The birds sing their melody as I sit and dream of that which only dreams can know. The warm sun beats upon my back at midday in the fall of my youth. The air is full of summer, grass, trees and flowers array. There is a certain peacefulness as we commune, dreaming of what might have been and of what yet may be. I wonder about my time, the time yet for me as I grow closer and closer to you and eternity. I wonder if others in their time had such inner striving and starving to be free, free from time, free in eternity. Oh, the limits of my soul bound up in this body of time. Knowing you has meant so much to me. Knowing you has set me free and gives me hope for eternity. Oh, that my life in time was a measure of eternity, a measure and example of the love we share not only in this time but in all time and eternity. So I sit waiting here in time, longing to be free with you in eternity.
The Abiding Word
"THE EPISTLE TO TITUS" Sound Doctrine For Young Men (2:6-8) INTRODUCTION 1. Once more our text deals with "things which are proper for sound doctrine" - Tit 2:1 a. Doctrine that is spiritually healthy, wholesome b. In this case, exhortations related to godly conduct 2. We have already considered... a. Conduct becoming older men, older women, young women - Tit 2:2-5 b. Examples to inspire each to be fruitful in their service to the Lord [Now we turn our attention to...] I. CONDUCT BECOMING YOUNG MEN A. SOBER-MINDED... 1. The Greek word is sophroneo a. To be sane, in one's right mind a. By implication to be sober-minded, to think and act soberly, discreetly, to use sound judgment and moderation, to be self-disciplined - TCWD 2. A related trait (sophron) enjoined upon: a. Older men (where it is translated as 'temperate') - Tit 2:2 b. Young women (where it is translated as 'discreet') - Tit 2:5 3. As translated by other versions: a. Self-controlled - ESV, NASB, NIV, NRSV b. Sensible - HCSB -- Young men are to have their minds and passions in control, exercising self-discipline B. IN ALL THINGS A PATTERN OF GOOD WORKS... 1. Pattern (tupos) a. A prototype; particularly of a pattern or model after which something is to be made (cf. He 8:5) - TCWD b. Figuratively an example, pattern to be imitated, followed (cf. 1Ti 4:12) - ibid. 2. Good works (kalos ergon) a. Good deeds, noble deeds, useful deeds b. In which Christ intends for us to be zealous - cf. Tit 2:14; 3:1,8,14 -- Young men with their natural strength and zeal should set the pattern for good works C. IN DOCTRINE SHOWING INTEGRITY, REVERENCE, INCORRUPTIBILITY... 1. Doctrine (didaskalia) a. Teaching, instruction - Thayer b. The art or manner of teaching, as well as that which is taught, may be under consideration 2. Integrity (adiaphthoria) a. Incorruptibility, integrity, freedom from corruptible mixtures or adulterations - TCWD b. Titus was advised not to mix in his teaching anything that would in any way deprive Christian teaching of its eternal value and cause it to be relegated to second place - ibid. 3. Reverence (semnotes) a. Gravity, honesty - Strong b. The manner in which a preacher delivers his message, should be such as to command respect. He should evince good sense, undoubted piety, an acquaintance with his subject, simplicity, seriousness, and earnestness, in his manner. - Barnes 4. Incorruptibility (aphtharsia) a. Purity, sincerity, incorrupt - Thayer b. This word is omitted in some manuscripts, likewise in more recent translations -- Young men who teach are to be concerned with purity of doctrine and presentation D. WITH SOUND SPEECH THAT CANNOT BE CONDEMNED... 1. Sound speech (hugies logos) a. Sound speech or doctrine, wholesome, right - TCWD b. To use language that would be spiritually "healthful" - Barnes c. Similar to "sound doctrine" in verse 1 - Tit 2:1 d. Using speech that imparts grace to the hearers
- cf. Ep 4:29; Col 4:6 2. That cannot be condemned (akatagnostos) a. Blameless - Strong b. Irreprehensible, not worthy of condemnation, not to be condemned or blamed - TCWD c. Especially by those who seek to oppose us and speak evil of us - cf. Tit 2:5 -- Young men are to also set the pattern in the kind of speech they use [Such is conduct becoming of young men. Youth is no excuse for loose conduct or careless speech. On the contrary, young men are to set the pattern for all Christians (cf. 1Ti 4:12). As done previously, let's now consider some...] II. EXAMPLES TO INSPIRE YOUNG MEN A. JOSEPH... 1. A young man betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave in Egypt - Gen 37:1-36 2. Maintained his integrity despite his circumstances - Gen 39: 1-12 -- God used such a young man to save the nation of Israel from famine B. DAVID... 1. In his youth, his faith in God overcame giants! - 1Sa 17:37, 45-51 2. His integrity illustrated by his unwillingness to kill King Saul - 1Sa 24:1-15 -- God made such a young man to be king over the nation of Israel C. DANIEL... 1. In his teens, Daniel was honored to be trained for service to a king - Dan 1:3-6 2. Yet he determined not to defile himself, even at the risk of his life - Dan 1:8-9 -- God used such a young man to influence the most powerful man in the world! D. TIMOTHY... 1. He assisted Paul as a young disciple - Ac 16:1-3 2. His youth was to be no excuse - 1Ti 4:12 3. He served Paul as a son, even to the last days of Paul's life - 2Ti 1:1-2; 4:6-9 -- God used such a young man to help Paul spread the gospel and establish churches E. MODERN DAY EXAMPLES... 1. Young men who serve the Lord and His church with whatever abilities they have 2. Young men who teach, preach, lead singing and prayers in the public assemblies 3. Young men who resist temptation, seek the Lord's will in their life first -- Who will God use today? Any young man who dares to follow the Lord! CONCLUSION 1. Young men can do so much to benefit a local congregation... a. By their example, by their words b. By their zeal, by their strength 2. Let us be careful not to despise their youth... a. Just as Timothy was told not to let others despise his youthfulness - 1Ti 4:12 b. Especially when they are engaged in the work of the Lord - cf. 1Co 16:10,11 While we should long to have elders in every church (cf. Tit 1:5), so we should be thrilled to have young men who are just as dedicated in their service to the Lord...!
