2/8/17

"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" Jesus Blesses Little Children (10:13-16) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                Jesus Blesses Little Children (10:13-16)

INTRODUCTION

1. Jesus had just finished His teachings on the sanctity of marriage...
   a. As an institution ordained of God
   b. As a bond that should not be broken

2. When parents brought their little children...
   a. To be touched by Him - Mk 10:13
   b. To lay His hands on them and pray - cf. Mt 19:13

[It begins with frustration and indignation, but ends with valuable
teaching regarding discipleship and a touching scene of the Lord holding
and blessing the little children.  Let's begin by considering...]

I. THE NARRATIVE

   A. PARENTS BRING THEIR INFANTS...
      1. The verb tense suggest the parents' persistence ("kept on
         bringing") - Mk 10:13
      2. Mark uses a word (paidia) that can mean children up to twelve,
         while Luke uses a word (brephos) that indicates infants 
         - Lk 18:15
      3. Mark later says Jesus "took them up in His arms", suggestive of
         infants - Mk 10:15
      -- The parents desperately wanted Jesus to touch and pray for
         their babies

   B. DISCIPLES REBUKE THE PARENTS...
      1. The disciples rebuke those who were bringing the children 
         - Mk 10:13
      2. Perhaps they believed Jesus too important to be disturbed, the
         infants too insignificant
      -- The disciples again show mistaken zeal, as we are all wont to
         do

   C. JESUS REBUKES HIS DISCPLES...
      1. When Jesus saw what His disciples were doing, He was indignant
         - Mk 10:14
      2. The infants were to be allowed, "for of such is the kingdom of
         God" - ibid.
      3. In fact, one must receive the kingdom "as a little child" to
         enter it - Mk 10:15
      -- Jesus was angry with His disciples, but He used the opportunity
         to teach them

   D. JESUS BLESSES THE INFANTS...
      1. He first took them up into His arms, laid His hands on them
         - Mk 10:16
      2. He then blessed them, likely in the form of praying for them
         - cf. Mt 19:13
      -- While busy in His ministry, Jesus took time to pray for these
         babies

[The scene of Jesus blessing the little children is a touching one.
What applications might we draw from this episode in the ministry of
Jesus...?]

II. THE APPLICATION

   A. BASED ON EISEGESIS...
      1. Some use this passage to support infant baptism
         a. Though the earliest mention of infant baptism is around 200
            A.D.
         b. It began only after the doctrine of original sin developed,
            that infants are born in sin
         c. The practice increased as baptism became viewed as a sign or
            seal of the covenant God has with His people, akin to
            circumcision - cf. Gen 17:10-12
         d. This connection is further assumed from Paul's mention of
            baptism as a spiritual circumcision - cf. Col 2:11-12
         e. Yet both here and in Colossians, it is reading into the text
            (eisegesis) what is not there
      2. Contrary to Biblical evidence regarding baptism and the new
         covenant
         a. There is no real evidence of infant baptism in the
            scriptures
         b. The guilt of sin is not inherited - Eze 18:20
         c. Baptism requires faith and repentance, of which infants are
            incapable - Mk 16:16; Ac 8:37; 2:38
         d. In the new covenant, no one has to be taught to know the
            Lord; unlike the old covenant where infants had to be taught
            to know the Lord (infant baptism would make that distinction
            of the new covenant meaningless) - cf. He 8:6-13
         e. Paul's comparison of baptism to circumcision pertains to the
            act of cutting away, not of being a seal or sign of the
            covenant - Col 2:11-12
      -- Reading cherished views into the Scriptures is tempting, but is
         it rightly handling the Word of God? - cf. 2Ti 2:15

   B. BASED ON EXEGESIS...
      1. Receiving the kingdom
         a. Jesus used the children to teach qualities necessary to
            enter the kingdom of God
         b. Childlike virtues like trustful simplicity, unassuming
            humility - cf. Psa 131:1-2
         c. To receive the kingdom, we must be poor in spirit, meek
            - cf. Mt 5:3,5; Mt 18:3-4
      2. Receiving the children
         a. Jesus demonstrates His love for children, willingness to
            take time for them
         b. His disciples should show similar concern for little
            children
         c. Are we willing to make time for children?  Be good role
            models? - cf. Mt 18:6,10
      3. Praying for the children
         a. All children need our prayers, just as the parents requested
            for their infants
         b. Even though infants may not be in a state of sin, their time
            will come soon enough
         c. Especially in this day and age, where children are bombarded
            with so much evil
      -- Others may read into the scriptures, let's to read out of them
         what the Lord intended

CONCLUSION

1. Have we taken to heart the lessons Jesus intended for His
   disciples...?
   a. To receive the kingdom of God with a childlike trust and humility?
   b. To show an appreciation and love for little children?
   c. To pray for them and their parents?

2. May we as disciples of Christ never be too busy...
   a. To take time for the littlest of children
   b. To learn from them as to how we should be in the kingdom of God
   c. To pray for them, to encourage them in both word and deed

         "...for of such is the kingdom of God." - Mk 10:14
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" Jesus On Divorce And Remarriage (10:1-12) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

               Jesus On Divorce And Remarriage (10:1-12)

INTRODUCTION

1. A serious problem in the world today is that of divorce and
   remarriage...
   a. Its affect on children has been well documented by Judith
      Wallerstein, author of Second Chance (Ticknor & Fields, 1988)
      1) Almost half of children of divorces enter adulthood as worried,
         underachieving, self-deprecating, and sometimes angry young men
         and women
      2) Half grew up in settings in which the parents were warring with
         each other even after the divorce  -- Reported in Time, 2/6/89
   b. Parents who divorce are not left unhurt either
      1) "A divorce is like an amputation: You survive, but there's less
         of you." - Margaret Atwood (Marriage Partnership, Vol.7, No.4)
      2) Average percentage change in a woman's standard of living the
         year following a divorce:  minus 73% - Daniel Evan Weiss, (The
         Great Divide, Poseidon Press, 1991)
   c. As described by God, divorce is a treacherous, violent act - Mal 2:16

2. Remarriage after divorce is not without it problems also...
   a. It does not always heal the wounds inflicted by the divorce:  "I'm
      lucky my parents have stayed together. Unlike so many of my
      friends, I've never had to cry on a holiday." - Tales Out of High
      School, Marriage Partnership, Vol. 5, no. 6
   b. Many remarriages are unlawful in God's eyes, constituting what
      Jesus called "adultery"

4. While social and psychological effects of divorce and remarriage are
   serious, it is the spiritual effects that concern me most...
   a. Too many people are ignorant of what the Bible teaches on this
      subject
   b. Such ignorance leads to quick and easy divorces, and to adulterous
      marriages that are unlawful

5. In Mk 10:1-12, we find Jesus discussing divorce and remarriage...
   a. Jesus had left Capernaum as was teaching by the Jordan river in
      the region of Judea
   a. His teaching on divorce and remarriage was occasioned by a
      challenge from the Pharisees
   b. He used the opportunity to teach His disciples what people today
      need to know!

