"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
Husband and Wife in the Quran
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
The Islamic world has not distinguished itself over the centuries in its respect for and kind treatment of women (Austen, 2012; Thompson, 2011; Kotz, 2009; “Melbourne Islamic…,” 2009; “Missouri Couple…,” 1991; “Father of…,” 2008; Schoetz, 2008; “Raped…,” 2007). This observation is unprejudiced and hardly novel. Around the world for centuries, Islamic women have endured a subpar status with Islamic men. As General George S. Patton observed, having witnessed the impact of Islam on the countries of North Africa during World War II:
One cannot but ponder the question: What if the Arabs had been Christians? To me it seems certain that the fatalistic teachings of Mohammed and the utter degradation of women is the outstanding cause for the arrested development of the Arab. He is exactly as he was around the year 700, while we have kept on developing. Here, I think, is a text for some eloquent sermon on the virtues of Christianity (1947, p. 43, emp. added).No doubt 7th and 8th century Arabian culture contributed to Muhammad’s view of women. However, the Quran stands on its own for its advocacy of female inferiority. For example, in Mohammed Pickthall’s translation of the Quran, Surah 4:34 reads:
Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great (emp. added).A host of Islamic translations confirm this translation. The words in bold in Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation are rendered: “refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly).” Ahmed Raza Khan’s translation reads: “sleep apart from them, and beat them (lightly).” Maududi has “remain apart from them in beds, and beat them.” Wahiduddin Khan “refuse to share their beds, and finally hit them.” Shakir has “leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them.” Sarwar reads: “do not sleep with them and beat them.” Saheeh International reads: “forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them.” Qaribullah and Darwish have: “desert them in the bed and smack them (without harshness).” Qarai reads: “keep away from them in the bed, and [as the last resort] beat them” (Tanzil Project, 2007-2014).
Observe two startling realizations from this passage:
(1) The Quran explicitly gives sanction to Muslim men to beat their wives. Some translators try to soften the directive by inserting qualifiers like “lightly” (Ali, Raza Kahn) and “without harshness” (Qaribullah and Darwish), but the Arabic text is unqualified. In stark contrast, the Bible, while assigning differing roles and responsibilities based on gender, nowhere suggests that men have a right to inflict physical punishment on women. The intimidating, overbearing role of men in Islam is proof that the religion was invented by a male.
(2) The command to banish a wife to a separate bed implies at least three concepts that cast Islam and the Quran in an unfavorable light.
First, the Bible and the Quran contradict each other on this point. Paul instructed the Corinthian Christians:
Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:2-5, emp. added).The Quran says a man may sexually banish his wife, without her consent, as punishment for displeasing him. Yet Paul said a married couple is not to refrain from sexual relations except by mutual consent, and then only for a brief period. One cannot take the position that the Quran and the Bible are both from God. They contradict each other on many matters. Insisting that these differences are due to the Bible having being corrupted is an untenable and unsubstantiated explanation (Miller, 2005, p. 89; Miller, 2013).
Second, when one weighs both the Bible and the Quran’s portraits of deity, it quickly becomes self-evident to the unbiased observer which of the two books portrays the inspired view of women. The Bible contains the fair, compassionate, majestic perspective in taking into account both marriage partners as equals. As Peter stated so eloquently: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). Both male and female were made in God's image (Genesis 1:27).
Third, observe further how the Quran exposes its human origin, demonstrating that it came from man, not God. Women are “wired” differently from men. They have one-tenth the testosterone of men (“Testosterone,” 2011). To suggest that a man could punish his wife by the cessation of sexual relations with her is undoubtedly written from the perspective of a man, and not from the vantage point of most women.
Comparing the Bible with the Quran is a useful exercise. The process calls the inspiration of the Quran into question. At the same time, the Bible’s superiority is reinforced.
REFERENCESAusten, Ian (2012), “Afghan Family, Led by Father Who Called Girls a Disgrace, Is Guilty of Murder,” The New York Times, January 29, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/30/world/americas/afghan-family-members-convicted-in-honor-killings.html?_r=0.
“Father of Slain Teen Girls Upset That Daughter Dated Non-Muslim, Police Records Show” (2008), Associated Press, January 9, http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/01/09/father-slain-teen-girls-upset-that-daughter-dated-non-muslim-police-records/.
Kotz, Pete (2009), “Faleh Almaleki Runs Over Daughter in Attempted ‘Honor Killing,’” True Crime Report, October 30, http://www.truecrimereport.com/2009/10/faleh_almaleki_runs_over_daugh.php.
“Melbourne Islamic Cleric Says its OK to Rape Your Wife,” (2009), Herald Sun, January 21, http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/rudd-condemns-rape-in-marriage-cleric/story-e6freol3-1111118630585.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Is Mark 16:9-20 Inspired?” Reason & Revelation, 25:89-95, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=572&article=433.
Miller, Dave (2013), “Has the Bible Been Corrupted?” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=4649.
“Missouri Couple Sentenced to Die In Murder of Their Daughter, 16” (1991), The New York Times, December 20, http://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/20/us/missouri-couple-sentenced-to-die-in-murder-of-their-daughter-16.html.
Patton, George S. (1947), War As I Knew It (New York: The Great Commanders, 1994 edition).
“Raped ‘for reading Holy Bible’” (2007), News.com.au, April 17, http://www.news.com.au/national/raped-for-reading-holy-bible/story-e6frfkp9-1111113353497.
Schoetz, David (2008), “Daughter Rejects Marriage, Ends Up Dead,” ABC News, July 7, http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=5322587&page=1.
Tanzil Project (2007-2014), http://tanzil.net/#4:34.
“Testosterone” (2011), Lab Tests Online, American Association for Clinical Chemistry, http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/testosterone/tab/faq.
Thompson, Carolyn (2011), “Jury Convicts Muslim TV Exec of Beheading Wife,” Associated Press, February 9, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/02/07/closing-arguments-begin-new-york-beheading-murder-trial/.
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.
Eric Lyons, M.Min.
When a person begins reading the Bible, it will not take long until he or she comes across statements such as “God said...,” “thus says the Lord,” or these are “the words of the Lord....” These kinds of statements appear hundreds of times in both the Old and New Testaments. In fact, the Decalogue itself begins with the phrase, “And God spoke all these words” (Exodus 20:1). Thirty-three times in the book of Leviticus, we read the words, “the Lord spoke to Moses” (4:1; 5:14; etc.). In just Psalm 119 alone, the Scriptures are exalted as the Word of God some 175 times. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul claimed that his message was not received from man, but “came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12). Similarly, as he wrote to the church at Thessalonica, he claimed that what he wrote was “the word of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:15). Truly, the writers of both the Old and New Testaments placed great emphasis on the fact that their message was of divine origin—that they spoke, not by the will of man, but “by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).
In his second epistle (1:16-21), Peter alluded to the momentous occasion of the transfiguration of Christ—when God literally spoke from heaven directly to Peter, James, and John. God had orally boomed forth His insistence that Jesus is His beloved Son, and that human beings are commanded to hear Him (Matthew 17:5). Peter then declared: “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed,...knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.” Peter was saying that the Scriptures provided to us by the prophets are just as certain and just as authoritative as the voice of God that spoke on the mount of transfiguration.