The Essentiality of Evidence in Christianity
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Though “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” is mind-boggling, and though “His judgments and His ways” are “unsearchable” and “past finding out” (Romans 11:33; Deuteronomy 29:29), and even though finite man will never fully be able to wrap his mind around a holy, infinite, omnipotent, omniscient Creator, nevertheless, God has consistently dealt with mankind in rational ways providing the evidence needed for a reasonable faith. Consider, for example, how God has always ensured that enough evidence was available for honest, truth-seekers to know that He exists (cf. Proverbs 8:17; Matthew 7:7-8). Paul wrote: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20, emp. added). Since the time of Adam and Eve, mankind has been able to clearly see how “the things that are made” testify on behalf of a powerful, invisible Creator. As the psalmist proclaimed: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth. And their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4). The reason why “the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1, emp. added), is because God has always given man adequate evidence for His existence. Sadly, the foolish person dismisses the evidence.
When the prophet Samuel addressed the nation of Israel at Saul’s coronation, he did not merely deliver an emotionally based speech. He commanded them, saying, “[S]tand still, that I may reasonwith you before the Lord” (1 Samuel 12:7, emp. added). Similarly, Isaiah wrote: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’” (Isaiah 1:18, emp. added). Consider also the stark contrast between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. In hopes of getting the attention of the bogus god Baal, these emotionally charged, pretend prophets “leaped about the altar,” “cried aloud,” and “cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them” (1 Kings 18:26,28)—all for naught. Elijah, on the other hand, had a rational faith that was grounded in the Word of God. He said to God, “I have done all these things at Your Word” (1 Kings 18:36, emp. added). His personal faith, as well as the message of faith that He preached, were rooted and grounded in the Heavenly revealed, rational Word of Almighty God. Biblical faith, after all, “comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
This same kind of rational, evidence-based faith and preaching can be found in the New Testament. Consider the actions and teachings of Jesus. He could have merely announced to the world that He was the Messiah. He could have only told people that He was the Son of God. He could have expected everyone simply to believe His claims that He was Heaven-sent, and never given His contemporaries any proof for His deity. However, even though there were occasions when Jesus chose not to offer additional proof of His deity (because of the hard-heartedness of many of His hearers; e.g., Mark 8:11-12), Jesus understood the essentiality of evidence. During His earthly ministry, He repeatedly gave ample proof of His deity. He noted how John the Baptizer bore witness on His behalf (John 5:33). He said, “[T]he Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me” (John 5:36, emp. added; cf. John 1:32-33; Matthew 3:16-17). He spoke of how “the Scriptures…testify of Me” (John 5:39, emp. added), and specifically noted how “Moses…wrote about Me” (John 5:46, emp. added). He also noted how His miraculous works bore witness to His deity (John 5:36). Jesus performed many miracles that demonstrated His power over nature, disease, demons, and death. He understood that His own verbal testimony alone would not convince anyone in a court of law (John 5:31; cf. Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15). Thus, at the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem He told the unbelieving Jews, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38, emp. added). Sadly, His foolish, stubborn enemies repeatedly rejected the irrefutable evidence that Jesus presented on His behalf.
Perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus presented for His divinity was His miraculous resurrection. He could have risen from the dead and never appeared to anyone on Earth. He could have departed from the tomb and allowed speculation to run wild. Christianity could have begun on the back of uncertainty and mysticism. Instead, Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). He appeared alive to Mary Magdalene, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, to the apostles, to James, and to over 500 disciples at once, most of whom were still living and could be questioned several years later when Paul, who also witnessed the risen Savior, wrote 1 Corinthians (15:5-8). Jesus “presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3, emp. added), because He is the Head of a reasonable religion. The excitement, energy, and courage that early disciples manifested was grounded in the rock-solid proofs of Jesus’ resurrection (among other things, e.g., fulfilled prophecies). The emotional, energetic, evangelistic faith of 21st-century Christians must likewise be rooted firm and deep in evidence.
Jesus was not the only New Testament figure who demonstrated the necessity of a knowledge-based faith. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John packed their gospel accounts with confirmation of Jesus being the Christ. Consider just the beginnings of these four books. Matthew began his account of the Gospel by genealogically proving that Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham and David (Matthew 1:1-17). He then noted how Jesus was born of a virgin, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 (Matthew 1:18-25). Mark began “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) by quoting Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. Mark proved propheticallythat John the Baptizer was “the voice of the one crying in the wilderness,” and Jesus was “the LORD” (1:3). Luke also opened his account of the Good News with an appeal to evidence, knowledge, and understanding.
Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed (1:1-4).
Then there is John’s gospel account, which, from beginning to end, is packed with proof that Jesus is the miracle-working Son of God (1:3: 2:1-11; 20:30-31; 21:25). In fact, the stated purpose of his record of the various miracles of Christ (and there were many others John did not mention) was so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (20:30-31). If biblical faith is merely “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof,” which is one definition Merriam-Webster (on-line) gives for the word “faith” (2011), then why did John and the synoptic writers spend so much time offering proof for Who Jesus is? Answer: Because the truthful, reasonable facts of God, His Word, and His Son are the foundation of real faith (John 8:31-32; 17:17; Romans 10:17).
When the apostle Paul stood before Festus and King Agrippa, he spoke of those things “which the prophets and Moses said would come—that the Christ would suffer that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:23-24). However, as Paul “made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!’” (26:24). How did Paul respond? Did he answer with a mere emotional appeal? Did he welcome the idea of an unreasonable, unverifiable Gospel? Not at all. Paul humbly, but confidently, replied: “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:25).
Sadly, most accountable people in the world will never accept the mountain of evidence for Christianity and become Christians (Matthew 7:13-14). But, those of us who choose to put our faith in God, Jesus, and His Word, can do so because “the truth” can be known (John 8:32), rightly obeyed (Romans 6:17; 10:12-13), and logically defended (1 Peter 3:15).
The Double-Revelation Theory
|by||Bert Thompson, Ph.D.|
Where would we be without revelation from God? Such a revelation is both possible and necessary. It is possible because God, being all-powerful, is able to do anything He wishes that is not contrary to His divine nature (Job 42:2; Matthew 19:26). It is necessary due to the fact that otherwise man would have no way to know fully and adequately the things it is imperative for him to know. For example, it is essential to have a divine revelation in order for man to know: (a) The character of God. While something of God’s essence and power can be gleaned vaguely from nature itself (as I shall show shortly), it takes the fullness of actual communication from God to reveal His holiness, justice, mercy, grace, love, and other attributes. (b) The origin of man. Were it not for divine revelation, man would have no way to know of his lofty origin. The confusion of modern-day evolutionary theories is evidence aplenty of this. (c) The origin of evil. Man needed to be educated concerning the source of his sinful predicament. Else, how could he know about the sinful state in which he finds himself? (d) Man’s purpose. Divine revelation was necessary if man was to comprehend his purpose while here on Earth, and especially the provisions for his redemption. With no defined purpose, man surely would wonder endlessly through the centuries, with neither goals nor objectives at hand. (e) Man’s destiny. In the absence of God’s revelation, none of us would know anything of the heaven to be gained, or the hell to be shunned. The urgency of this knowledge is made all the more real by the general despair of those who reject the concept of supernatural revelation.
Revelation designates the unveiling of facts and truths by God—things that man, on his own, could not have known previously. Revelation has reference to the communication of knowledge. Revelationdiscovers new truth to men (1 Corinthians 2:10); inspiration guides and controls the giving of truth (1 Corinthians 2:13), ensuring that God gets written correctly what He wants written. Inspiration extends to the whole of truth, although the subject matter is of two kinds: revelation and known facts (or as we would call it, history). The Bible speaks forthrightly about its inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 1 Corinthians 2:13; et al.). Basically, this claim amounts to the declaration that the Bible is God’s will and way in the world, a record and interpretation of God’s activity, and a guide for man in service to the Lord. The Bible thus is regarded (based on evidence) as a repository of absolute Truth that may be studied faithfully, the result being that one knows God’s will.
In discussing God’s revelation, students of Scripture have spoken of that revelation as being two-fold: (1) natural (or general) revelation; and (2) special (or supernatural) revelation. Natural revelationcomes to man through nature. The first six verses of Psalm 19 declare that God has given a revelation of Himself in nature that constantly is testifying to the existence of the Creator. The apostle Paul, speaking through inspiration in Romans 1:20, clearly stated that God’s “invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Natural revelation is rooted in creation and in the ordinary relationship of God to man. The Scriptures teach that natural revelation is universal. At no time in all of history has God left Himself without a witness of Himself in nature (Acts 14:17).
The Scriptures likewise make it clear, however, that God has given a second revelation—special revelation. This revelation is found only in the Bible. It has become inscripturated; it is of word and of fact, and is historical in nature. God, in using this kind of revelation, disclosed Himself in at least three different ways: (a) Theophanies (i.e., veiled appearances of Himself). He appeared in fire, clouds, and smoke (Genesis 15:17; Exodus 3:2; 19:9,16ff.; 33:9). He appeared in stormy winds (Job 38:1; 40:6; Psalm 18:10-16). Theophany reached its highest point in the incarnation in which Jesus Christ became flesh and dwelt among us (Colossians 1:19; 2:9). (b) Direct communications. God spoke through an audible voice on occasion (Genesis 2:16; 3:8-19; 4:6-15; Exodus 19:9; 1 Samuel 3:4). He communicated through visions (Isaiah 6:1ff.; 21:6ff.; Ezekiel 1-3; Daniel 1:17). He also communicated through the Holy Spirit (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:12; John 14:17; 15:26; Acts 6:10). (c) Miracles. God, through miracles, chose to reveal His power and presence. Such miracles emphasized great truths, and were intended as confirmation of His word, His prophecy, and His power.