[As we consider this passage carefully, we first read how...]

I. THE PHARISEES' QUESTION JESUS (2)

   A. TO TEST HIM, NOT TO BE TAUGHT BY HIM...
      1. Divorce was a touchy issue then, even as it is today
      2. Divorce was not uncommon; e.g., King Herod - Mk 6:17-18
      3. The scribes were divided over the proper grounds for divorce
         a. The school of Hillel taught that a man could divorce for
            just about any reason
         b. The school of Shammai permitted divorce only in the case of
            fornication

   B. ANY ANSWER JESUS GAVE WOULD OFFEND SOMEONE...
      1. If He took the popular lax view, the Pharisees could deride His
         claim as a teacher of superior morality - cf. Mt 5:20
      2. If He upheld the stricter view, He would be unpopular with the
         majority (which the Pharisees could use against Him)

[Of course, Jesus was not concerned with what man thought, but in
pleasing His Father in heaven.  This becomes evident as we next
consider...]

II. JESUS' RESPONSE TO THE PHARISEES (3-9)

   A. HE ASKED WHAT MOSES TAUGHT...
      1. "What did Moses command you?" - Mk 10:3
      2. "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and
         to dismiss her" - Mk 10:4
      3. They understood Moses to permit divorce if a "certificate of
         divorce" was given to the wife - Deut 24:1-4; cf. Mt 5:31
      4. Yet a careful reading of that passage reveals:
         a. Moses forbid remarrying of a spouse, even if her second
            husband had died - Deut 24:4
         b. The reason was the woman became "defiled" when she remarried
            - Deut 24:4
         c. The word "defiled" used elsewhere to describe adultery 
            - Lev 18:20; Num 5:13-14
         d. She actually became an adulteress by remarriage (despite the
            certificate!) - cf. Ro 7:1-3
      5. While they appealed to this passage in divorce (and presumably,
         remarriage), it actually described the treachery of divorce:
         defilement of the spouse - cf. Mt 5:32

   B. MOSES PERMITTED DIVORCE DUE TO THEIR HARD HEARTS...
      1. "Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this
         precept" - Mk 10:5
      2. The Jews at that time were a hardened people - cf. Deut 9:6;
         31:27
      3. Is this not a commentary on the state of one's heart when they
         desire to divorce?
         a. It takes a hardhearted person to want to divorce their
            spouse
            1) Either to divorce arbitrarily (for no scriptural grounds)
            2) Or to divorce when the guilty person is pleading for
               forgiveness and reconciliation
         b. Of course, that is exactly the condition of those in the
            world (or those in the church who are of the world) - cf.
            Ep 4:17-19

   C. IT WAS NOT WHAT GOD HAD IN MIND FROM THE BEGINNING...
      1. The permission to divorce was only temporary - cf. Mt 19:8
      2. "From the beginning it was not so" - note carefully:
         a. The Law of Moses (which was temporary) considered the
            hardness of men's hearts, and permitted hardhearted actions
         b. The gospel of Christ (which replaces the Law) cures the
            hardness of one's heart!
            1) His grace removes the heart of stone, and replaces it
               with a heart of love!
            2) I.e., a heart able to abide by God's original design for
               marriage
      3. Paul made it clear that under normal conditions divorce is not
         an option - 1Co 7:10-11

   D. JESUS REMINDED THEM OF THEIR GENESIS...
      1. "But from the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male
         and female'" - Mk 10:6
      2. It is helpful to keep in mind: Where we came from, who created
         us, what we are
      3. For our views on divorce and remarriage will be influenced by
         our views of ourselves!
         a. Are we simply animals, compelled by instinct?
            1) Unable to control fleshly desires?
            2) Then divorce and remarriage ought to be free and easy
         b. Or God's highest creation, made in His image?
            1) Able to control fleshly lusts to the glory of God?
            2) Then divorce and remarriage ought to reflect God's desire
               for man's holiness!

   E. HE ATTRIBUTED THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE TO GOD, NOT MAN...
      1. Notice, it was GOD who said "For this reason..." - Mk 10:7; cf.
         Gen 2:24
      2. Therefore questions about marriage (such as divorce and
         remarriage) must be answered by God, not by man (nor by man's
         laws)!

   F. HE EMPHASIZED THAT IN MARRIAGE GOD CREATES A UNION...
      1. The two become one flesh - Mk 10:8; cf. Gen 2:24
      2. They are joined by none other than God Himself!

   G. HIS CONCLUSION:  LET NOT MAN SEPARATE WHAT GOD JOINED...
      1. What GOD has joined together, let not MAN separate - Mt 19:6
      2. Man has no right to separate what God Himself has joined
      3. It is clear that God's intention is that marriage is to be for
         life

[According to Mark's gospel, the disciples later asked Jesus privately
more about this subject (Mk 10:10).  And so we now read...]

III. JESUS' TEACHING TO HIS DISCIPLES (10-12)

   A. DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE LEADS TO ADULTERY...
      1. Whether the man divorces the wife or vice versa - Mk 10:11-12
      2. Jesus taught the same consequence of divorce and remarriage in
         Mt 5:31-32
      3. The one exception:  if spouse is put away for fornication - cf.
         Mt 19:9

   B. THE DISCIPLES' REACTION...
      1. They thought it better not to marry - cf. Mt 19:10
      2. Jesus described celibacy as a viable option if necessary - cf.
         Mt 19:11-12

CONCLUSION

1. Any divorce must be on the grounds specified by Jesus...
   a. For marriage is an institution ordained by God - Mk 10:7-8
   b. And man must not separate what God has joined together - Mk 10:9
   c. The only ground specified by Jesus is fornication - Mt 19:9

2. A divorce for any other reason...
   a. Is an attempt to separate what God has joined together - Mk 10:9
   b. Is forbidden by the Lord - cf. 1Co 7:10-11
   c. If a couple divorces, they should remain unmarried or be
      reconciled - 1Co 7:11
   d. For it will result in adultery if there is a remarriage 
      - Mk 10:11-12

May the Lord bless those with the faith to live according to His word,
and may we be diligent in teaching our children what the Bible teaches
regarding divorce and remarriage...!
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

Sewage Problems! by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=845

Sewage Problems!