The apostle further explained that the Scriptures (the prophetic word) were not of “any private interpretation,” meaning that they did not originate on their own, or in the minds of those who wrote them. Scripture did not come from “the will of man.” It is not the end result of human research or human investigation into the nature of things. Scripture is not the product of its writers’ own thinking. On the contrary, “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The word “moved” in the original Greek means “borne” or “brought.” Peter stated that the Holy Spirit, in essence, picked up the writers (the prophets) and “brought” them to the goal of His choosing. Thus, the Scriptures, although written by means of human instrumentality, were so superintended by God that the resulting words are His.
This is the same Peter who, while awaiting the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2 on Pentecost, stood up among fellow disciples and declared, “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas,” and then he quoted from the Psalms (Acts 1:16ff.). Peter believed that the Holy Spirit governed what David wrote, and the result of that writing is designated “Scripture.”
This is the same Peter who, in 1 Peter 1:10-12, explained: (1) that the Old Testament inspired spokesmen did not always understand all the information given by God through them; (2) it was the Spirit of Christ that was operating upon them; (3) this same inspired information was being presented in Peter’s day by the apostles; and (4) the same Holy Spirit was directing their utterances. That means that inspired men had their own minds engaged as they produced inspired material, but the product was God’s, since they did not always grasp the significance of their productions.
This is the same Peter who, in 2 Peter 3:15-16, referred to “our beloved brother Paul” as having “written to you.” He then noted: “as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” Notice that Peter made clear that: (1) Paul wrote epistles; (2) those epistles are classified with “the rest of Scriptures”—so Paul’s letters are Scripture every bit as much as the Old Testament and other New Testament writings; and (3) these writings are authoritative and divine, since Peter said that to twist them is to invite “destruction”—an obvious reference to God’s disfavor, and the spiritual harm that results from disobeying God’s words.
The Bible unquestionably claims for itself the status of “inspiration”—having been breathed by the Almighty Himself. That inspiration entails such superintendence by God that even the words themselves have come under His divine influence. King David once stated: “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2). Observe that David did not say God’s “thoughts” or “concepts” were on his tongue, but that Jehovah’s word was on his tongue. In 1 Corinthians 2, the apostle Paul declared that the things of God were revealed to men by God’s Spirit. Then, concerning the divinely inspired messages, he went on to state, “which things we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words” (1 Corinthians 2:13, ASV, emp. added; cf. John 17:8). The words of divine revelation are Spirit-directed words, not words of mere human wisdom. This is verbal inspiration. This does not mean that the writers merely took “dictation.” Rather, the Bible indicates that God adapted His inspiring activity to the individual temperament, vocabulary, and stylistic idiosyncrasies of each writer.
BIBLICAL INERRANCY AND ITS ENEMIES
More Americans are moving toward an interpretation of the Bible as a book of fables, history, and moral precepts. ...Attempts at demythologizing the Bible that have been ongoing in the academy for years seem to be moving more and more from the classroom to the pews.... As recently as 1963, two persons in three viewed the Bible as the actual word of God, to be taken literally, word for word. Today, only one person in three still holds to that interpretation (1999, p. 36).Certainly, for years skeptics have been hard at work in their attempts to undermine one of the foundational pillars of the Christian’s faith—the Bible being the inerrant, inspired Word of God. As damaging as their doctrine is, however, perhaps a more damaging message of biblical errancy can be heard from a number of people who claim to be Christians.
Since the rise of liberal “scholarship” in the eighteenth century, ruthless attacks have been leveled from within Christendom on the integrity of the Bible. The Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, the historicity of the book of Jonah, and even the miracles of Christ are just a sampling of the Bible topics that liberal scholars have been attacking relentlessly in the past three centuries. Names such as Karl Graf, Julius Wellhausen, and Rudolf Bultmann are frequently cited in scholastic settings where the integrity of the Bible is challenged. In the late twentieth century, writer George Marsden, in his book titled Reforming Fundamentalism (1987), documented how one of the most popular theological seminaries in America (Fuller Seminary) had dropped its commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture as early as the 1960s. Sadly, this trend has had a snowball effect throughout America, so that increasingly, more schools of theology, even ones of a much more conservative background than Fuller Theological Seminary, are rejecting the belief that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches.
In 2002, the ACU Press published a book titled God’s Holy Fire, written by three professors from the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University. Taking issue with the usefulness and/or appropriateness of the term “inerrancy,” Kenneth Cukrowski, Mark Hamilton, and James Thompson asked if “inerrancy even applies to minor narrative details?” (p. 40). According to these men, “[I]n numerous instances in the Bible, one finds apparent inconsistencies in the narratives” (p. 40). Examples they gave included: (1) the raising of Jairus’ daughter; (2) Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree; (3) the cleansing of the temple; and (4) Matthew’s quotation of Jeremiah in 27:9. Following these alleged internal inconsistencies, they then stated: “Sometimes the narrative does not correspond to the historical record” (p. 40). Although Cukrowski, Hamilton, and Thompson admitted that “more information might actually resolve many of these difficulties” (p. 41), they later observed: “Because the Bible has come to us through human beings, our view of the divine origin of Scripture is not a matter of mathematical certainty, but ultimately an affirmation of faith” (p. 45). Finally, these men described, not skeptics, but “well-meaning Christians” who hold to Scripture as being the truthful Word of God in all that it says, as those who “in their attempts to provide absolute certainty,...have created a crisis of faith,” because they are “always feeling a responsibility to provide an answer for every potential discrepancy” (p. 44). According to these writers, Christians merely “assume that God ensured the precise accuracy of the original versions” (p. 42, emp. added).
Perhaps the most perplexing stance by alleged Bible believers regarding the inerrancy of Scripture comes from a very popular book often employed by Christian apologists when defending biblical inerrancy. Hard Sayings of the Bible is a compilation of articles by four well-known Bible scholars—Walter Kaiser, Peter Davids, Manfred Brauch, and F. F. Bruce—who are supposed to be helping Bible readers find answers to difficult questions without compromising the biblical text. It is very troubling, therefore, to see how one of these writers “explained” a passage of Scripture in 1 Corinthians 10. In answering how Paul concluded that 23,000 Israelites fell in the Old Testament as a result of their sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 10:8), rather than 24,000, which Moses gave in Numbers 25:9 as the number that died in the plague, Peter Davids wrote:
It is possible that Paul, citing the Old Testament from memory as he wrote to the Corinthians, referred to the incident in Numbers 25:9, but his mind slipped a chapter later in picking up the number.... We cannot rule out the possibility that there was some reference to 23 or 23,000 in his local environment as he was writing, and that caused a slip in his mind.
Paul was not attempting to instruct people on Old Testament history, and certainly not on the details of Old Testament history.
Thus, here we have a case in which Paul apparently makes a slip of the mind for some reason (unless he has special revelation he does not inform us about), but the mental error does not affect the teaching. How often have we heard preachers with written Bibles before them make similar errors of details that in no way affected their message? If we notice it (and few usually do), we (hopefully) simply smile and focus on the real point being made. As noted above, Paul probably did not have a written Bible to check (although at times he apparently had access to scrolls of the Old Testament), but in the full swing of dictation he cited an example from memory and got a detail wrong (pp. 598-599, parenthetical comments in orig., emp. added).Supposedly, Paul just made a mistake. He messed up, just like when a preacher today mistakenly misquotes a passage of Scripture. According to the repetitive testimony of Davids, Paul merely had “a slip of the mind” (thereby experiencing what some today might call a “senior moment”), and our reaction (as well as the skeptics’) should be to “simply smile and focus on the real point being made.”
