"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Are You On The Right Way? (7:13-14) INTRODUCTION 1. Everyone is on a spiritual journey as they travel through life... a. Whether religious or not, we travel a spiritual path b. Every day we make choices that affects the direction in which we are headed 2. Many people think that the paths we can travel are many... a. In one sense that may be true; there are all kinds of religions b. But in another sense there are really only two paths or ways 3. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus spoke of these two ways - Mt 7: 13-14 a. Each with its own beginning, each with its own end b. One way is heavily populated, the other is traveled by few 4. Where are you in your spiritual sojourn? a. Are you on the right way? b. Are you heading in the right direction? [To answer such questions, let's look closely at what Jesus said. Note first that...] I. THERE ARE TWO GATES A. THE WIDE GATE... 1. "for wide is the gate..." - Mt 7:13 2. This "gate" represents the beginning to the "way" that leads to destruction 3. It is described as "wide"; evidently it is a gate which: a. Allows many to enter with no sacrifice on their part 1) It does not require giving up anything 2) One is allowed to bring along whatever "baggage" they desire a) E.g., materialism b) E.g., prejudice, hatred, an unforgiving spirit c) E.g., believe whatever one wants to believe b. Is therefore chosen by most people 1) For there are no restrictions concerning belief and behavior 2) It also opens the way to "the path of least resistance" B. THE NARROW GATE... 1. "Enter by the narrow gate.." - Mt 7:13 2. This "gate" represents the beginning, or starting point, to the "way" that leads to life 3. Why is it "narrow"? Because it is a gate which: a. Requires self-denial and obedience - cf. Mt 16:24 b. Has no room for... 1) A consuming desire for earthly goods - Mt 6:19-20 2) An unforgiving spirit - Mt 6:14-15 3) Self-righteousness - Mt 6:1 -- As Jesus has already stressed in His sermon on the mount [These two "gates" are only the starting points. Let's now take a closer look at the fact that...] II. THERE ARE TWO WAYS A. THE BROAD WAY... 1. "...broad is the way" - Mt 7:13 2. The way that leads to destruction is broad because it allows: a. Any behavior one desires b. No need for reformation or changes in one's "lifestyle" 3. Many people love this path a. They think they are "free" b. They believe they are "open-minded" c. They view themselves as "tolerant" of others in this same way B. THE CONSTRICTED WAY... 1. "...difficult is the way" - Mt 7:14 (NKJV) a. "...narrow the road" (NIV) b. "the way is narrow" (NASB) c. "narrow is the way" (KJV) -- The picture is one of a narrow and difficult path between two cliffs 2. The way that leads to life is "difficult" because it requires: a. A righteousness that exceeds that of many religious people - Mt 5:20 b. A change in our behavior - cf. Mt 5:21-7:12 3. Because of its difficulty, many choose not to travel its path a. They think it too "confining" b. They think it is too "narrow-minded" [As Jesus describes the two gates and the two ways, He also reminds us that...] III. THERE ARE TWO GROUPS A. THE MANY... 1. "There are many who go in by it" - Mt 7:13 2. We have seen reasons why this is so: a. The entrance is wide: "Come as you are! No changes necessary!" b. The way is broad: "Make your own rules! Believe what you want! Do what you want!" 3. This is the way people travel by default; unless they are actively seeking the narrow path, this is the one they will travel B. THE FEW... 1. "there are few who find it" - Mt 7:14 2. As proven true so often in the past, only few will be saved a. E.g., the millions lost in the flood vs. the eight saved on the ark b. E.g., the hundreds of thousands lost in the wilderness vs. the two who entered the promised land -- So Jesus warned on another occasion - Lk 13:23-24 3. That it must be "found" suggests effort must extended a. As Jesus said in Lk 13:24: "Strive to enter through the narrow gate..." b. Even then not all will be saved: "...for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." -- Not just effort, but the right kind of effort - cf. Mt 5:6; 6:33 [Finally, we note that Jesus tells us that...] IV. THERE ARE TWO DESTINATIONS A. DESTRUCTION... 1. "...broad is the way that leads to destruction" - Mt 7:13 2. Paul wrote of the "everlasting destruction" that is to come - 2Th 1:7-9 a. Upon those who know not God b. Upon those who obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ 3. John described it as "a lake of fire" - Re 20:15; 21:8 -- A most sobering thought are these words of Jesus: "...there are many who go in by it." - Mt 7:13 B. LIFE... 1. "...difficult is the way which leads to life" - Mt 7:14 2. This "life" is the "everlasting life" received at the judgment - Mt 25:46 3. It is the "gift of God", given at the end - Ro 6:22-23 a. To those who have been set free from sin - cf. Ro 6:3-7 b. To those who became slaves of God and of righteousness - cf. Ro 6:17-18 c. To those who bore the fruit of holiness - cf. Ro 6:20-22 -- Another sobering thought are these words about the way that leads to this life: "...there are few who find it." - Mt 7:14 CONCLUSION 1. So we have seen that Jesus describes: a. Two gates b. Two ways c. Two groups d. Two destinations 2. Are there many roads that lead to heaven? a. Many people like to think so b. That all religions lead to heaven c. That it really doesn't matter what you believe or do, as long as you are sincere 3. But according to Jesus... a. There are only two roads (ways) b. One leads to life, i.e., heaven c. The other road, filled with many people with many different beliefs, leads to destruction! 4. Are you on the right way, the only way, that leads to life? a. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." - Jn 14:6 b. The way that He provides is a narrow one, for He requires that people keep His commandments - Mt 28:19-20 Will you be among the few, or the many? Let Jesus direct you along the narrow way that leads to eternal life!
