1/13/17

"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" The Parable Of The Four Soils (4:1-20) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                 The Parable Of The Four Soils (4:1-20)

INTRODUCTION

1. As Jesus proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom He did not always find
   a receptive audience...
   a. Some listened only to find reasons to accuse Him - Mk 3:2
   b. Jesus therefore began to teach publicly in parables - Mk 4:1-2
   c. In private, He would explain the parables to His disciples - Mk 4:
      10,33-34
   d. The main reason:  many had become "hard of hearing" - Mk 4:11-12;
      cf. Mt 13:10-15

2. One of the most well-known parables illustrates the problem Jesus
   faced...
   a. Commonly known as "The Parable Of The Sower"
   b. But probably more accurately described as "The Parable Of The Four
      Soils"
   c. Told by Jesus to illustrate different reactions to the gospel
      message

[Mark's account of the parable is given in Mk 4:1-20 (please read).  The
significance of this parable is stated in Mk 4:13.  In this study, we
direct our attention to Jesus' explanation of the four soils...]

I. THE WAYSIDE GROUND

   A. EXPLAINED BY JESUS...
      1. Those who have the seed taken from their hearts by Satan 
         - Mk 4:15
      2. Matthew's account says it is because they do not understand
         - cf. Mt 13:19
      3. Their condition is one of being "blinded" by Satan to the
         gospel - 2Co 4:3-4
      4. While Satan contributes to their blindness, it is precipitated
         by their own hardness of heart! - cf. Mt 13:15
      -- This soil represents those whose hard hearts are manipulated by
         Satan to resist

   B. APPLIED TODAY...
      1. Many people have hardened their hearts to the gospel for
         various reasons
         a. Some because they love darkness more than light - Jn 3:19-20
         b. Some because they love praise from men more than God 
            - Jn 12:42-43
      2. Satan easily takes advantage of such people to blind them
         a. Through appealing doctrines like hedonism, secularism,
            materialism
         b. Through popular doctrines like humanism, evolution,
            post-modernism
      -- This soil represents many today who have no interest in
         spiritual things

[The next soil in the parable is...]

II. THE STONY GROUND

   A. EXPLAINED BY JESUS...
      1. Those who hear the word and immediately receive it with
         gladness - Mk 4:16
      2. Yet with no root, they do not endure - Mk 4:17a
      3. They stumble when faced with tribulation, persecution,
         temptation - Mk 4:17b; cf. Lk 8:13
      -- This soil represents those who believe and obey, but do not
         last long

   B. APPLIED TODAY...
      1. Many hear the Word and received it with great joy
         a. They are quick to obey the gospel
         b. They are enthusiastic, "on fire" for the Lord
      2. But their faith is shallow, their joy the result of
         emotionalism
         a. They are not grounded in the Word
         b. When troubles arise, there is no endurance and stumbling
            occurs
      -- This soil represents Christians ruled more by emotion than by
         the Word of God

[The third soil in the parable is ...]

III. THE THORNY GROUND

   A. EXPLAINED BY JESUS...
      1. Those who hear the Word - Mk 4:18
      2. Whose ability to bear fruit is choked - Mk 4:19
         a. By the cares of this world
         b. By the deceitfulness of riches
         c. By the desires for other things - cf. Lk 8:14 (pleasures of
            life)
      -- This soil represents those who believe and obey, but then
         stagnate

   B. APPLIED TODAY...
      1. Many become Christians, but never mature
         a. They may attend church, even participate or lead in the
            services
         b. But spiritually they remain "babes" and "carnal" - e.g.,
            1Co 3:1-3; He 5:12-14
      2. Their spiritual growth is inhibited
         a. By cares and anxieties that detract their minds - cf. Lk 12:
            29-32
         b. By riches that deceive them into self-sufficiency 
            - cf. 1 Ti 6:17-19
         c. By pleasures that divert their minds from the things of the
            Spirit - cf. Ga 5:17; 6:7-9
      -- This soil represents Christians rendered fruitless by
         materialism

[Finally, the fourth soil in the parable is...]

IV. THE GOOD GROUND

   A. EXPLAINED BY JESUS...
      1. Those who hear the word, accept it, and bear varying amounts of
         fruit - Mk 4:20
      2. Matthew says they "understand" the Word - Mt 13:23
      3. Luke says they hear the Word "with a noble and good heart, keep
         it and bear fruit with patience." - Lk 8:15
      -- This soil represents those with good hearts who understand and
         obey the Word

   B. APPLIED TODAY...
      1. Many become Christians who have this "noble and good heart"
         a. They make the effort to understand the Word
         b. They make the effort to keep it, and with patience produce
            fruit in their lives!
      2. They are like the Bereans, commended as "fair-minded",
         manifested by:
         a. How they "received the word will all readiness" - Ac 17:11a
         b. "searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these
            things were so" - Ac 17:11b
      3. Note the importance of understanding in relation to bearing
         fruit...
         a. Jesus made the connection between the two in this parable
            - Mt 13:23
         b. Paul connects the two when he writes of the gospel producing
            fruit among the Colossians "since the day they heard (NASV
            says "understood") the grace of God in truth" - Col 1:5-6
      4. When one "understands", they will more likely "bear fruit"
         a. But the key to understanding is having a "good and noble
            heart"
         b. One that is willing to listen and learn!
      5. Note that Jesus said not all will bear the same amount...
         a. "some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred" - Mk 4:20
         b. Some may be given more according to their ability 
            - cf. Mt 25:14-15
         c. Whatever our ability, we should exercise it accordingly
            - cf. 1Pe 4:10-11
      -- This soil represents Christians who are faithful and fruitful
         in their service

CONCLUSION

1. "The Parable Of The Four Soils" is fairly easy to understand (with
   Jesus' help)

2. To truly benefit from the parable, let me ask "What kind of soil are
   you?"...
   a. Are you like the wayside?
      1) If you have heard the gospel of Christ, but have not obeyed
         it...
      2) You are in the process of hardening your heart the longer you
         wait!
      3) You are susceptible to Satan's deception, to blind you to God's
         Word!
   b. Are you like the stony ground?
      1) If you responded to the gospel, but are not grounded in the
         faith...
      2) You will likely fall away when persecution or temptation comes
         your way!
   c. Are you like the thorny ground?
      1) If you responded to the gospel, but are preoccupied with the
         cares, riches, and pleasures of this world, you will not be
         able to bear much fruit!
      2) Remember what Jesus said about branches that don't bear fruit!
         - Jn 15:1-6
   d. Are you like the good ground?
      1) If you have responded to the gospel, and are bearing fruit...
      2) Then you have demonstrated several important things:
         a) You have a good and noble heart!
         b) You have come to understand the Word!
         c) You have been keeping it with patience!
      3) And the Word of God produced its intended effect in you!

May this parable and its explanation by Jesus stimulate our thinking and
examine our hearts and lives in relation to the gospel of Christ...!

          "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" - Mk 4:9
 

"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" The True Family Of Jesus (3:31-35) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                   The True Family Of Jesus (3:31-35)

INTRODUCTION

1. A wonderful blessing in life is to have a loving, supportive
   family...
   a. Where husband and wife truly love one another
   b. Where parents and children truly support one another

2. Such families are becoming increasingly rare...
   a. Complicated by cohabitation before marriage, divorce after
      marriage, eventually death
   b. Children suffering from parents who don't love each other, who
      don't care for them

3. But there is a Family...
   a. Where love and support is available to everyone
   b. Where the relationships need never end

[We are reminded of this wonderful Family in our text (Mk 3:31-35), in
which Jesus uses the occasion of His earthly family seeking to talk with
Him to make the point about His "true family"...]

