In Matthew 26, Jesus, praying to the Father, said, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me” (26:39). Do such statements reveal ignorance on the part of Jesus? Was His knowledge no greater than yours and mine? What is the truth of the matter?
First, for critics to make such a claim about Mark 5:30, they must assume that all questions are asked solely for the purpose of obtaining information. However, common sense should tell us that questions often are asked for other reasons. Jesus did not ask this question to acquire information. Rather, He asked it so that the woman with the issue of blood would “step forward” and confess to having been healed. In so doing, her deep faith and the greatness of the miracle would be manifested to glorify God. It is outlandish to take this question and claim that Jesus did not know who touched Him. Are we to assume that God was ignorant of Adam’s whereabouts when he asked him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). In the beginning of God’s first speech to Job, God asked the patriarch, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (38:4). Are we to believe that God did not know where Job was when He created the world? Certainly not! What father, having seen his son break a windowpane, has not asked him, “Who did that?” Obviously, the father did not ask the question to obtain information, but to see if the son would admit to something the father knew all along. On occasion, Jesus used questions for the same purpose. In no way is this some indication of His being less than divine.
Critics also jump to conclusions when they claim that the “ignorance of Jesus is very important, because without ignorance He could not sincerely pray in the Garden of Gethsemane that the cup of suffering pass from Him” (cf. Matthew 26:39). They fail to recognize that Jesus is not only 100% divine (John 1:1-5,14;10:30), but also was 100% human while upon the Earth (Philippians 2:7-8). Oftentimes we get the idea that the suffering Jesus endured was not all that painful because He was God—but Jesus also was a man. When praying in the garden, He knew that within a few short hours He would be mocked, spit upon, struck with the palms of hands, scourged, crowned with thorns, and nailed to a cross. However, this knowledge did not make his suffering any easier. Jesus could (and did) sincerely pray, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me.” This statement intimates no more than that Jesus was really and truly a man, and as a man He could not but be averse to pain and suffering. The law of self-preservation exists in the innocent nature of man, and no doubt existed in Christ. He did not desire a violent death at the hands of angry Jews, but He was willing to endure it to save mankind from the depths of hell. To lift such passages as Matthew 26:39 and Mark 5:30 from the Bible and claim that Jesus did not possess superior knowledge is a gross misuse of Scripture. Such allegations are false to the core, yet, sadly, they are typical of the kind of devices skeptics use to try and strip Jesus of His deity.
Are You a Difference-Maker?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
|Jackson Dean is a difference-maker.|
As 12-year-old Jackson Dean sat in his sixth-grade classroom studying about fossils, he decided (on his own) to speak to his teacher about inviting someone from Apologetics Press to lecture to the class about evolution, fossils, dinosaurs, and Creation. With his teacher’s permission, Jackson then personally approached us with the invitation to come to his public school and speak to all 120 sixth graders in the school library.
For a solid hour the students sat and soaked up scientifically and biblically accurate material that is nowhere to be found in their textbooks. They learned about dinosaur “fossils” that are notcompletely fossilized (e.g., Lyons, 2007a; Lyons, 2009). They learned about several evolutionary teachings regarding fossils that have been disproven (e.g., Lyons, 2007b). They heard and saw evidence regarding the biblical accounts of Creation and the Flood that is in complete harmony with what true science tells us about dinosaurs and fossils (see Lyons and Butt, 2008), but in disharmony with what they often hear in the media. These well-behaved students listened, learned, and asked a number of relevant questions.
God not only used a 6th grader and his receptive teacher to open the door for Creation to be pondered in a public school, but he also used two members of the Lord’s church (Apologetics Press supporters) to fund the effort to give away acopy of Discoverymagazine and our 180-page hardback book Truth Be Told: Exposing the Myth of Evolution to every student and teacher present at the lecture. According to one teacher (who indicated that in the future she is going to use resources from Apologetics Press, including the A.P. Web site, as part of her science curriculum), students were so excited that “they grabbed the books to read as soon as we got back to the room.”
Jackson Dean is a 12-year-old difference-maker. His 6th-grade teacher is a difference-maker. Those Christians who sacrificially gave to ensure that every 6th grader at that school received a copy of Discovery magazine and Truth Be Told are difference-makers. What about you? What are you doing to make a difference in this sin-stained world that Satan rules (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)? Are you a difference-maker?
*NOTE: There are many virtuous ways to make a difference in this life. One of those is by supporting the work being done for the Lord by various brotherhood organizations, including Apologetics Press. Have you considered helping us in this work?
Lyons, Eric (2007a), “More Soft Dinosaur Tissue,” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=1422.
Lyons, Eric (2007b), “Yesterday’s ‘New Reality of Evolution’ Debunked Again,” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2236.