"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" The Golden Rule (7:12) INTRODUCTION 1. Have you ever found yourself in a situation... a. Faced with the need to make a decision on the spur of the moment? b. Wondering what is the right way to act? c. Unable to recall whether the Bible specifically addresses the moral dilemma in which you find yourself? 2. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus provided a helpful tool in such a situation... a. A quick and easy way to know what to do b. Something that is easy to remember 3. It is found in Mt 7:12, and is commonly called "The Golden Rule"... "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Mt 7:12) [But what is "The Golden Rule"? Was Jesus teaching anything new or original by what He stated? Well, in a way it was something new...] I. THE "GOLDEN" RULE VS. THE "SILVER" RULES A. MANY HAVE TAUGHT THAT WHICH IS SIMILAR... 1. The HINDU religion taught: This is the sum of duty: do naught to others which if done to thee would cause thee pain. - The Mahabharata 2. The BUDDHIST religion taught: Hurt not others with that which pains yourself. - Udana-Varga 3. The JEWISH traditions taught: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. - The Talmud 4. The MUSLIM religion taught: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. - Hadith 5. The BAHA'I faith teaches: He should not wish for others that which he doth not wish for himself, nor promise that which he doth not fulfil. - The Book of Certitude 6. Some other sources: a. Do not that to thy neighbor that thou wouldst not suffer from him. - Pittacus of Lesbos (650-570 BC) b. What you do not want others to do to you, do not do to others. - Confucius (551-479 BC) c. Do not do unto others what angers you if done to you by others. - Isocrates (436-338 BC) d. "Tzu-kung asked, `Is there a single word which can be a guide to conduct throughout one's life?' The Master said, `It is perhaps the word "shu". Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'" - Analects, 15.24 e. Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your betters. - Seneca (4 BC-AD 65) B. JESUS' "RULE" WAS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT... 1. Jesus requires you to do something favorably to others, while the others only prohibit you from doing something unfavorably to others! a. Jesus: Do unto others what you want them to do to you b. Others: Don't do to others what you don't want done to you 2. Note the difference... a. With the others, all that is required is that you don't harm other people b. With Jesus, what is required is that you show kindness to others 3. Jesus' rule is truly the "Golden" rule a. The others are "Silver" rules b. Of value, yes, but not as much as "gold" 4. The only ones that come close to teaching exactly what Jesus taught was: a. That found in Hadith, the traditions of Islam; but then, much of Islam is based upon what Jesus taught 600 years before Mohammed b. That stated by Seneca, who lived about the same time as Christ (I wonder if he had been influenced by the teachings of Christ?) [So what Jesus taught was something new compared to what many teachers had taught prior. But in another sense it was nothing new; rather, in a simple and easy to remember statement, Jesus gives us...] II. A GUIDELINE FOR RIGHTEOUS CONDUCT TOWARDS OTHERS A. ONE IN HARMONY WITH THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS... 1. As we have seen earlier in the sermon (cf. Mt 5:20-48) a. Jesus taught a standard of righteousness that contrasted with that of the scribes and Pharisees b. But it was in harmony with what the Law actually revealed 2. This one "rule" summarizes what the Law and the Prophets were all about 3. Just as the commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself" summed up the Law according to Paul - Ro 13:8-10 B. A SORT OF "POCKET KNIFE" OR "CARPENTER'S RULE"... 1. That is, something that is always ready to be used 2. For example, even in an emergency, when there is no time to consult a friend, teacher, or book for advice, "the golden rule" can be guide for proper conduct 3. Treat others as you would be treated, and it is unlikely you will ever do the wrong thing III. SOME EXAMPLES OF HOW TO APPLY THIS "RULE" A. IN TEACHING THE LOST... 1. Imagine what it must be like to be told you are wrong, or in sin 2. Wouldn't you want to be told in a loving and patient spirit? 3. As you would have others try to persuade you to change religiously, so treat those you seek to convert - cf. 2Ti 2: 24-26; Ep 4:15 B. IN CORRECTING ONE ANOTHER... 1. No one likes to have their mistakes, errors, etc., pointed out 2. When necessary, wouldn't we prefer to be approached with a meek and patient spirit? 3. As you would have others offer you constructive criticism, so give it to them - cf. Ga 6:1-2 C. IN TREATING OUR FAMILY, NEIGHBORS, ENEMIES... 1. Everyone likes to have loving families, good neighbors, and no enemies 2. Applying the golden rule will not only transform ourselves, but may also transform those around us! a. Sibling rivalry would cease b. Neighborly squabbles would be non-existent c. Enemies would become friends 3. Don't limit the application of the Golden Rule to religious matters! CONCLUSION 1. "The Golden Rule would reconcile capital and labor, all political contention and uproar, all selfishness and greed." Joseph Parker (1830-1902) a. Such would be the impact on our society if more followed Jesus' words b. But let's start close to home, and let the Golden Rule transform our own lives and those closest to us! 2. "We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life." Edwin Markham (1852-1940) a. This reflects what is true with most people; they know the rule, but don't live by it b. If Jesus is truly our Lord, then His "golden rule" will govern our life!
"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" The Virtue Of Perseverance (7:7-11) INTRODUCTION 1. Why do some people... a. Succeed in having their prayers answered? b. Have a greater understanding of the Bible? c. Reach more souls for Christ? -- Is it skill, genius, or luck? 2. The answer is suggested by Calvin Coolidge: "Press on! Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts." 3. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus talked about the virtue of perseverance... a. Especially in its relevance to prayer b. Giving us motivation to persevere in our service to God [Our text is Mt 7:7-11, in which we find Jesus teaching about...] I. THE PRINCIPLE OF "PERSEVERANCE" (7-8) A. PERSEVERANCE IS IMPLIED IN THESE VERSES... 1. By the tense of the Greek a. It is the present tense, which most often stresses "continuous action" b. Literally, then, Jesus is saying: 1) "keep on asking," and it will be given to you 2) "keep on seeking," and you will find 3) "keep on knocking," and it will be opened to you 2. By the progression of the terms themselves a. "asking" is one level of inquiry b. "seeking" suggests a step up, as one goes about to find what they ask (asking plus action, Hendricksen) c. "knocking" is another step up, as one persists in finding that which they seek (asking plus action plus persevering, Hendricksen) B. PERSEVERANCE IS PARTICULARLY RELEVANT... 1. To the matter of "prayer" a. As later implied in Mt 7:11 b. Jesus often stressed persistence in teaching on prayer 1) In the parable of "The Persistent Friend" - Lk 11:5-8 2) In the parable of "The Persistent Widow" - Lk 18:1-8 2. To the matter of "Bible study" a. Many people give up too soon in their Bible studies b. But those who persevere in their studies are the ones who benefit from the blessings God's Word provides - Ps 1:1-3; 119:97-104 3. To the matter of "evangelism" a. Many do not bear fruit because they give up too soon b. But we reap what we sow; the more persistent we are in sowing, the more we will eventually reap [If we desire success in any venture, but especially in prayer, Bible study, and evangelism, then we must adopt "The Virtue Of Perseverance." To encourage us to do so, Jesus goes on to provide...] II. A MOTIVE FOR PERSEVERANCE (9-11) A. GOD DELIGHTS TO GIVE GOOD THINGS TO HIS CHILDREN... 1. To illustrate, Jesus gives a simple argument (from the lesser to the greater) a. I.e., men give good gifts to their children who ask b. How much more so, will our Father in heaven! 2. Jesus stressed this Fatherly attribute of God in His sermon a. In regards to our physical necessities - Mt 6:31-32 b. And now in regards to things that are good for us - Mt 7:11 B. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE IN REGARDS TO PRAYER! 1. As Jesus promised to His disciples in Jn 15:7 a. Conditioned upon our abiding in Him b. Conditioned upon His words abiding in us 2. As the apostle John wrote in 1Jn 5:14-15 a. Conditioned upon our asking according to His will b. Which assumes we know His will for us (i.e., His word is abiding in us) 3. And as James wrote in Jm 4:3 a. Presuming we are not asking for personal and selfish gain b. But many do not enjoy God's favor, simply because they do not ask! CONCLUSION 1. To persevere, then, is a noble virtue, especially in regards to prayer... a. We have a Father in heaven who is not untouched by the persistent pleas of His children b. Providing we do not ask amiss, persistent prayers will not go unanswered! 2. If we desire to receive, find, and have doors opened to us, then let us... a. Keep on asking b. Keep on seeking c. Keep on knocking ...not only in regards to prayer, but in all ventures worthy of Christians (e.g., Bible study, evangelism)! Have you asked, sought, or knocked today...?