I. THE IDENTITY OF HIS FAMILY

   A. NOT HIS PHYSICAL FAMILY...
      1. Including His mother Mary, and step-father Joseph
      2. Including His brothers James, Joses, Judas, Simon, and His
         sisters - Mk 6:3
      3. Even at age 12 Jesus knew His true Father - cf. Lk 2:48-49
      -- Not that Jesus did not value His physical family (cf. Jn 19:
         26-27)

   B. THOSE WHO DO HIS FATHER'S WILL...
      1. His disciples, as identified on the occasion of our text 
         - Mk 3:34-35
      2. Whoever does the will of His Father are those recognized by
         Him- cf. Mt 7:21-23
      3. They are the ones who are truly blessed - cf. Lk 11:27-28
      -- The true family of Jesus is His spiritual family!

[Having identified the "true family" of Jesus, let's review some of the
many blessings of this family...]

II. THE BLESSINGS OF HIS FAMILY

   A. DIVINE...
      1. God as our Father
         a. Who hears our prayers - Mt 6:6
         b. Who provides our basic needs - Mt 6:11,30-33; 7:11
         c. Who forgives our sins - Mt 6:12
         d. Who delivers us from the evil one - Mt 6:13
      2. Jesus as our Brother
         a. Who is proud to call us "brethren" - He 2:11-12
         b. Who made like His brethren, is our perfect High Priest 
            - He 2:17-18; 4:14-16
         c. Who ever lives to make intercession for us - He 7:25; Ro 8:
            34
      3. The Holy Spirit as our Helper and Strength
         a. Who also makes intercession for us - Ro 8:26-27
         b. Who enables us to put to live the Christian life - Ro 8:
            12-13
         c. Who engenders a child-like love in our hearts for God 
            - Ro 8:15; Ga 4:6
      -- Just a few blessings made possible by the Divine members of
         Jesus' family!

   B. IMMENSE...
      1. A hundredfold family members in this time - Mk 10:28-30
      2. The members of every congregation - 1Ti 5:1-2
      3. Indeed, the whole family in heaven and earth - Ep 3:14-15
      -- Every Christian, living and dead, is a member of Jesus' family!

   C. ETERNAL...
      1. Physical family ties are severed at death 
         - cf. Ro 7:2; 1Co 7:39; Mk 12:24-25
      2. Jesus' spiritual family looks forward to an eternal inheritance
         - Ro 8:16-17; Re 21:1-7
      -- Jesus' family is the only one that will endure through
         eternity!

CONCLUSION

1. "The True Family Of Jesus" is great indeed...
   a. A spiritual Family involving Deity and countless souls!
   b. An everlasting Family untainted by divorce and death!

2. Becoming an accepted member of this Family...
   a. Is made possible by the wonderful love of God - 1Jn 3:1
   b. Is the result of God's wonderful plan of redemption in Jesus
      Christ - Ep 1:3-14

3. "The True Family Of Jesus" is available to all...
   a. Who are willing to receive Him through faith and baptism 
      - Jn 1:12; Ga 3:26-27
   b. Who are thus born again of water and the Spirit - Jn 3:3-5
   c. Who become the family of Jesus through obedience to the will of
      God - Mk 3:35

Don't you want to be a member of "The True Family Of Jesus"...?

    Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'

                                             - Jn 3:7
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016


Pilate—Lost and Found by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=889

Pilate—Lost and Found

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

The last few days Jesus’ life were the most tragic of any in human history. Ruthless men and women mocked Him, spit upon Him, and even hit Him. Amidst all the violence, there stood one man who had the power to stop all the torture. One man who could call off the Roman soldiers and save Christ from being crucified. His name—Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who governed the area of Judea at the time of Christ’s death. The story of the crucifixion can hardly be told without mentioning the name of this Roman official who sentenced Christ to death—even though Pilate knew He was innocent.
But although the Bible mentions Pilate on several occasions, his name could not be found among the archaeological evidence. For hundreds of years, no stone inscriptions or other physical evidence could be produced to support the idea that a man named Pilate had anything to do with either Christ or Judea. Because of this, many mocked the Bible and claimed that creative biblical writers concocted Pilate from their own fertile imaginations. After all, if Pilate were such a prominent leader, wouldn’t there be some kind of archaeological evidence to verify his existence?
Once again, however, the critics were silenced when, in 1961, an Italian archaeological team working at Caesarea found a stone tablet that measured 32 inches high, by 27 inches wide, by 8 inches thick. On this slab, now known as the “Pilate Inscription,” were the remains of this simple title: “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea”—almost the exact same title as the one given to him in Luke 3:1. This, then, became yet another find to remind us that the more we uncover the past, the more we uncover the truth—the Bible is indeed the Word of God (see Price, 1997, pp. 307-308).

REFERENCES

Price, Randall (1997), The Stones Cry Out (Eugene OR: Harvest House).

In Science We Trust by Jerry Fausz, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=4758

In Science We Trust

by  Jerry Fausz, Ph.D.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: A.P. auxillary staff scientist Dr. Fausz holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech.]
Our society places a great deal of faith and trust in Science. The reverence that many in our society grant to Science is clearly illustrated in a 1998 article published in Science magazine. The article is a compilation of essays and poetry submitted by the students of Holmdel High School in New Jersey: writings which were, in fact, solicited by the 150th anniversary committee of Science (Jackel, et al., 1998).
For example, a young lady named Megan McIlroy begins her essay, titled “What Science Means to Society,” with the words, “In a society where all aspects of our lives are dictated by scientific advances in technology, science is the essence of our existence” (Jackel, et al., emp. added). The following is a poem written by Brian Sze in the same article:
“Seesaw of the Spirit”
As science develops, religion declines,
Because religion begins where science ends.
As more and more knowledge fills our minds,
Religious influence lessens.
Religion was based on assumed claims,
Which through time have been proved wrong
.
But the Church has been too strict to change,
Which has been its downfall all along.
Creation gives us an account
Of man and woman’s first acts,
But evolution seems paramount,
Because it is supported by facts
.
So now we are presented with a choice.
Scientific knowledge or conviction?
Everybody has a voice
In answering this controversial question
(Jackel, et al., emp. added).
In one additional example, Jenitta Kwong begins her essay, titled “Science as Livesaver,” with “Science is everything to me,” and in her concluding remarks suggests that, without science, “Life would be meaningless” (Jackel, et al.).
How is it that high school children come to the conclusion that Science dictates all aspects of our lives to the extent that life would have no meaning without Science? From what do they deduce that a presumed “seesaw” between science and religion culminates in a controversial question? It is difficult to believe that very many individual scientists or technologists would suggest such a philosophy regarding science and religion. Most likely, these sentiments reflect values that have been passed on to these children by certain educators, their parents, and/or various friends or mentors with whom they may have associated. In short, our society has in some way conveyed to these children that Science has a position of ultimate importance in their lives that is, sadly (and mistakenly), terminally at odds with faith and religion. Perhaps most strikingly, this misconception has also occurred with very little, if any, input from Science itself.
No doubt, science and technology have given us many conveniences that seem, at least in a shallow sense, to have vastly improved the quality of human existence, but is that enough to suggest that Science is everything? Is the importance placed on Science by our society warranted? More important, does Science pose a better explanation for the meaning of life than religion? To add context to these questions, it is useful to examine the statements and writings of those who hold a preeminent position in the scientific arena.
The fact is, Science goes farther than just claiming preeminence over religion and belief in God in many of these statements. In 2006, several scientists at a conference in La Jolla, California advocated militant eradication of God and religion from society to be replaced completely with the precepts of science. At this conference, cosmologist Stephen Weinberg stated: “The world needs to wake up from the long nightmare of religion.... Anything we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done, and may in fact be our greatest contribution to civilization.” And celebrated evolutionist Richard Dawkins said: “There’s a certain sort of negativity you get from people who say ‘I don’t like religion but you can’t do anything about it.’ That’s a real counsel of defeatism. We should roll our sleeves up and get on with it” (as quoted in Lyons and Butt, 2007).
Others have simply approached the debate by claiming that science makes God and religion irrelevant. Famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking recently wrote: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist,” adding, “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.” These statements appear in Hawking’s 2010 book titled, ironically, The Grand Design (Hawking and Mlodinow, p. 181). Hawking goes on to explain:
The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can’t understand, or was it determined by a law of science? I believe the second. If you like, you can call the laws of science “God,” but it wouldn’t be a personal God that you could meet, and ask questions (p. xx).
Here Hawking again attempts to de-emphasize God in favor of Science. Even more, there is a subtle attempt in the last statement to replace God with Science in suggesting that the “laws of science” might be called “God.”
Accomplished scientists such as Hawking and Weinberg, high profile evolutionist Dawkins, and a group of high school students from New Jersey seem to be in agreement that Science holds a place of preeminence over everything, even overshadowing religious conviction. They present science as an omniscient benefactor that gives us everything we need and tells us everything we need to know—very much as many relate to God.
Science, though, has a few things to say about its own “omniscience” that have a direct bearing on the question of whether or not it has eliminated the need for God. Furthermore, these observations have much to say regarding the supposed preeminence of science in our society.