Unbelievable! Walter Kaiser, Peter Davids, Manfred Brauch, and F.F. Bruce pen an 800-page book in an attempt to answer numerous alleged Bible contradictions and to defend the integrity of the Bible, and yet Davids has the audacity to suggest that the apostle Paul “cited an example from memory and got a detail wrong.” Why in the world did Davids spend so much time (and space) answering various questions that skeptics frequently raise, and then conclude that the man who penned almost half of the New Testament books made mistakes in his writings?! He has concluded exactly what the infidels teach—Bible writers made mistakes! Furthermore, if Paul made one mistake in his writings, he easily could have blundered elsewhere. And if Paul made mistakes in other writings, how can we say that Peter, John, Isaiah, and others did not “slip up” occasionally? In fact, why not just explain all alleged discrepancies as the result of a momentary slip of the writer’s mind?
The fact is, if Paul, or any of these men, made mistakes in their writings, then they were not inspired by God (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21), because God does not make mistakes (cf. Titus 1:2; Psalm 139:1-6). And if the Scriptures were not “given by inspiration of God,” then the Bible is not from God. And if the Bible is not from God, then the skeptic is right. But the skeptic is not right! The passage in 1 Corinthians 10:8 can be explained logically without assuming Paul’s writings are inaccurate. The answer lies in the fact that Paul stated that 23,000 fell “in one day,” while in Numbers 25:9 (the probable “sister” passage to 1 Corinthians 10:8), Moses wrote that the total number of those who died in the plague was 24,000. Moses never indicated how long it took for the 24,000 to die, but only stated that this was the number “who died in the plague.” Thus, the record in 1 Corinthians simply supplies us with more knowledge about exactly what occurred in Numbers 25—23,000 of the 24,000 who died in the plague died “in one day.”
Sadly, Peter Davids totally dismisses the numerous places where Paul claims his writings are from God. When Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia, he told them that his teachings came to him “through revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:12). In his first letter to the Thessalonian Christians, he claimed the words he wrote were “by the word of the Lord” (4:15). To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote that God’s message was “revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (3:5). And in the same epistle where Davids claims that Paul “made a slip of the mind,” Paul said, “the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37). Paul did not invent facts about Old Testament stories. Neither did he have to rely on his own fallible memory to recall particular numbers or names. His writings were inspired Scripture (2 Peter 3:16). The Holy Spirit revealed the Truth to him—all of it (cf. John 14:26; John 16:13). Just like the writers of the Old Testament, Paul was fully inspired by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Samuel 23:2; Acts 1:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 3:15-16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
WHAT WAS THE VIEW OF JESUS AND THE
BIBLE WRITERS TOWARD SCRIPTURE?
While speaking to the Pharisees in the region of Judea beyond the Jordan, Jesus confirmed His belief in the real existence of an original couple created during the Creation week (Matthew 19:4; cf. Genesis 2:24).
In writing to the church at Corinth, Paul affirmed his belief in Adam as the first human (1 Corinthians 15:45). Then, in his first letter to Timothy, he attested to the fact that Eve was created after Adam (2:13; cf. Genesis 2:7,21-25).
Paul regarded the serpent’s deception of Eve as a historical event (2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:13-14; cf. Genesis 3).
Both Jesus and the apostle Peter believed that Noah was a real person, and that the global Flood was a historical event (Matthew 24:37-39; 2 Peter 2:5; 3:6; cf. Genesis 6-8).
Jesus and Peter also affirmed their belief in the historicity of Lot, and in the destruction of Sodom (Luke 17:28-32; 2 Peter 2:6-7; cf. Genesis 19).
Paul attested to the Israelites’ crossing of the Red Sea, and affirmed his belief in their drinking water from a rock (1 Corinthians 10:1-4; cf. Hebrews 11:29; cf. Exodus 14), while Jesus confirmed His belief in the miraculous healing of the Israelites who fixed their eyes on the bronze snake set up by Moses in the desert (John 3:14; cf. Numbers 21:4-9).
Finally, unlike many people today, including some of those who claim to believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, Jesus regarded the account of Jonah’s three days and nights in the belly of a great fish as a historical event (Matthew 12:39-40).
Numerous other examples such as these exist, and demonstrate the trustworthiness of Scripture. The Old Testament writers who came after Moses expressed total trust in the Pentateuch, as well as in each others’ writings. Furthermore, Jesus and the New Testament writers always viewed statements by each other and the Old Testament writers as being truthful, regardless of the subject matter.
Although today it is not at all unusual for one religious writer to take issue with another, even when they share the same religious views or are members of the same religious group, Bible writers never criticized each others’ writings—even when one might have expected them to do so. For example, Paul rebuked Peter publicly for his unacceptable dissimulation (Galatians 2:11ff.). Yet Peter never avenged himself by denigrating Paul’s writings. In fact, as observed earlier, Peter stated that Paul’s writings were as authoritative as “the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16). Additionally, in defending the right of elders to receive remuneration from the church treasury for their work, Paul quoted Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7, and classified both as “Scripture” (1 Timothy 5:18). It is clear that the Bible writers always considered each others’ works to be truthful. How can anyone who claims to be a Christian hold to the viewpoint that the Scriptures contain errors? Jesus and the Bible writers always acknowledged that God ensured the precise accuracy of the original versions (cf. Cukrowski, et al., 2002, p. 42). Why should we do any differently?
INERRANCY TO A “T”
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.The “jot” (yod) was the smallest Hebrew letter, and the “tittle” was the tiny stroke on certain Hebrew letters. It is equivalent to saying that even the dotting of “i”s and crossing of “t”s will stand. When Jesus employed these specific terms as examples, He affirmed the minutest accuracy for the Old Testament.
In John 10:34-35, Jesus involved Himself in an interchange with some Jews who accused Him of blasphemy. He repelled the charge by quoting Psalm 82:6, referring to the passage as “law.” Jesus could refer to a psalm as “law” in the sense that the psalms are part of Scripture. Jesus was thus ascribing legal authority to the entire corpus of Scripture. He did the same thing in John 15:25. Likewise, the apostle Paul quoted from Psalms, Isaiah, and Genesis, and referred to each as “the Law” (1 Corinthians 14:21; Romans 3:19; Galatians 4:21). After Jesus quoted from the psalm and referred to it as “law,” He added, “and the Scripture cannot be broken.” What an incredible declaration! Notice that Christ equated “law” with “Scripture”—using the terms as synonyms. When He declared that “law,” or “Scripture,” “cannot be broken,” He was making the point that it is impossible for Scripture to be annulled, for its authority to be denied, or its truth to be withstood (see Warfield, 1970, pp. 138-140). “It cannot be emptied of its force by being shown to be erroneous” (Morris, 1995, p. 468).