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In their book, None of These Diseases, physicians S.I. McMillen and David Stern discussed why the hygienic rules laid out by God for the children of Israel were so effective, and why they still are applicable. To illustrate their point, they related the story of a man by the name of Edwin Chadwick.
Chadwick had accepted a seat on the Board of Health in London, where he and his comrades faced a deadly dilemma. The year before, in 1846, a cholera epidemic had swept England’s capital city and killed more than 16,000 people. This year, 1847, things were looking much worse. How could cholera infiltrate such an advanced city? Why could the premier doctors of the day do nothing to combat the spread of the deadly disease? And how many more people would die before the epidemic could be stopped? Questions with no answers wafted from the lips of the city’s inhabitants as the chill of death continued to sweep over its streets.
Death first visited the houses of the poor. Chadwick, who had been studying diseases in England for the past 14 years, had determined that the rich could expect to live to the ripe old age of 43, while the poor could expect to live to be around 22. Why were the poor the first to endure the carnage of cholera? Chadwick thought he had the answer.
The poor lived in basements. But why would living in a basement cause so many poor people to die? The city of London had a serious problem with sewage disposal. Its drainage system was inadequate, the money allotted to the problem was insufficient, and to make matters worse, very few people even recognized the magnitude of the problem. The streets were filled with raw sewage that people dumped indiscriminately from second and third story windows. When rain fell in sufficient quantities to run through the streets, the then-tainted water naturally settled in the lowest places it could find—basements.
In one orphans’ home that housed 1,400 children, 300 of them contracted the deadly disease, and 180 of those died. When Chadwick inspected the facility, he found that the basement was a cesspool into which the sewage drained. Sadly, many of the children slept in the filth night after night. And Chadwick found that the same situation could be found in basement areas all over London. No wonder so many poor people were dying!
Chadwick identified the problem and implemented a new drainage system that eventually saved many lives, and could have saved many more had people not refused to believe that sewage was the cause of such an epidemic. They resented the idea of someone telling them how they needed to configure pipes and drains in their own homes. Therefore, they ignored Chadwick’s sound advice, balked, and neglected to install proper drainage systems—a course of action that cost thousands of lives over the next several years.
Raw sewage carries disease. If only the people of London had turned in their Bibles to Deuteronomy 23:12: “Also, you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse.” More than 3300 years before London’s epidemic, the Lord, through his servant Moses, implemented a plan to stop such epidemics before they started. Such tragedies as those that befell London could have been prevented if people simply had accepted God’s Word on the matter and observed the kind of hygiene that the Israelites had practiced so many years before. How did Moses know to instruct the Israelites in such public health practices, when the nation from which he came, and the nations surrounding the Israelites, knew no such practices? Just a lucky guess—or by inspiration of God?

Morality Without Religion? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3480

Morality Without Religion?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Bible and Scales
In the incessant conspiracy to expel the God of the Bible from public life and to dismantle America’s Christian heritage, a variety of ploys and myths frequently is floated by those who profess “political correctness.” One commonly heard quip is: “We can have morality without religion” (e.g., Barker, 2006). Those who advocate such thinking insist that Christianity must be removed from the public sector—whether in government or public schools. They declare that morality is distinct from religion, and that individuals will acknowledge and embrace morality in the absence of Christianity. It was Hitler who said, “The great masses of the people...more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a little one” (1933, 1:10).
The fact is that the Creator of the human race is the sole Author and Source of objective morality. Otherwise, moral distinctions would simply be the product of the subjective whims of humans. Morality would thus legitimately vary from person to person and country to country. One society might decide to legalize pedophilia while another might make it illegal—and both would be “right” in the sense that everyone would be free to formulate their own moral standards. The result would be complete and utter social anarchy in which every person would be equally free to believe and behave however he or she chooses. No wonder Thomas Jefferson insisted: “I know but one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively” (1789).
Charles Carroll
Charles Carroll
In stark contrast, the Bible presents the only logical and sane assessment of reality—an objective standard, authored by the Creator, exists for the entire human race. That standard resides within the confines of the Christian religion as articulated in the New Testament. Unless human civilization gauges its moral behavior according to that objective, absolute framework, moral and spiritual chaos in society will be the end result. In the words of Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence: “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they, therefore, who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure...are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments” (as quoted in Steiner, 1907, p. 475, emp. added).
Yet, for some fifty years now, Americans have been pummeled with the humanistic notion that morality can be maintained in society to the exclusion of Christianity. With almost prophetic anticipation, the very first president of the United States—the Father of our country—anticipated and addressed this sinister misnomer. After serving his country for two terms as president, George Washington delivered his farewell address to the nation, dispelling the “morality-without-religion” theory in sweeping tones:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric? (1796, pp. 22-23, emp. added).
Washington was simply echoing the teaching of the Bible. He recognized that the American republic was founded on the moral principles of the Christian religion. He understood that to abandon the Christian religion was ultimately to abandon the moral principles inherent in that religion. He also affirmed that those who “shake the foundation of the fabric,” by undermining the importance of Christian morality, are not sincere friends of America. Indeed, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). “For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish, and those nations shall be utterly ruined” (Isaiah 60:12).

REFERENCES

Barker, Dan (2006), “How to be Moral Without Religion,” http://www.ffrf.org/about/bybarker/CASH1.mp3.
Hitler, Adolf (1933), Mein Kampf, [On-line], URL: http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/mkv1ch10.html.
Jefferson, Thomas (1789), “Letter to James Madison, August 28, 1789,” The Works of Thomas Jefferson in Twelve Volumes, ed. Paul Leicester Ford, [On-line], URL: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mtj:@field(DOCID+@lit (tj050135)).
Steiner, Bernard (1907), The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland, OH: Burrows Brothers).
Washington, George (1796), Address of George Washington, President of the United States...Preparatory to His Declination (Baltimore, MD: George & Henry Keating).