Scientifically Uncertain

Prior to the 20th century, science and the Universe were believed to be strictly and objectively “deterministic,” meaning that all constituent elements of the Universe could be uniquely characterized and even predicted by fixed natural laws with straightforward (though sometimes complex) closed-form mathematical representations or models. For example, mathematical equations can be formulated for the motion of an object in space using Newton’s Laws of Motion and for the orbits of planets and artificial satellites using Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion. This deterministic way of looking at the cosmos is often referred to as “classical physics” or “classical mechanics.” Interestingly, while many of the results of classical mechanics have been shown to have a limited domain of validity, engineers still successfully use the concepts daily in building bridges, designing automobiles, navigating aircraft, and launching satellites into near Earth orbit.
During the past century, however, the theory of relativity and theorems accompanying the birth and growth of the emerging field of quantum mechanics cast doubt on this view of determinism in the minds of many scientists. Most notably, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of 1927 stipulated that the position and momentum of sub-atomic particles could not both be uniquely determined to an arbitrary degree of accuracy. That is, there will always be uncertainty in the measurement of at least one of these values that severely limits accuracy when one tries to measure both. Heisenberg’s result has since been extended to other pairs of measurements for subatomic particles, such as energy and spin. These momentous results present a fundamental limitation on the ability of Science to uniquely determine the complete state of the Universe at any given time.
Scientists initially believed that the uncertainty phenomenon was simply a consequence of taking measurements. For example, one might bounce a photon of light off of a subatomic particle and measure its position based on the return speed of the photon. In doing so, however, the momentum of the subatomic particle is changed and can no longer be determined accurately. Thus, the observer and his measurements have a profound effect on the resulting observation (Davies, 1984, p. 49). Dean Overman states: “What one observes depends to some extent on how one observes. The observer cannot be removed from the subject of the observation” (Overman, 1997, p. 29).
On the other hand, many scientists have interpreted the results of quantum mechanics to imply that the Universe itself is inherently non-deterministic. Scientific philosopher Paul Davies refers to this interpretation as “the ‘party line’ which maintains that quantum fuzziness is inherent in nature, and irreducible” (1984, p. 42). Thus, these scientists believe that quantum theory is an apt description of the reality of the Universe, rather than simply describing the effect the scientist has on the system when trying to take measurements. Notably, Albert Einstein, who helped formulate quantum theory, militantly disagreed with this interpretation as we see from one of his most well-known quotes, “God does not play dice.” Einstein believed that
behind the quantum world of unpredictable fuzziness and disorder lay a familiar classical world of concrete reality in which objects really possess well-defined properties such as location and speed and move according to deterministic laws of cause and effect (Davies, 1984, p. 42).
While scientists clearly do not agree on the correct interpretation of quantum theory, one thing that both sides agree on is that the uncertainty of the theory is inescapable and “irreducible,” as Davies describes it. The Uncertainty principle has a profound effect on the ability of Science to fully characterize the Universe. The “fuzziness” of quantum mechanics ensures that Science will remain unable to explain the Universe at its most basic level. Perhaps this can most readily be seen in the inability of Science to even determine the underlying meaning of its own quantum theory.

Mathematically Incomplete

In 1931, an Austrian mathematician named Kurt Gödel formulated and proved a theorem that stipulated “for any consistent mathematical system there exists within the system a well-formed statement that is not provable under the rules of the system” (Overman, p. 27). This result, known as Gödel’s First Incompleteness Theorem, implies that a mathematical system can be shown to be consistent, but will be unable to prove its own consistency within the rules of the system, thus cannot be shown to be “complete.” This fact has serious implications for scientific investigation, since mathematics is almost always utilized as a framework for organizing scientific thought and making application of resulting scientific principles. Scientific laws can be very often recognized more by their mathematical formulation than their narrative text.  For instance, while many recognize the equation E=mc2 as a statement from the Relativity Theory of Albert Einstein, few would recognize the statements of the theory underlying that famous formulation.
Certainly, mathematical research subsequent to the work of Gödel has identified very specific, limited mathematical systems that are “self-consistent,” that is, they are both consistent and complete. However, these limited results are not relevant to consideration of the First Incompleteness Theorem in a context that involves formulating scientific understanding and characterization of the entire Universe as opposed to a limited mathematical system. Thus, Gödel’s theory presents a critical impediment to the idea that Science can ever remove the possibility of God from a full understanding of the Universe. As Overman explains:
Gödel’s theorem demonstrates that mathematics is incomplete because the system leaves unanswered the truth or falsity of certain mathematical propositions which are the logical results of valid mathematical inferences (p. 28).
Since Science relies almost entirely on mathematics for developing and expressing its premises and results, Gödel’s theorem and proof should give great pause to anyone placing their total confidence in Science. Mathematical incompleteness will not pervasively limit scientific endeavor since mathematical constructions of closed systems can be both consistent and complete. However, as Science continues to pursue an explanation and corresponding model of the Universe as a whole, “at any moment a contradiction could arise and shake the system down to its foundations” (Overman, p. 28) due to the inability to show both consistency and completeness of the mathematical framework involved.

The Unknowable

Related to the idea of “incompleteness” formulated by Gödel is the concept of “undecidability.” Researchers have conceived many undecidable problems in mathematics and logic. A well-known example from logic is the so called “liar’s paradox,” which is
contained in the statement by Epimenides, a Cretan, who asserts, “all Cretans are liars.” If one assumes that Epimenides is telling the truth, then he is lying. But he cannot be lying because we have assumed he is telling the truth (Overman, p. 26).
Conversely, if we assume Epimenides is lying, then his statement becomes self-contradictory. The liar’s paradox is a logically undecidable proposition.
As for mathematics, mathematician Gregory Chaitin formulated an uncomputable number known as Omega (Ω), which represents the probability that a computer program will halt when its input is a random string of binary numbers. In general, probabilities fall between 0 and 1, where zero represents an event having no chance of occurring (zero probability) and 1 represents certainty. Davies suggests that Ω is “close to 1, because most random inputs will appear as garbage to the computer” and cause it to crash (1992, p. 133). However, Davies goes on to point out that the expansion of Ω beyond the first few digits is totally random, which implies there can be no algorithmic means to generate Ω.
What is most interesting, though, about Chaitin’s result is that Ω is representative of “halting” problems for computer programs, in general, which have been shown to be mathematically undecidable. This prompts Davies to suggest: “So knowing merely the first few thousand digits of omega would give us access to a solution of all outstanding mathematical problems of this type” (1984, p. 134). However, since Ω is completely random beyond the first few digits, it is uncomputable. The implications of this fact are further discussed by Davies:
Unfortunately, being an uncomputable number, omega can never be revealed by constructive means, however long we work at it. Thus, short of a mystical revelation, omega can never be known to us. And even if we were to be given omega by divine transmission, we would not recognize it for what it was, because, being a random number, it would not commend itself to us as special in any respect (1992, p. 134).
This quote is truly remarkable. Of course, we might argue quite reasonably that if such a number were to be given “by divine transmission,” such a transmission might likely include an indication of the meaning and importance of the data. That would certainly be the proper way to view divine revelation.
However, Davies’ statements raise an engaging question regarding that which is unknowable. In some sense, all of nature is a form of divine transmission (“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork”—Psalm 19:1). Yet there is so much we do not understand and, it appears, can never understand. Perhaps it is true that the heavens also declare the boundaries of scientific knowledge. It certainly appears to be true that mathematics and science pose a hard limit on the extent of what Science can ultimately “know.”