The careful student of Scripture has long been aware of the two types of revelation, and similarly has been aware that as great as natural revelation is, in and of itself it is deficient. At this point in time, nature has ceased to be a perspicuous revelation of God (at least to some). It may have been so before sin occurred, but even if it were, man now has been so blinded by sin that he cannot read the divine script in nature. Natural revelation simply is not enough; it never was intended to be. It does not afford man the reliable knowledge of God, and the spiritual things man needs for his ultimate salvation. Therefore, it is inadequate as a total foundation for man’s faith. From nature, man never can infer the need for a personal Savior. Thus, God gave special revelation. The two combined represent God’s message adequately communicated to man. When viewed in their proper perspectives, God’s two revelations form important testimony to His power and His saving grace.
THE DOUBLE REVELATION THEORY
Unfortunately, some today have abandoned any confidence in what God’s special revelation has to say regarding man’s origin, in deference to evolutionary speculations. Numerous others, not willing to forsake the totality of their faith, have sought an illegitimate amalgamation between biblical and evolutionary views.
For example, advocates of what has come to be known as the Double Revelation Theory maintain that natural revelation and special revelation are fully authoritative in their respective realms. Since these two revelations are given by the same self-consistent God of Truth, they cannot, and will not, contradict each other. The theologian, therefore, is viewed as the God-appointed interpreter of Scripture, while the scientist is seen as the God-appointed interpreter of nature, each reading (through “special lenses”) his own “book of revelation.”
According to proponents of this idea, whenever there is an apparent conflict between the conclusions of the scientist and the conclusions of the theologian—especially with regard to such questions as the origin of the Universe, the solar system, plant life, animal life, and man—it is the theologian who must rethink his interpretation of Scripture in such a way as to bring the Bible into harmony with the scientists’ consensus. Since “the Bible is not a textbook on science,” and since these problems overlap the territory in which science alone must give us detailed and authoritative answers, the theologian is the one who should “correct” his views. It is held that this is necessarily the case because if a grammatical/historical interpretation of any biblical account should lead the Bible student to adopt conclusions that are contrary to the prevailing views of trained scientists concerning the origin and nature of the material Universe, then that Bible student would be guilty of making God a deceiver of mankind in these vitally important matters. But a God of Truth cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). Therefore, so the argument goes, the Bible account must be “interpreted” in such a manner as to bring it into full agreement with the generally accepted views of contemporary scientists.
There is a variety of ways by which advocates of the Double Revelation Theory hope to accomplish this highly unusual dichotomy. If one is speaking of Genesis 1-11, for example, these chapters are not to be viewed as literal or historical. Instead, they must be viewed as “mythical” or “allegorical.” The Bible, so we are told, is intended to provide answers to important “spiritual questions” such as “Who?” or “Why?” Scientists, on the other hand, must provide the answers to important questions such as “When?” and “How?”
It is not difficult to document examples revealing the popularity of the Double Revelation Theory. In fact, John Whitcomb devoted an entire appendix in one of his books to listing proponents of the Double Revelation Theory (1978, pp. 163-165), and currently there are many more names that could be added to his list. For example, on June 13, 1986, Henry Morris (creationist and then-president of the Institute for Creation Research) and Lewis Mammel (theist, but anti-creationist and researcher at AT&T Bell Research Laboratories) debated the subject of the age of the Earth. During the closing moments of the debate, in response to a question from the audience, Dr. Mammel stated, in speaking about Christians and creationists, “I think they would be able to adjust their interpretation to agree with what we see in the natural world. I think it’s a mistake to elevate doctrine above our reason and the evidence of our senses” (see Mammel and Morris, 1986, emp. added).
There are others, of course, who agree with Dr. Mammel in this approach. Davis A. Young, as a professor of geology at Calvin College, advocated similar views. In his book, Creation and the Flood, he acknowledged that the literal-day interpretation of the Genesis account of creation is “the obvious view,” and that the Bible teaches a universal Flood. Nevertheless, he felt compelled to reject (and did reject!) these teachings of Scripture because “geology” (i.e., geology as interpreted through an evolutionary framework) has “disproved” them (1977, pp. 44,172). In his book, Christianity and the Age of the Earth, Dr. Young stated:
The Bible is indeed the infallible, inerrant Word of God. It is absolutely true in matters of science and history as much as in matters of salvation and religion. But nature is also from God, and nature would lead us to believe that the Earth is extremely old. Scientific investigation of the world God gave us is an exciting enterprise that God would have us engage in. We do not need the flight-from-reality science of creationism (1982, p. 163).
Young has made it clear that while he verbally professes a belief in God’s Word as infallible and inerrant, that Word will not be allowed to dictate to him the truth in certain areas.