"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" To Judge Or Not To Judge (7:1-6) INTRODUCTION 1. A favorite saying of many people is "Judge not, that you be not judged"... a. Frequently quoted whenever someone is pointing out the sins or faults of another b. The impression is that we should never make moral judgments in what we see in others 2. Is that true? Is that what Jesus meant when He said this? a. Are we never to make moral judgments about the right or wrong in other? b. If we see wrong in others, can we never point it out? 3. I am persuaded that Jesus' statement is often misused, that Jesus taught... a. There are times when we must judge b. There are times when it is appropriate to point out the faults in others ["To Judge Or Not To Judge", that is the question before us. The proper answer comes from a closer look at Jesus' words in Mt 7:1-6. First note how His words are frequently misused...] I. HIS WORDS OFTEN USED TO FORBID "ALL" MANNER OF JUDGMENT A. SUCH AS ADVERSE OR UNFAVORABLE CRITICISM... 1. Like pointing out a fault in someone else 2. Even if it be truly "constructive" criticism B. SUCH AS THE EXERCISE OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE... 1. Exercising discipline of any sort does require "judging" others as to their moral or spiritual condition 2. Since such "judgment" is involved, some feel verses 1-2 rule out any sort of church discipline C. SUCH AS EXPOSING THOSE WHO TEACH ERROR... 1. Admittedly, it requires making a judgment in order to consider whether someone is teaching error 2. Therefore, some people, in light of verses 1-2, believe we cannot speak out against those who teach error [Is that what Jesus means? Must we remain silent when we see people overtaken in a fault, bringing reproach upon the name of Christ, or blatantly teaching error? Let me suggest that...] II. JESUS DID NOT RULE OUT "ALL" FORMS OF JUDGMENT A. NOTE THE "IMMEDIATE" CONTEXT... 1. Which reveals that in some cases "proper" judgment must be made 2. Mt 7:6 implies judgment is to be made as to who are "dogs" and who are "hogs" a. Otherwise, how can we know when not to give that which is holy to "dogs"? b. Or how can we know when not to cast our pearls before "swine"? 3. Mt 7:15-20 implies that we must make judgments in determining who is a false teacher ("by their fruits you will know them") B. CONSIDER THE "REMOTE" CONTEXT... 1. Which speak of times when judgment must be made! 2. Elsewhere, Jesus taught people to "judge with righteous judgment" - Jn 7:24 2. Christians have a responsibility to "judge those who are inside" the local church - 1Co 5:9-13 3. We are taught by the apostle of love (John) to "test the spirits" (which requires making judgments) - 1Jn 4:1 [There is no contradiction here, for as we continue with our text, we notice that...] III. JESUS DEFINED WHAT "KIND" OF JUDGING HE IS CONDEMNING A. JUDGING WHEN ONE IS BLIND TO HIS OR HER OWN FAULTS... 1. Read carefully Mt 7:3-5 2. Jesus is saying "that is it wrong for anyone to concentrate his attention on the speck in his brother's eye, and while thus occupied, to ignore the beam in his own eye" (Hendriksen) 3. Just Paul taught the necessity of proper "introspection" when helping others - Ga 6:1 B. JUDGING WITHOUT MERCY AND LOVE... 1. "The Lord is here condemning the spirit of censoriousness, judging harshly, self-righteously, without mercy, without love, as also the parallel passage (Lk 6:36-37) clearly indicates." (Hendriksen) 2. James warned against making judgments without mercy - Jm 2:13 a. If we make judgments without showing mercy, then no mercy will be shown when we are judged! b. Just as Jesus said in verse 2... 1) "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged" 2) "With the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you" [The implication is not we should never judge, but when we do judge, remember that we shall be judged by the same standards we use! Let mercy and love temper our judgments. Finally...] IV. JESUS IMPLIES THERE ARE TIMES WHEN WE "MUST" MAKE JUDGMENTS! A. IT IS "AFTER" WE HAVE CORRECTED OUR OWN FAULTS... 1. First, we must remove the "beam" from our own eye - Mt 7:5 2. When we have done so, we are able to see, discern (judge), and be of help to others who are overtaken in their faults 3. Indeed, "the law of Christ" requires us to! - cf. Ga 6:1-2 B. AGAIN, WE MUST JUDGE BETWEEN THOSE "WORTHY" AND THOSE WHO ARE "HOGS & DOGS"... 1. Note carefully Jesus' words in Mt 7:6 a. Some are not worthy of that which "holy" b. Some are like "dogs" and "swine" -- Determining who is which requires "judgment" upon our part! 2. With those who are receptive, we are to be long-suffering in trying to help them come out of their error - cf. 2Ti 2:24-26 3. But for those who are not, we are not to waste what is good and holy on them! a. Cf. the instructions of Jesus to His disciples - Mt 10: 12-15 b. Cf. the example of Paul and Barnabas at Antioch of Pisidia - Ac 13:42-46 CONCLUSION 1. The kind of judging forbidden by Jesus is that which LENSKI calls: "self-righteous, hypocritical judging which is false and calls down God's judgment on itself." 2. This is the kind of judging that was also condemned by James when he wrote: "Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge." "There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?" (Jm 4:11-12) 3. May God help us to refrain from such judging... a. To be more apt to remove the "beams" from our own eyes b. To then be more useful in helping others with their problems But to say we should never judge, is to abuse what Jesus teaches, not only in this passage but elsewhere as well! Speaking of judging, are you preparing yourself for the day in which you will be judged by the Lord? - cf. Jn 12:48; 2Co 5:10
How I Would Prove to a Jury that the Bible is True
|by||Robert C. Veil, J.D.|
[EDITOR’S NOTE: A.P. auxiliary writer Robert Veil, Jr. formerly served as a district attorney for the Washington County State’s Attorney’s Office, and previously maintained an active private law practice. He currently preaches in Martinsburg, West Virginia.]The truthfulness of the Bible can be proven in much the same way that we prove cases to a jury every day. As a prosecutor, I had the responsibility of presenting numerous cases at trial, including a large number of jury trials. Working within the rules of evidence and procedure, I soon learned that juries are, for the most part, receptive to logical and reasonable arguments. They have an almost uncanny ability to hear cases presented and come to a fair verdict. They may not always get it right, but they usually do.
I also learned that the same type of logical arguments which are compelling to a jury can be formulated from the inspired biblical record. Proving the truthfulness of the Bible is no mysterious, incomprehensible exercise. It is done by the presentation of logical proof. And, at its most fundamental level, the Bible is an extremely logical and compelling book. It does not leave the reader depending upon mere hopes, wishes, and hunches. It is an evidentiary record (Hebrews 11:1).
The Bible claims to be the inspired Word of God. But in a secular culture of increasing ignorance and doubt, these claims are often rejected without investigation. Fewer and fewer, it would seem, are willing to accept the Bible’s claim that it is the infallible and absolute truth of God (2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 2:11-13). In teaching others how to be saved, we sometimes need to take a step back to a more basic question.
So, how would I prove to a jury that the Bible is true? I would do it the same way that I would prove any factual pattern or scenario. I would utilize the rules of evidence in presenting the case, and then emphasize the standards which the jury should apply in making a fair and correct decision based upon that evidence.
For example, it is commonly recognized in the various criminal justice systems of our land, that the jury can properly evaluate the credibility of witnesses. It can do this by considering such things as: (1) The witness’s opportunity to observe the things about which testimony was given; (2) The accuracy of the witness’s memory; (3) Whether the witness has a motive not to tell the truth; (4) Whether the witness has an interest in the outcome of the case; (5) Whether the witness’s testimony was consistent; (6) Whether the witness’s testimony was supported or contradicted by other evidence; and (7) Whether and to what extent the witness’s testimony in court differed from the statements made by the witness on any previous occasion (“3:10–Credibility…,” 1986).
Let us notice how these accepted standards can be applied in a specific Bible event: the empty tomb. Actually, they can be applied in a similar fashion to most any major event recorded in the Bible. But we will use the incident involving the empty tomb because of its centrality to the gospel message, and because if it can be established, most of the other Bible events will readily fall into place.