Behold the Great and Powerful…Science?

In the movie classic The Wizard of Oz, there is the familiar, seminal moment when the true “Wizard of Oz” is about to be discovered by Dorothy and her companions. At that moment, the “Wizard” desperately and frantically states: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” (Fleming, 1939). Certainly, scientists are aware of the limitations implied by results such as the Incompleteness Theorems, the Uncertainty Principle, and the incomputable problems of mathematics. But this awareness does not stop Science, or at least certain of its most prominent representatives, from continuing to present Science as the omniscient benefactor that so many believe it to be. When scientific beliefs and theories, like manmade global warming and Darwinian evolution, are challenged, often the scientific community will attack the challenger, instead of addressing the merits of the challenge itself, almost as if to say, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
But scientific achievement is replete with modern examples of its own limitations. Overman comments:
The limits of our reasoning powers raise the question whether scientific explanations for the origin of the laws of physics, the Big Bang, or the origin of life are issues which fall into…the indeterminate category represented by Gödel’s Incompleteness theorem (p. 28).

Origin of Universe

Scientists continue to be conflicted regarding how the entire Universe came into existence in the first place. The longest prevailing theory (besides divine Creation), of course, is the so-called Big Bang theory—still the front-runner according to many scientists. However, researchers like Stephen Hawking have exerted significant effort to replace the Big Bang Theory due to their inability to explain the Big Bang singularity and how it came into existence. In fact, Hawking once observed that, at the Big Bang singularity, “the laws of science and our ability to predict the future would break down” (1988, p. 117).
The difficulties with the Big Bang theory are, at least in part, a consequence of quantum theory and the Uncertainty Principle. As noted, the Uncertainty Principle limits accuracy in making measurements at a sub-atomic level. This limit, however, has an exact numerical characterization known as Planck’s constant, a physical constant associated with quantum mechanics that was first derived as the proportionality constant between the energy of a photon and the frequency of the photon’s wave form. In short, light can be treated as a particle (photon) or a wave, and Planck’s constant helps define the relationship between the two. As it turns out, Planck’s constant also happens to be the minimum amount of uncertainty that exists between the product of the momentum and position of a subatomic particle. It thus sets the boundary on the accuracy of those measurements in the formulation of the Uncertainty Principle.
This factor is related to uncertainty at the beginning of the Universe (according to the Big Bang model) due to another constant known as Planck time (Williams, 2010). Planck time is the time required for light to travel the distance of one Planck length. Both Planck time and Planck length are derived from Planck’s constant, the gravitational constant, and the speed of light. Remember that Planck’s constant provides a numerical limit on how accurately Science can characterize sub-atomic behavior. Thus, it might come as no surprise that Planck time imposes a hard limit on theoretical, naturalistic models of the beginning of the Universe. These models are unable to “predict” in any way what may have been occurring in the first 5.39x10-44 seconds (Planck time) of the Big Bang model. If you are not familiar with scientific notation, this number can be written as a decimal point followed by 43 zeros followed by 539. This is an extremely small amount of time, but large enough to befuddle scientists concerned with promoting the Big Bang theory. [NOTE: We are not claiming that scientists actually know what happened from Planck time onward, but merely noting that they cannot know what happened before.]
One of the most prominent theories on the beginning of the Universe in recent years suggests that our Universe is just one of a large number of possible universes brought about by quantum fluctuation. Hawking describes the theory this way:
One picture of the spontaneous quantum creation of the universe is then a bit like the formation of bubbles of steam in boiling water. Many tiny bubbles appear, and then disappear again. These represent mini-universes that expand but collapse again while still of microscopic size…. A few of the little bubbles, however, will grow large enough so that they will be safe from recollapse. They will continue to expand at an ever increasing rate…. These correspond to universes…in a state of inflation (Hawking and Mlodinow, 2010, pp. 136-137).
Note here that our own Universe is considered to be “in a state of inflation.” It is theorized that with such a large number of universes to “select” from, it is possible that a universe such as ours would exist. Specifically, Hawking says:
There seems to be a vast landscape of possible universes. However…universes in which life like us can exist are rare. We live in one which life is possible, but if the universe were only slightly different, beings like us could not exist (2010, p. 144).
This idea has mathematical tractability, subject of course to mathematical incompleteness and the potential of undecidability. With the inherent limitations of mathematics and logic, as well as the self-admitted impotence of Science with respect to predicting anything inside of Planck time, one might wonder how Professor Hawking can state with such certainty that universes like ours would be “rare.” In truth, we would have no way to know if every universe emerging from this hypothetical fluctuation wasn’t exactly like ours. Generally speaking, given the scientifically determined inability of Science to fully characterize our own Universe, verifying the existence and characterizing the nature of other possible universes seems quite a chore—pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

Medical Science

Advances in medicine are often held up as some of the most impressive accomplishments of Science. Many of the essays in the Science article (mentioned at the beginning of this article—Jackel, et al., 1998) included references to advancements in the field of medicine. Eradicating Small Pox and treatment advances brought on by the Germ Theory of medicine are certainly some of the most impressive accomplishments of mankind. Even in the field of medicine, however, serious limitations in the ability to achieve desired results can be seen.
For example, the U.S. government claims that in 2013 it will spend $29.7 billion on AIDS research, and that at least $25 billion has been spent on AIDS research per year starting in 2009 (Kaiser…, 2013). That amounts to over $100 billion spent on AIDS research in the last five years without finding a cure. Certainly, new life-extending treatments have been developed as a result of this research. But the primary objective of scientific endeavors in AIDS research, that is, a final cure for the viral infection, remains unrealized with no indication that it is likely to come anytime soon.
Similarly, cancer research has been carried on throughout most of our lifetimes with enormous levels of government and private funding. Furthermore, it cannot be said that the money is simply spent by bureaucrats with Science having little say. A 1999 report on sources of cancer research funding indicates that one of the top funding agencies for cancer research publishes its results in the “open scientific literature” and “reviews its strategic research plan with the research community each year and publishes it” (McGeary and Burstein, 1999, p. 4) Again, many new treatments continue to be discovered, but a basic understanding of cancer, allowing for a cure instead of physically grueling treatments, still eludes researchers.
The science of medicine may one day cure AIDS, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and maybe even the common cold. However, when Science is unable to design a camera that can remotely compare to the human eye, or a microphone that performs as well as the human ear, it is no surprise that Science doesn’t have sufficient understanding of the human body to cure a disease, even with incredible amounts of funding being poured into research. Until those goals of modern medicine are achieved, Science as a whole might prefer for us to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

