3/7/17

Bible Reading March 7 by Gary Rose


Bible Reading March 7 (World English Bible)


Mar. 7
Exodus 17

Exo 17:1 All the congregation of the children of Israel traveled from the wilderness of Sin, by their journeys, according to Yahweh's commandment, and encamped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink.
Exo 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses, and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test Yahweh?"
Exo 17:3 The people were thirsty for water there; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?"
Exo 17:4 Moses cried to Yahweh, saying, "What shall I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."
Exo 17:5 Yahweh said to Moses, "Walk on before the people, and take the elders of Israel with you, and take the rod in your hand with which you struck the Nile, and go.
Exo 17:6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb. You shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Exo 17:7 He called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because the children of Israel quarreled, and because they tested Yahweh, saying, "Is Yahweh among us, or not?"
Exo 17:8 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
Exo 17:9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose men for us, and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with God's rod in my hand."
Exo 17:10 So Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
Exo 17:11 It happened, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
Exo 17:12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side. His hands were steady until sunset.
Exo 17:13 Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Exo 17:14 Yahweh said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under the sky."
Exo 17:15 Moses built an altar, and called its name Yahweh our Banner.
Exo 17:16 He said, "Yah has sworn: 'Yahweh will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.' "

Mar. 7, 8
Mark 6

Mar 6:1 He went out from there. He came into his own country, and his disciples followed him.
Mar 6:2 When the Sabbath had come, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many hearing him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things?" and, "What is the wisdom that is given to this man, that such mighty works come about by his hands?
Mar 6:3 Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judah, and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" They were offended at him.
Mar 6:4 Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own relatives, and in his own house."
Mar 6:5 He could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people, and healed them.
Mar 6:6 He marveled because of their unbelief. He went around the villages teaching.
Mar 6:7 He called to himself the twelve, and began to send them out two by two; and he gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
Mar 6:8 He commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a staff only: no bread, no wallet, no money in their purse,
Mar 6:9 but to wear sandals, and not put on two tunics.
Mar 6:10 He said to them, "Wherever you enter into a house, stay there until you depart from there.
Mar 6:11 Whoever will not receive you nor hear you, as you depart from there, shake off the dust that is under your feet for a testimony against them. Assuredly, I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!"
Mar 6:12 They went out and preached that people should repent.
Mar 6:13 They cast out many demons, and anointed many with oil who were sick, and healed them.
Mar 6:14 King Herod heard this, for his name had become known, and he said, "John the Baptizer has risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him."
Mar 6:15 But others said, "He is Elijah." Others said, "He is a prophet, or like one of the prophets."
Mar 6:16 But Herod, when he heard this, said, "This is John, whom I beheaded. He has risen from the dead."
Mar 6:17 For Herod himself had sent out and arrested John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, for he had married her.
Mar 6:18 For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
Mar 6:19 Herodias set herself against him, and desired to kill him, but she couldn't,
Mar 6:20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he did many things, and he heard him gladly.
Mar 6:21 Then a convenient day came, that Herod on his birthday made a supper for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee.
Mar 6:22 When the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and those sitting with him. The king said to the young lady, "Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you."
Mar 6:23 He swore to her, "Whatever you shall ask of me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom."
Mar 6:24 She went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" She said, "The head of John the Baptizer."
Mar 6:25 She came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptizer on a platter."
Mar 6:26 The king was exceedingly sorry, but for the sake of his oaths, and of his dinner guests, he didn't wish to refuse her.
Mar 6:27 Immediately the king sent out a soldier of his guard, and commanded to bring John's head, and he went and beheaded him in the prison,
Mar 6:28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the young lady; and the young lady gave it to her mother.
Mar 6:29 When his disciples heard this, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
Mar 6:30 The apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and they told him all things, whatever they had done, and whatever they had taught.
Mar 6:31 He said to them, "You come apart into a deserted place, and rest awhile." For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
Mar 6:32 They went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.
Mar 6:33 They saw them going, and many recognized him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him.
Mar 6:34 Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.
Mar 6:35 When it was late in the day, his disciples came to him, and said, "This place is deserted, and it is late in the day.
Mar 6:36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages, and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat."
Mar 6:37 But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." They asked him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give them something to eat?"
Mar 6:38 He said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go see." When they knew, they said, "Five, and two fish."
Mar 6:39 He commanded them that everyone should sit down in groups on the green grass.
Mar 6:40 They sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties.
Mar 6:41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves, and he gave to his disciples to set before them, and he divided the two fish among them all.
Mar 6:42 They all ate, and were filled.
Mar 6:43 They took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and also of the fish.
Mar 6:44 Those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
Mar 6:45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat, and to go ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he himself sent the multitude away.
Mar 6:46 After he had taken leave of them, he went up the mountain to pray.
Mar 6:47 When evening had come, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and he was alone on the land.
Mar 6:48 Seeing them distressed in rowing, for the wind was contrary to them, about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea, and he would have passed by them,
Mar 6:49 but they, when they saw him walking on the sea, supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out;
Mar 6:50 for they all saw him, and were troubled. But he immediately spoke with them, and said to them, "Cheer up! It is I! Don't be afraid."
Mar 6:51 He got into the boat with them; and the wind ceased, and they were very amazed among themselves, and marveled;
Mar 6:52 for they hadn't understood about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Mar 6:53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore.
Mar 6:54 When they had come out of the boat, immediately the people recognized him,
Mar 6:55 and ran around that whole region, and began to bring those who were sick, on their mats, to where they heard he was.
Mar 6:56 Wherever he entered, into villages, or into cities, or into the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch just the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched him were made well.

Can Anyone Actually Do “Good”? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=1224&b=3%20John