Jesus quoted a relatively obscure passage of the Old Testament, and declared it to be authoritative, because “the Scripture cannot be broken.” His Jewish listeners understood this fact. If they were of the mindset that many liberals are today, they might have brushed this passage aside, saying that the psalmist made a mistake, or that this section of Scripture contained errors. They might have responded by asking Jesus, “How do you know this portion of Scripture is true, if others are not true?” Notice, however, that this was not their response. Both Jesus and His audience understood that the psalm from which He quoted was true—because it is a part of Scripture! Truly, Jesus considered every part of Scripture, even its most “casual” phrases, to be the authoritative Word of God.
Once, when Jesus challenged the Pharisees to clarify the identity of the Messiah (Matthew 22:41-45), He focused on David’s use of the single term “Lord” in Psalm 110:1. He questioned the Pharisees, saying, “If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” (Matthew 22:45). Jesus’ whole point depended on verbal inspiration.
After Jesus’ resurrection, Luke recorded how Jesus appeared to two men on the road to Emmaus who were saddened and somewhat perplexed by the recent crucifixion of the One Whom they were hoping “was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). With their eyes being restrained “so that they did not know Him” (24:16), they rehearsed to Jesus what had transpired over the past few days regarding His death, His burial, and the empty tomb. The text indicates that Jesus then rebuked these two men, saying, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (24:25-26, emp. added). Notice that Jesus did not chastise them for being slow to believe in some of what the prophets spoke, but for neglecting to believe in all that they said about the Christ. For this reason, Jesus began “at Moses and all the Prophets,” and “expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself ” (24:27).
No wonder Jesus would rebuke His religious challengers with such phrases as: “Have you not read even this Scripture?” (Mark 12:10; cf. Matthew 21:42); “You do err, not knowing the Scriptures” (Matthew 22:29); “if you had known what this means” (Matthew 12:7); or “Go and learn what this means” (Mark 9:13). The underlying thought in such statements is that God’s truth is found in Scripture, and if you are ignorant of the Scriptures, you are susceptible to error.
PRECISE PROOF THAT
INSPIRATION IMPLIES INERRANCY
Similarly, on another occasion while being tested by a group of Jews regarding whether or not He actually had seen their “father” Abraham, Jesus responded by saying, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58, emp. added). Just as in the case where God wanted Moses to impress upon Egypt His eternal nature, calling Himself “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14), Christ sought to impress upon the first-century Jews His eternality. Jesus is not a “was” or a “will be”—He is...“from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2). Once again, He based His entire argument on the tense of the verb.
The same kind of reliance on a single word was expressed by Paul (as he referred to Genesis 22:18) in Galatians 3:16: “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ” (emp. added). The force of his argument rested on the number of the noun (singular, as opposed to plural).
In light of the fact that Jesus and the Bible writers viewed the words of Scripture as being inspired (and thus truthful), even down to the very tense of a verb and number of a noun, so should all Christians. Truly, as the psalmist of long ago wrote: “The sum of thy word is truth; and every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160, ASV, emp. added). Or, as the passage is translated in the NKJV: “The entirety of Your word is truth.” It is all true, and it is all from God. It is accurate in all its parts. The whole of the Bible is of divine origin, and therefore is reliable and trustworthy. Yes, God used human beings to write the Bible, and in so doing, allowed them to leave their imprint upon it (e.g., type of language used, fears expressed, prayers offered, interests, educational influences, etc.). But, they wrote without making any of the usual mistakes that human writers are prone to make under normal circumstances. God made certain that the words produced by the human writers He inspired were free from the errors and mistakes characteristic of uninspired writers. In reality, hundreds of Bible passages encourage God’s people to trust the Scriptures completely, but no text encourages any doubt of, or even slight mistrust in, Scripture. To rely on the inerrancy of every historical detail affirmed in Scripture is to follow the teaching and practice of the biblical authors themselves.
WHEN THE SCRIPTURES SPEAK, GOD SPEAKS
On numerous occasions in Scripture, God is said to say certain things that are, in their original setting, merely the words of Scripture. For example, Hebrews 3:7 reads, “Wherefore, even as the Holy Spirit says...,” and then Psalm 95:7 is quoted. In Acts 4:25, God is said to have spoken by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David the words of Psalm 2:1. In Acts 13:34, God is represented as having stated the words of Isaiah 55:3 and Psalm 16:10. In each of these cases, the words attributed to God are not specifically His words in their original setting, but merely the words of Scripture itself. The writers of the New Testament sometimes referred to the Scriptures as if they were God (cf. Romans 9:17; Galatians 3:8), and they sometimes referred to God as if He were Scripture. The Bible thus presents itself as the very words of God.
In Hebrews 1:5-13, the writer quoted from Psalm 2:7, 2 Samuel 7:14, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 104:4, Psalm 45:6-7, Psalm 102:25-27, and Psalm 110:1. The Hebrews writer attributed each of these passages to God as the speaker. Yet in their original setting in the Old Testament, sometimes God is the speaker, while sometimes He is not, and is, in fact, being spoken to or spoken about. Why would the writer of Hebrews indiscriminately assign all of these passages to God? Because they all have in common the fact that they are the words of Scripture and, as such, are the words of God. Thus, every word of the Bible is the Word of God! And, as Jesus prayed on the night of His betrayal, God’s “word is truth” (John 17: 17).
GOD CANNOT LIE
If God is perfect, and if the Bible is the Word of God (which it claims to be, as the previous sections demonstrate), then it follows that, in its original form as it initially came from God, the Bible must be perfect. The Scriptures cannot err if they are “borne” of God. Try as one might, logically, one cannot have it both ways. The Bible is either from God (and thus flawless in its original autographs), or it contains mistakes, and therefore did not come from the God of truth. There is no middle ground.
Some argue: “But the Bible was written down by humans. And ‘to err is human.’ Thus, the Bible could not have been perfect from the beginning.” Consider the fallacy of such reasoning. If a person concludes that all humans err—regardless of the circumstances—then Jesus must have sinned. (1) Jesus was a human being (Galatians 4:4). (2) Human beings sin (Isaiah 53:6). (3) Therefore, Jesus sinned. But most any Bible student knows that Jesus did not sin. The New Testament declares that He was “pure” and “righteous” (1 John 3:3; 2:1), and “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). He was “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19), “Who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Since we know that Jesus did not sin, something must be wrong with the above argument. But what is it?
The mistake is to assume that Jesus is like any other human. Sure, mere human beings sin. But, Jesus was not a mere human being. He was a perfect human being. Indeed, Jesus was not only human, but He was also God. Likewise, the Bible is not a mere human book. It is also the Word of God. Like Jesus, it is both divine and human. And just as Jesus was human but did not sin, even so the Bible is a human book but does not err. Both God’s living Word (Christ) and His written Word (Scripture) are human but do not err. They are divine and cannot err. There can no more be an error in God’s written Word than there was a sin in God’s living Word. God cannot err, period (Geisler and Howe, 1992, pp. 14-15, emp. in orig.).Admittedly, it is normal to make blunders. (In fact, this very article is likely to have one or more mistakes in it.) But, the conditions under which the Bible writers wrote was anything but normal. They were moved and guided into all truth by God’s Spirit (John 16:13; 2 Peter 1:21).