Conclusion

Science is neither omniscient nor omnipotent. Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem, the Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Mechanics, and the undecidable and uncomputable problems of mathematics and logic show us that scientific omniscience is impossible—which further implies that scientific omnipotence is unachievable.
Mathematical incompleteness tells us that facts from outside of the system are required to prove the system to be both consistent and complete. Science relies implicitly on mathematics for the useful formulation of scientific or natural laws. Furthermore, anything outside of the system (i.e., the physical Universe) is irrelevant to science since it cannot be observed and therefore cannot be measured and/or modeled. Perhaps even more fundamental, the uncertainty principle limits the ability of Science to characterize or measure that which is observable. Thus, in actuality, Science is impotent in the ability to understand even that which is in its purview.
Quantum theory is fundamental to one model of the beginning of our Universe, which suggests that many universes bubbled out of a quantum fluctuation and one of those bubbles grew into everything we can observe. This is ironic because it is the uncertainty principle of quantum theory and the concept of Planck time that places impassable limitations on the ability of Science to understand such a phenomenon. Thus, in order to formulate its model, Science is using the very tools that place some of the elements of the model outside of its bounds.
Hopefully, the answers to the questions at the beginning of this article are clear. Science as an omniscient benefactor is a non sequitur. Science is certainly not omniscient and has no hope of ever being so. It also follows that, while Science has shown much success in meeting some apparent needs of society, it is ultimately incapable of providing everything we need—such as cures for some of our most prevalent infirmities.
The true contributions of Science to our society should never be discounted. Society, though, should take much greater care in where it decides to place its trust. Conversely, Science would only make itself that much more of a boon to society by embracing its limitations and operating more fully within them, instead of hiding behind the wizard’s curtain and pretending to be the omniscient benefactor that society wants to make it.
In the biblical Old Testament, God challenged Job, saying, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4). The origin of our Universe represents one of the pursuits of Science that is, in fact, outside the normal bounds of scientific endeavor. It cannot be empirically modeled, no physical measurements can be made and, as God points out to Job, no man was there to make direct observation.
More to the point, God inspired Solomon, king of the Jews, to write: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Here we see that God not only wants us to understand that we were not there at the beginning of the Universe and have no basis of understanding that event, but also that He has created the Universe with built-in limitations on the extent of man’s ability to characterize it. He has made us fundamentally a part of the system. As Overman states: “[T]he observer cannot be removed from the subject of the observation” (p. 29). Paul Davies also discusses the profound impact that the observer has on the system being observed, as a consequence of quantum effects (1984, p. 49). Being part of the system, we have no hope of characterizing what we observe to its most fundamental level and, as Solomon relates to us, that is a direct consequence of God’s design.
So as we discuss the limitations of Science illustrated by scientific laws like the Uncertainty Principle and the Incompleteness Theorem, we see that we are merely discovering manifestations of design constraints that God Himself placed on the Universe when He created it. These principles were put in place by God’s design as sure as Newton’s Laws, Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion, or Einstein’s Relativity Theories were, providing further evidence for the existence of design in the Universe and the God Who developed that design. Furthermore, we see this all the more clearly through a realization of our own inherent limitations to understand His work “from beginning to end.”
[NOTE: Although neither God nor His creative activity can be directly observed, indirect evidence for His existence can be gathered through scientific observation (e.g., evidence of design that leads to the conclusion that He exists).]

REFERENCES

Davies, Paul (1984), Superforce: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature (New York: Simon & Schuster).
Davies, Paul (1992), The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World (New York: Simon & Schuster).
Fleming, Victor, Dir. (1939), The Wizard of Oz (Hollywood, CA: Warner Brothers Pictures).
Hawking, Stephen (1988), A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (New York: Bantam Books).
Hawking, Stephen and Leonard Mlodinow (2010), The Grand Design (New York: Bantam Books).
Jackel, Robert, et. al. (1998), “Science—Far More Than Required High School Coursework,” Science, 20:1858-1860, March.
Kaiser Family Foundation (2013), “U.S. Federal Funding for HIV/AIDS: The President’s FY 2014 Budget Request,” http://kff.org/hivaids/fact-sheet/u-s-federal-funding-for-hivaids-the-presidents-fy-2014-budget-request/.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2007), “Militant Atheism,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2051&topic=24.
McGeary, Michael and Michael Burstein (1999), “Sources of Cancer Research Funding in the United States,” National Cancer Policy Board, Institute of Medicine, http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Disease/NCPF/Fund.pdf.
Overman, Dean (1997), A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield).
Williams, Matthew (2010), “Planck Time,” Universe Today, http://www.universetoday.com/79418/planck-time/.

God's Command to "Replenish" the Earth by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1146

God's Command to "Replenish" the Earth

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

Q.

My Bible (KJV, 1611) says in Genesis 1:28 that God told Adam and Eve to “...be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth....” The same wording is used again in Genesis 9:1 after the Flood. Since Adam and Eve were told to replenish the Earth, does this not clearly indicate that the Earth had inhabitants before Adam and Eve?

A.

There are a number of false theories relating to the Genesis account of creation. Among those is the currently popular “Gap Theory.” This idea, first proposed in 1814 by Scottish theologian Thomas Chalmers, suggests that a vast “gap” of time should be inserted between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, and that during this indeterminable amount of time there lived and died an entire pre-Adamic world, complete with plants, animals, and even pre-Adamic races of people. The popularity of the theory is due, of course, to its supposedly valiant attempt to “squeeze” the geological ages of time necessary for an ancient Earth into the biblical record. The Gap Theory is based on several fallacious arguments, among which is the argument suggested by the question above. Some (though not all) proponents of the Gap Theory have attempted to establish the existence of a pre-Adamic race of people during the alleged gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. One of the arguments often used has to do with the command given by God to Adam and Eve to “replenish the earth.” The argument goes something like this: since Adam and Eve were told to replenish the Earth, and since replenish means to “fill again,” then it is obvious that the Earth was “full” to begin with. Thus, there must have been people in existence before Adam’s creation.
George H. Pember spoke of a “preadamite race” and of “preadamite man,” which he believed belonged to that primeval world with its own “sin-stained history” (1975, pp. 35,67-73). In later years the renowned commentator, J. Sidlow Baxter, became a defender of the Gap Theory, and even went so far as to speak of a “pre-Adamite rebellion and judgment of Lucifer and associated angel-beings” (1960, pp. 189-190). Others likewise have suggested “pre-Adamic” populations in relation to the Gap Theory.
The truth of the matter, however, is that defenders of the Gap Theory could have saved themselves much time, effort, and endlessly wild speculation if they simply had examined more carefully the correct meaning of “replenish” in Genesis 1:28. I readily admit that our English word “replenish” derives from the Latin re (again) and plenus (full), and thus can mean “to fill again.” I also readily admit that even Webster’s Dictionary quotes this verse under its definition of “replenish” as to “repeople.” But theological issues are not determined by appeals to Webster’s Dictionary or modern-day usage. Such issues are determined by appeals to the original languages, however. And in this case, such an appeal immediately clears up any questions on the topic. The Hebrew word, which unfortunately is translated “replenish” in the King James Version of 1611, does not mean to “replenish.” That word is male’, and means simply “to fill” (Davidson, 1863, p. 488; cf., Brown, Driver, and Briggs, 1962, p. 22; see also, Harris, Archer, and Waltke, 1980, 1:505-506). Interesting is the fact that this very same word is used in Genesis 1:22 where the command is given by God to “fill the waters of the seas.” Later versions of the Bible (ASV, RSV, NASB, NIV, et al.) have rendered the verb properly as merely “fill.”
Also of interest in this regard is the fact that not even the Scofield Reference Bible (which so adamantly defends the Gap Theory in its “Notes”) makes an argument for a “pre-Adamic” race on the basis of Genesis 1:28, and has changed its KJV text at this point (and in Genesis 9:1) by substituting “fill” for “replenish.” I also might note that the Gap Theory’s leading spokesman (until his death), Arthur C. Custance, acknowledged that the Hebrew male’ means only “to fill” (1976, p. 314). Neither does male’ mean to “refill” or “repopulate” in Genesis 9:1. Rather, its meaning is “to bring forth abundantly” (Workman, 1982, p. 185-204). Of the more than 300 times the KJVuses the word male’, it is translated by the word “replenish” only seven times, and even those seven could be rendered correctly as “fill” (Morris, 1976, p. 76).
I might add as a concluding remark that the whole idea of pre-Adamic beings living on the Earth prior to the creation week of Genesis 1 is incorrect. Paul, through inspiration, plainly stated that Adam was “the first man” (1 Corinthians 15:45), and that through Adam’s sin death entered the world (Romans 5:12; 8:20-22; 1 Corinthians 15:21). Certain supporters of the Gap Theory, albeit perhaps inadvertently, have set forth a theory that causes Scripture to contradict itself. If Adam was the first, none existed before him. If death to the race came through his sin (and Paul plainly affirmed that it did), then no one could have died before that sin/death. In providing answers to Bible questions, whatever else we do, we must be careful not to suggest answers that pit the Bible against itself. The Gap Theory does just that, and therefore must be rejected.