Can Anyone Actually Do “Good”?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Most people will read the title of this article and immediately think, “Of course a person can do good.” After all, Jesus said, “A good (agathos) man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things” (Matthew 12:35). Paul instructed Christians to (simply) “do good to all” (Galatians 6:10). He later reminded the disciples in Corinth that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). And John wrote: “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God” (3 John 11).
So why such an elementary question? This question is occasionally asked by skeptics who want to know why the Bible repeatedly teaches that God’s people are to “do good,” if, as other biblical passages teach, “there is none who does good, no, not one” (Psalm 14:3; 53:3; Romans 3:12; cf. Mark 10:18). “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Ecclesiastes 7:20; cf. Isaiah 64:6). Thus, Bible critics ask, “How can the Bible teach that Christians are to do good, if no one can actually be good?”
The question is a fair question. Admittedly, the Bible’s different uses of the term “good” may be confusing to some initially. As with the solution to so many alleged Bible contradictions, however, the answer actually is very simple: words are used in different senses. The term “good” can be used in different ways and in varying degrees. We can talk of a good pizza, a good day, a good dog, a good boy, and our good God, and mean somewhat (or perhaps very) different things.
In the purest and highest meaning of the word, only God is “good.” Jesus referred to this supreme goodness when He said to the rich young ruler, “No one is good but One, that is, God” (Mark 10:18). In truth, as Caleb Colley concluded in his article “Why is Good Good?,” “God is good, but not in virtue of a standard of goodness that exists separate from Him.… Good is defined by God’s goodness, which is inseparable from His nature” (2010).
On the other hand, human beings can only know goodness and be good on a dependent and finite level. In the beginning, everything God made, including the first human beings, “was very good” (Genesis 1:31)—but not “good” in precisely the same way our perfectly good God is good. God is innately good. He cannot do evil (cf. Titus 1:2); He cannot even be tempted by evil (James 1:13). But a man can be tempted to sin, and he can choose to sin (James 1:14-15). In fact, every person of an accountable mind and age who has ever lived (save God Incarnate, the Lord Jesus) has chosen to do that which is not good (Romans 3:23). Such a decision on man’s part, even one such decision, makes him “no good” in the sense that, apart from God’s amazingly good, saving grace, he is a lawfully condemned, unholy sinner (Romans 3:24). What’s more, on our own, apart from God, we can do absolutely nothing about our sinfulness. There is nothing that we could do on our own to become “good.”
Sinful man can only become good and just by choosing to accept God’s perfectly good and gracious gift of salvation through Christ (Romans 5:8,15-21; see Lyons and Butt, 2004). Subsequently, God-saved, newly made good people (i.e., Christians) will “put to death” their rebelliously sinful selves (repenting of sins—Acts 2:38; 3:19) and “put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Colossians 3:5,10; cf. Romans 12:1-2).
Indeed, Christians can be good and do good. We are not good in and of ourselves. Rather, by the grace of our innately and supremely good God, we can be justified and “become followers of what is good” (1 Peter 3:13). We can walk in the light of God, knowing that “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). And, during moments of weakness, when we choose that which is not good, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Thus, our good God even provided a way for Christians to remain “good” and to continue doing good works, in spite of our imperfections and struggles with sin.

REFERENCES

Colley, Caleb (2010), “Why is Good Good?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=95&article=3601.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2004), “Taking Possession of What God Gives: A Case Study in Salvation,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1381&topic=86.

Think on These Things by J. C. Bailey


http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Bailey/John/Carlos/1903/Articles/thinkon.html

Think on These Things

The apostle Paul, by the power of the Holy Spirit, said “if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Two people within the same congregation may tell about the same event, and leave very different impressions of what happened.

One is a pessimist. One is an optimist. The one man paints a gloomy picture. The optimist paints a rosy picture. This text that we have used, suggests that a Christian should be an optimist. We need to be careful that we do not carry our optimism too far, but we do need to be optimists.

If we obey the command given here, we shall be optimists. We must have faith that truth shall eventually triumph. Christ reigns until He has put all his enemies under his feet (I Corinthians 15:25). If we are to succeed we must do as Paul did. He forgot the things that were behind and he pressed forward to the things that are ahead. We press on to the mark of the high calling which is in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13,14). Let us be assured that He who rides the white horse is King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:11-16).

True, we may fall by the wayside. We may fail, but He will not fail. His cause will prevail. We may refuse to endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (II Timothy 2:3). There are many preachers today who make me wonder if this command has any part in their thinking. However, my concern along this line will not make me a pessimist. I shall rather think about those who are enduring hardship as good soldiers of Christ Jesus.

God is no respecter of persons. To some people it is no marvel when a preacher in this country refuses to endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus, but they are the first to criticize the citizen of another country who does not endure the same hardship. We need to learn the validity of what Peter said by the power of the Holy Spirit, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). If it is wrong for a man overseas to make Christianity a way of gain, then it is wrong here. Why do we expect a different standard from a preacher in a foreign land than we do from preachers here? We sometimes demand more of them, at least in some respects.

Let me give you a concrete example. I was talking to a young man who had been overseas and he mentioned a certain native preacher whom we both knew.

He told me how this native preacher had interpreted for him and another young preacher. Any one would know that it is a harder job to interpret than it is to preach. (Many times I have used two interpreters during a series of meetings.) Yet, this very young man took part in the dismissing of this native preacher for failure to work. Another native preacher was let go who was one of the most diligent men I have ever met. It seems that he had paid too much for one bundle of paper that he bought. We would be enraged in this country if a man of the world dismissed someone for a thing like that. Why do we not protest when a brother in Christ is used that way: Why? Think on these things.

A man who had never been overseas at that time said at a workshop where I was one of the speakers, that things looked different overseas than they do here. I think I have been overseas long enough to assess the value of that statement. I do not believe that is the difference. I think there are restraints here that we do not have overseas. When McHenry was asked why he turned to the Seventh Day Adventists after he went to India, it is reported that his was, “I never did believe in eternal punishment.” In all probability, if he had stayed in the U.S.A. he would have died in the church; that is, to all outside appearances he would have continued as a member of the church. The Lord knoweth them that are His.

Let me assure you that there is no doctrine that looks different to me in India than it looks here. I oppose instrumental music the same there as I do here. I oppose pre-millennialism the same there as I do here. Let me state further that I oppose denominationalism the same there as I do here. A preacher may go overseas and fraternize with the sects in a way that the church would not permit here. Why is this permitted? Is it true that God is no respecter of persons? I do not believe that God has one law in a foreign country, but another law here. Think on these things.

At one time there were many people in this country who believed that a preacher should not receive any regular support. In fact, when I was editor of the Gospel Herald, I had more than one article submitted along this line. This idea has pretty well died down as far as supporting preachers in this country is concerned. It is now considered right to support a preacher if he is a Canadian or an American any place in the world. Let us suppose that a man goes from Canada or the United States to some foreign country to labor. He has a native helper who can do more work in that country than he can. (This is not to disparage the work that is done by the Canadian or the United States citizen.) This helper makes his work possible. The man from America can be paid. He can be paid every month. According to some, that native cannot be paid with funds from overseas. I ask: Where is the golden rule? If this teaching be true then God is a respecter of persons. Think on these things.

A young Indian got acquainted with a church in this country. The church sent him to a Christian school. Then they sent him back to India. He told the congregation that you could not convert the Indian just by preaching. You had to have a project of some kind. The favorite project of the Indian is an orphan home. What has been the result? This Indian obtained seven acres of good agricultural land. There is no orphan home and no one was ever converted to Christ. The young Indian has gone back to his denomination. Tens of thousands of dollars of the Lord's money have been squandered. Should we not expect such a result when neither the preacher nor the congregation believed that the gospel was God's power to save? Think on these things.