Hyperbole: A Common Biblical Figure of Speech by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=2407

Hyperbole: A Common Biblical Figure of Speech

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

The Bible is by far the most popular book ever printed. As such, it is also the most read. Those who read the Bible are reading the inspired message of God (see Butt, 2007). Yet, even though the Bible is God’s inspired message, it contains figures of speech that commonly occur in secular writings. E.W. Bullinger wrote more than a thousand pages of material describing these figures of speech in his excellent volume Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (1968). In order to properly understand the Bible, a basic knowledge of commonly used figures of speech is important. Furthermore, such knowledge is often helpful in refuting erroneous claims, made by skeptics, that the Bible contains errors or discrepancies.
A common figure of speech used in the Bible is that of hyperbole. Bullinger defines hyperbole as: “when more is said than is literally meant” (1968, p. 423). He also calls hyperbole “exaggeration.” We who use the English language are quite familiar with the use of hyperbole, even though we may not be as familiar with the term itself. When a teenager explains to her parent that “everybody” is going to be at the party, does she mean that literally the world’s population of 6.6 billion people will be there? Of course she does not. She is intentionally exaggerating to make a point. When a teacher explains to his class that “everybody” knows who the first president of the United States was, does the teacher believe all toddlers can correctly answer the question? No. Once again, the teacher is simply using a well-understood figure of speech to convey a point.
In a similar way, the Bible uses hyperbole on numerous occasions. Take John 4:39 as an example. In this passage, a Samaritan woman spoke of Jesus and said: “He told me all that I ever did” (emp. added). Had Jesus really told that woman everything that she had ever done in her life? No, she was using hyperbole to make her point.
To illustrate further, consider Mark 1:4-5: “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins” (emp. added). Taken literally, these verses would mean that John baptized every single person (man, woman, and child) in all of Judea and Jerusalem. But these verses are not to be taken literally. They are utilizing hyperbole, in which intentional “exaggeration” is employed to explain that John’s baptism was extremely popular.
The importance of understanding hyperbole can be seen when comparing another passage to Mark 1:4-5. In Luke 7:24-35, Jesus extolled the righteousness of John the Baptizer. Some of His listeners appreciated Jesus’ comments about John and some did not. Verses 29 and 30 explain: “And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.” Are we to conclude that the Pharisees and lawyers did not dwell in Judea and Jerusalem and that is why they had not been baptized—as Mark 1:4-5 would imply if taken literally? That would certainly be a stretch. The best answer in this case is to show that Mark’s use of hyperbole would allow some, such as the Pharisees and lawyers, to have rejected John and not to have received his baptism.
Another example of hyperbole is found in John 3:26. In that context, John’s disciples were telling John about the increasing popularity of Jesus’ ministry. They said to him: “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” (emp. added). Was it true that literally “all” the people in the world were coming to Jesus? No, it was simply the case that John’s disciples were intentionally exaggerating, using hyperbole, to describe Jesus’ spreading fame. [NOTE: For more examples see Bullinger, 1968, pp. 423-428.]
Honest-hearted Bible readers can benefit greatly from knowing when and how the Bible writers used hyperbole. Many of the challenges of skeptics can also be answered based on such information. After all, everybody knows that great literature always uses figures of speech such as hyperbole to convey its message.

REFERENCES

Bullinger, E.W. (1968 reprint), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Directed Panspermia and Little, Green (Non-Existent) Men from Outer Space by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4620

Directed Panspermia and Little, Green (Non-Existent) Men from Outer Space

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Science is supposed to be observation-based, according to the National Academy of Sciences. “The statements of science must invoke only natural things and processes. The statements of science are those that emerge from the application of human intelligence to data obtained from observation and experiment” (Teaching About Evolution…, 1998, p. 42, emp. added). The evolutionary community openly advocates this idea—at least, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of its baseless atheistic evolutionary presuppositions. Directed panspermia is a relatively recent example of evolutionists’ brazen contradiction of their own “observation and experiment” rule.
If there is no God, as the atheist claims, then how did life originate? Did it spontaneously generate? More and more scientists are conceding that there’s just too much scientific evidence against abiogenesis for it to be palatable. After all, even the evolution-based biology and life science textbooks openly admit that the work of Pasteur, Spallanzani, and Redi disproved abiogenesis (e.g., Coolidge-Stolz, et al., 2005, pp. 36-37;National Geographic…, et al., 2005, p. 19; Miller and Levine, 2006, pp. 12-13). But if life did not create itself, it had to come from somewhere, and the atheist “cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door” (Lewontin, 1997, p. 31). So, where is he left? Outer space?
That is precisely what many in the evolutionary community are hoping for. Some, like distinguished British astronomer Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, professor of astronomy and applied mathematics at University College, Cardiff, Wales, realizing that the import of the Law of Biogenesis cannot be ignored (see Miller, 2012a), have jettisoned abiogenesis theory in support of the alien seed theory, or “directed panspermia.” This theory speculates that life did not spontaneously generate on Earth, but rather was brought here by alien life forms 3.8 billion years ago and evolutionary development has since been directed by them (“Professor’s Alien Life…,” 2010; Hoyle, et al., 1984). Nobel laureate Sir Francis Crick, who co-discovered the double helix structure of the DNA molecule, suggested that life was sent here from other planets as well (1981). Famous atheist, theoretical physicist, and cosmologist of Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking, believes that aliens almost certainly exist, but believes humans should be leery about making contact with them, since they may raid our resources. According to him, we should use everything in our power to avoid contact. He said, “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans” (“Stephen Hawking Warns…,” 2010). Some have suggested that life simply fell to Earth from space after having evolved from the warm, wet nucleus of a comet (see Gribbin, 1981; Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1981). [NOTE: We have addressed this idea elsewhere (e.g., Miller, 2012b).] In Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, well-known British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, Oxford University’s Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 to 2008, said concerning the possibility of intelligent design:
It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the Universe, a civilization evolved by, probably, some kind of Darwinian means, to a very, very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto, perhaps, this planet. Now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that, if you look at the details of our chemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some kind of designer. And that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the Universe (Stein and Miller, 2008).
So, according to Dawkins, there could be a designer, and we could find evidence of that designer in the “details of our chemistry.” Does that sound familiar? It should. That is one of the fundamental arguments theists have made for centuries in support of the existence of God—the Teleological Argument. There is clear design in the Universe, and design demands a designer.
Ultimately, since there is no evidence for the existence of aliens, there can hardly be any evidence for their establishing life on Earth. Such an idea can hardly be in keeping with the evolutionist’s own beliefs about the importance of direct observation and experiment in science. Such a theory does nothing but tacitly admit (1) the truth of the Law of Biogenesis—in nature, life comes only from life; and (2) the necessity of a creator/designer in the equation—in this case, aliens.
However, notice: since aliens are beings of nature, they too must be governed by the laws of nature. Dawkins went on to say, “But that higher intelligence would, itself, had to have come about by some ultimately explicable process. It couldn’t have just jumped into existence spontaneously” (Stein and Miller, 2008). So, the alien creators, according to Dawkins, have been strapped with the laws of nature as well. Thus, the problem of abiogenesis is merely shifted to the alien’s abode, where the question of the origin of life must still be answered. No wonder evolutionary astrophysicist and astronomy journalist, Stuart Clark, rejects the alien seed theory. Writing in New Scientist, Clark stated that its probability is so “remote,” it should be left aside (2008, 199[2675]:30). Bottom line: A Being not governed by the laws of nature is needed to initiate life, according to the Law of Biogenesis. The Bible, a book containing supernatural characteristics, tells us Who that Being is. [NOTE: See Thompson, 2004 for more on the question of extraterrestrial life.]