Another religionist who has accepted the Double Revelation Theory is Pattle P.T. Pun, professor of biology at Wheaton College, who has written:
It is apparent that the most straightforward understanding of the Genesis record, without regard to all the hermeneutical considerations suggested by science, is that God created heaven and earth in six solar days, that man was created in the sixth day, that death and chaos entered the world after the Fall of Adam and Eve, that all of the fossils were the result of the catastrophic universal deluge which spared only Noah’s family and the animals therewith....However, the Recent Creationist position has two serious flaws. First, it has denied and belittled the vast amount of scientific evidence amassed to support the theory of natural selection and the antiquity of the earth. Secondly, much Creationist writing has “deistic” implications...the stipulation that the varieties we see today in the biological world were present in the initial Creation implies that the Creator is no longer involved in creation in a dynamic way (1987, 39:14).
Dr. Pun’s accusation that creationists’ teachings have “deistic” implications is both unwarranted and unfair. Creationists neither teach nor imply that all the varieties of plants and animals were present in the initial creation, but only the basic “kinds”—which is exactly what Genesis says no less than ten times in its first chapter. Furthermore, the fact that God no longer is creating (Genesis 2:1) does not mean that He somehow is inactive in the present world. Jesus Himself stated, in fact, that His Father “worketh even until now” (John 5:17). While God’s work of creation is complete, His work of redemption continues. Creationists cannot be accused justifiably of advocating deism in any form. [NOTE: For an up-to-date discussion and refutation of deism from a creationist point of view, see Thompson, 2000, pp. 33-42.] The real reason that Dr. Pun rejects what he admits is the “most straightforward understanding of the Genesis record” is that it conflicts with the “vast amount of scientific evidence amassed to support the theory of natural selection and the antiquity of the earth.” He therefore suggests that the biblical record be interpreted via “hermeneutical considerations suggested by science.” Here is a perfect example of the Double Revelation Theory at work. Scientific theory has become the controlling factor in biblical exegesis.
One last example bears mentioning, because it shows the end results of the Double Revelation Theory. In 1989, Hugh Ross authored The Fingerprint of God as an apologetic for progressive creationism. In that volume, he made the following comments:
More than speaking merely of God’s existence, the creation, according to Romans 1, also reveals essential truths about God’s character, which would include His desire and means to form a relationship with man. As an illustration of the accessibility of that information, the Bible includes an account of an ancient character, Job (Job 7-19) who, without the aid of scriptures, and in opposition to the religion of his peers, discerned all the elements of “the gospel,” the good news of how man can find eternal life in God. The creation, thus, reveals all the necessary steps to develop a right relationship with God. These steps are uniquely corroborated by the Bible (pp. 181-182, emp. in orig.).
This is a perfect example of where the Double Revelation Theory will lead. It begins with natural and special revelation being equal. Eventually, however, natural revelation takes a position of preeminence—because, after all, it is based on empirical evidence. Finally, Ross’ position triumphs. Man no longer needs God’s special revelation to instruct him on the plan of salvation; rather, that is evident through nature, and the Bible merely “corroborates” it. Harold Lindsell, while serving as editor of Christianity Today magazine, addressed this idea when he wrote:
...to accept the story of Eve’s beginnings as given in Genesis in any historical sense is to knock the theory of evolution into a cocked hat. It brings to bear upon the creative process divine intervention that drives the uniformitarian hypothesis and the endless eons of evolutionary development into the ground. If, in the face of the biblical data, the theistic evolutionist chooses to accept the hypothesis of some scientists, he at least should be conscious of what he is doing to the Bible in the process. He no longer makes it the source book for his knowledge of origins. In place thereof he chooses the verdict of science and allows it to sit in judgment on the Bible rather than letting the Bible sit in judgment on science (1977, pp. 15-17).
When Dr. Lindsell spoke of the fact that science ultimately will be allowed to “sit in judgment” on the Bible by the person who accepts the Double Revelation Theory, he was absolutely correct. On May 5-7, 2000, I had the opportunity to speak at a large gathering of young people in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. During one of the lectures, I discussed the literal nature of the account found in Genesis 1-11, and how that account clearly was in opposition to the General Theory of Evolution. During the question and answer session that followed one of my lectures, a young girl who appeared to be roughly of high school age (I learned later that she was, in fact, a junior in high school) raised her hand. When I called on her, she expressed strong disagreement with such a view, and went on to say that she believed firmly in evolution and viewed Genesis 1-11 as nothing more than a convenient mythology fabricated by Hebrews who did not have the vast scientific data that we possess today.
In my response, I very kindly disagreed with her conclusion, and went to great lengths to explain that both the Lord and His inspired writers not only viewed Genesis 1-11 as literal and historical, but frequently used the content of those chapters to construct fundamental Bible doctrine (e.g., Matthew 19, where the Lord quoted Genesis 2:24 to discuss marriage, divorce, and remarriage with the Pharisees; Matthew 24, where Christ used the global, Noahic Flood to draw a comparison to the destruction of the Earth at His Second Coming; 1 Corinthians 15:47, where Paul discussed Adam, “the first man, of the earth, earthy” and compared him to Christ as the “last Adam,” etc.). When I demonstrated to the young lady the damage that ultimately is inflicted upon the biblical record by a full-fledged acceptance of theistic evolution (the position she was attempting to defend), she retorted: “But science supports my view!” In response, I said very simply: “No ma’am, true science does notsupport your view. And more important, the Bible as the Word of God indicates that Genesis 1-11 is literal and historical.” She then raised her voice to be heard and exclaimed: “Well, science is my God!”