THE RATIONALITY OF INERRANCY
Second, were it true that only the “spiritual” sections of the Bible are inerrant, everyone who reads the text would have the personal responsibility of wading through the biblical documents to decide exactly which matters are “spiritual” (thus, inspired) and which are not (thus, uninspired). Such an interpretation of Scripture, however, makes a mockery of biblical authority.
The Bible can be authoritative if, and only if, it is truly and verifiably the Word of God. That his word has been passed through men does not negate its authority so long as he has so controlled them as to guard them from all error. If his control over the biblical writers was not total, we can never be sure where the writer was accurate (thus believable) and where he was mistaken (thus worthy of rejection). In such a case, the Bible would be authoritative only when we declared it to be so. Then the circle has come full, and man is authoritative over the Bible rather than submitting to its direction (Shelly, 1990, p. 152, parenthetical items in orig.).If Christians abandon the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, then having a standard of truth by which all humans are to live their lives would be impossible. Like the son who obeys his father insofar as he agrees with the father’s rules, a Christian would have his own standard of authority because the Bible would be authoritative only when he judged it to be a reliable guide. Simply put, Scripture cannot be demonstrated to be divinely authoritative if the Bible (again, in its original autographs) contained factual errors.
Finally, if a Christian believes that the Bible is fallible, then one is forced to accept the inevitable conclusion that, on some occasions, God “breathed” truth, while on others He “breathed” error (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16). If all of Scripture is indicated as being from God—even narrational comments and statements from unbelievers—then an attack upon the trustworthiness of any passage is an attack upon Almighty God. If God can inspire a man to write theological and doctrinal truth, He simultaneously can inspire the same man to write with historical and scientific precision. If the Bible is not reliable and trustworthy in its allusion to “peripheral” matters, how can it be relied upon to be truthful and accurate in more central matters? Is an omnipotent God incapable of preserving human writers from making false statements in their recording of His words? It will not do to point out that the Bible was not intended to be a textbook of science or history. If, in the process of pressing His spiritual agenda, God alluded to geography, cosmology, or medicine, God did not lie. Nor would He allow an inspired person to speak falsely.
The question must be asked: If God cannot handle correctly “trivial” matters (such as geographical directions, or the name of an individual), why would anyone think that they could trust Him with something as critically important as the safety of their eternal soul, and expect Him to handle it in a more appropriate fashion? Or, looking at this matter from another angle, consider the question Jesus asked Nicodemus: “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things” (John 3:12)? Implied in this statement is the fact that had Jesus told Nicodemus earthly things, they would have been true. The same reasoning follows with the Bible. Because it is God’s Word, it would be correct in whatever matters it addresses. Furthermore, if the Bible is not truthful in physical matters, then it cannot be trusted when it addresses spiritual matters. Truly, the concept of partial inspiration impugns the integrity and nature of God, conflicts with the evidences for inspiration, and should be rejected as heresy.
People rightly believe that an actual discrepancy within the Bible would discredit the authenticity of Scripture, for the simple reason that those people have been created by God to function rationally! They recognize that, by definition, truth must be consistent with itself. The very nature of truth is such that it contains no contradictions or errors. If God is capable of communicating His truth to human beings, it is both unthinkable and logically implausible that He could not or would not do so with complete consistency and certainty. Infallibility without inerrancy cannot be sustained without logical contradiction.
How sad that the attempt to compromise the integrity of the sacred text is altogether unnecessary, in view of the fact that no charge of discrepancy against the Bible has ever been sustained. Plausible explanations exist if the individual will study and apply himself to an honest, thorough evaluation of the available evidence. God has provided sufficient evidence to allow an honest person to arrive at the truth and to know His will (John 6:45; 7:17; 8:32). Those who are willing to compromise, and who back away from a devotion to verbal inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, demonstrate a lack of faith in both God and His Word.
Gallup, George Jr. and Michael Lindsay (1999), Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S. Beliefs (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing).
Geisler, Norman and Thomas Howe (1992), When Critics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor).
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).
Marsden, George (1987), Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Morris, Leon (1995), The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), revised edition.
Packer, J.I. (1958), “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Preus, Robert (1984), “Notes on the Inerrancy of Scripture,” Evangelicals and Inerrancy, ed. Ronald Youngblood (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson).
Shelly, Rubel (1990), Prepare to Answer (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Warfield, Benjamin (1970 reprint), The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian & Reformed).
Are Diamonds “Life’s Best Friend”?
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
The theory of organic evolution is fraught with irreconcilable errors. One of the foremost is the fact that evolution demands that living organisms arose from non-living, inorganic chemicals. As all origin-of-life researchers are well aware, this idea flies in the face of the Law of Biogenesis, the most experimentally substantiated biological law in the history of science. Be that as it may, evolutionists continue their futile efforts to explain how life could have arisen from primitive, non-living substances.
According to three German scientists from the University of Ulm, diamonds most likely helped get life off the ground. In an article reporting on the work, Robert Britt stated:
Diamonds are crystallized forms of carbon that predate the oldest known life on the planet. In lab experiments aimed to confirm work done more than three decades ago, researchers found that when treated with hydrogen, natural diamonds formed crystalline layers of water on the surface. Water is essential for life as we know it. Also, the tests found electrical conductivity that could have been key to forcing chemical reactions needed to generate the first birth (2008).Those who read Britt’s article are struck by the numerous qualifying statements such as “diamonds may have been,” “the resulting reaction may have been,” and “the new research does not conclusively determine how life began” (emp. added). Such qualifying statements are certainly needed in light of the “evidence” that is presented. Supposedly diamonds would have made a good platform for life because they can form layers of water and can possess electrical conductivity. Yet, in labs all across the globe for the past 50 years, scientists have been able to work with an endless supply of water and electricity and still have not produced life from non-life—as if water and conductivity are equivalent to life production.
Furthermore, diamonds supposedly “predate the oldest known life forms” on Earth. The ancient age of diamonds, however, has fallen upon very hard times. In 2005, Donald DeYoung published results from a team research project referred to as RATE. The name RATE is an acronym for Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth. This team of scientists studied 12 diamond samples, each about 50 milligrams in weight. If diamonds are as old as suggested, they certainly would not contain any traces of Carbon-14, since C-14 should have escaped from the samples billions of years ago. After closely analyzing the samples, however, Carbon-14 was present in every one. DeYoung wrote: “The presence of C-14 in ‘very old’ fossils, rocks, coal, and diamond samples is clearly a major conflict with the long-age time scale” (2005, p. 56, emp. added).
Britt appropriately included in his brief article the fact that some scientists postulate the idea of panspermia, in which aliens allegedly seeded planet Earth with life. In truth, there is as much evidence for little green men dropping off packets of bacteria as there is that life spontaneously generated on the surface of a diamond. All such concepts are devoid of experimental verification. The presence of life on this Earth is not a scientific mystery that remains to be solved. It is a historic occurrence that most elementary school children can explain: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1), including all kinds of living organisms.
DeYoung, Don (2005), Thousands...Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
Are All Sins Equal?
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.
At Apologetics Press, we receive numerous questions on various topics. One of the more commonly asked questions is, “Are all sins equal?” In order to answer such a question, we must go to the only definitive source that can speak with authority concerning sins: the Bible. When we do, we see that the answer depends upon the context in which the question is asked.