REFERENCES

Clark, Stuart (2008), “Where Did Life Come From?” New Scientist, 199[2675]:30-31, September 27.
Coolidge-Stolz, Elizabeth, Jan Jenner, Marylin Lisowski, Donald Cronkite, and Linda Cronin Jones (2005), Life Science (Boston, MA: Prentice Hall).
Crick, Francis (1981), Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature (New York: Simon and Schuster).
Gribbin, John (1981), “Of a Comet Born,” Science Digest, 89[3]:14, April.
Hoyle, Fred and Chandra Wickramasinghe (1981), Evolution from Space (London: J.M. Dent & Sons).
Hoyle, Fred and Chandra Wickramasinghe (1984), Evolution from Space: A Theory of Cosmic Creationism (New York: Simon and Schuster).
Lewontin, Richard (1997), “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review, January 9.
Miller, Jeff (2012a), “The Law of Biogenesis,” Reason & Revelation, 32[1]:2-11, January, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1018&article=1722.
Miller, Jeff (2012b), “Space: The Womb of Life?” Reason & Revelation, 32[6]:62-64, June, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1032.
Miller, Kenneth R. and Joseph S. Levine (2006), Biology (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall).
National Geographic Education Division, Lucy Daniel, Peter Rillero, Alton Biggs, Edward Ortleb, and Dinah Zike (2005), Life Sciences (New York: McGraw-Hill/Glencoe).
“Professor’s Alien Life ‘Seed’ Theory Claimed” (2010), BBC News, February 1, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/south_east/8491398.stm.
Stein, Ben and Kevin Miller (2008), Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Premise Media).
“Stephen Hawking Warns Over Making Contact with Aliens” (2010), BBC News, April 25, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/8642558.stm.
Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science(1998), National Academy of Sciences (Washington, DC: National Academy Press).
Thompson, Bert (2004), “Is There Intelligent Life in Outer Space?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1129.

Life in the Womb by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1578

Life in the Womb

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Fetologists and medical researchers have long recognized the four behavioral states of the pre-born infant that parallel the newborn: 1F (quiet sleep), 2F (active state), 3F (quiet awake), and 4F (active awake). State 5 for newborns, i.e., crying, has not been considered to have a pre-born correlate. However, in a study assessing the effects of exposure to tobacco and cocaine during pregnancy on fetal response to acoustic stimulation, researchers report what appears to be “crying behavior” by the pre-born infant. These behaviors, seen on ultrasound and captured on video recordings, include: an initial exhalation movement associated with mouth opening and tongue depression, followed by a series of three augmented breaths, the last breath ending in an inspiratory pause, followed by an expiration and settling. Researchers believe that these behaviors suggest the possibility of a state 5F (Gingras, et al., 2005).
This research will not be welcomed by the pro-abortion forces of America, since it provides yet another piece of mounting evidence that suggests the pre-born infant is fully human. Indeed, much scientific evidence exists to confirm that the viewpoint enshrined in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which opened the floodgates for wholesale abortion, is responsible for murdering over 45,000,000 human babies (“Abortion in the...,” 2005).
Of course, the Bible provided the correct perspective all along. Consider, for example, the recorded visit that Mary, the mother of Jesus, made to Elizabeth, the mother of John the baptizer. Both women were pregnant at the time.
Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy” (Luke 1:39-44, emp. added).
Notice that Elizabeth’s pre-born baby is being represented as a living human being. In fact, the term “babe” used in verses 41 and 44 to refer to the pre-born John is the exact same term that is used in the following chapter to refer to Jesus after His birth as He laid in the manger (Luke 2:12,16). So in God’s sight, whether a person is in his or her pre-birth developmental state, or in a post-birth developmental state, that person is still a baby! Yet, the slaughter continues.

REFERENCES

“Abortion in the United States: Statistics and Trends,” (2005), National Right to Life, [On-line], URL: http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/facts/abortionstats.html.
Gingras, J.L., E.A. Mitchell, and K.E. Grattan (2005), “Fetal Homologue of Infant Crying,” Archives of Disease in Childhood, 90:F415-F418, [On-line], URL: http://fn.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/abstract/90/5/F415.