Would you accuse me of a pessimistic attitude? I admit that some of what I have said would seem to point that way, but I have not finished. Despite our failures, think of what has happened in the world in this generation. Think of the hundreds of thousands who have obeyed the gospel in the various countries of the world. Think of the host of native preachers who now carry the gospel to their own people. At the end of World War II we probably had no more than 5,000 members of the church who were not in the United States. Today that number would be nearly half a million souls. It is growing daily.

So while we look at our mistakes, we shall not let them overshadow the great work that is being done. We shall accentuate the positive. Yes, I believe with all my heart that He who rides the white horse is the Lord of lords and the King of kings. I believe that He who is with us is greater than he who is against us. The church is growing. It has foes within and without, but it is growing. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all true believers (Romans 1:16).

J. C. Bailey, 1979


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

Pluralism, Multiculturalism, Syncretism, and America by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1260

Pluralism, Multiculturalism, Syncretism, and America

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

As America continues her downward spiral into social, moral, ethical, and spiritual chaos, it is difficult to realize that the first 150 years of American civilization stand in such stark contrast to current culture. The Christian orientation of this country from its inception is irrefutable, revisionist history notwithstanding. The present extensive transformation of society, and the wholesale abandonment of biblical principles, are astonishing. If the Founding Fathers could be resurrected momentarily to observe the change, they would be unquestionably incredulous. They would be aghast, horrified, and deeply saddened that America could be so thoroughly redirected toward moral degradation—a condition that characterized the France of their day.
Pluralism is the notion that all religious belief systems and philosophies are of equal validity. Multiculturalism is the idea that American culture has historically been neither superior to nor preferable over any other culture in the world, and that all cultures—regardless of basic religious, moral, ethical, and spiritual beliefs and practices—are equally credible, viable representations of proper behavior and living. Multiculturalism actually denigrates American civilization as inferior to the other cultures of the world, demonizing it as oppressive, coercive, and exploitive. For both multiculturalism and pluralism, absolute truth does not exist. Both systems embrace the self-contradictory notion that truth is relative, and that right and wrong depend upon the subjective assessments of fallible humans. The politically correct climate that has been forged, insists that whatever people choose to believe is, indeed, correct and good—at least for them!
One illustration of the mad rush to dilute truth and to advocate the mindless acceptance of every imaginable belief or practice is the recent Interfaith Congress held at the Paul VI Pastoral Center in Fatima, Portugal, site of the Catholic shrine dedicated to “the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Attended by delegates representing many religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and African Paganism, the Shrine’s rector, Monsignor Luciano Guerra, spoke of the need to create a shrine where different religions can mingle—a “universalistic place of vocation” (“Fatima,” 2003). Jesuit theologian Jacques Dupuis insisted that the religions of the world must unite: “The religion of the future will be a general converging of religions in a universal Christ that will satisfy all” (“Fatima”). Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, spoke of the Shrine’s “inter-religious dimension” (“Vatican,” 2003).
Dupuis argued: “The other religious traditions in the world are part of God’s plan for humanity and the Holy Spirit is operating and present in Buddhist, Hindu and other sacred writings of Christian and non-Christian faiths as well” (“Fatima”). The Congress issued an official statement that urged all religions to refrain from proselytizing those of other religions, since “no one religion can irradiate another or strengthen itself by downplaying others. What is needed is that each religiontreat each [other] religion on the same footing of equality with no inferior or superiority complexes (“Fatima”). The statement emphasized the idea that peace may be achieved among all religions—if everyone will admit that contradictions exist between beliefs, and then concentrate on what unites them rather than what separates them.
History repeats itself over and over again. Stubborn humanity refuses to learn from the mistakes of the past. The Israelites were plagued by syncretism [the fusion of differing systems of belief, as opposed to remaining individualistic] through much of their Old Testament history. They did not remove God completely from their lives. They did not become outright atheistic (although polytheism amounts to the same thing). Rather, they engaged in syncretism and, as a result, mixed many elements of false religion into their own beliefs and practices. During the dark ages of the judges, a man named Micah was typical of the spiritual climate of the day. He had a shrine dedicated to the gods of the pagan nations, but he also latched on to a Levite in hopes of currying the favor of the one true God as well (Judges 17:5-13). The condition of the northern kingdom of Israel at the time of the Assyrian captivity was one in which “[t]hey feared the Lord, yet served their own gods” (2 Kings 17:33). By Zephaniah’s day, the same conditions prevailed. God pronounced judgment on Judah in the following words: “I will stretch out My hand against Judah, and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, the names of the idolatrous and pagan priests—those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord, but who also swear by Molech” (Zephaniah 1:4-5).
Precisely the same malady is afflicting America. Many Americans still claim to believe in the God of the Bible (although the number is declining year by year). However, many—perhaps most—have bought into the idea that we must not be “judgmental” or “intolerant” of the beliefs of others. Hence, our society is swiftly becoming a strange mixture of every sort of religious belief and practice. People in high places are calling upon nationwide acceptance of all religions without reservation—from Native American animism to Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Most shocking of all is the way that so many Americans have simply chosen to embrace a nebulous blend of ambiguous New Age beliefs that enables them to embrace diversity without consideration of specific differences in belief and practice. Spiritual ambiguity has become the sum and substance of religion for many.
It is interesting—if not sadly tragic—that although Israel was born in monotheism in 1500 B.C., it degenerated into paganism, polytheism, and idolatry. America, too, was born in monotheism—the God of the Bible, not Allah or the gods of Hinduism or Buddhism. But her citizenry is now moving full swing into raw paganism. The gods of sensualism and ethical relativity have become the focus of attention for large numbers of Americans. Sensible people have looked back over the centuries and recognized that any country or culture that worships physical things, or attributes divinity to anyone or anything except the one true God, is a country that is ignorant, superstitious, and unenlightened. Who would ever have dreamed that America would one day turn into just such a country? Israel returned to monotheism by the time of Christ—but only after years of suffering and tribulation as a consequence of their national sin. Will America survive the present mad rush away from God? History shows—probably not. The nation likely will face severe punishment in a variety of forms. Oh, that Americans in large numbers would heed the advice of God given to Solomon—a prescription for national health and well-being: “[I]f My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

REFERENCES

“Fatima to Become Interfaith Shrine” (2003), The Portugal News, November 1, [On-line], URL: http://the-news.net/cgi-local/story.pl?title=Fatima to become interfaith shrine &edition=all.
“Vatican Denies Fatima Will Become Interfaith Shrine” (2003), The Portugal News, November 29, [On-line], URL: http://the-news.net/cgi-local/story.pl?title=Vatican denies Fatima will become interfaith shrine&edition=all.