REFERENCES

Baxter, J. Sidlow, (1960), Studies in Problem Texts (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and Charles Briggs (1962), A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford, England: Clarendon Press).
Custance, Arthur C. (1970), Without Form and Void (Ontario, Canada: Privately published by author).
Custance, Arthur C. (1976), Hidden Things of God’s Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Davidson, B. (1863), The Analytical and Hebrew Chaldee Lexicon (New York: Harper & Brothers).
Harris, R.L. , G.L. Archer, and B.K. Waltke (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Morris, Henry M. (1976), The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Pember, George H. (1975 reprint), Earth’s Earliest Ages (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications), originally published by Revell, New York, 1876.
Workman, Gary (1982), “Difficult Texts from Genesis,” Difficult Texts of the Old Testament Explained, ed. Wendell Winkler (Hurst, TX: Winkler Publications), pp. 185-204.

Decoding Design In the Retina? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2293

Decoding Design In the Retina?

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

If there were not another argument available to prove that an intelligent Designer exists, the intricacies of the human eye would be sufficient to establish the fact. Charles Darwin understood the insurmountable hurdle that the human eye presented to his theory. In fact, he accurately commented:
To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest sense (1859, p. 170, emp. added).
Of course, after admitting that such seems absurd in the highest sense, Darwin went on to argue that it only seemed absurd, but in reality had actually happened. His inept explanations attempting to dispel the obvious absurdity of the notion fell far short of sufficient. Not only does the evolution of the human eye seem absurd from a prima facie look at the situation, but it can be proven to be such from an in-depth study of the organ. In his landmark book Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe effectively used the biochemical steps involved in human vision to present his case against Darwinism. Regarding Darwin’s comments about the eye, Behe wrote: “Each of the anatomical steps and structures that Darwin thought were so simple actually involves staggeringly complicated biochemical processes that cannot be papered over with rhetoric” (1996, p. 22). The eye is complicated, immensely effective, and evolutionarily impossible. Darwin could not explain it and neither can his 21st-century philosophical descendents.
Not only do scientists fail to explain away the eye’s design, but they often are forced to admit it, at least implicitly. Emily Singer recently wrote an article titled “Decoding the Human Eye” which was printed in Technology Review, a magazine published by MIT. Without moving past the title, the implication of design is obvious. If there is a code, a language by which information is passed effectively, then there must be an intelligent encoder who supplied meaning to the language. For years members of the scientific community have combed space for signs of codes that would prove life exists somewhere other than Earth. Yet, in the human eye, just such a code is readily available for study.
Singer’s article reviews research done at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in which the researchers have designed a microchip that attempts to detail the process used by the human retina to encode information. Singer quotes UCSC physicists Alan Litke, as saying: “The retina is a very sophisticated visual-information-processing device” (2007). Such a statement by Litke immediately brings to mind the question of how would such an information-processing device come to be in the eye if the organ arose by mindless, chance occurrences. Even the simple word “device” is pregnant with design implications. Merriam-Webster’s On-line Dictionary defines the term as: “something devised or contrived as a plan, procedure, technique” (2007). How would mindless, purposeless evolution devise or plan anything? It could not.
Singer included many other implications of design in her article. She mentioned that the retina has its own language. She also stated: “While the retina is often likened to a camera, it is in reality much more complicated” (2007). No one finding a working camera in the woods would posit that it originated without a designer, and the retina is much more complicated than a camera.
Despite all the work being done across the globe to study and mimic the human eye, its intricacies, language, coding abilities, and technological devices continue to boggle the most brilliant human minds. Evolutionary just-so stories about the eye’s origins remain devoid of any legitimate explanatory power. The Proverbs writer provided the rational, honest assessment of the situation when he wrote: “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both” (20:12).

REFERENCES

Behe, Michael J. (1996), Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: The Free Press).
Darwin, Charles (1859), On the Origin of Species (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).
Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary (2007), [On-line], URL: http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/Device.
Singer, Emily (2007), “Decoding the Human Eye: Superdense Arrays of Silicon Electrodes Will Bring Scientists Closer to an Artificial Retina that Approximates Normal Vision,” Technology Review, [On-line], URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/19613/page1/.

How To Offend God by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=314

How To Offend God

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Americans have their daily concerns just as all human beings: food, clothes, housing, transportation, employment, etc. Most people give some thought everyday to such concerns, along with the broader issues that occupy national attention—the economy, foreign enemies, etc. But how many Americans ever give any thought whatsoever to whether the God of the Universe is offended by their conduct? How many contemplate the idea that the Great Ruler of Nations would actually punish an entire country for its citizens’ violations of His will? Should this consideration be of any concern to society? Should the U.S. Congress discuss this question? Should state legislatures across the country give any time or attention to such a matter?
The Founders of the American Republic most certainly shared this greater concern (Miller, 2009). They repeatedly expressed their conviction that the successful establishment of the nation was dependent on the approval of God. They insisted that it was imperative that Americans not be guilty of offending Him or earning His displeasure, lest their entire national enterprise fail. For example, four months before officially declaring independence from Great Britain, the Continental Congress issued a proclamation to the entire country:
In times of impending calamity and distress; when the liberties of America are imminently endangered…, it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publickly [sic] to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger…. Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God’s superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely, in all their lawful enterprises [sic], on his aid and direction, Do earnestly recommend, that Friday, the Seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life,appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance…. (Journals of…, 4:208-209, emp. added).
Subsequent proclamations contained similar sentiments regarding the wrath of God, including such phrases as: “to acknowledge GOD in all his Ways, and more especially to humble themselves before him when evident tokens of his Displeasure are manifested” (Journals of…, 10:229-230, emp. added); “that so he might turn from his Wrath” (Journals of…, 13:343-344, emp. added); “humbling ourselves before him, and turning from every evil Way to avert his Anger and obtain his Favour” (Journals of…, 16:252-253, emp. added; cf. 19:284-286).
Who, today, believes the perpetuation of a blessed America depends on appeasing God’s righteous displeasure over the sins of Americans? How many Americans are actually and vitally concerned about offending God? Perhaps a key indicator was the number one concern of the vast majority of Americans during the last presidential election—the economy, not morality (“Economy Top Issue…,” 2010)! Since the Bible is proven to be the only book on the planet that conveys the will of God (Butt, 2007), what does it say about offending God? How are Americans offending God today, and consequently endangering the existence of the Republic? The Bible delineates a number of such offenses that merit divine displeasure, but please consider three.
When Harry Reid invited a Hindu priest to open a session of the U.S. Senate with a Hindu prayer, neither he nor a host of others apparently gave the slightest thought to whether such an action was an offense to the God of the Universe. After all, political correctness demands that all religions and ideologies be celebrated and treated as equally authentic. To fail to do so would be “intolerant” and “judgmental”—the only ultimate evil in the minds of many. But to give credence or credibility to pantheistic religion (“God” inside the Earth, sky, etc.; see Miller, 2007b) that advocates belief in thousands of “gods” and that cow-killing is a sin, while rejecting the one true God of the Bible, would be unthinkable in America in 1776. It was equally unthinkable for most Americans until the last 40-50 years. The politically correct climate now enshrouding America literally is suffocating the moral and religious sensibilities of society. The nod to Hinduism follows closely on the heels of the election of a Muslim to the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as the first atheist in Congress (see Miller, 2006; Miller, 2007a).
But wait! The fact is that the God of the Bible exists, He is the only one that exists, and both atheism and polytheism are an affront to His righteous character (cf. Warren and Flew, 1976; Butt and Barker, 2009). Consequently, human behavior that violates His will displeases Him. Rather than being overly concerned with whether our Christian beliefs offend our misguided fellow human beings, we would do well to show greater concern for whether our behavior offends God.
Second, whereas at one time in American culture, the average citizen understood the concept that using God’s name in vain was taboo, now it is common place. Both adults and children regularly use God’s name in a flippant, thoughtless, frivolous way (“Oh, my God!”). Yet, God informed the Israelites that such disrespectful misuse of His name would bring His displeasure: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Deuteronomy 5:11, emp. added). God holds guilty those who misuse His high and holy name.
Third, the gross and flagrant immorality that has blanketed American civilization, becoming commonplace and comfortable to the population, is an offense to the God of Heaven. The very actions that most Americans disdained for most of American history are now widespread, rampant, and defiantly defended or downplayed: stealing, lying, murder, covetousness, adultery, homosexuality, pre-marital and extra-marital sex, rape, gambling, intoxication, the killing of the unborn, and the list goes on and on. The Great Governor of the Universe is offended by such conduct, and historically, He will allow it to progress only so long and so far (e.g., Genesis 6:5-7; 19:24-25; 15:16; Deuteronomy 7:1-4). Legion are the nations that were destroyed for their wickedness, now lying in rubble, ruins, and the dust of antiquity (see Miller, 2005).
Writing from Mount Vernon on June 29, 1788, the Father of our country, George Washington, wrote a letter to Major General Benjamin Lincoln. In that letter, remarks were made to which every American today ought to pay earnest heed:
No one can rejoice more than I do at every step the people of this great Country take to preserve the Union, establish good order and government, and to render the Nation happy at home and respectable abroad. No Country upon Earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means, and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to, so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass. The great Governor of the Universe has led us too long and too far on the road to happiness and glory, to forsake us in the midst of it. By folly and improper conduct, proceeding from a variety of causes, we may now and then get bewildered; but I hope and trust that there is good sense and virtue enough left to recover the right path before we shall be entirely lost (1788, emp. added).
The only remedy and the only hope for America to perpetuate its national existence is to swallow the antidote prescribed by God Himself:
Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God… But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: The LORD will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me (Deuteronomy 28:1-2,15,20, emp. added).