Is God the Author of Falsehoods? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=661&b=Hebrews

Is God the Author of Falsehoods?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In 1 Kings 22, the story is told of King Ahab requesting the assistance from Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to go to war with Syria in order to recover the territory of Ramoth Gilead. Jehoshaphat immediately agreed to assist Ahab in this battle, but he also asked for Ahab to “inquire for the word of the Lord” (vs. 5). Ahab willingly granted Jehoshaphat’s request, and gathered together nearly 400 of his prophets. After these prophets approved of Ahab’s plan of war, and assured him victory against the Syrians (vss. 6,10-12), Jehoshaphat (apparently sensing that all was not well) asked if there was another prophet that they might consult in order to get more counsel. Ahab bitterly acknowledged that there still was one man who could be consulted regarding his desire to reclaim Ramoth Gilead for Israel—Micaiah, the son of Imlah. As Ahab suspected, once Micaiah (a true prophet of the Lord) was brought before him, he predicted defeat for the confederation (vss. 17-23)—a prophecy that Ahab and Jehoshaphat ignored, but one that was fulfilled. The battle ended with Israel and Judah in retreat, and Ahab dead.
The problem that many people have with this passage has to do with the lying spirit that Micaiah mentioned as coming from Jehovah. The text reads as follows:
Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The Lord said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the Lord said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’ Therefore look! The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the Lord has declared disaster against you” (1 Kings 22:19-23).
Few narratives in the Old Testament have been the focus of more infidel criticism than 1 Kings 22, and particularly these five verses. How could God, Who is revealed in the Bible as being One Who “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2; cf. Hebrews 6:18), “put a lying spirit in the mouth” of Ahab’s prophets (1 Kings 22:23)? What rational explanation can be given to this alleged discrepancy? Is God, or Satan, the “father of lies” (John 8:44)?
First, the honest Bible student must observe that the narrative involves a vision that is highly symbolic. Therefore, it would be unwise to press it as though it were a literal circumstance. Micaiah answered Ahab with two parabolic visions. “In the first, Israel was likened to shepherdless sheep scattered on the mountains, which must find their own way home (v. 17). In the second Micaiah described a heavenly scene in which the Lord and his hosts discussed the best way to get Ahab to Ramoth Gilead so that he might fall in battle (vss. 19-23)” (Patterson and Austel, 1988, p. 164). Commentator Adam Clarke wisely noted that this account is an illustration, and “only tells, in figurative language, what was in the womb of providence, the events which were shortly to take place, the agents employed in them, and the permission on the part of God for these agents to act” (n.d., 2:476). Another writer has observed: “Visions of the invisible world can only be a sort of parables; revelation, not of the truth as it actually is, but of so much of the truth as can be shown through such a medium. The details of a vision, therefore, cannot safely be pressed, any more than the details of a parable” (Cook, 1981, 2:619).
Second, there is a common Hebrew idiom used throughout the Old Testament by which the permissive will of God is expressed in forceful, active jargon. The Lord is said to have “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 7:3,13; 9:12; 10:1; et al.), “incited David against” Israel (2 Samuel 24:1), “deceived” His people (Jeremiah 4:10), and given them “statutes that were not good” (Ezekiel 20:25). In the New Testament, God is characterized as sending a strong delusion that some might believe a lie and be condemned (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12). Even Jesus used “commands” at times in a permissive sense. For example, He commanded the demons to “go” into the herd of pigs (Matthew 8:32), yet the preceding verse informs the reader that the demons begged Jesus to let them enter the swine. Thus, He was not the initiator of the demons’ move (from inhabiting man to dwelling in pigs), He merely permitted them to do so. Similarly, when Jesus told Judas, “What you do, do quickly” (John 13:27), He was not giving Him a direct command, or forcing Judas to betray Him. Rather, Jesus permitted Judas’ actions, and (since He knew what Judas was about to do) even encouraged him to do it quickly. All of these passages basically indicate that when men are determined to disobey their Creator, He allows them to follow the base inclination of their own hearts. Such was the case with Ahab and his false prophets. God knew their hearts. He knew Ahab was going to go to war before he ever consulted with his prophets (1 Kings 22:3-4). He knew that the prophets were accustomed to telling the king whatever he wanted to hear (cf. 22:8), and He knew that they were also going to tickle Ahab’s “itching ear” on this occasion (cf. 2 Timothy 4:3-4). Although God’s will was made known to Ahab and his prophets in this case (i.e., Micaiah warned Ahab of the impending doom), He permitted their hardened hearts to believe a lie.
In 1 Kings 22:19-23, and numerous other verses of similar import, the Bible merely expresses what God allows, not what He initiates or forces to happen. Walter Kaiser correctly stated that “many biblical writers dismiss secondary causes and attribute all that happens directly to God, since he is over all things. Therefore, statements expressed in the imperative form of the verb often represent only what is permitted to happen” (1988, p. 119). This account, therefore, should not trouble the sincere student of God’s Word.
REFERENCES
Clarke, Adam (no date), A Commentary and Critical Notes (Nashville, TN: Abingdon).
Cook, F.C., ed. (1981 reprint), The Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Kaiser, Walter (1988), Hard Sayings of the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity).
Patterson, R.D., and Hermann J. Austel (1988), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Kings, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).

Choose to Be a Winner Participate! Eugene C. Perry


http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Perry/Eugene/Charles/1922/Articles/beawinner.html