Evolution, Civilization, and Man's Intelligence by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1099

Evolution, Civilization, and Man's Intelligence

by  Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.

Q.

I’ve heard a lot about “cave men.” Were there really people like this who made their way up through a stone age, bronze age, iron age, etc.?
A.
A storm of controversy has raged in the field of anthropology over the last few years. It concerns the Tasaday—a small group of people living in tree-shrouded caves of the Philippines. The tribe came to the world’s attention in the early 1970s. Their discoverers hailed them as an isolated remnant of the “Stone Age,” with few tools and a simple way of life. Some anthropologists seized the opportunity to test their theories of cultural evolution. Others, however, were skeptical of the media hype. They dismissed the Tasaday as a fraud perpetrated on a gullible public (see Bower, 1989).
The debate continues, but it gives outsiders a view of some deep-seated problems in evolutionary anthropology. Let us say, for a moment, that the Tasaday are not an outright fraud. Were they totally isolated? Are they really a vestige of man’s alleged primitive past, or did they simply retreat from the advances made by kindred Filipinos?
These questions are hard to answer because anthropology rests on the very shaky assumption: that we can learn about our ancient past by studying so-called primitive groups living today (cf. Lewin, 1988). People like the Tasaday, or the !Kung of southern Africa, are supposed to represent the state of humankind in its infancy. It then is up to the anthropologist to invent evolutionary theories explaining why and how we started farming, building, and otherwise carrying on the business of what we call “civilization.” But why are some still in the Stone Age while others are in the Space Age?
Perhaps these people are not in the Stone Age because there never was a Stone Age. From Genesis we learn that people always have farmed and kept animals (4:2), established settlements (4:17), played music (4:21), and forged metal (4:22). The mistake we make is to equate intelligence with technology. Yes, technology is evolving, if we use that word in the strict sense of change. What is more remarkable is the way humans have used their brains to wield available technology. Stonehenge was a remarkable engineering feat, but its possible use as an astronomical observatory and center of pagan worship gives us a picture of a very complex society.
Further, it is narrow-minded to imagine that evolution has driven man from stone, to bronze, to iron as reflected in the names of archaeological ages. Numerous cases show that the simple-to-complex view of cultural evolution simply is not true. Several mound-building cultures once populated North America, but most of the Indian societies and technologies encountered by early European settlers were simple by comparison. Similarly, early Tasmanians used bone tools, yet their descendants abandoned them and came to rely almost solely on wood and other plant materials (Diamond, 1993).
So how is it that Genesis 4 can describe metalworking and agriculture, while portions of mankind apparently never used these skills? The most likely answer lies in the incident at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). Once again, people had rebelled against God, defying His command to inhabit the whole Earth (Genesis 9:1). Jehovah decided to break the revolt by confusing their language. The listing of Noah’s descendants by families, tongues, and nations in Genesis 10 suggests that the resulting division occurred within small groups. Some may have carried specific skills as they migrated to different parts of the world.
However, not every group was adept at farming, building, or metalworking. And as each group moved into a new area, its members would have to find edible plants and suitable game, and seek out new sources of stone and metal. Inevitably, owing to differing skills and resources, groups would attain different levels of sophistication and technology.
The real issue is not whether we think a society is simple or complex. If we look beyond physical appearance and the trappings of our materialistic culture, we will see that the image of God is reflected equally in all men. With that comes individual responsibility to our Creator, so that “in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:35).

REFERENCES

Bower, Bruce (1989), “The Strange Case of the Tasaday,” Science News, 135:280-281,283, May 6.
Diamond, Jared (1993), “Ten Thousand Years of Solitude,” Discover, 14[3]:48-57, March.
Lewin, Roger (1988), “New Views Emerge on Hunters and Gatherers,” Science, 240:1146-1148, May 27.

A Messiah Who "Sneaks" Into History? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=172

A Messiah Who "Sneaks" Into History?

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

As Paul stood before King Agrippa’s throne, relating the story of Christ, he declared of the Messiah’s life: “This thing was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). Those few words have reverberated through centuries of history as one of the hallmarks of the story of Jesus. Never was the life, death, or resurrection of Christ meant to be kept secret—as something might be when it is stored away in a box in an abandoned attic, to be discovered later by accident only by a fortunate few. Rather, the many facets of Christ’s earthly ministry were readily available for inspection by anyone, anytime, anywhere.
In fact, centuries before Christ set foot on the Earth in human form, the prophets of old repeatedly had spoken of His impending arrival. Over 300 messianic prophecies fill the pages of the Old Testament. God did not try to “sneak” the Messiah into human affairs under cover of darkness and without warning. Truth be told, He went to considerable effort to announce to the world the news of its heralded Savior.
One such instance can be found in Genesis 49:10, wherein Moses wrote: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes.” The word “Shiloh” has long been recognized by biblical scholars as another name for the Messiah. This verse, then, explains exactly when the Messiah was to arrive—when the scepter had departed from Judah.
So what is the “scepter,” and when did it depart from Judah? The scepter was a staff kept in possession of the elders of each of the twelve tribes of Israel and engraved with the name of the tribe. It symbolized the national sovereignty and judicial power of God’s people. As long as the scepter was in place, the Jews could govern themselves, excommunicate one of their own, and even administer corporeal punishment (including the death penalty).
Figure 1
Artist’s concept of Paul before King Agrippa
(image courtesy of ArtToday.com)
Interestingly, the scepter remained in place even while the Jews were in captivity under both the Babylonians and the Medes and Persians. It also remained in place for a time under Roman captivity—until the Emperor instituted procurators. When that occurred, even first-century Jews recognized the departure of the scepter because the Romans (around A.D. 11) took away the Jews’ right to administer capital punishment. One Jewish teacher, rabbi Rachmon, put the situation in these terms: “When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them; they covered their heads with ashes, and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming: ‘Woe unto us, for the scepter has departed from Judah, and the Messiah has not come’ ” (as quoted in McDowell, 1999, p. 195).
When the members of the Sanhedrin found that they could not put Jesus to death themselves, but had to request instead that Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, do so on their behalf (Luke 23:24), they should have known the Messiah was in their midst, for that was the exact prophecy Moses had recorded. The scepter had indeed departed from Judah—and the Messiah had indeed come! Yet the Jews ignored the voice of God and demanded the death sentence for His only begotten Son. Why? Because they were the people who “always resisted the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51).
Woe to those individuals in our day and age who ignore the powerful evidence that God has provided as proof of the deity of His precious Son, Jesus Christ! Let us ensure that we today do not become as blind to Christ’s Sonship as those first-century Jews.