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Butt/Barker Debate: Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
“Economy Top Issue for Voters; Size of Gov’t. May Be More Pivotal” (2010), Gallup, October 26, http://www.gallup.com/poll/144029/Economy-Top-Issue-Voters-Size-Gov-May-Pivotal.aspx.
Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (1904-1937), ed. Worthington C. Ford, et al. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office), Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwjc.html.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Is America’s Iniquity Full?” http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=7&article=1528.
Miller, Dave (2006), “A Muslim Now in Congress?” http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1999.
Miller, Dave (2007a), “First Atheist in Congress,” Reason & Revelation, 6[5]:17,20-R, May, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=2140.
Miller, Dave (2007b), “Hindu Prayer in Congress,” Reason & Revelation, 27[8]:57-63, August, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=592.
Miller, Dave (2009), Christ & the Continental Congress (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Warren, Thomas B. and Antony Flew (1976), The Warren-Flew Debate (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).
Washington, George (1788), “George Washington to Benjamin Lincoln, June 29, 1788,” George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 2 Letterbooks, Letterbook 15, Image 172 of 341, The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mgw2&fileName=gwpage015.db&recNum=171.

Paul’s “Perfection” by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=772&b=Philippians

Paul’s “Perfection”

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Many alleged Bible contradictions can be answered logically by noting that two or more passages of Scripture may refer to the same word (or idea), but use the word in different senses. If a man leaves home during the middle of flu season and tells his wife, “I am thankful I’m not sick,” but then turns to his son, who just ransacked the living room while looking for his toy light saber, and says, “I am sick of seeing such a mess,” no one would accuse the father of being dishonest. He obviously used the word “sick” in two different senses. English-speaking Americans living in the twenty-first century understand the flexibility of language. American use of the word “bad” is a prime example of the elasticity of our language. Bad literally can mean “bad” (as in the “bad dog” who ate a student’s homework), or it can mean the very opposite: bad can mean “good.” A basketball fan watching a player make ten 3-pointers in one game may truthfully say: “That guy is bad!”—meaning, he is a very good basketball player. Unfortunately, critics of the Bible’s inspiration accept the freedom of language in today’s world (and they often take such freedom themselves), but they will not allow the ancient biblical writers the same liberty.
Instead of trying to understand the flexibility of the ancient languages and their figures of speech, skeptics are quick to cite what they feel are blatant contradictions. For example, in Philippians 3:12, the apostle Paul wrote that he had not yet been “made perfect” (ASV), but then, just three verses later, he indicated that he was “perfect” (3:15). It is alleged that Paul contradicted himself while encouraging his brethren to persevere through this life. The truth is, however, Paul used similar Greek words—translated as “perfect”—in different senses. The former “perfection” is a faultlessness and excellence that cannot be expected in this life. Paul had not yet attained a state of total holiness and dedication where no additional progress would be possible or needed. The “perfection” or “maturity” of Philippians 3:15 was “used to mean mature in mind, as opposed to one who is a beginner in a subject” (Barclay, 1959, p. 81). Paul had not begun the Christian race only recently; rather, he had been running courageously for some time. He thus was “perfect” or “mature” in this sense.
A second reason such a charge can only be based upon ignorance (or lack of concern for the facts) is because when Paul denied that he had been “made perfect,” he used the perfect tense of the Greek verb teteleiomai. The perfect tense suggests an action in the past with permanent completed results. The apostle therefore was affirming that he had not yet arrived at a permanent state of perfection. Within the context of Philippians 3, his comment that he had “not yet become perfect [ouch hoti ede teteleiomai]” likely “means that he has not yet attained the final thing, the victor’s prize of the heavenly calling in Christ Jesus” (Schippers, 1971, p. 62; cf. Philippians 3:9-11). In verse 15, however, Paul employed the adjective teleioi, which means “full-grown” or “mature.” According to Greek scholars Moulton and Milligan, this word is used in the Greek papyri of those who have obtained maturity (1963, p. 629). Furthermore, Paul used this word in 1 Corinthians 14:20 and in Ephesians 4:13, in obvious contrast to immaturity. So, while Paul denied that he had completely attained perfection, he affirmed his spiritual maturity. There is no contradiction. Although the same stem (or “root word”) is used (teleios), he was using the word in different senses—as is evident not only from the context, but also from the tense in which the words are found.
REFERENCES
Barclay, William (1959), The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Moulton, J.H. and George Milligan (1963), The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament (London: Hodder & Stoughton).
Schippers, R. (1971), “Telos,” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 2:62.

Bible Reading January 13, 14, 15 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading January 13, 14, 15 (World English Bible)

Jan. 13
Genesis 13

Gen 13:1 Abram went up out of Egypt: he, his wife, all that he had, and Lot with him, into the South.
Gen 13:2 Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.
Gen 13:3 He went on his journeys from the South even to Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai,
Gen 13:4 to the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first. There Abram called on the name of Yahweh.
Gen 13:5 Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.
Gen 13:6 The land was not able to bear them, that they might live together: for their substance was great, so that they could not live together.
Gen 13:7 There was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite lived in the land at that time.
Gen 13:8 Abram said to Lot, "Please, let there be no strife between me and you, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are relatives.
Gen 13:9 Isn't the whole land before you? Please separate yourself from me. If you go to the left hand, then I will go to the right. Or if you go to the right hand, then I will go to the left."
Gen 13:10 Lot lifted up his eyes, and saw all the plain of the Jordan, that it was well-watered everywhere, before Yahweh destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, like the garden of Yahweh, like the land of Egypt, as you go to Zoar.
Gen 13:11 So Lot chose the Plain of the Jordan for himself. Lot traveled east, and they separated themselves the one from the other.
Gen 13:12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, and Lot lived in the cities of the plain, and moved his tent as far as Sodom.
Gen 13:13 Now the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinners against Yahweh.
Gen 13:14 Yahweh said to Abram, after Lot was separated from him, "Now, lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward,
Gen 13:15 for all the land which you see, I will give to you, and to your offspring forever.
Gen 13:16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then your seed may also be numbered.
Gen 13:17 Arise, walk through the land in its length and in its breadth; for I will give it to you."
Gen 13:18 Abram moved his tent, and came and lived by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to Yahweh.