First, we raise the question, who observed the empty tomb? Who are the witnesses? We recall that the Bible teaches, and good jurisprudence demands, that important matters must be established “at the mouth of two or three witnesses” (Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16). Interestingly, the witnesses to the empty tomb more than satisfy this corroboration requirement. They are listed in the complimentary accounts of John, Matthew, Mark, and Luke as follows: Mary Magdalene, the “other” Mary, Mary the mother of James (that is, James the less, or Jacob), Salome, Joanna, and “other” women. Also of significance is the fact that there are actually two different “layers” of witnesses, since both John and Peter arrived at the scene as well.
These individuals are among the last people to see the Lord before He died. They had an excellent opportunity to observe the events immediately preceding His death, as well as His body after crucifixion. Most of them were in close proximity to Jesus throughout His intensive ministry, and they had an excellent opportunity to observe the facts in question.
Their memory has never been seriously questioned. There is not the slightest indication that any of them suffered from mental illness, delusional episodes, senility, or mental impairment of any kind. Both John and Peter went on to write detailed narratives and well-reasoned statements of doctrine and instruction. None of them would appear to have had any trouble recalling the events, and there is no indication that any of them ever deviated from their recollection of the empty tomb. If they had given conflicting reports due to failing memory, such would no doubt have been published broadly, but history records no such discrepancies.
Second, we cannot help but notice the details in the record. Details are signs of credibility. They tend to establish a witness’s opportunity to observe the events in question, and they show a carefulness typical of truthful testimony.
John details these events as occurring “on the first day of the week,” “early,” and “while it was yet dark” (John 20:1). Matthew’s account is consistent, but utilizes language which might be expected with a Jewish audience: “after the Sabbath.” He then provides an additional detail: “as the first day of the week began to dawn” (Matthew 28:1). Another mark of truthfulness is the fact that these accounts use language which at first glance appears to be contradictory. The contradiction disappears upon a realization that Matthew is framing the time with a Jewish mindset, as opposed to John’s description. But that realization may not be at first apparent, and if these accounts were falsified (developed in collusion), it is hard to understand why they would not have simply used the same language, rather than what at first seems inconsistent. Mark, reverting to a Gentile mindset, sets the time as “when the Sabbath was past” (Mark 16:1) and adds yet another detail: “very early on the first day of the week, when the sun was risen” (Mark 16:2). Again, one wonders why language was used, which at first seems contradictory, if this is a concocted account. Typically, when witnesses are falsifying a story, they try to present their accounts using identical language. This, then, becomes another mark of truthfulness, particularly when all three accounts are read together, which suggests that these events occurred after the Sun was risen, but just barely risen, in the early morning, while it was still largely dark. Such an understanding comports well with Luke’s detailed observations that the events occurred “on the first day of the week at early dawn” (Luke 24:1).
Thus, when all of these details are considered together, we get a consistent and complete picture of the time of these occurrences. Yet it reads like truthful testimony, each using slightly different wording, providing additional detail, seeming at first to be contradictory, but upon closer examination stating an accurate account.
If four witnesses had taken the stand in court and described an early-dawn occurrence as depicted here, it is difficult to imagine a more believable sequence of testimony. Had it been manufactured pursuant to some preconceived plot, it would have been much more uniform, but far less believable. The differences provide helpful details, and do not amount to contradictions or discrepancies in fact. On the contrary, they provide helpful and credible pieces of the overall picture. After reading and considering each of them, we get the confident conviction that we understand exactly what occurred.
There are a great many other details, which, if they are not truthful, are unexplainable. John tells us that, as between him and Peter, he arrived at the empty tomb first (John 20:4). Mark informs us that the women brought spices that they might “anoint him” (Mark 16:1), and Luke adds that the women brought spices which they themselves had prepared (Luke 24:1). Such details have the ring of truthfulness. Further, John advises us that he stooped and looked into the tomb (John 20:5). Mark actually provides details of the conversation the women had on their way to the tomb regarding who would roll away the stone (Mark 16:3). Luke offers the interesting detail that Peter ran to the tomb (Luke 24:12). Upon arrival, John tells us that he saw the linen cloths lying there (John 20:5), but Luke adds that Peter saw the linens by themselves (Luke 24:12). John agrees that Peter saw the linen cloths, but adds the telling fact that he saw a napkin separate from the cloths, “in a place by itself” (John 20:6-7). Why would such details be included if they were not true? Details provided in a witness’s testimony are marks of truthfulness, especially when they appear to serve no other purpose, because they end up establishing overall credibility of the narrative.
Third, we notice some things which might have been omitted in these accounts, had they been manufactured for some deceptive purpose. These are relatively small insertions which would not be necessary to advance a false narrative. For example, it is a consistent trait of human nature that people do not usually include “unflattering” details about themselves, especially if they are not necessary to the narrative. Mark provides the unflattering detail that the women did not speak to others after this occurrence out of simple fear (Mark 16:8). Indeed, the women are seen, not in some artificial and well-reasoned conspiracy, but in a completely believable state of confusion, failing to even consider who would roll away the mighty stone until they were well on their way to the tomb. Such details, however unflattering, are completely consistent with actual human events. They are typical of what people really do, not of what people say they do.
Mary’s pitiful, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2), so typical of an exasperated and unplanned predicament, shows that she did not at all comprehend what had really occurred in the resurrection of Christ. Such is an unflattering admission, written long after the events, which would have been corrected had it not been true.
Nor do the apostles escape this less-than-complimentary treatment. Luke concedes that the report of the women “seemed as idle talk” to the apostles, and admits very plainly that they did not believe them (Luke 24:11). If they can be avoided, people do not usually include details which make themselves look bad. John, for example, admits that after he had out run Peter to the tomb, he hesitated and did not enter. But Peter boldly did, a fact included by John himself which appears to be unaccounted for unless it is true. It is also stated that the apostles, who later had such a commendable understanding of God’s plan, at the time simply left the tomb and went to their own homes. Such behavior, being fully characteristic of confused and exhausted men, would be inexplicable were it not true. People making up a story do not usually include distasteful or disagreeable details about themselves.
Finally we notice the consistency in these accounts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each describe the same event. Yet their language is quite dissimilar, far from a mere copy of each other. Such consistency is a mark of truthfulness. It has the indicia of reliability, and does not read like accounts which were deliberately manufactured to advance a false story. Each writer approaches the story from a different cultural background and expresses it in words and concepts consistent with his audience. The accounts are not contradictory but supplementary. By reading all of the narratives in full, one gets a complete understanding of what occurred. Likewise, reading only one or two narratives leaves questions and an incomplete perception. This suggests an over-arching Guide in these writings, a higher control, which guaranteed that all of the necessary information was included. It verifies the Bible claim that these writings are inspired by God.
Our faith is founded upon evidence (Hebrews 11:1). The evidence adduced from these credible witnesses is believable and compelling. It certainly proves the narrative beyond any reasonable doubt. If there is any remaining doubt, one might well ask how could a band of working-class fishermen and women “cook up” such a well-documented event? If they had lied, the accounts would not bear such marks of truthfulness and credibility. Further, if they had lied, they would have had to have maintained those lies consistently to their deaths. Believing such a thing would stretch credibility beyond its limits.
If I were trying this case before a jury, I would summarize the evidence we have and point out these standards which the jury should apply. When that is done, the conclusion becomes obvious: There is no reasonable and proper explanation, except that the events described in the Bible concerning the empty tomb are true.