In one sense, the answer is, “Yes, sin is sin.” James 2:10-11 says: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” From these verses, we see that any sin is enough to convict a person as a sinner. John said as much when he wrote: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). So, even though cultures may view certain sins as more or less important than others, the Bible teaches that any deviation from God’s law is enough to keep an individual from the presence of the Lord if that sin is not forgiven.
This point is further underscored in the story of the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-27). The rich young ruler explained to Jesus that he had kept all of the commandments from the time of his youth. Jesus responded to him by saying, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” At these words, the young ruler left sorrowfully. Though he had kept all of the commandments save one, he was still living in sin, due to the fact that he valued his wealth more than his relationship with God. According to Jesus’ statement, the young man only lacked “one thing,” yet it was still enough to keep him from the presence of the Lord. So, in this context, all sins are the same.
However, the fact that any sin can condemn a person does not mean that all sins are judged the same, or have the same spiritual consequences. The Bible plainly states, in numerous places, that God considers some sins to be “greater,” or more evil than others. For instance, in Exodus 32:21, Moses asked Aaron: “What did this people do to you, that you brought so great a sin upon them?” Obviously, this is comparative language, indicating that Aaron’s sin was more evil, or had greater implications than some other sin. We see this concept carried over into the New Testament as well. In Matthew 5:19, Jesus said that whoever breaks “the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Clearly, certain commandments were considered “least” and, by comparison, others must have been considered “greater.” The concept of “greater” commandments is found in Matthew 23:23. There Jesus chastised the Pharisees for “neglecting the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” His point was very clear; the failure to tithe a tiny amount of spices was much less of a sin than the failure to administer justice and mercy to one’s fellow man.
Perhaps the most explicit demonstration of this principle is expressed in Jesus’ conversation with Pilate. In John 19:11, Jesus said to Pilate, “[T]he one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” His statement could not be more direct. The individual responsible for delivering Jesus over to Pilate had committed a sin greater than the sin committed by Pilate.
With this in mind, a person may wonder how all sins can cause a person to be lost, but some sins are judged to be greater than others. A simple illustration will suffice to make this situation clear. Suppose that a person borrows money from the bank to buy a $10,000 car. That person pays the bank back $9,000, but stops making payments on the car. What will happen? The bank will repossess the car, even though the person paid off all of the balance except $1,000. Any unpaid balance is enough to lose the car. Now suppose a person borrows $10,000 on a car and does not pay any of it back. What will happen? The bank will repossess the car. In these two cases, does one person have a greater debt than the other? Certainly, the one who still owes $10,000. But are both debts, even though they are of unequal value, enough to cost both borrowers their cars? Yes. [NOTE: At Apologetics Press we have answered related questions such, “Are There Degrees of Punishment and Reward?” (see Butt, et al., 2000), and “Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit—‘The Unpardonable Sin’” (Butt, 2003).]
CONCLUSIONWe can see that the Bible explicitly and clearly tells how God views sins. Sins vary in terms of judgment and weight, yet any one sin is enough to cause a person to lose his or her soul if left unforgiven. In view of this truth, let us all strive to faithfully obey God so that the blood of His Son Jesus Christ can continually cleanse us from all of our sins, from the least to the greatest (1 John 1:7).
REFERENCESButt, Kyle and Alden Bass and Bert Thompson (2000), “Are There Degrees of Punishment and Reward?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=212.
Butt, Kyle (2003), “Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit—‘The Unpardonable Sin,’” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1218.
Faith, Evidence, and Credible Testimony
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
It might surprise some to learn that Thomas was not the only “doubting disciple” immediately following Jesus’ resurrection. Do you recall what happened when Mary Magdalene, the first person to whom Jesus appeared, went to alert the mourning apostles of Jesus’ empty tomb and resurrection? When the apostles “heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe” (Mark 16:11, emp. added). According to Luke, the words of Mary Magdalene and the women who accompanied her seemed to the apostles “like idle tales” (24:11) or “nonsense” (24:11, NASB). Later, when the two disciples on the road to Emmaus reported to the apostles how Jesus had appeared to them as well, the apostles “did not believe them either” (Mark 16:13). When Jesus finally appeared to the apostles (not including Thomas) on the evening of His resurrection (John 20:19), He questioned their “doubts” (Luke 24:38) and “rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen” (Mark 16:14). Then, when Jesus appeared to the apostles eight days later, this time with Thomas present, Jesus instructed him to “not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27).
Those closest to Jesus during His ministry initially doubted His resurrection from the dead and were justifiably rebuked for their unbelief. Although many of us likely would have been guilty of the same doubts, still, the apostles should have believed the witness of Mary Magdalene as soon as she testified to the empty tomb and risen Savior. Believers today, however, must be careful not to misinterpret Jesus’ rebukes of unbelief as promoting the popular notion that Christianity is an emotion-based, feel-good religion where evidence is unavailable or unnecessary.
EVIDENCESince the Bible repeatedly testifies that the faith of Christians is grounded in truth, reason, knowledge, and evidence (Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1-4; John 5:31-47; Acts 1:3; 26:25), some wonder why Jesus rebuked the apostles for doubting His resurrection prior to seeing Him alive (Mark 16:14; cf. Luke 24:38). Had Jesus expected His apostles to have faith in His resurrection without proof? And why did Jesus tell Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29, emp. added)? Was Jesus commending an unverifiable, fickle faith?
The fact is, neither Thomas nor any apostle was rebuked for wanting evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. They were rightly rebuked, however, (1) for doubting the credible evidence they had already received, and (2) for demanding more evidence than was necessary for them to have solid faith in the risen Savior.
PropheciesThe same Man Whom Peter confessed was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16); the same Man Whom the apostles had seen raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44); the same Man Whom they saw transfigured (Matthew 17:5-9); the same Man Who had worked many amazing miracles in their presence (John 20:30); the same Man Who foretold precisely Peter’s triple denial (Matthew 26:34,75); the same Man Who accurately prophesied His own betrayal, scourging, and crucifixion (Matthew 20:18-19): this same Man repeatedly prophesied of His resurrection, even foretelling the very day on which it would occur (John 2:19; Matthew 12:40; 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; 26:32). So well known were Jesus’ prophecies of His resurrection from the dead on the third day that even His enemies were aware of them. In fact, the “chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, ‘Sir, we remember, that while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise.” Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal Him away’” (Matthew 27:62-64).
So why did Jesus rebuke His apostles for their unbelief following His resurrection? Was He implying that they should have behaved like simpletons and believed everything they ever heard from anyone? (“The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps”—Proverbs 14:15.) Not at all. Jesus had every right to rebuke His apostles’ unbelief, first and foremost, because they refused to believe His Word (cf. Romans 10:17). They had seen Him raise the dead. They had witnessed His perfect life. They had heard His consistent words of Truth, including His repeated and accurate prophecies of various matters, including His betrayal, arrest, scourging, and crucifixion. They had every logical reason to believe what Jesus had prophesied about His resurrection. Everything they had ever seen and heard from Jesus was pure, right, and true. However, rather than expect a risen Redeemer on Sunday morning, such an idea “appeared to them as nonsense” (Luke 24:11, NASB, emp. added). Rather than traveling to Galilee and searching for the living Lord as soon as the Sun appeared on the third day (Matthew 26:32), they remained in Jerusalem behind closed doors “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19).