Jan. 14
Genesis 14


Gen 14:1 It happened in the days of Amraphel, king of Shinar, Arioch, king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and Tidal, king of Goiim,
Gen 14:2 that they made war with Bera, king of Sodom, and with Birsha, king of Gomorrah, Shinab, king of Admah, and Shemeber, king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar).
Gen 14:3 All these joined together in the valley of Siddim (the same is the Salt Sea).
Gen 14:4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year, they rebelled.
Gen 14:5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer came, and the kings who were with him, and struck the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim,
Gen 14:6 and the Horites in their Mount Seir, to Elparan, which is by the wilderness.
Gen 14:7 They returned, and came to En Mishpat (the same is Kadesh), and struck all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that lived in Hazazon Tamar.
Gen 14:8 The king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar) went out; and they set the battle in array against them in the valley of Siddim;
Gen 14:9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings against the five.
Gen 14:10 Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell there, and those who remained fled to the hills.
Gen 14:11 They took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their food, and went their way.
Gen 14:12 They took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
Gen 14:13 One who had escaped came and told Abram, the Hebrew. Now he lived by the oaks of Mamre, the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner; and these were allies of Abram.
Gen 14:14 When Abram heard that his relative was taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan.
Gen 14:15 He divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and struck them, and pursued them to Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.
Gen 14:16 He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative, Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
Gen 14:17 The king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley).
Gen 14:18 Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High.
Gen 14:19 He blessed him, and said, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth:
Gen 14:20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand." Abram gave him a tenth of all.
Gen 14:21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people, and take the goods to yourself."
Gen 14:22 Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have lifted up my hand to Yahweh, God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth,
Gen 14:23 that I will not take a thread nor a sandal strap nor anything that is yours, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich.'
Gen 14:24 I will accept nothing from you except that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. Let them take their portion."




Jan. 15
Genesis 15


Gen 15:1 After these things the word of Yahweh came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Don't be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."
Gen 15:2 Abram said, "Lord Yahweh, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and he who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?"
Gen 15:3 Abram said, "Behold, to me you have given no seed: and, behold, one born in my house is my heir."
Gen 15:4 Behold, the word of Yahweh came to him, saying, "This man will not be your heir, but he who will come forth out of your own body will be your heir."
Gen 15:5 Yahweh brought him outside, and said, "Look now toward the sky, and count the stars, if you are able to count them." He said to Abram, "So shall your seed be."
Gen 15:6 He believed in Yahweh; and he reckoned it to him for righteousness.
Gen 15:7 He said to him, "I am Yahweh who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it."
Gen 15:8 He said, "Lord Yahweh, how will I know that I will inherit it?"
Gen 15:9 He said to him, "Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon."
Gen 15:10 He brought him all of these, and divided them in the middle, and laid each half opposite the other; but he didn't divide the birds.
Gen 15:11 The birds of prey came down on the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.
Gen 15:12 When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. Now terror and great darkness fell on him.
Gen 15:13 He said to Abram, "Know for sure that your seed will live as foreigners in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them. They will afflict them four hundred years.
Gen 15:14 I will also judge that nation, whom they will serve. Afterward they will come out with great wealth,
Gen 15:15 but you will go to your fathers in peace. You will be buried in a good old age.
Gen 15:16 In the fourth generation they will come here again, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full."
Gen 15:17 It came to pass that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold, a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.
Gen 15:18 In that day Yahweh made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your seed I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates:
Gen 15:19 the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites,
Gen 15:20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,
Gen 15:21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites."


Jan. 13,14
Matthew 7

Mat 7:1 "Don't judge, so that you won't be judged.
Mat 7:2 For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you.
Mat 7:3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but don't consider the beam that is in your own eye?
Mat 7:4 Or how will you tell your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye;' and behold, the beam is in your own eye?
Mat 7:5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye.
Mat 7:6 "Don't give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw your pearls before the pigs, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
Mat 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you.
Mat 7:8 For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.
Mat 7:9 Or who is there among you, who, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?
Mat 7:10 Or if he asks for a fish, who will give him a serpent?
Mat 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Mat 7:12 Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
Mat 7:13 "Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it.
Mat 7:14 How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it.
Mat 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.
Mat 7:16 By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?
Mat 7:17 Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit.
Mat 7:18 A good tree can't produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit.
Mat 7:19 Every tree that doesn't grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire.
Mat 7:20 Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.
Mat 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will tell me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?'
Mat 7:23 Then I will tell them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.'
Mat 7:24 "Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock.
Mat 7:25 The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn't fall, for it was founded on the rock.
Mat 7:26 Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn't do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand.
Mat 7:27 The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell-and great was its fall."
Mat 7:28 It happened, when Jesus had finished saying these things, that the multitudes were astonished at his teaching,
Mat 7:29 for he taught them with authority, and not like the scribes.


Jan. 15, 16
Matthew 8

Mat 8:1 When he came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
Mat 8:2 Behold, a leper came to him and worshiped him, saying, "Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean."
Mat 8:3 Jesus stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, "I want to. Be made clean." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Mat 8:4 Jesus said to him, "See that you tell nobody, but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Mat 8:5 When he came into Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking him,
Mat 8:6 and saying, "Lord, my servant lies in the house paralyzed, grievously tormented."
Mat 8:7 Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him."
Mat 8:8 The centurion answered, "Lord, I'm not worthy for you to come under my roof. Just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
Mat 8:9 For I am also a man under authority, having under myself soldiers. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and tell another, 'Come,' and he comes; and tell my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
Mat 8:10 When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to those who followed, "Most certainly I tell you, I haven't found so great a faith, not even in Israel.
Mat 8:11 I tell you that many will come from the east and the west, and will sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven,
Mat 8:12 but the children of the Kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Mat 8:13 Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way. Let it be done for you as you have believed." His servant was healed in that hour.
Mat 8:14 When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever.
Mat 8:15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her. She got up and served him.
Mat 8:16 When evening came, they brought to him many possessed with demons. He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick;
Mat 8:17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying: "He took our infirmities, and bore our diseases."
Mat 8:18 Now when Jesus saw great multitudes around him, he gave the order to depart to the other side.
Mat 8:19 A scribe came, and said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."
Mat 8:20 Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."
Mat 8:21 Another of his disciples said to him, "Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father."
Mat 8:22 But Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead."
Mat 8:23 When he got into a boat, his disciples followed him.
Mat 8:24 Behold, a violent storm came up on the sea, so much that the boat was covered with the waves, but he was asleep.
Mat 8:25 They came to him, and woke him up, saying, "Save us, Lord! We are dying!"
Mat 8:26 He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then he got up, rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm.
Mat 8:27 The men marveled, saying, "What kind of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"
Mat 8:28 When he came to the other side, into the country of the Gergesenes, two people possessed by demons met him there, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that nobody could pass that way.
Mat 8:29 Behold, they cried out, saying, "What do we have to do with you, Jesus, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?"
Mat 8:30 Now there was a herd of many pigs feeding far away from them.
Mat 8:31 The demons begged him, saying, "If you cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of pigs."
Mat 8:32 He said to them, "Go!" They came out, and went into the herd of pigs: and behold, the whole herd of pigs rushed down the cliff into the sea, and died in the water.
Mat 8:33 Those who fed them fled, and went away into the city, and told everything, including what happened to those who were possessed with demons.
Mat 8:34 Behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus. When they saw him, they begged that he would depart from their borders.