REFERENCES“3:10–Credibility of Witnesses” (1986), Maryland Criminal Pattern Jury Instructions (MCPJI) (Baltimore, MD: MICPEL, Maryland State Bar Association, Inc.).
God and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Probability
|by||Jeff Miller, Ph.D.|
PROBABILITY AND SCIENCEA typical misconception about science is that it can tell us what will definitely happen now or in the future given enough time, or what would certainly have happened in the past, given enough time. The truth is, science is limited in that it does not grant absolute truth, but only yields degrees of probability or likelihood. Science observes the Universe, records evidence, and strives to draw conclusions about what has happened in the past, is happening now, and what will potentially happen in the future, given the current state of scientific knowledge—which is often times woefully incomplete, and even inaccurate. The late, prominent evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson discussed the nature of science and probability several years ago in the classic textbook, Life: An Introduction to Biology, stating:
We speak in terms of “acceptance,” “confidence,” and “probability,” not “proof.” If by proof is meant the establishment of eternal and absolute truth, open to no possible exception or modification, then proof has no place in the natural sciences. Alternatively, proof in a natural science, such as biology, must be defined as the attainment of a high degree of confidence (Simpson and Beck, 1965, p. 16, emp. added).In other words, science observes and attempts to answer for mankind such things as: what could have happened in the past; what most likely happened; what is probably happening now; what could happen in the future; or what will likely happen in the future. Science does not necessarily tell us what will certainly always be or has always been the case. Rather, it tells us what has always been observed to be the case and what will almost certainly always be the case, without exception, and which coincides with logic, intuition, and mathematics. When enough evidence is gathered and all that evidence points to some truth and therefore yields an extremely high level of confidence in that truth (i.e., the probability of the same truth always being the case is considered so high that it is beyond doubt), the truth is made a law. Such a step is not taken lightly. Extensive observation must be conducted before doing so. Therefore, the laws of science are highly respected and considered to be essentially beyond doubt. However, there is always the slightest potential that a law could be broken in the future by some unknown event. Thus, probability is intimately intertwined with science. Mark Kac, famous mathematician and professor at Cornell and Rockefeller Universities, said, “Probability is a cornerstone of all the sciences, and its daughter, the science of statistics, enters into all human activities” (as quoted in Smith, 1975, p. 111, emp. added).
Many evolutionists understand the significance of probability in science and yet go too far in their use of the laws of probability, presumptuously claiming that they can do more than they profess to do. These assert that anything—no matter how far-fetched—will inevitably happen, given enough time, as long as it does not have a probability of zero. Supposedly, objects will pop into existence, and eventually, those things will come to life and transform into humans. Many evolutionists have long cited the principles of probability in an effort to support such unscientific dogmas (e.g., Erwin, 2000). As far back as 1954, George Wald, writing in Scientific American concerning the origin of life on Earth, penned the words:
However improbable we regard this event, or any of the steps it involves, given enough time, it will almost certainly happen at least once. And for life as we know it, once may be enough. Time is the hero of the plot…. Given so much time, the “impossible” becomes possible, the possible becomes probable, and the probable becomes virtually certain. One has only to wait; time itself performs miracles (Wald, p. 48, emp. added).There are at least four problems with such assertions about the laws of probability.
GIVEN ENOUGH TIMEFirst of all, we are not “given enough time” for macroevolution to have occurred. We at Apologetics Press have documented this fact time and time again (cf. Jackson, 1983; Thompson, 2001). Years ago, in his article “The Young Earth,” Henry Morris listed 76 scientific dating techniques, based on standard evolutionary assumptions, which all indicate that the Earth is relatively young (Morris, 1974). Donald DeYoung documented extensive, compelling evidence for a young Earth as well, in the book Thousands…Not Billions (2005). This fact alone dispels the preposterous contention that we are the descendants of ape-like creatures.
THE SINGLE LAW OF CHANCEThe second problem with the assertion of evolutionary inevitability is implied by the work of the renowned French mathematician, Emile Borel, for whom the lunar crater, Borel, is named (O’Connor and Robertson, 2008). In 1962, Borel discussed in depth the law of probability known as the Single Law of Chance—a law that he said “is extremely simple and intuitively evident, though rationally undemonstrable” (1962, p. 2). This principle states that “events whose probability is extremely small never occur” (1965, p. 57). He further stated that we “at least…must act, in all circumstances, as if they were impossible” (1962, p. 3, italics in orig.). The law, he said, applies to
the sort of event, which, though its impossibility may not be rationally demonstrable, is, however, so unlikely that no sensible person will hesitate to declare it actually impossible. If someone affirmed having observed such an event we would be sure that he is deceiving us or has himself been the victim of a fraud (1962, p. 3, italics in orig., emp. added).To clarify the meaning of “extremely small” probabilities, he defined different categories of events in which the probabilities are so small that they are “practically negligible,” including events from the human, terrestrial, and cosmic perspectives (1965, p. 57).
In his discussion on the probabilities of certain cosmic events, he argues convincingly from mathematical calculations and intuition that reasonable human beings consider probabilities of chance cosmic events that fall below one in 1045 to be negligible (1965, p. 59). In other words, if the probability of a certain event happening in the Universe is less than one in 1045 (i.e., a one with 45 zeros after it), human beings intuitively categorize that event as so unlikely that we consider it to be an impossible event.
Several years ago, evolutionist Harold Morowitz of Yale, and currently professor of biology and natural philosophy at George Mason University, estimated the probability of the formation of the smallest and simplest living organism to be one in 10340,000,000 (1970, p. 99). A few years following Morowitz’s calculations, the late, renowned evolutionist Carl Sagan made his own estimation of the chance that life could evolve on any given single planet: one in 102,000,000,000 (1973, p. 46)! Note also that these calculations were made before the last several decades have revealed with even more clarity the complexity of life (cf. Deweese, 2010). These probability estimations for the formation of life, made by the evolutionists themselves, are, of course, so far beyond the limit articulated for cosmic events by the Single Law of Chance that we must respond in shock, rather than humor, at the big lie that has been perpetrated on the world at large by so many in the scientific community in thrusting macroevolution on the masses. The distinguished British astronomer, Sir Fred Hoyle once said regarding evolution, “the chance that higher forms have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein” (1981b, 294:105). He further stated:
At all events, anyone with even a nodding acquaintance with the Rubik cube will concede the near-impossibility of a solution being obtained by a blind person moving the cubic faces at random. Now imagine 1050 blind persons each with a scrambled Rubik cube, and try to conceive of the chance of them all simultaneously arriving at the solved form. You then have the chance of arriving by random shuffling at just one of the many biopolymers on which life depends. The notion that not only biopolymers but the operating programme of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order (1981a, 92:527, emp. in orig.).Borel’s Single Law of Chance certainly lays plain the impossibility and incredibility of the evolutionary proposition. However, Borel tried to distance himself from the implications of his findings and their application to the spontaneous emergence of life by noting that the laws of chance do “not seem possible to apply” to some evolutionary events (1963, p. 125, emp. added). He further stated:
[I]t is generally held that living beings are the result of a slow process of evolution, beginning with elementary organisms, and that this process of evolution involves certain properties of living matter that prevent us from asserting that the process was accomplished in accordance with the laws of chance (1963, p. 125).In other words, evolutionary processes are not considered a succession of random, chance events. Instead, it seems that they are considered intentional events that somehow occur without intention. However, since non-living matter has no mind of its own, the progression of events that would have to occur to lead to the optimal arrangement of that matter allegedly to bring about life would have to be just that—a succession of random, chance events. In making the assertion that the laws of chance do not apply to evolution, he tacitly acknowledges the fact that the evolutionary model would actually require multiple, successive random events taking place gradually over time in order to bring even the pre-living “organism” to a place in which life could allegedly burst into existence. And as if to further drive the tombstone into the grave, according to Borel, himself, “[i]t is repetition that creates improbability” (1962, p. 3). Such almost endless successive random events would actually create more of a problem for evolution. “[I]t is their [the successive repetition of improbable events leading towards significant complexity—JM] almost indefinite repetition that creates improbability and rightly seems to us impossible” (1962, pp. 3-4, emp. added). After all of these successive evolutionary events leading towards life, the final random, chance event in which all the circumstances happen to be “just right” to bring about the jump from non-life to life is so improbable, according to the evolutionists themselves, that the Single Law of Chance would consider the event impossible and not worthy of human attention. [NOTE: We are not suggesting that it is possible for life to be spontaneously created from non-life, no matter what the circumstances or arrangements of matter may be. We are only noting the implications of the evolutionists’ own arguments and their application to the laws of science.]