REFERENCES

McDowell, Josh (1999), The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson).

Seeing is Believing: The Design of the Human Eye by Taylor Richardson


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1412

Seeing is Believing: The Design of the Human Eye

by  Taylor Richardson

If one of your friends asked you, “How do you know God exists?,” what would you say? There are many different ways to prove God’s existence, because God has given us so much evidence. Sometimes we find that evidence in things we see in the Universe, for example, the Sun. The Sun is like a giant nuclear engine. It gives off more energy in a single second than mankind has produced since the Creation. It converts 8 million tons of matter into energy every single second, and has an interior temperature of more than 20 million degrees Celsius (see Lawton, 1981). Sometimes we find evidence in the animal kingdom. Take the golden orb spider for instance. Pound for pound, the dragline silk of this spider is five times stronger than steel, and is twice as strong as the material that currently makes up SWAT teams’ bulletproof vests. In fact, due to its amazing strength and elasticity, it has been said that you could trap a jumbo jet with spider silk that is the thickness of a pencil.
And sometimes the evidence for God’s existence can even be found within our own bodies. The writer of the book of Hebrews spoke about this evidence when he said: “For every house is built by someone, but he who built all things is God” (3:4).
One of the best examples of design within the human body is the eye. Even Charles Darwin struggled with the problem of how to explain how such a complex organ as the eye could have “evolved” through naturalistic processes. In The Origin of Species he wrote:
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).
But even though Darwin acknowledged that the eye could not have evolved, he went on to argue that it had, in fact, been produced by natural selection through an evolutionary process. It seems almost as though Darwin could not seem to make up his mind on the matter. But he is not the only one who has struggled to explain, from a naturalistic viewpoint, the intricacy of the eye. Evolutionist Robert Jastrow once wrote:
The eye is a marvelous instrument, resembling a telescope of the highest quality, with a lens, an adjustable focus, a variable diaphragm for controlling the amount of light, and optical corrections for spherical and chromatic aberration. The eye appears to have been designed; no designer of telescopes could have done better. How could this marvelous instrument have evolved by chance, through a succession of random events? (1981, pp. 96-97, emp. added).
How indeed? Though Dr. Jastrow argued that “the fact of evolution is not in doubt,” he confessed that “…there seems to be no direct proof that evolution can work these miracles.… It is hard to accept the evolution of the eye as a product of chance” (1981, pp. 101,97,98, emp. added). Considering the extreme complexity of the eye, it is easy to understand why Jastrow would make such a comment. In his book, Does God Believe in Atheists?, John Blanchard described just how complex the eye really is.
The human eye is a truly amazing phenomenon. Although accounting for just one fourth-thousandth of an adult’s weight, it is the medium which processes some 80% of the information received by its owner from the outside world. The tiny retina contains about 130 million rod-shaped cells, which detect light intensity and transmit impulses to the visual cortex of the brain by means of some one million nerve fibres, while nearly six million cone-shaped cells do the same job, but respond specifically to colour variation. The eyes can handle 500,00 messages simultaneously, and are kept clear by ducts producing just the right amount of fluid with which the lids clean both eyes simultaneously in one five-thousandth of a second (2000, p. 313).
Statements like this proves that the eye was so well designed, and so complicated, that it could not have happened by accident, as evolution teaches.

THE EYE’S DESIGN

The anatomy of the eye was first examined and recorded at Alexandria, Egypt, in the first century A.D. An anatomist, Rufus of Ephesus, described the main parts of the eye, which included the dome-like cornea at the front, the colored iris, the lens, and the vitreous humor (which gives the eye its shiny look). Today, thanks to microscopes, we now know that these, along with many other parts of the eye, work in harmony to produce the gift of sight.
Diagram of the Human Eye
The outer white layer of the eye is called the sclera, more commonly known as the “white of the eye.” This layer is an extremely durable, fibrous tissue that extends from the cornea (the clear front section of the eye) to the optic nerve (at the back of the eye). Six tiny muscles (known as the extraocular muscles, or EOMs) connect to the sclera around the eye and control the eye’s movements. Four of the muscles (known as the rectus muscles) control the horizontal and vertical movement, while two (the oblique muscles) control the rotation. All six muscles work together so that the eye moves smoothly.
The inside of the eye can be divided functionally into two distinct parts. The first is the physical “dioptric” mechanism (from the Greek word dioptra, meaning something through which one looks), which handles incoming light. This includes the cornea, iris, and lens. The cornea is the transparent, dome-shaped window (about eleven millimeters in diameter) that covers the front of the eye. Its most important function is to protect the delicate components of the eye against damage by foreign bodies. Thus, the cornea acts like a watch face, in that it lets us look through the “window” of our eye while protecting the internal components from debris and harmful chemicals. The cornea also takes care of most of the refraction (the ability of the eye to change the direction of light in order to focus it on the retina) and works with the lens to help focus items seen at varying distances as it changes its curvature. The iris and the pupil work together to let in just the right amount of light. There are two opposing sets of muscles that regulate the size of the aperture (the opening, or the pupil) according to the brightness or dimness of the incoming light. If the light is bright, the iris constricts, allowing little light to pass; but if it is dark, the iris dilates or expands, allowing more light to pass through. The light (or image) then moves through a lens that has the ability to adjust its shape to help it clarify the image by changing the focal length of the lens between 40.4 and 69.9 millimeters where it is then focused (in an inverted form) on to the retina.
Between the lens and the retina is a transparent substance (the vitreous fluid) that fills the center of the eye. This substance is important because it not only gives the eye its spherical shape, but also provides nutrition for the retinal vessels inside the eye. In children, the vitreous feels like a gel, but as we age, it gradually thins and becomes more of a liquid.
The second is the receptor area of the retina where the light triggers processes in the nerve cells. The retina plays a key role in visual perception. In his book, The Wonder of Man, Werner Gitt explains how the retina is a masterpiece of engineering design.
One single square millimetre of the retina contains approximately 400,000 optical sensors. To get some idea of such a large number, imagine a sphere, on the surface of which circles are drawn, the size of tennis balls. These circles are separated from each other by the same distance as their diameter. In order to accommodate 400,000 such circles, the sphere must have a diameter of 52 metres... (1999, p. 15).
Alan L. Gillen also praised the design of the retina in his book, Body by Design.
The most amazing component of the eye is the “film,” which is the retina. This light-sensitive layer at the back of the eyeball is thinner than a sheet of plastic wrap and is more sensitive to light than any man-made film. The best camera film can handle a ratio of 1000-to-1 photons in terms of light intensity. By comparison, human retinal cells can handle a ratio of 10 billion-to-1 over the dynamic range of light wavelengths of 380 to 750 nanometers. The human eye can sense as little as a single photon of light in the dark! In bright daylight, the retina can bleach out, turning its “volume control” way down so as not to overload. The light-sensitive cells of the retina are like an extremely complex high-gain amplifier that is able to magnify sounds more than one million times (2001, pp. 97-98, emp. added).
Without a doubt, this thin (only 0.2 mm) layer of nerve tissue is a marvel of engineering. It contains photoreceptor (light-sensitive) cells and four types of nerve cells, as well as structural cells and epithelial pigment cells. The two kinds of photoreceptor cells are referred to as rods and cones because of their shape. Each eye has about 130 million rods and 7 million cones. The rods are very sensitive to light (whether it is bright or dim), and allow the eye to see in black and white. Cones, on the other hand, are not as sensitive as rods, and function only optimally in daylight. There are three different types of cones—red light, green light, and blue light—each of which is sensitive to its respective color of light, and which allow the eye to see in full color. The rods and cones convert the different lights into chemical signals, which then travel along the optic nerve to the brain.
Not only are the images produced by the dioptric mechanism miniaturized and upside-down, but it turns out that they also are left-right inverted. The optic nerves from both eyes split up and cross each other in such a way that the left halves of the images of both eyes are received by the right hemisphere of the brain, while the right halves are received by the left. Each half of the observer’s brain receives information from only one half of the image. As Gitt went on to explain, “Note that, although the brain processes the different parts of the image in various remote locations, the two halves of the field of vision are seamlessly reunited, without any trace of a joint—amazing! This process is still far from being fully understood” (p. 17). It is hard to believe that this inverted system of sight could have been produced through evolution.
Since the eyes are one of the most important organs in the body, they must be taken care of constantly. And God designed just such a built-in cleaning system, consisting of the eyelashes, eyelids, and lacrimal glands. The lacrimal glands produce a steady flow of tears that flush away dust and other foreign materials. The tears also contain a potent anti-microbial agent known as lysozyme that destroys bacteria, viruses, etc. The eyelids and eyelashes work together to keep dirt and other debris from entering the eye. The eyelids act like windshield wipers, blinking 3-6 times a minute to moisten and clean the eye.
For many years, scientists have compared the eye to the modern manmade camera (see Miller, 1960, p. 315; Nourse, 1964, p. 154; Gardener, 1994, p. 105). True, the eye and camera do have many things in common, if the function of the camera demands that it was “made,” does it not stand to reason that the more complex human camera, the eye, also must have had a Maker? Alan Gillen explained it best when he wrote: “No human camera, artificial device, nor computer-enhanced light-sensitive device can match the contrivance of the human eye. Only a master engineer with superior intelligence could manufacture a series of interdependent light sensitive parts and reactions” (p. 99, emp. added). That master engineer was God. The writer of Proverbs knew this when he wrote, “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both” (20:12).