That is exactly where belief in the Double Revelation Theory leads—which is why it must be rejected by Bible-believing Christians. As noted Old Testament scholar Edward J. Young remarked:
What strikes one immediately upon reading such a statement is the low estimate of the Bible which it entails. Whenever “science” and the Bible are in conflict, it is always the Bible that, in one manner or another, must give way. We are not told that “science” should correct its answers in the light of Scripture. Always it is the other way around. Yet this is really surprising, for the answers which scientists have provided have frequently changed with the passing of time. The “authoritative” answers of pre-Copernican scientists are no longer acceptable; nor, for that matter, are many of the views of twenty-five years ago (1964, p. 53).
Indeed, why is it that God’s unchanging revelation in the Bible should be “reinterpreted” to fit the ever-changing theories of modern scientists?
The writers of the Bible deal abundantly with matters of fact in science and history (unlike the writings of Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, etc., which deal almost exclusively with faith/conduct matters). To take the position that the Bible is unreliable when it deals with verifiable data of science and history inevitably will cause thinking inquirers to reject its teachings on theological beliefs. Jesus said, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:12). If Jesus and His writers have told us about “earthly” things and we are not predisposed to believe such, how can we be expected to believe statements from these same men with regard to spiritual matters such as redemption, sanctification, justification, etc.?
The Bible must be accepted as inerrant and authoritative on all matters with which it deals. Otherwise, it is not really the Word of God. If any man, or group of men, is empowered to tell us authoritativelywhat God’s Word means, then we may as well entrust him (or them) with a commission to rewrite the Bible altogether. Man seeks to become God (whether he is a theologian or scientist) if he insists that his word must be accepted over and above what God’s Word says. While the Double Revelation Theory may be popular in certain circles, it fails to address certain realities—not the least of which are the tremendous limitations that inhabit the scientific method. As Michael Poole has suggested:
Public opinion about science ranges between making it into a god, and despising it. Some people have regarded science as the sole means to peace and prosperity on earth. But, when the god failed to deliver the goods, they despised it. To treat science as a secular substitute for God is not only naive, it is idolatry. To abuse it because it fails to provide the solution to the world’s ills is childish. It compares with the infant who kicks its toy because it will not do something for which it was never designed. Between these two extremes lies the rosy-spectacled view that, although science and technology have caused a lot of problems, they will also be the means of solving them.Science and technology are the activities of imperfect people. The tendencies to misuse and exploit for personal gain operate here as in every other department of life. But the answer to abuse is not disuse, but responsible use (1990, p. 126).
Furthermore, science cannot deal with once-for-all, utterly unique events. Science is impotent when it comes to dealing with moral and/or spiritual (thus, empirically elusive) realities that give significance to human endeavor. Science fails most conspicuously, however, whenever it is forced into the position of trying to analyze the supernatural and miraculous acts of God. These events undeniably form the foundation of the Judeo-Christian world view. The scientist or theologian who accepts the Double Revelation Theory would have us believe that even in matters such as these, science always takes precedence. How so?
Acceptance of the Double Revelation Theory also fails to consider the effects of sin. While it is true that the heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1), it also is true that the eyes of man’s understanding, blinded by sin, do not always read the heavens aright. The noetic effects of sin often lead to anti-theistic presuppositions. Much is presented as “scientific fact” that is hostile to the conclusions presented in the Bible. Whitcomb has commented:
Those who exclusively employ the scientific method in historical sciences (e.g., paleontology) uncritically apply this method in a uniformitarian manner by extrapolating present natural processes forever into the past. Furthermore, they ignore the possible anti-theistic bias of the scientist himself as he handles the facts of nature in arriving at a cosmology (i.e., a theory concerning the basic structure and character of the universe) and a cosmogony (i.e., a theory concerning the origin of the universe and its parts). To the extent that such theorists fail to give careful and honest recognition to these essential limitations of the scientific method and of the investigator himself, they fail to give a true and undistorted picture of reality as a whole, and they fail also to point men to the only true source for understanding its mysteries (1978, p. 56, emp. and parenthetical items in orig.).
It certainly is true that God cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). God’s Word always will agree with God’s world, for the Author of the one is the Creator of the other. God’s revelation in nature often can amplify and illustrate His Word, but His written revelation always must inform and constrain our interpretation of nature. Yes, God has spoken to us through nature. Numerous passages attest to that fact (Job 12:7-8; 26:13-14; Psalm 19:1-2; 97:6; Acts 14:17; 17:24-28; Romans 1:20-21). The proper use of science and technology not only helps man to implement the Edenic commission to “subdue and have dominion over the earth” (Genesis 1:28), but also teaches men more and more about the person and work of their Creator-God. God’s revelation in nature, therefore, always must supplementand confirm His revelation in Scripture. It cannot be used to correct or interpret it. If there is an apparent conflict—one that cannot be resolved by a more careful study of the relevant data of both science and Scripture—then the written Word always must take priority! Therein lies the greatest single fault of the Double-Revelation theory. It places the scientists’ supposed “interpretation” of nature above what God said. No amount of theological wrangling, or scientific mumbo-jumbo, ever will make that right.