KOLMOGOROV'S FIRST AXIOMThere is yet another problem with the assertion that macroevolution will happen, given enough time, as long as it does not have a probability of zero. Several of the events that are necessary in order for the theory of evolution and the Big Bang Theory to be true, indeed, have a probability of zero, according to the scientific evidence. The whole question is not really even one of improbability, but impossibility. How can one calculate the probability of something happening for which there is zero evidence that such a thing can even occur? Chance applies only to events or circumstances wherein possibility is present.
For instance, before the Big Bang was allegedly a small, condensed sphere comprised of all of the matter in the Universe [see May, et al., 2003]. Consider for a moment the spontaneous generation of that sphere of matter. Its appearance and subsequent organization, being a random, chance event, would fall under the guidelines of the Single Law of Chance as well. Unfortunately for evolutionists, since all scientific evidence indicates that matter cannot spontaneously generate (according to the First Law of Thermodynamics; see Miller, 2007), the probability of such an event would be much less than the “one in 1045” barrier set by the Single Law of Chance, namely, zero.
Also, what proof is available that leads to the idea that life could spontaneously generate (i.e., abiogenesis)? What scientific evidence is available that would lead to the idea that abiogenesis has a probability of anything but zero? Speculation abounds concerning the sequence of events that could cause precisely the right conditions for it to occur. However, there is zero scientific evidence to support the idea that it could happen even if those improbable conditions were ever in effect. In actuality, the scientific evidence is not “neutral” on the matter, as though there is no evidence for or against abiogenesis. Rather, the scientific evidence is not only unsupportive of abiogenesis, but all experimental scientific results are contrary to it! The experiments of renowned 19th-century scientist Louis Pasteur long ago killed the possibility of the spontaneous generation of life, and recognition of the well-respected law of science known as the Law of Biogenesis (i.e., life comes only from life and that of its kind) drove the nails into its coffin (cf. Thompson, 1989).
These truths alone create impenetrable barriers for evolutionists—non-traversable, gaping chasms that would have to be crossed in order for the theory of evolution to be plausible. According to the scientific evidence, there is a probability of zero that abiogenesis can occur. According to the laws of probability, specifically Kolmogorov’s first axiom, when the probability of an event is zero, the event is called an “impossible event” (Gubner, 2006, p. 22, emp. added). Since several events that are necessary in order for the theory of evolution and the Big Bang Theory to be true have a probability of zero, according to the laws of probability, these atheistic theories are impossible.
PROBABILITY AND CAUSAL POWERFurther, even if there were not a probability of zero when it comes to macroevolution, it is important to note as was discussed earlier that probabilities do not guarantee that an event will or will not happen, regardless of how much time is allotted. Sproul, Gerstner, and Lendsley correctly observed:
The fact is, however, we have a no-chance chance creation. We must erase the “1” which appears above the line of the “1” followed by a large number of zeroes. What are the real chances of a universe created by chance? Not a chance. Chance is incapable of creating a single molecule, let alone an entire universe. Why not? Chance is no thing. It is not an entity. It has no being, no power, no force. It can effect nothing for it has no causal power within it, it has no itness to be within. Chance…is a word which describes mathematical possibilities which, by a curious slip of the fallacy of ambiguity, slips into discussion as if it were a real entity with real power, indeed, supreme power, the power of creativity (1984, p. 118, emp. in orig.).We certainly agree. There is only one causal Power capable of creating the Universe, and there is certainly nothing random about Him.
CONCLUSIONRecall what Borel said of events prohibited under the Single Law of Chance—that sensible humans “must act, in all circumstances, as if they were impossible” (1962, p. 3, italics in orig.). Unfortunately, so many scientists today do not act sensibly. They do not follow this simple and intuitive truth when it comes to the matter of origins. Rather, they hold to the impossible, pouring thousands of hours and billions of dollars into researching it, writing on it, speaking on it, thrusting it into the minds of people of all ages, and attacking anyone who contradicts them. They, themselves, admit that the spontaneous generation of life from non-life has never been observed and that the odds are shockingly against it, and yet, since they start with the presumptuous assumption that there is no God, they believe the existence of life is proof enough that spontaneous generation occurred. But if the scientific evidence is so strongly against it, how can it be considered scientific? Even if there was a 0.0000…1% chance that macroevolution could happen, why would a scientist stake his/her name and entire career on such astronomical, outrageous odds when, if biased assumptions are dropped, there is a much more plausible explanation for the origin of this Universe? Prominent evolutionist, Richard Dawkins, himself admitted, “The more statistically improbable a thing is, the less we can believe that it just happened by blind chance. Superficially the obvious alternative to chance is an intelligent Designer” (1982, p. 130, emp. added). We certainly agree, and sadly, the implication of that alternative is the very reason so many people irrationally hold onto impossibilities—the intelligent Designer has expectations to which this rebellious generation refuses to submit.
Nevertheless, in the words of Emile Borel:
When we calculated the probability of reproducing by mere chance a work of literature, in one or more volumes, we certainly observed that, if this work was printed, it must originally have emanated from a human brain. Now the complexity of that brain must therefore have been even richer than the particular work to which it gave birth (1963, p. 125, emp. added).And if we might add another line to Borel’s statement: “And further, the complexity of the Mind that gave birth to that brain must be truly incomprehensible!”
REFERENCESBorel, Emile (1962), Probabilities and Life (New York: Dover).
Borel, Emile (1963), Probability and Certainty (New York: Walker & Company).
Borel, Emile (1965), Elements of the Theory of Probability (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall).
Dawkins, Richard (1982), “The Necessity of Darwinism,” New Scientist, 94:130-132, April 15.
Deweese, Joe (2010), “Has Life Been Made From Scratch?” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240389.
DeYoung, Donald (2005), Thousands…Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
Erwin, Douglas (2000), “Macroevolution is More Than Repeated Rounds of Microevolution,” Evolution and Development, 2:78-84.
Gubner, J.A. (2006), Probability and Random Processes for Electrical and Computer Engineers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Hoyle, Fred (1981a), “The Big Bang in Astronomy,” New Scientist, 92:521-527, November 19.
Hoyle, Fred (1981b), “Hoyle on Evolution,” Nature, 294:105,148, November 12.
Jackson, Wayne (1983), “Our Earth—Young or Old?,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/yng-old.pdf.
May, Branyon, et al. (2003), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique,” Reason & Revelation, 23:32-34,36-47, May, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2635.