REFERENCES

Blanchard, John (2000), Does God Believe in Atheists? (Auburn, MA: Evangelical Press).
Darwin, Charles (1859), On the Origin of Species (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; a facsimile of the first edition).
Gardner, Lynn (1994), Christianity Stands True (Joplin, MO: College Press).
Gillen, Alan L. (2001), Body by Design (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
Gitt, Werner (1999), The Wonder of Man (Bielefeld, Germany: Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung E.V.).
Jastrow, Robert (1981), The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe (New York: Simon and Schuster).
Lawton, April (1981), “From Here to Infinity,” Science Digest, 89[1]:98-105, January/February.
Miller, Benjamin and Goode, Ruth (1960), Man and His Body (New York: Simon and Schuster).
Nourse, Alan E., ed. (1964), The Body (New York: Time, Inc.).

The Dead Sea Scrolls—Seeing The Evidence Upclose by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=1310

The Dead Sea Scrolls—Seeing The Evidence Upclose

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Small pieces of old, black papyrus might not sound very interesting. In fact, were you to see some of these nickel-sized jewels lying on the ground, you probably would think of them as pieces of trash, and simply leave them lying there (or else pick them up and put them in the trashcan). Even when they are displayed behind protective glass casing under regular lighting, they do not seem to be anything special. But when placed under infrared light, these treasures come alive. Dating back to about 150 B.C., these tiny pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls—exhibited in Huntsville, Alabama, at the Von Braun Civic Center during January 2003—certainly are a sight to see. Most of us talk about the extensive manuscript evidence that verifies the Bible’s accurate transmission over the many centuries of its existence, but talking about this evidence is altogether different from being two inches away from it.

For many years, the oldest manuscripts available for the Old Testament dated back only to around A.D. 980. Due to this very late date, some questioned the integrity of the Old Testament documents. If some of these documents were written as early as 1500 B.C., but the earliest copies we could locate dated from 980 A.D., then how could we be sure that the copies we possessed said the same things as those original documents? In 1947, however, the treasure trove of Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered. Amazingly, the scrolls dated from 250 B.C. to A.D. 68. Among the thousands of scrolls and fragments, every single book of the Old Testament is represented, except the book of Esther. On display in Huntsville was a small fragment of Isaiah 26:19-21 that reads as follows: “Your dead shall live again, and their bodies shall rise, shall awake...My people, enter your chambers and shut your doors…to punish the iniquity of the inhabitants of the earth....” The text of this fragment is virtually identical to the text of Isaiah that we have had since A.D. 980. In fact, when the scrolls were compared to the text we possess, all of the texts are virtually identical, with only a few minor alterations (primarily involving the spelling of names). The Dead Sea Scrolls proved to the world that the Old Testament had been correctly transmitted for centuries.
The exhibit also presented several manuscripts attesting to the accuracy of the New Testament documents. Among those is an amazingly well-preserved papyrus sheet on which was written a portion of Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. Dating back to third century A.D., this ancient document, written in the Egyptian language known as Coptic, contains major portions of Colossians 3:21-4:15. This manuscript, combined with the thousands of others of its kind, proves that the New Testament documents were circulating far and wide within a very few years of their original composition.
In fact, the New Testament can boast of more manuscript evidence than any other ancient book in existence. Take, for instance, Homer’s Iliad. To date, those who search for ancient manuscripts have located about 643 pieces of Homer’s work. One of those pieces is on exhibit along with the biblical manuscripts. This tiny strip of papyrus, dating back to the third century A.D., contains a tiny fragment of Homer’s epic poem. And, with 643 manuscript pieces, Homer’s work is among the most well-attested of all ancient documents—until it is compared to the New Testament. As of 2004, scholars have found over 5,700 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, not to mention all those (like the piece of Colossians) written in other languages such as Coptic, Latin, Syriac, etc. In all, we have discovered at least 25,000 ancient written documents that attest to the New Testament’s accuracy, which surpasses every other ancient book by thousands of manuscripts.
Examining this type of ancient evidence firsthand impresses upon the mind the fact that the Word of God has been divinely preserved for thousands of years. As Jesus Christ put it almost two thousand years ago: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Are You Informed About Islam? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=2108