Jesus wanted His disciples to understand about His death and resurrection. He told them: “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men” (Luke 9:43, emp. added). He desired for them to have a sincere, strong, evidence-based faith. Sadly, fear, preconceived ideas about the Messiah and His kingdom, and spiritual blindness (Luke 9:44; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4) initially interfered with the apostles’ belief in His resurrection.
Credible TestimonyWhen Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29), was He condoning a careless faith? Was He advancing the idea of an emotion-driven, feel-good religion? Should we expect Christians living 2,000 years this side of the resurrection of Christ to have a reasonable faith in the risen Savior? If, unlike Thomas and the rest of the apostles, Jesus has never appeared to us, how can we expect to have a fact-based faith?
The same God Who rightly expects His human creation to examine the evidence and come to a knowledge of Him without ever literally seeing Him, is the same God Who expects man to follow the facts that lead to a resurrected Redeemer without ever personally witnessing His resurrection. No one believes in God because they can put Him under a microscope and see Him. No one can prove He exists by touching Him. We cannot use the five senses to see and prove the actual essence of God (cf. John 4:24; Luke 24:39). What we have at our fingertips, however, is a mountain of credible evidence that testifies on God’s behalf. The very existence of finite matter testifies to a supernatural, infinite, eternal Creator. The endless examples of design in the Universe bear witness to a grand Designer. The laws of science (e.g., the Law of Biogenesis) testify to God’s existence. [NOTE: For additional information on the existence of God, see http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12.]
A reasonable faith in Jesus’ resurrection is, likewise, based upon a mountain of credible testimony. Just as credible testimony (and not first-hand knowledge) has lead billions of people to believe, justifiably so, that Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and George Washington were real people, millions of Christians have come to the logical conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead. Nineteen-hundred-year-old eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ resurrection exist in the most historically documented and accurate ancient book in the world—the New Testament. The event was foreshadowed and prophesied in the Old Testament (Psalm 16:10; Jonah 1:17-2:10; Matthew 12:40). Though very serious preventative steps were taken to keep the lifeless body of Jesus buried (Matthew 27:62-66), the tomb was found empty on the exact day He promised to arise. The body of Christ was never found (and, no doubt, first-century skeptics, especially the impenitent Jews who put Him to death, would have loved nothing more than to present Jesus’ dead body to early Christians).
The once fearful and skeptical disciples quickly transformed into a courageous, confident group of Christians who suffered and eventually died for their continual belief and teachings regarding the resurrected Lord. Hundreds of early Christians were able to testify to having seen Jesus firsthand after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Tens of thousands of once-skeptical Jews, not the least of which was Saul of Tarsus, examined the evidence, left Judaism, and confessed Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 2:41,47; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7; 21:20). What’s more, these same Jews changed their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). As with evidence for the existence of God or the inspiration of the Bible, the cumulative case for the resurrection of Christ from credible testimony lies at the heart of a fortified faith.
CONCLUSIONJesus rightly rebuked His apostles following His resurrection. They should have believed Mary Magdalene because she was a credible witness who said nothing more than what the Son of God had previously said many times would happen: He would arise on the third day following His death. What’s more, the blessing that Jesus mentioned to the apostle Thomas (“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”—John 20:29) was not an endorsement of a blind, emotion-based, feel-good religion, but Heaven-sent support for the truthful, credible evidence that leads the open-minded, truth-seeker to confess Him as “Lord and God.”
“How Come Earth Got All the Good Stuff?”
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Stuart Clark, of New Scientist magazine, recently asked the question, “How come Earth got all the good stuff?” Of all the planets in our solar system that allegedly formed naturalistically “from the same cloud of gas and dust that surrounded the sun more than 4.5 billion years ago,” why is “Earth...so suitable for life” (Clark, 2008, 199:29)? Stuart acknowledged:
We know that its distance from the sun provides the right amount of heat and light to make the planet habitable, but that alone is not enough. Without the unique mix of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur that makes up living things, and without liquid water on the planet’s surface, life as we know it could not have evolved. Chemically speaking, Earth is simply better set up for life than its neighbours. So how come we got all the good stuff? (p. 29).How did Earth get to be just the right distance from the Sun so that it receives “the right amount of heat and light to make the planet habitable” (emp. added)? How did Earth get such a “unique mix” of all the elements that make up living things? How did Earth “acquire its life-giving water supply?” (p. 29). Did Earth become the “just-right” planet by happenstance?
Clark said that our best hope to find clues about Earth’s origin is from meteorites, since “they formed at the same time as the planets” (p. 29). However, he admitted: “[T]here are subtle differences that are proving tough to explain. For example, the mix of oxygen isotopes in chondritic meteorites does not match those found on Earth. So far no one knows why, but since oxygen is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust...it is a mystery that cannot be ignored” (p. 29, emp. added). Regarding Earth’s “life-giving water supply,” Clarke suggested that “[t]he most popular explanation is that the water arrived later, in the form of icy comets from the outer solar system that rained down in the period known as the ‘Late Heavy Bombardment.’ As yet, though, there is no firm evidence to confirm this as the source of Earth’s water” (p. 30).
Though atheistic scientists have attempted to answer these and similar questions for many years, still no one has a legitimate naturalistic explanation for what New Scientist calls our planet’s “biggest mysteries” (p. 28). To conclude that Earth received just the right amount of “carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulphur” by time, chance, and non-intelligence is irrational. When does time, chance, and non-intelligence ever produce such wonderful effects? To conclude that the estimated 326 million cubic miles of water on Earth (“How Much Water...?,” 2008) are the result of “icy comets from the outer solar system” raining down on Earth millions of years ago is equally absurd.
The fact is, adequate non-intelligent, random, naturalistic causes for the “just-right” Earth do not exist. The only rational explanation for the precise design of Earth, the cosmos as a whole, and life on Earth is an intelligent supernatural Creator.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1).
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, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:20-22).
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1).
“How Much Water is on Earth?” (2008), Livescience.com, [On-line], URL: http://www.livescience.com/mysteries/070621_llm_water.html.
Abortion and the Twin Towers
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Undoubtedly, every American who was old enough to be aware of life’s circumstances, will forever remember where he or she was when news spread that first one, and then a second, airliner had crashed into the World Trade Center, followed by a third collision into the Pentagon. The images and the scenes that followed for days, weeks, and months are forever imprinted into our thoughts and seared into our memories. So are the feelings and the impressions: disbelief, fear, uncertainty, anger, disgust, sadness, and sympathy.
The spectrum of emotions, thoughts, and attitudes that most Americans felt are so diverse and complex that putting them into words may not be easy or adequate. The average American surely felt a great sense of outrage at the injustice of what had been perpetrated upon large numbers of innocent people. The American sense of patriotism was offended, which elicited a corresponding desire for vengeance and due retribution. One of the most heart-rending features of the collapse of the twin towers was the original estimate of anticipated dead: 5,000. However, in time, the final tallies—though terribly tragic—were much lower: 266 died in the ill-fated hijacked airliners while 2,823 died in the twin towers—a total death toll of 3,089 (Feldner, 2002).