Miller, Jeff (2007), “God and the Laws of Thermodynamics: A Mechanical Engineer’s Perspective,” Reason & Revelation, 27:25-31, April, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3293.
Morowitz, Harold J. (1970), Entropy for Biologists (New York: Academic Press).
Morris, H. (1974), “The Young Earth,” Acts & Facts, 3, http://www.icr.org/article/young-earth.
O’Connor, John J. and Edmund F. Robertson (2008), “Felix Edouard Justin Emile Borel,” The MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive, http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Mathematicians/Borel.html.
Sagan, Carl, ed. (1973), Communications with Extra-terrestrial Intelligence (Boston, MA: MIT Press).
Simpson, George G. and William S. Beck (1965), Life: An Introduction to Biology (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World).
Smith, Anthony (1975), The Human Pedigree (Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippencott).
Sproul, R.C., John Gerstner, and Arthur Lendsley (1984), Classical Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Thompson, Bert (1989), “The Bible and the Laws of Science: The Law of Biogenesis,” Reason & Revelation, 9:21-24, June, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/330.
Thompson, Bert (2001), “The Young Earth,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1991.
Wald, George (1954), “The Origin of Life,” Scientific American, 191:45-53, August.
Does God "Create" Evil?
|by||Wayne Jackson, M.A.|
[NOTE: During the February 12, 2009 Darwin Day debate with Kyle Butt, Dan Barker listed 14 alleged Bible discrepancies as evidence against God’s existence. He insisted (seven minutes and 25 seconds into his opening speech) that the Bible gives contradictory descriptions of God’s being good, yet creating evil. His allegation is refuted in the following article written by Wayne Jackson in 1982.]
Q.The text of Isaiah 45:7 seems to indicate that God “creates evil.” Is this correct?
In Isaiah 45:7, the prophet wrote of God: “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things.” On occasion, unbelievers appeal to this verse in an attempt to involve the Bible in a moral difficulty, since the text seems to suggest that God “created” evil. How should a Christian respond to such a charge?
First of all, the verse can have no reference to moral evil (wickedness) for such is opposed to the infinitely holy nature of God (Isaiah 6:3). Jehovah is a “God of faithfulness and without iniquity”(Deuteronomy 32:4). He is “not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness” (Psalm 5:4). Nor can it be supposed that this verse has to do with Jehovah’s original creation, for at the termination of the creation week, the Lord saw “everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
The context of Isaiah 45:7, along with several passages of similar import, reveals the truth of the matter. Jehovah—through the prophet Isaiah—prophetically announced to King Cyrus of Persia (a century-and-a-half before the monarch’s birth!) His intention of using this pagan king as an instrument of His holy will. Within Isaiah 45:1-7 is a majestic affirmation of the universal sovereignty of the Almighty God; indeed, there is none like Him (vs. 5). He thus affirms: “I form light, and create darkness [i.e., control nature]; I make peace, and create evil [i.e., exercise control over the nations]; I am Jehovah that doeth all these things.”
Notice how the word “evil” is used in obvious contrast to “peace.” Isaiah simply was stating that Jehovah has the power to cause peaceful conditions to exist, or to bring about evil (i.e., destruction). Consider another verse. God warned the Israelites that if they made an alliance with Egypt, He would bring evil upon them [i.e., punishment (cf. Isaiah 31:1-2)]. Again, in describing the coming judgment upon ancient Babylon, the prophet declared: “Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shall not know the dawning thereof and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it away; and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou knoweth not” (Isaiah 47:11). Thus, the evil that God sent was a desolation—a desolation due on account of their wickedness!
Scholars have observed that “evil” can be used with a purely secular meaning to denote physical injury (Jeremiah 39:12), or times of distress (Amos 6:3)—which is its significance in Isaiah 45:7 (see Harris, et al., 1980, 2:855).
Did Jesus Deny Deity and Moral Perfection in Mark 10:18?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
The New Testament writers repeatedly testified to the fact that, though Jesus “was in all points tempted as we are,” He was “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Paul claimed that Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Peter said that Christ “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”—that He was the perfect sacrificial Lamb, “without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 2:22; 1:19). Likewise, John wrote that in Christ “there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). Jesus was supremely “pure,” “righteous,” and “good” (1 John 3:3; 2:1; John 10:11,14).
Additionally, the New Testament has much to say about the divine nature of Christ. Jesus claimed to be the Messiah (Mark 14:62; John 4:25-26), Whom Isaiah prophesied would be “Mighty God” and “Jehovah” (Isaiah 9:6; 40:3). Jesus accepted worship while in the form of a man (John 9:38)—implying that He, too, was Deity (Matthew 4:10; cf. Acts 12:21-23; 14:14-15). Jesus forgave sins, which only God can do (Mark 2:5-10). The apostle John said that Jesus “was God” (John 1:1). Jesus claimed to be “one” with God (John 10:30), leading His hearers to believe that He made Himself “God” (10:33). And, after the apostle Thomas called Jesus “Lord” and “God” (John 20:28), Jesus immediately acknowledged Thomas’ faith, rather than deny the deity that Thomas had just professed. In his letter to the Philippians Paul wrote that Christ Jesus “being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:6). In fact, “in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).
In light of the fact that the Bible claims repeatedly that Jesus was both “good” and “God,” some contend that in Mark 10:18 (and Matthew 19:17) Jesus said just the opposite. In an article titled “New Testament Contradictions,” Paul Carlson stated that Mark 10:18 (among other passages) is “an embarrassment to the church,” as it indicates “Jesus did not consider himself sinless” (1995). By saying, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” (Mark 10:18), allegedly “Jesus made a clear distinction between himself and God,” and, according to Muslims, Matthew and Mark “believed that Jesus was not God” (“The Bible Denies…,” 2014, emp. added). According to skeptic Dennis McKinsey, in Mark 10:18, “Jesus is not only admitting that he is not perfectly moral but that he is not God” (McKinsey, 2000, p. 247).
Does Jesus actually admit not being “good” and “God” in Mark 10:18? How did Jesus respond to the wealthy young ruler who asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Did He deny being perfectly moral and Divine? The simple fact is, Jesus never denied being good or God.
So what did Jesus mean? Before answering this question, one must keep in mind that Jesus often responded to questions in unexpected, masterful ways. He offered thought-provoking, soul-searching answers (often in the form of questions) that, unfortunately, many people have misinterpreted. [Consider, for example, when the Pharisees asked Jesus about why His disciples allegedly broke the law of Moses and plucked heads of grain as they walked through the fields on the Sabbath. Rather than explicitly deny that the apostles were disregarding the Law of Moses, Jesus asked His accusers two very appropriate (and very perceptive) questions:
Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? (Matthew 12:3-5).Although many have misinterpreted Jesus’ response on this occasion to justify situation ethics, Jesus did nothing of the sort. The only “law” that Jesus’ disciples broke while going through the grain fields (Matthew 12:1-8) was the Pharisaical interpretation of the Law (see Lyons, 2003 for more information; see also Miller, 2004).]
The rich young ruler was confident in his keeping of various commandments (Mark 10:20), but he surely never thought that Jesus would instruct him to sell whatever he had and give it to the poor—to leave everything and follow Him (10:21). Similarly, when the young ruler initially came to Jesus, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” he never expected Jesus to say, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” (10:17-18).