Are You Informed About Islam?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

With the advent of 9/11, our world, and the way we view it, has been forever altered. As you well know, Islam has not only captured international attention, it is expanding its influence and making extensive encroachments into American culture. Over 1,200 mosques dot the American landscape—most built within the last two decades. Influential American authorities, from politicians to public school educators, are promulgating the equal acceptance and pluralistic promotion of Islam in public life. The first Muslim in recent American history was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and took the oath of office on a Quran (Warikoo, 2007). The Democratic National Committee recently invited a Shi’ite Imam to lead the opening prayer at their winter meeting (“Imam Leads...,” 2007).
The time is here. Christians, and for that matter, Americans, can no longer afford to be uninformed about the threat that Islam poses to Christianity and the nation. It is imperative that Christians recognize the critical need to influence the expanding numbers of Muslim converts in our prisons as well as those entering the country. We simply must “be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
Allow me to remind you that Apologetics Press has produced a book that will both inform you about Islam, as well as prepare you to help Muslims see the truth. The Quran Unveiled examines Islam’s holy book with a view toward ascertaining whether it is, in fact, of supernatural origin. If the Quran is from God, it must possess the self-authenticating attributes and characteristics of divine inspiration. If it is not from God, though it may possess certain positive, even valuable, qualities, it must be rejected as disqualified to legislate human behavior in an absolute and ultimate sense.
The Quran Unveiled provides the reader with a meticulous assessment of several significant teachings of the Quran. Here are some of the critical questions answered in the book:
  • Does the Quran teach that a man may have up to four wives?
  • Does the Quran teach that Christians are “infidels”?
  • Does the Quran endorse violence and killing in order to advance Islam?
  • Does the Quran teach that Jesus is the Son of God—or simply a human prophet?
  • Does the Quran teach that virgins await those who enter Paradise?
Allowing the Quran to speak for itself, The Quran Unveiled provides sufficient evidence to bring the reader to the firm realization that the Quran and the Bible stand in stark contradistinction to each other.
Many people refuse to consider the beliefs of others, and simply stick with those beliefs to which their family and cultural environment exposed them. But in order to grasp the full extent of the chasm that exists between the Bible and the Quran, one should read both thoroughly. Muslims should read the Bible, and Christians should read the Quran. The disparity between the two is monumental.
Apologetics Press continues to pursue its cutting-edge articulation of New Testament truth as it relates to current culture. The Quran Unveiled is one more important resource in the “A.P. arsenal” in our ongoing defense of the Christian Faith and our warfare against the forces of Satan. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. We urge you to secure your personal copy today. Or, if you prefer, we also have available The Islam Seminar DVDs that allow you to view a live lecture and PowerPoint presentation of much of the material contained in the book.

REFERENCES

“Imam Leads Democrats in Prayer of Conversion” (2007), World Net Daily, February 3, [On-line], URL: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54085.
Warikoo, Niraj (2007), “Ellison: Quran Influenced America’s Founding Fathers,” Detroit Free Press, January 5, [On-line], URL: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070105/NEWS01/70105032/ 0/NEWS02.

"THE GOSPEL OF JOHN" Seven Principles Of Personal Evangelism (4:1-26) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE GOSPEL OF JOHN"

            Seven Principles Of Personal Evangelism (4:1-26)

INTRODUCTION

1. Most Christians want to share the gospel of Christ with others...
   a. Yet many often feel awkward in their attempts to talk with others
   b. Or they simply don't know how to establish contacts for a Bible
      study
   -- Causing many to experience frustration that discourages them from
      trying again

2. Perhaps we learn some things from Jesus, the master teacher...
   a. Who often engaged in personal evangelism as well as public
      preaching
   b. For example, His conversation with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's
      well - Jn 4:1-26

[Observing Jesus in action, it is possible to glean "Seven Principles Of
Personal Evangelism" that we would do well to remember in our own
efforts to teach others.  One such principle is to...]

I. CONTACT PEOPLE SOCIALLY

   A. WE MUST HAVE SOCIAL CONTACT...
      1. The import of Jesus passing through Samaria - Jn 4:1-6
         a. Many Jews, because of their disdain for Samaritans, avoided
            Samaria
         b. Jesus and His disciples chose to pass through Samaria,
            assuring contact
         c. A similar example of Jesus making social contact - cf. Lk 5:29-32
      2. When people aren't coming to Christ, it's because we are not
         going to the people!
         a. We can't be fishers of men by fishing in a barrel; if the
            fish won't come to the barrel, then we must go where the
            fish are!
         b. The problem with sowing the seed is not that there is not
            good ground to be found, but that the seed is still in the
            barn! - cf. Hag 2:19

   B. DO NOT CONFUSE SEPARATION WITH ISOLATION...
      1. Yes, we must be separate - 2Co 6:14-18
      2. But this does not mean we are to isolate ourselves
         a. Note the prayer of Christ - Jn 17:15
         b. Note the command of Paul - 1Co 5:9-11
      3. Withdrawing ourselves from those who have not heard or obeyed
         the gospel in contrary to the will of the Lord!

   C. OPPORTUNITIES FOR SOCIAL CONTACT...
      1. At school with fellow students
         a. Don't think you are too young to be involved in leading
            others to Christ
         b. Young Christians often possess the greatest opportunities to
            teach others
         c. How you serve now will likely be an indication of how you
            will serve later in life
      2. At work with fellow employees or employers
         a. We spend much of our life with these people
         b. We have the greatest potential to influence them, especially
            by example
      3. At home with neighbors, friends, and family
         a. Do we even know our neighbors?
         b. Those closest to us can be difficult sometimes, but are
            reachable - e.g., Mt 13:54-58; Jn 7:5; Ac 1:14

[Remember, Jesus said "Go into all the world..." (Mk 16:15).  We must go
where the people are!  Another principle we can glean from Jesus'
conversation with the woman is...]