Many other horrifying spectacles riddle human history in which thousands, even millions, of people have been slaughtered by their fellowman. The human mind has difficulty in grasping the Jewish holocaust of Hitler’s Nazi regime, which resulted in the extermination of a staggering estimated six million men, women, and children. Reflect upon the torture and killing of multiplied thousands by dictators like Stalin or Saddam Hussein, not to mention the killing fields of Cambodia. How can man’s inhumanity to man possibly be so extensive in its magnitude?
Is the repulsion and revulsion that is evoked by these travesties due simply to the loss of life? Or is humanity’s outrage due to the fact that lives were snuffed out unjustly and unfairly—that those lives were “innocent” of any wrongdoing that their persecutors alleged as justification to terminate their lives? If the former is true, why is no great issue made of the death toll that takes place in the United States everyday? That figure stands at 6,674 (Sutton, 2003)—more than two and a half times as many people as those who died on 9-11. That’s how many people die every day in America—not to mention the thousands who die every day around the world. Why do we feel no great heartache for these multitudes—akin to that which we felt on the occasion of 9-11?
If the latter is true, i.e., that we are outraged, not at the mere loss of life, but at the fact that innocent human beings had their lives taken from them unfairly, and that they had done nothing to deserve such, then where is the outrage concerning the termination of innocent babies by means of abortion? We view with great indignation those “terrorists” who dared to attack and destroy the unsuspecting objects of their callous brutality. Yet, since 1973, abortion clinics and doctors have been slaughtering the unborn population of the United States to an extent that makes the perpetration of previous atrocities in all of human history seem trivial. In the United States alone, more than 43 million babies have been aborted! In 2000 alone, more children died from abortion than Americans who died in the American Revolution, the Civil War, World Wars 1 and II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars combined (“Abortion,” 2003). In fact, one American baby was killed by abortion every 24 seconds.
The number of adults who died on 9-11 is surely tragic. But the number of innocent, unsuspecting children who never are permitted to complete their development, to proceed with their lives, to make their own choices, and to pursue their potential as human beings created in the image of God, is more than tragic. At least the terrorists thought they were pleasing their god and achieving his will against what were perceived to be Western degradation and spiritual corruption. But to snuff out the lives of innocent children for the economic and social convenience of mothers is despicable and inexcusable. Those who extinguish these innocent lives are without justification.
The mind has difficulty even comprehending 43,000,000 murdered babies—let alone envisioning the lost potential for good for the entire human race. Make no mistake, the “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17) will one day face the consequences of their actions (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Hebrew 9:27).
REFERENCES“Abortion in the United States: Statistics and Trends” (2003), [On-line], URL: http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/facts/abortionstats.html.
Feldner, Emmitt (2002), “9/11: Search For Survivors Began Almost Immediately,” [On-line], URL: http://www.wisinfo.com/sheboyganpress/news/911/911_5775905.shtml.
Sutton, Paul (2003), “Births, Marriages, Divorces, and Deaths: Provisional Data for October-December, 2002,” [On-line], URL: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr51/nvsr51_10.pdf.
Chronology and the Cleansing of the Templeby Eric Lyons, M.Min.
One of the most popular alleged Bible discrepancies pertaining to chronology—and one that skeptics are fond of citing in any discussion on the inerrancy of Scripture—is whether or not Jesus cleansed the temple early in His ministry, or near the end. According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus cleansed the temple during the final week leading up to His death on the cross (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46). John, however, places his record of the temple cleansing in chapter 2 of his gospel account, between Jesus’ first miracle (2:1-12) and His conversation with Nicodemus (3:1-21). How should John’s gospel account be understood in light of the other three writers placing the event near the end of Jesus’ ministry? Skeptics question, “Did Jesus enter the temple and drive out the money changers early in His ministry, or near the end?”
Most often, it seems, the explanation heard regarding this difficulty is that there was only one temple cleansing—near the end of Jesus’ life—and John’s placement of this event at an earlier time is the result of his “theological,” rather than “chronological,” approach to writing his account of the life and teachings of Jesus. The problem with this explanation is that, although overall John may have been a little less concerned with chronology than were the other writers, a straightforward reading of the text favors the position that this particular clearing of the temple was not something that occurred near the end of Jesus’ life. The record of Jesus’ first miracle, beginning in John 2:1, begins with the phrase, “On the third day….” This section ends with John writing the words, “After this…” (2:12, Greek meta touto). Following verse 12, John then begins his account of the temple cleansing saying, “Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand…” (2:13). It certainly would appear to be “out of the ordinary” for John to jump ahead nearly three years in the life of Jesus to an event that occurred in Jerusalem during the last week of His life, only then to backtrack to a time prior to “the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee” (John 4:54). Admittedly, John would not have erred in writing about the temple cleansing earlier on in his gospel account if the Holy Spirit saw fit to mention the event at that time. (Perhaps this would have been to show from the outset of Jesus’ ministry that He “repudiated what was central to the Temple cults, and further that his death and resurrection were critically important”—Morris, 1995, p. 167.) A better explanation of this alleged contradiction exists, however: There were two temple cleansings.
Why not? Who is to say that Jesus could not have cleansed the temple of money-hungry, hypocritical Jews on two separate occasions—once earlier in His ministry, and again near the end of His life as He entered Jerusalem for the last time? Are we so naïve as to think that the temple could not have been corrupted at two different times during the three years of Jesus’ ministry? Jesus likely visited the temple several times during the last few years of His life on Earth (especially when celebrating the Passover—cf. John 2:13,23; 6:4; 11:55), likely finding inappropriate things going on there more than once. Do churches in the twenty-first century sometimes have problems that recur within a three-year span? Have church leaders ever dealt with these problems in a public manner multiple times and in similar ways? Of course. (“How soon men forget the most solemn reproofs, and return to evil practices”—Barnes, 1956, p. 196.)
What evidence does a person possess, which would lead him to conclude that Jesus cleansed the temple only once? There is none. While Matthew, Mark, and Luke recorded a temple cleansing late in Jesus’ ministry, much evidence exists to indicate that John recorded an earlier clearing of the temple. It is logical to conclude that the extra details recorded in John 2 are not simply supplemental facts (even though the writers of the gospels did supplement each others’ writings fairly frequently). Rather, the different details recorded by John likely are due to the fact that we are dealing with two different temple cleansings. Only John mentioned (1) the oxen and sheep, (2) the whip of cords, (3) the scattering of the money, (4) Jesus’ command, “Take these things away,” and (5) the disciples’ remembrance of Psalm 69:9: “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up” (2:17). Furthermore, John did not include Jesus’ quotation of Isaiah 56:7, which is found in all three of the other accounts, and stands as a prominent part of their accounts of the temple cleansing.
In view of the major differences in wording, in setting, and in time, as well as the fact that, apart from the work of John the baptizer, nothing in the first five chapters of John’s gospel account is found in Matthew, Mark, or Luke, “we will require more evidence than a facile assumption that the two similar narratives must refer to the same event” (Morris, p. 167). There is no chronological contradiction here.
REFERENCESBarnes, Albert (1956), Notes on the New Testament—Luke-John (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Morris, Leon (1995), The Gospel According to St. John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), revised edition.