The young man seems to have regarded himself as “good” (since he professed to have kept all of the commandments that Jesus mentioned—Mark 10:20). Perhaps the gentleman simply wanted to know—from one good man to another good man (a “good teacher”)—what do I need to do to inherit eternal life. Rather than immediately answer the young man’s question, however, it seems Jesus first wanted (1) to humble him, by highlighting that he was not as “good” as he considered himself to be, and (2) for him to realize Who exactly he was questioning. He wasn’t merely petitioning a “good” (Greek agathos) man.
The Bible records various (mere) human beings who were called “good” (agathos). Luke recorded that “Barnabas was a good man” (Acts 11:24). Paul indicated that Christians are to “do good to all” (Galatians 6:10). (Are Christians who do good, “good” Christians?) Even Jesus stated previous to His encounter with the rich young ruler that “a good man out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth good things” (Matthew 12:35). Thus, clearly when Jesus spoke to the wealthy ruler He was not using “good” in the sense of a man being “good.” Rather, He was using it in the sense of God being absolutely, supremely good. The kind of goodness to which He referred belonged only to God. The only way man can objectively call someone “good” is if there is an ultimate standard for goodness—the supreme, unblemished, good God.
Jesus never said what skeptics, Muslims, and others allege He said—that He was not good, or that He was not God. Instead, Jesus attempted to get the rich young ruler to see the implications of calling Him “good teacher.” Do good (merely) human teachers claim to be the Messiah? Do good men accept worship and honor due only to God (John 5:23)? Do good men claim to have the power to forgive sins? Absolutely not! But Jesus had the power to forgive sins. He actually claimed to be the Messiah and accepted worship. So what was Jesus implying when He asked the young ruler, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God”? As Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe observed:
Jesus was saying to him, “Do you realize what you are saying when you call Me Good? Are you saying I am God?”… Jesus was forcing him to a very uncomfortable dilemma. Either Jesus was good and God, or else He was bad and man. A good God or a bad man, but not merely a good man. Those are the real alternatives with regard to Christ. For no good man would claim to be God when he was not. The liberal Christ, who was only a good moral teacher but not God, is a figment of human imagination (1992, p. 350).To contend that Mark 10:18 proves that Jesus thought Himself to be neither morally perfect nor God is (1) to disregard the overall context of the Bible, (2) to twist the Scriptures like untaught and unstable people do—“to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16), and (3) to take a superficial reading of the text. Far from denying the deity of Christ, Mark 10:17-22 actually affirms it. The young ruler “called Christ a ‘good teacher,’ with no indication that he understood Jesus to be the Messiah. Jesus seized on the word ‘good,’ pointed out that if the man thought He was good, then He must be God” (Roper, 2:203), because only God is innately and supremely good.
REFERENCES“The Bible Denies the Divinity of Jesus” (2014), A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam, http://www.islam-guide.com/ch3-10-1.htm.
Carlson, Paul (1995), “New Testament Contradictions,” The Secular Web, http://infidels.org/library/modern/paul_carlson/nt_contradictions.html.
Geisler, Norman L. and Thomas A. Howe (1992), When Critics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books).
Lyons, Eric (2003), “Did Jesus Condone Law-Breaking?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=1276.
McKinsey, Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books).
Miller, Dave (2004), “Situation Ethics,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1064.
Roper, David (2003), The Life of Christ (Searcy, AR: Resource Publications).
Britain as Evidence for the Flood
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
On July 18, 2007, Nature magazine’s news writer Quirin Schiermeier reported on a scientific study that has made headlines around the world. Since the 1980s, various scientists have proposed that the island of England was created by flooding. Recently, Sanjeev Gupta, from the Imperial College of London, and his research team explored the geological features in and around the island. From the study, Sanjeev and colleagues discovered some very interesting features that led them to an even more interesting conclusion.
Schiermeier wrote that Gupta and his team “used data from the UK Hydrographic Office, collected for the purpose of ensuring safe navigation, to map the sea floor.... More recent data was collected by ships equipped with GPS and high-resolution acoustic measurement devices” (2007). From the data, Gupta and his co-researchers concluded: “The data show a collection of landforms that, taken together, indicate a catastrophic flood origin” (Gupta, et al., 2007). They further stated: “Our study provides the first direct evidence that a megaflood event was responsible for carving the English Channel valley network” (2007). [NOTE: It might surprise the reader that, although megafloods are so massive, geological records of their impact are often subtle and difficult to identify according to Gupta and his colleagues (Schiermeier, 2007).]
How big do the researchers estimate that this “megaflood event” would have been? Associated Press writer Thomas Wagner explained: “The flood unleashed about 35 million cubic feet of water per second, 100 times greater than the water discharge of the Mississippi River” (2007). Philip Gibbard, a geologist from Oxford University, noted: “It is no exaggeration to say that this Channel flood was probably...one of the largest ever identified...(and) it had profound long-term geographical consequences” (as quoted in Wagner, 2007). Gibbard further commented: “This was perhaps the biggest flood on Earth we have evidence for” (as quoted in Schiermeier, 2007). Science reporter Jonathan Amos noted that not only was the flood huge, “at its peak, it is believed that the megaflood could have lasted several months” (2007).
Gupta’s article in Nature consists primarily of detailing the geographical and geological features that led the team to conclude that a huge flood was responsible causing Britain to be an island. As with most information reported in such peer-reviewed science journals, however, the article turns to hypothesizing about the cause and timing of the huge flood. Supposedly, the flood was linked to events that happened about 400,000 years ago, and a second catastrophic occurrence about 200,000 years ago. Victor Baker, of the University of Arizona in Tucson, commented that Gupta and his team made a strong case for a huge flood, but he also concluded that “the complex issue of timing the events is the main caveat of the otherwise convincing study” (Schiermeier, 2007). In essence, then, we have overwhelming evidence that a huge flood caused the geological formation in and around England, but we are not sure exactly when or how this gigantic inundation occurred.
To the Bible student, evidence such as this is not at all surprising. The geological features formed by a massive flood that could have lasted several months and displaced 35 million cubic feet of water per second fits perfectly into the biblical account of the worldwide Flood as recorded in Genesis chapters 7 and 8. The biblical text notes that “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights” (Genesis 7:11-12). As a result, the “waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth.... And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered.... And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days” (Genesis 7:18-19,24).
What would a person expect to find if a flood like the one described in Genesis actually took place? The exact type of evidence that Gupta and his fellow researchers reported in Nature. Add to that the convincing evidence of the various flood legends that circulate worldwide (see Lyons and Butt, 2003), and you have a remarkably strong case verifying the Genesis Flood. People who refuse to recognize the weight of this evidence fall into the same category as the gainsayers about whom the apostle Peter wrote. He stated that there would be those who “willingly forget” that the ancient world was flooded by water (1 Peter 3:5-6). To deny the global Flood of Genesis, a person must intentionally choose to reject the evidence available from both the Bible and accurate geology.
Gupta, Sanjeev et al. (2007), “Catastrophic Flooding Origin of Shelf Valley Systems in the English Channel,” Nature, 448:342-345, July 19, [On-line], URL: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v448/n7151/abs/nature06018.html.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2003), “Legends of the Flood,” Reason and Revelation, 23:102-103, November, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/40.
Scheirmeier, Quirin (2007), “The Megaflood that Made Britain an Island,” Nature News, July 18, [On-line], URL: http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070716/full/070716-11.html#B2.
Wagner, Thomas (2007), “Study: Flooding Left Britain an Island” [On-line], URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070719/ap_on_sc/britain_megafloods;_ylt =Akls1sqXJTH2y_VwjtoIPiLMWM0F.