Choose to Be a Winner

Participate!
Personal experience and observation show that there are many losers and few winners, even among those who are frequent participants. Take for example raffles, sweepstakes, or even races and other athletic contests. The prizes go to only a few. There may be thousands of entrants, but there are very few winners, sometimes only one.
Like us, you likely receive an abundance of junk mail offering fabulous prizes in various forms of sweepstakes almost every day. We are encouraged to participate, often at little or no cost other than a postage stamp. Although it is claimed that there are winners, such seem to be very rare. The odds are discouraging. Why bother to enter?
Even in the case of races and athletic contests, where formal entry requirements are met and much effort is spent in preparatory practice, the prize goes to the few. In each case, we must decide whether or not to participate, to make the necessary preparations and meet the other required conditions.
There is a race in which we cannot lose and each person is encouraged to make a decision to enter it - a race in which all who complete the course are winners. The Christian life is frequently compared to a contest, a fight or a race, but there is a great difference. Unlike these other contests, in it, all are potential winners.
We face opportunities to make choices or decisions in many areas of life. Some are small and inconsequential whereas others are very important and have profound and far reaching consequences. These are decisions that no one else makes for us. There will be people and circumstances that encourage or discourage the right and beneficial decision, but in the final analysis, we must, personally, decide. If we make the wrong decision we can only blame ourselves. We, and likely others influenced by us, will pay the price in this life and the future life. In contrast, if we make the right decisions, we thank God for the benefits to ourselves and the many others who benefit. This is because God provides the blessings resulting from the right decisions. God is the prize-giver.
Decisions we make in regard to vocation, location, companionships and relationships contribute to us not being losers in respect to the eternal prize. Basic to all of this, of course, is the decision to accept God's gift of salvation in Christ by deciding to obey the terms of the "good news". In doing this, we enter the race, we confess our faith in the divinity of Christ, we acknowledge Him as Lord and we commit ourselves to serve Him.
Having thus become a participant in this race, one must realize that faithfulness and fruitfulness are the expected results. This involves following a spiritual leader while living in a physical body in a material world and making appropriate decisions along the way, We are in the world but not of it. Jesus prayed for his followers saying, "they are still in the world . . . they are not of the world any more than I am not of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:11, 14, 15-17).
Loyalty to this Lord will mean decisions resulting in self-denial, hardship, sacrifice, service and growth into His likeness. We make those decisions because we love our Lord, but also, like Moses of old, because we look ahead to the "reward". "By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the other people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward" (Heb.11:24-26).
The decisions we face regarding resisting temptation, being steadfast in our labour for the Lord (I Cor.15:58), a proper and permanent marriage, responsible parenting and loving and caring relationships with others - all of these should result from our first choice, to enter the "narrow way". Jesus encouraged this decision. He said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate, and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Mt.7:13,14).
An elderly African lady was dying. Friends and loved ones from the entire community had gathered to her home and were quietly comforting one another with prayers, handclasps and tears. Maude had been an inspiration to all who knew her, having raised five children, cared for her neighbours and steadily worked for her church. She would be gravely missed. A handful of her closest family stood now above her bed, whispering all the appropriate epitaphs, when Maude spoke up with her typical wit and wisdom, "Why's everyone cryin'? I'm not lookin' for the undertaker, I'm lookin' for the uppertaker!"
How do we look at death or at the coming of the Lord? Do we have the undertaker or the uppertaker view of death? Are we among those like Paul who "desire to depart and be with Christ" (Phil.1:23); those who "have longed for his appearing" (II Tim.4:8)? Do we welcome this event as Jehovah does, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" (Ps.116:15)?
Although many believe in and sometimes talk about eternal life, most people, even Christians, look on the transition to such with fear and uncertainty. Why? In general the pain involved in death does not appear to be that dreadful! Do we fear change? Do we fear the loss of associations and possessions here on the earth? Truly, we have many meaningful and precious relationships and, in our culture, an over-abundance of material possessions, and the security provided by them in a stable society. But how dependable and durable are these things that we can feel and touch? "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Mt.6:19-21).
We must be careful that our treasure is not in the wrong place, if we would be winners. In one place it is secure while in the other it is insecure.
Note the contrasts. "Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling ... For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life" (II Cor.5:1,2,4). "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Rom.8:18).
"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Rev.21:3,4).
How real is this better life? Would that we all had the confidence of G. C. Brewer who once said, "Someday you will read in the newspaper that G. C. Brewer is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now."
Follow through!
The challenge is for us, with a view of eternity, to live as Paul lived. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Phil.1:21). Faith in eternity gives us strength, peace and courage, because working, playing and living, we know that, come what may, there is a life, infinitely better than what we know now, waiting for us. We thus have "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding," guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil.4:7).
How do we live with this in view? Although he preferred "to be away from the body and at home with the Lord" (II Cor.5:8), Paul had decided (made it his goal) to please the Lord, "whether we are at home in the body or away from it." Anticipating the judgement, he stated, "Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men." Again, although he confidently stated that "to die is gain", and that his desire was to "depart and be with Christ" which is "far better", Paul was ready to continue in the flesh - to do God's will. His hope was that he would "in no way be ashamed" and that "Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death" (Phil.1:20). He was willing to abide, which would mean "fruitful labor" for him and which was "more necessary" for the Christians.
As with Paul, as long as we live, we have a useful purpose in life, we are vessels for God's use. This is not meant to be an unwilling but a voluntary service, "faith expressing itself through love" (Gal.5:6). We love Him and want to please Him who loves us so much that He gave his Son to restore our relationship and is so patient with us.
Realizing the fate of those who fail to decide for God, we persuade men out of love and concern rather than out of duty. Loving our brothers and sisters in Christ, we work for their well-being, especially the eternal well-being resulting from continued faithfulness.
Involved in all of these matters is the necessity of making decisions regarding both the general trend of our lives and the myriad of lesser choices which present themselves to us each day. In Galatians 5, Paul lists the "acts of the sinful nature" which prevent participants from inheriting the kingdom of God, and by way of contrast, "the fruit of the Spirit", which, by implication make it ours. In the next chapter, he used the sowing and reaping analogy to emphasize the same truth.
"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (Gal.6:7,8).
"By the 'sowing' the apostle appears to be referring to the whole pattern of our thoughts and habits, our life-style, life direction and life-discipline. It includes the company we keep, the friendships we cultivate, the literature we read and the films we watch..., the kind of pursuits with which we occupy our leisure and everything which engrosses our interest, absorbs our energy and dominates our mind... For by these things we are sowing, sowing, sowing all the time; and according to what and where we sow, this shall we reap" (John R. Stott, Baptism and Fullness, pp. 81,82).
These all involve decisions. By sowing to the Spirit we reap eternal life. Stott describes this life as "a deepening fellowship with the living God now (to know whom is eternal life, John 17:3); together with that fullness of fellowship with him which defies imagination and which awaits us in the last day."
Because we have eternity in mind, we set our "minds on things above, not on earthly things." And, "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory" (Col.3:1-4).
"All through the inspired word the prize set before us, the goal to attain, the motivation to service is always eternal life. Not a phenomenon to be feared but a paradise to be desired" (Gary Beauchamp). If this goal becomes or is unreal or secondary in our thinking, we will tend to make the wrong decisions and consequently fail to glorify God in our lives.
We have been deeply touched by stories or scenes of the emotional welcoming home of POW's or hostages, long separated from their families. This cannot be compared to the reunion with our heavenly Father when we go home. Yet, with many, there remains a dread of this transition instead of it being viewed with anticipation.
We are God's family. He cares for us. We can't lose. In 1990, sister Joan Smith who had patiently endured a valiant but losing 10 year battle with caner, wrote a series of articles for the Women's Page of this paper (The Gospel Herald). She tells in detail of the way she came to look at and face this affliction. During the time of her battle, including operations, chemotherapy, much suffering and the accompanying mental stress, she was a faithful wife and mother and served with dedication and efficiency at Great Lakes Christian College and in the church. She began the series by quoting, "My help comes from the Lord" (Ps.121:2). She explained her positive attitude, and continuing and dedicated service beyond "the call of duty" in the following statement: "I am a survivor. I am not a loser. God is allowing me to stay here a while longer. I can be with my family and still work for Christ. If I don't survive, I am still not a loser. I have a home in heaven waiting for me. Sister Smith has since gone on to that eternal home.
All Christians should think of this life as the journey, the preparation for eternal life. We are sojourning here. Like the faithful of old, we must confess by life and word that we are "aliens and strangers on earth. People who ... show that they are looking for a country of their own ... longing for a better country a heavenly one." God is not ashamed to be the God of such. He "has prepared a city for them" (Heb.11:13-16).
Those who become sick and are in hospital look forward to going home. Sometimes it means going home to the joys of reunion with a loving family; sometimes going home to a loving Father in heaven. In either case, they are winners.
The crown of righteousness is, according to II Timothy 4:8, "to all who have longed for his appearing". We long for his appearing only if we are confidently prepared and in the process of fighting "the good fight", finishing "the race" and keeping "the faith".
As the Jews journeyed from their various villages on their pilgrimages to Jerusalem, trudging on foot through unfamiliar places, they would sing songs of encouragement. As they approached Jerusalem, the men would sing:
"I lift up my eyes to the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of heaven and earth."
The women and children would then reply:
"He will not let your foot slip
He who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep."
Then the men would sing:
"The Lord watches over you
The Lord is your shade at your right hand;"
The women and children would reply:
"The sun will not harm you by day,
Nor the moon by night."
The men would sing:
"The Lord will keep you from all harm -
he will watch over your life:"
Then everyone would join to affirm:
"The Lord will watch over your coming and going
Both now and forevermore" Psalm 121.
As these people "went out" from their familiar villages and "came in" to a city in which things were strange to them, they moved from one world to another. Heartened by the lines, "The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore," they pushed on. Surely, these lines have a similar application for us as we journey to our Holy City.
Having in mind a beautiful view of eternity, let us live each day in anticipation, hope and faith, repeating to ourselves the powerful words of Paul, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
Eugene C. Perry