Lyons, Eric (2009), “Controversial Collagen Confirmation Points to Creation,” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=338.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2008), The Dinosaur Delusion: Dismantling Evolution’s Most Cherished Icon (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
California’s Continual War Against Biblical Values
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
In October 2009, California passed a law that designated every May 22 as gay day, which public schools (K-12) are expected to celebrate. [The day is officially called “Harvey Milk Day” in honor of Mr. Milk, a 1970s homosexual activist (Tran, 2009).] On July 14, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that “require[s] public schools in the state [of California—EL] to teach students about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans” (“California Governor…,” 2011, emp. added). What else do California lawmakers have in store for their state?
Earlier this year (2012), California State Senator Ted Lieu authored a bill (SB 1172) that would ban “gay cure” therapy. According to Examiner.com, “The California State Legislature appears to be on the brink of sending Governor Jerry Brown a bill which would impose sanctions for providing professional help intent upon redirecting children’s behavior with regards to sexuality” (Wimer, 2012). This would be “a first-of-its-kind state law that would restrict parents from trying to ‘cure’ their minor children’s same-sex attractions” by taking them to Christian therapists (Crogan, 2012). According to Senator Lieu, “We (the government) intervene all the time to restrict the rights of individuals and parents regarding health issues” (e.g., laws prohibiting minors from purchasing tobacco products and alcohol), so why not step in to stop something that he and others deem unnecessary and damaging (Crogan)?
The bill to ban homosexual therapy in California is simply the latest example of how far the homosexual community (and those who represent them) will go to silence the opposition. One cannot help but wonder what the next step will be? If a Christian therapist in California can no longer counsel a teenager about the sinfulness of homosexual actions and ways to overcome homosexual feelings (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11), how much longer will preachers be able to preach on the sinfulness of it without being prosecuted? How long will it be before DHS knocks on the door of a Christian family and threatens to take away the children if the parents do not discontinue spreading so-called “hate speech” in their home? Where will the intrusion on Christian families who believe in the all-authoritative Word of God end (cf. Romans 1:26-27)?
If SB 1172 is signed into law in California, one also wonders if parents will legally be able to get professional help from Christian counselors regarding the sinfulness of pornography, fornication, pedophilia, bestiality, or some other sexual sin. Again, where will the slippery slope end?
Senator Lieu stated that at least part of his motivation for sponsoring the bill was because he “wanted parents to understand that this therapy is,” according to him, “crazy” (Wimer, 2012). In actuality, what is “crazy” (spiritually speaking) is rejecting God’s will about the sinfulness of all sexual relationships outside of a scriptural marriage between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:1-10). What is foolish is calling “vile,” “shameful…lust” (Romans 1:26-27; cf. Miller and Harrub, 2004) normal and incapable of being controlled.
Two thousand years ago, Peter and John were commanded by Jewish officials “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). Their response needs to be echoed from roof tops across America as various governing bodies continue to encroach on our religious freedoms. “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20, emp. added).
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites…will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
“California Governor Signs Bill Requiring Schools to Teach Gay History” (2011), CNN, http://articles.cnn.com/2011-07-14/us/california.LGBT.education_1_california-governor-signs-bill-gay-history-state-textbooks?_s=PM:US.
Crogan, Jim (2012), “California Law Barring Parents from ‘Curing’ Gay Children Moves Through Legislature,” Fox News, August 18, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/08/18/california-law-barring-parents-from-curing-gay-children-moves-through/.
Miller, Dave and Brad Harrub (2004), “An Investigation of the Biblical Evidence Against Homosexuality,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=557.
Tran, Mark (2009), “Arnold Schwarzenegger Signs Law Establishing Harvey Milk Day,” October 13, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/13/schwarzenneger-law-harvey-milk-day.
Wimer, Keith (2012), “California Senate Bill 1172 Outlaws Counseling for Homosexual Minors,” August 19, http://www.examiner.com/article/california-senate-bill-1172-outlaws-counseling-for-homosexual-minors.
by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
A man who instructs a person to refrain from doing something he deems inappropriate, but then proceeds to do the very thing he forbade the other person to do, is considered a hypocrite. A preacher who teaches about the sinfulness of drunkenness (cf. Galatians 5:21), but then is seen a short while later stumbling down the street, intoxicated with alcohol, could be accused of being guilty of hypocrisy. Some have accused Jesus of such insincere teaching. Allegedly, in the very sermon in which He condemned the Pharisees for their unrighteousness (Matthew 5:20), Jesus revealed His own sinfulness by way of condemning those who used a word He sometimes uttered. Based upon His forbiddance of the use of the word “fool” in Matthew 5:22, and His use of this word elsewhere, skeptics have asserted that Jesus (Whom the Bible claims “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”—1 Peter 2:22; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21), was guilty of hypocrisy (see Morgan, 2003; Wells, 2001). In Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus stated:
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:21-22, emp. added).