Buffaloe, Neal (1969), “God or Evolution?,” Mission, pp. 17ff., April.
Lindsell, Harold (1977), Christianity Today, pp. 17-18, June.
Mammel, Lewis and Henry M. Morris (1986), Debate on the Age of the Earth (two audio tapes).
Poole, Michael (1990), A Guide to Science and Belief (Oxford, England: Lion).
Pun, Pattle P.T. (1987), “A Theory of Progressive Creationism,” Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, 39:14, March.
Ramm, Bernard (1954), The Christian View of Science and Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Ross, Hugh (1989), The Fingerprint of God (Orange, CA: Promise Publishing Co.).
Thompson, Bert (2000), Rock-Solid Faith: How to Build It (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Whitcomb, John C. (1978), The Moon: Its Creation, Form, and Significance (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books).
Young, Davis A. (1977), Creation and the Flood (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Young, Davis A. (1982), Christianity and the Age of the Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Young, Edward J. (1964), Studies in Genesis One (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed).
The Death of David’s Son
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba is one of the most infamous, heartbreaking events recorded in the Old Testament. The emotional pain and anguish caused by David’s sin plagued the king for the remainder of his days. In the midst of the biblical record concerning God’s dealing with David’s sin, skeptics believe they have found a legitimate moral complaint against the God of the Bible (Wells, 2001).
When God’s prophet Nathan confronted David about his sin, David’s heart was broken and he repented immediately. In response to his humble reaction, Nathan said: “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13). Yet, even though David would not die, several consequences of his actions would result in spite of the Lord’s forgiveness. Nathan explained to David: “However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die” (12:14). The subsequent verses explain: “And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became very ill.... Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died” (12:15,18).
Upon reading this text, the skeptic suggests that God is unjust for killing an innocent child. How could a loving God kill an innocent child? The skeptic further suggests that this passage proves that God showed favoritism to David, because Leviticus 20:10 says that, under the Law of Moses, a man who committed adultery with another man’s wife should be killed. Does the story of David’s sin and God’s reaction to it reveals moral deficiency and unjust favoritism in God’s character?
Did God Show Favoritism?
First, let us consider God’s alleged favoritism to David. Why was it the case that David was not killed for his adultery, when the Old Testament commanded that adulterers should be killed? One plausible reason is that there was a stipulation placed on the death sentence for those who committed adultery. In order to sentence adulterers to death, a minimum of two witnesses had to present evidence against the accused. Deuteronomy 17:6 says: “Whoever is worthy of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses, but he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.” In the case of David and Bathsheba, no witnesses came forward to testify against them. In fact, the text indicates that the only reason Nathan knew about the incident was miraculous revelation from God. In short, there is no biblical indication that the minimum of two human witnesses could not be found to testify against David (see Miller, 2003). Mosaic Law would not include God’s omniscient ability as testimony, thus, David would not have been condemned by the Law of Moses. In fact, without God’s intervention, it seems that David’s sin might have gone undetected. [NOTE: The same could be said for David’s plot to kill Uriah. David sent Uriah back to Joab, the army commander, with a letter detailing the procedure to put Uriah to death. Yet the text indicates that Uriah did not read the letter, but passed it to Joab. The biblical text also indicates that Joab read the letter, but there is no record of any other person being privy to the information in it. Thus, if only Joab read the letter, then he would have been the lone witness testifying to Uriah’s murder, and the requirements for the death penalty from the Law of Moses would not have been met for David’s crime of murder either.]
Having successfully dealt with the misguided accusation of God’s alleged favoritism, let us move on to discuss God’s action regarding the death of David’s son. The skeptic charges God with injustice because the Bible says that God struck the newborn child and he died. According to the skeptic, a loving God would never kill an innocent child.
In reply to such an allegation, it must be admitted that the Bible attributes the death of the child to God. One reason this instance is so striking is because the language in the text clearly states that God struck the child. The fact that the child died due to God’s actions should not surprise a person who has read the Bible. The Bible records numerous instances in which God’s action directly caused the deaths of innocent children. When God sent the Flood on the ancient world, some estimate that there were two billion people alive at that time. Millions of those people who died in the Flood would have been infants and innocent children (Genesis 7:21). Furthermore, when God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah due to the wickedness of their adult inhabitants, it is only reasonably to conclude that many children and infants died in the destruction as well (Genesis 19:24-25). In addition, God gave Saul a direct command to destroy the sinful Amalekites. That command is recorded in 1 Samuel 15:3: “Now go and attack Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey” (emp. added). The account of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan contains similar instances in which God ordered or condoned the physical destruction of entire populations, including innocent children (Joshua 6:21). It cannot be denied that the Bible records instances in which God condoned, ordered, and/or caused the death of innocent, sinless children.
Is Death Always Evil?
How, then, can an infinitely loving God cause the death of innocent children and still be considered loving? The skeptic simply says that if it is true that God caused the death of innocent babies, then it is impossible for a moral person to consider that God as loving. The skeptical argument goes something like this: (1) A good and loving God would not kill innocent children; (2) the God of the Bible kills innocent children; (3) therefore the God of the Bible cannot be good and loving.