Published in The Old Paths Archive
(http://www.oldpaths.com)

Bible Reading February 8 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading February 8 (World English Bible)


Feb. 8
Genesis 39

Gen 39:1 Joseph was brought down to Egypt. Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the hand of the Ishmaelites that had brought him down there.
Gen 39:2 Yahweh was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man. He was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
Gen 39:3 His master saw that Yahweh was with him, and that Yahweh made all that he did prosper in his hand.
Gen 39:4 Joseph found favor in his sight. He ministered to him, and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
Gen 39:5 It happened from the time that he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that Yahweh blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of Yahweh was on all that he had, in the house and in the field.
Gen 39:6 He left all that he had in Joseph's hand. He didn't concern himself with anything, except for the food which he ate. Joseph was well-built and handsome.
Gen 39:7 It happened after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes on Joseph; and she said, "Lie with me."
Gen 39:8 But he refused, and said to his master's wife, "Behold, my master doesn't know what is with me in the house, and he has put all that he has into my hand.
Gen 39:9 He isn't greater in this house than I, neither has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"
Gen 39:10 As she spoke to Joseph day by day, he didn't listen to her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
Gen 39:11 About this time, he went into the house to do his work, and there were none of the men of the house inside.
Gen 39:12 She caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me!" He left his garment in her hand, and ran outside.
Gen 39:13 When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and had run outside,
Gen 39:14 she called to the men of her house, and spoke to them, saying, "Behold, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to mock us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice.
Gen 39:15 It happened, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment by me, and ran outside."
Gen 39:16 She laid up his garment by her, until his master came home.
Gen 39:17 She spoke to him according to these words, saying, "The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought to us, came in to me to mock me,
Gen 39:18 and it happened, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment by me, and ran outside."
Gen 39:19 It happened, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, "This is what your servant did to me," that his wrath was kindled.
Gen 39:20 Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, the place where the king's prisoners were bound, and he was there in custody.
Gen 39:21 But Yahweh was with Joseph, and showed kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
Gen 39:22 The keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever they did there, he was responsible for it.
Gen 39:23 The keeper of the prison didn't look after anything that was under his hand, because Yahweh was with him; and that which he did, Yahweh made it prosper.



Feb. 8, 9
Matthew 20

Mat 20:1 "For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who was the master of a household, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
Mat 20:2 When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
Mat 20:3 He went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace.
Mat 20:4 To them he said, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went their way.
Mat 20:5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise.
Mat 20:6 About the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle. He said to them, 'Why do you stand here all day idle?'
Mat 20:7 "They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' "He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and you will receive whatever is right.'
Mat 20:8 When evening had come, the lord of the vineyard said to his manager, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning from the last to the first.'
Mat 20:9 "When those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came, they each received a denarius.
Mat 20:10 When the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise each received a denarius.
Mat 20:11 When they received it, they murmured against the master of the household,
Mat 20:12 saying, 'These last have spent one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat!'
Mat 20:13 "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Didn't you agree with me for a denarius?
Mat 20:14 Take that which is yours, and go your way. It is my desire to give to this last just as much as to you.
Mat 20:15 Isn't it lawful for me to do what I want to with what I own? Or is your eye evil, because I am good?'
Mat 20:16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen."
Mat 20:17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them,
Mat 20:18 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death,
Mat 20:19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to mock, to scourge, and to crucify; and the third day he will be raised up."
Mat 20:20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, kneeling and asking a certain thing of him.
Mat 20:21 He said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Command that these, my two sons, may sit, one on your right hand, and one on your left hand, in your Kingdom."
Mat 20:22 But Jesus answered, "You don't know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to him, "We are able."
Mat 20:23 He said to them, "You will indeed drink my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it is for whom it has been prepared by my Father."
Mat 20:24 When the ten heard it, they were indignant with the two brothers.
Mat 20:25 But Jesus summoned them, and said, "You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.
Mat 20:26 It shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.
Mat 20:27 Whoever desires to be first among you shall be your bondservant,
Mat 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Mat 20:29 As they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.
Mat 20:30 Behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, "Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!"
Mat 20:31 The multitude rebuked them, telling them that they should be quiet, but they cried out even more, "Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!"
Mat 20:32 Jesus stood still, and called them, and asked, "What do you want me to do for you?"
Mat 20:33 They told him, "Lord, that our eyes may be opened."
Mat 20:34 Jesus, being moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes received their sight, and they followed him.