II. ESTABLISH A COMMON INTEREST

   A. COMMON INTERESTS CREATE A BRIDGE...
      1. Note Jesus' first words to the woman - Jn 4:7-8
         a. She had come to draw water
         b. He was thirsty
         c. His first words centered around their common interest
            (water)
      2. Realize the need to build rapport
         a. Meaningful dialogue is not easy, especially involving
            spiritual matters
         b. A common interest allows opportunity for meaningful dialogue
         c. Once a bridge for communication has been established, it
            will be easier to discuss God's word with another person

   B. COMMON INTERESTS ARE MANY...
      1. They include family (such as children, grandchildren)
      2. They include activities (such as work, community projects,
         hobbies)
      3. They include shared experiences (such as travel, or even
         tragedies)

[Don't feel that you must immediately begin talking about spiritual
matters.  Take time to nurture common interests.  Yet at some point we
want to reach the next stage, which leads to our third principle...]

III. AROUSE SPIRITUAL INTEREST

   A. THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS...
      1. The example of Jesus - Jn 4:9
         a. As a man He speaks to her, a woman
         b. As a rabbi He speaks to her, an immoral woman
         c. As a Jew He speaks to her, a Samaritan
         -- He aroused interest by simply speaking to her
      2. Regarding our actions
         a. We can arouse spiritual interest by our example
         b. By showing kindness and compassion to all, even the evil and
            wicked
         c. By not harboring racial or social prejudices to those who
            are different
         d. By our own example of faith and hope - e.g., 1Pe 3:1-2,15

   B. THROUGH YOUR WORDS...
      1. The example of Jesus - Jn 4:10-14
         a. Jesus' statement shifted their conversation to spiritual
            matters
         b. He led them into a discussion on a common spiritual interest
            (living water!)
      2. Regarding our words
         a. We can raise questions or make statements that shift
            conversations to spiritual matters
            1) E.g., "What do you think our world is in such a mess?"
            2) E.g., "Would you be interested in what the Bible says
               about...?"
         b. The discussion should first involve matters of common
            agreement
            1) Start with things upon which you agree, to build rapport
               and instill confidence
            2) This was the practice of apostolic preaching - e.g., Ac 13:16-22

[Once spiritual interest has been aroused, another principle can be
gleaned from Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman...]

IV. DON'T GO TOO FAR, TOO FAST

   A. GIVE A PERSON WHAT THEY ARE READY FOR...
      1. Note Jesus' discussion with the woman - Jn 4:15-16
         a. She wanted the "living water", but did she really
            understand?
         b. Jesus saw the need to slow her down and provide the proper
            ground work
            1) She needed faith in Him as the Messiah
            2) He needed to provide evidence that He was the Messiah
         c. So instead of giving her the "living water"...
            1) He tells her to get her husband
            2) Which will result in her conviction of Him as a prophet
      2. Sometimes people don't realize what they need first
         a. They'll want to talk about a particular subject
         b. But they really need something else first

   B. SOME EXAMPLES...
      1. Some want to study Revelation, when they need to be grounded on
         the rest of the Bible first
      2. Some want to discuss issues related to church organization,
         work, worship, etc., when they ought to focus on the "first
         principles" of the gospel
      3. It is important that a person not choke on the "meat" of the
         Word - cf. 1Co 3:1-2

[There is another principle of evangelism that takes into consideration
the need of the prospect...]

V. DON'T CONDEMN UNNECESSARILY

   A. THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS...
      1. He could have dwelt on her being an adulteress - Jn 4:17-18
      2. As stated elsewhere, He came to save the world, not to condemn
         it - cf. Jn 3:17
      3. Not to say He will not one day judge the world, but that the
         primary purpose of His first coming was to offer salvation 
         - cf. Jn 12:46-48

   B. IN OUR EVANGELISTIC EFFORTS...
      1. Though we preach against sin, our primary purpose is to save,
         not judge - 1Co 5:12-13
      2. Our focus should be to inform others of the forgiveness God
         offers - cf. 2Co 5:18-20
         a. God seeks reconciliation with sinners
         b. Ours is a ministry of reconciliation

[Another important principle in evangelism to remember is...]

VI. STICK WITH THE MAIN ISSUE

   A. IN THE CASE OF THE SAMARITAN WOMAN...
      1. She turned the subject away from herself to where one should
         worship - Jn 4:19-20
      2. Jesus answered her question, while effectively turning the
         conversation back to the original subject:  Who He is and what
         He offers - Jn 4:21-25 (cf. Jn 4:10)

   B. REMAIN STEADFAST TO YOUR OBJECTIVES...
      1. If seeking to establish a common ground of agreement, avoid
         jumping ahead
      2. As you move from common to uncommon ground...
         a. Take one step at a time
         b. Do not go on until agreement at each step has occurred
      3. If your objective is simply to obtain consent for a home Bible
         study, avoid getting into a detailed discussion at that time 
         - cf. Pr 15:28

[One last principle in evangelism gleaned from Jesus' conversation with
the woman at the well...]

VII. CONFRONT DIRECTLY

   A. JESUS' EXAMPLE THEN...
      1. Finally, Jesus confronted the woman with His identity - Jn 4:26
      2. This came after He had laid the groundwork

   B. EXAMPLES FOR TODAY...
      1. In trying to set up a home Bible study
         a. Take advantage of social contacts
         b. Develop common interests
         c. Be open to comments that indicate a spiritual interest,
            while demonstrating your own faith through actions and words
         d. Avoid fruitless arguments, emphasize instead common beliefs
         e. Praise their good points and encourage them in the right
            direction
         f. Have one primary objective:  to encourage them to study the
            Bible even more
            a. Ask if they would like to learn more about Jesus, the
               Bible, His church
            b. Note the example of Aquila and Priscilla with Apollos 
               - Ac 18:24-26
         g. Confront them directly with the opportunity to study the
            Bible
      2. During the course of a home Bible study
         a. Continue to develop the social contact
         b. Continue to establish common interests
         c. Take time to accentuate common ground you share in your
            spiritual interests
         d. Go from common ground to uncommon ground carefully
         e. Stress the gospel message; don't obsess on their individual
            shortcomings
         f. Have one primary objective:  to help them understand their
            need and gospel plan of salvation - Mk 16:15-16; Col 1:5-6
         g. Confront them directly with the invitation to obey the
            gospel of Christ; for example, by asking...
            1) "Does this make sense?"
            2) "Is there anything I have said that you do not
               understand?"
            3) "Have I been teaching you anything other than what the
               Bible teaches?"
            4) "Would you like to obey Christ now and be baptized for
               the remission of your sins?"

CONCLUSION

1. The result of Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman was the
   conversion of many people in the city of Sychar - Jn 4:39-42

2. This demonstrates the potential of personal evangelism...
   a. Who knows whether the one person you teach may in turn bring many
      to Christ?
   b. That one person may be like a seed from which seeds may come forth

Realizing this potential, we can better appreciate the words of Jesus:

   "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and [then] comes
   the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look
   at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" (Jn 4:35)

Perhaps by following the example of our Lord, we can be more useful in
His service...