Whereas in this passage Jesus warned against the use of the word “fool,” in other passages Jesus openly used this term to describe various people. Near the end of the “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus likened the person who heard His teachings, but did not follow them, to “a foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matthew 7:26). When teaching about the need to be prepared for His second coming, Jesus compared those who were not ready for His return to five foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-12). Then, while Jesus was condemning the Pharisees for their inconsistency in matters of religion, He stated: “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?” (Matthew 23:16-17; cf. 23:18-19). The question that some ask in response to these alleged hypocritical statements is, “How could Jesus condemn the use of the word ‘fool’ in Matthew 5:22, but then proceed to use this word on other occasions?”
First, for Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:22 to contradict His actions recorded in other passages, the skeptic must prove that the term “fool,” as used in 5:22, is the same word used elsewhere. The word raca (Greek ΄ρακά), used earlier in Matthew 5:22, is a transliteration of the Aramaic term whose precise meaning is disputed. [Most likely, it means “an empty one who acts as a numskull” (Lenski, 1961, p. 219; cf. also Robertson, 1930, p. 44).] The exact meaning of the term “fool” (mōre, Greek Μωρέ) in this context also is debated. “Most scholars take it, as the ancient Syrian versions did, to men you fool” (Bauer, et. al., 1957, p. 533, emp. in orig.). Although some assume that mōre is the vocative of the Greek moros, in all likelihood,
just as “Raca” is a non-Greek word, so is the word mōre that Jesus used here. If so, then it is a word which to a Jewish ear meant “rebel (against God)” or “apostate”; it was the word which Moses in exasperation used to the disaffected Israelites in the wilderness of Zin…(Numbers 20:10). For these rash words, uttered under intense provocation, Moses was excluded from the Promised Land (Kaiser, et. al., 1996, p. 359).
Thus, it is quite possible that mōre (translated “[Y]ou fool” in Matthew 5:22) is not the normal Greek moros (fool) that Jesus applied to the Pharisees on other occasions (Matthew 23:17,19), but represents the Hebrew moreh (cf. Numbers 20:10). [For this reason, translators of the American Standard Version added a marginal note to this word in Matthew 5:22: “Or, Moreh, a Hebrew expression of condemnation.”] Obviously, if two different words are under consideration, Jesus logically could not be considered a hypocrite.
Second, it must be remembered that Jesus’ comments in Matthew 5:22 were made within a context where He was condemning unrighteous anger (5:21-26). Whereas the Pharisees condemned murder, but overlooked the evil emotions and attitudes that sometimes led to the shedding of innocent blood, Jesus condemned both the actions and the thoughts. Instead of dealing with only “peripheral” problems, Jesus went to the heart of the matter. As someone Who “knew what was in man” (John 2:25), Jesus was more than qualified to pronounce judgment upon the hypocritical Pharisees (cf. John 12:48). Like the unrighteousness that characterized the Pharisees’ charitable deeds (Matthew 6:1-4), prayers (6:5-15), fasting (16-18), and judgments (7:1-5), Jesus also condemned their unrighteous anger. [NOTE: Jesus did not condemn all anger (cf. Ephesians 4:26; John 2:13-17), only unrighteous anger.] It was in this context that Jesus warned against the use of the word “fool.” Jesus was not prohibiting a person from calling people “fools” if it was done in an appropriate manner (cf. Psalm 14:1), but He was forbidding it when done in the spirit of malicious contempt. He “warned against using the word fool as a form of abuse” that indicated “hatred in one’s heart toward others” (“Fool,” 1986; cf. Matthew 5:43-48). As in many other situations, it seems that the attitude, rather than actual words, is the focus of the prohibition.
While this verse, when taken in its context, is seen to be consistent with Jesus’ words and actions recorded elsewhere in the gospel accounts, His prohibition regarding the manner of a word’s usage should not be overlooked in the apologist’s effort to defend biblical inerrancy. We may call an atheist a “fool” for not acknowledging God’s existence (Psalm 14:1), but to do so in a hateful, malicious manner is sinful. Remember, the Christian is called to “give a defense to everyone” in a spirit of “meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
Bauer, Walter, William Arndt, and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
“Fool,” (1986), Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft), orig. published by Thomas Nelson Publishers of Nashville, Tennessee.
Kaiser, Walter C. Jr., Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce, and Manfred T. Brauch (1996), Hard Sayings of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1961), The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Morgan, Donald (2003), “Was Jesus a Hypocrite?” [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/hypocrite.shtml.
Robertson, A.T. (1930), Word Pictures in the New Testament—Volume 1 (Nashville, TN: Broadman).
Wells, Steve (2001), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL: http://www.Skepticsannotatedbible.com.