At first glance, this logic seems to make sense. When examined more closely, however, there lies within this argument a faulty assumption. The faulty assumption built into this line of reasoning is that the death of an innocent child is always, in every circumstance, evil. With the assumption built in, the first premise should read like this: A good and loving God would not kill innocent children, because the death of anyone innocent is always a bad thing. The assumption that death, especially of innocent children, is always bad or morally evil, stems from the skeptic’s adherence to pure naturalism. If this physical life and material world are all that exist, then to take an innocent person out of this physical world is inherently evil, according to the skeptic.
Yet, the same Bible that tells about a God who takes the physical lives of innocent children also informs the reader that this physical world is not all there is to existence. In fact, the Bible explains that every person has a soul that will live forever, long after physical life on this Earth is over (Matthew 25:46). The Bible consistently stresses the fact that the immortal soul of each individual is of much greater value than that individual’s physical life. Jesus Christ said: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matthew 16:26)?
Although the skeptic might object, and claim that an answer from the Bible is not acceptable, such an objection fails for one primary reason—the skeptic used the Bible to formulate his argument. Where is it written that God is love? In the Bible (1 John 4:8). Where do we learn that the Lord did, indeed, kill or order the deaths of babies? Once again, that information comes directly from the Bible. Where, then, should we look for an answer to this alleged discrepancy? The answer should be “the Bible.” If the alleged problem is formulated from biblical testimony, then the Bible should be given the opportunity to explain itself. As long as the skeptic uses the Bible to formulate the problem, we certainly can use the Bible to solve the problem. The biblical solution to the alleged problem in this instance is that every human possesses an immortal soul that is of infinitely more value than his or her physical existence.
A Biblical Perspective on Death
With the value of the soul in mind, let us examine several verses that prove that physical death is not necessarily evil. In a letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul was writing from prison to encourage the Christians. His letter was filled with hope and encouragement, but it also contained with some very pertinent comments about the way Paul (and God) view death. In Philippians 1:21-23, Paul wrote:
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better (emp. added).
According to the skeptic, the death of an innocent person is always, in every case, evil. In these verses, however, Paul lays that faulty assumption to rest. Paul, a faithful Christian, said that death was a welcomed visitor. In fact, Paul said that the end of his physical life on this Earth would be “far better” than its continuation. For Paul, as well as for any faithful Christian, the cessation of physical life is not loss, but gain. Such would apply to innocent children as well, since they are in a safe condition and go to paradise when they die (see Butt, 2003). It is easy to understand that an eternal, blissful life with God would have been a “far better” situation in many respects for David’s son than growing up as the illegitimate product of David’s adulterous activity.
Other verses in the Bible show that the loss of physical life is not inherently evil. The prophet Isaiah concisely summarized the situation when he was inspired to write:
The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart; merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil. He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness (57:1-2, emp. added).
Isaiah recognized that people would view the death of the righteous incorrectly. He plainly stated that this incorrect view of death was due to the fact that most people do not think about the fact that when a righteous or innocent person dies, that person is “taken away from evil,” and enters “into peace.” Is the skeptic, then, accusing God of cruel and unjust actions by delivering innocent children from evil and allowing them to enter into peace?
The psalmist wrote: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (116:15). Death is not inherently evil. In fact, the Bible indicates that death can be great gain in that a righteous person is taken away from evil and allowed to enter peace and rest. God looks upon the death of His faithful followers as precious. Skeptics who charge God with wickedness because He has ended the physical lives of innocent babies are in error. They refuse to recognize the reality of the immortal soul. Instead of the death of innocent children being an evil thing, it is often a blessing for the children to be taken away from a life of hardship at the hands of a sinful society, and ushered into a paradise of peace and rest. In order for a skeptic to legitimately charge God with cruelty, the skeptic must prove that there is no immortal soul, and that physical life is the only reality—neither of which is possible. Failure to acknowledge the reality of the soul and the spiritual realm will always result in a distorted view of the nature of God.
In summary, it is the case that God treated David in perfect accord with the Law of Moses, showing no partiality. Furthermore, it has been shown that since death is not inherently evil, God was not guilty of immorality by causing the child’s death. God also ushered David’s son into an eternity of bliss. Therefore, the skeptic’s charge against God fails once again to discredit His infinitely flawless character. As Abraham asked the rhetorical question in the long ago, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). The answer has been the same throughout the millennia—a resounding “Yes.”
Butt, Kyle (2003), “Do Babies Go To Hell?,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2255.
Miller, Dave (2003), “The Adulterous Woman,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2324.
Wells, Steve (2001), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL:http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/2sam/12.html.
The Consequences of Divorce and Remarriage
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Christians increasingly find themselves faced with the dilemma of dealing with individuals (usually non-Christian) who divorce and remarry any number of times for any number of reasons, and who come wishing to become part of the local church. The tendency is to permit the couple to remain in the marriage relationship they are in when they become Christians—though the marriage was contracted in violation of Matthew 19:9. This position usually cloaks itself in feigned compassion for the couple when, more often than not, members simply lack the spiritual courage to press the biblical position. One argument posed in defense of this stance is the notion that if the couple cannot continue their marriage after baptism, then baptism did not really cleanse them and adultery becomes the “unpardonable sin.” Several points which show the error of this position are in order:
First, much is accomplished at the point of biblical baptism, but baptism was never designed to change a sinful practice into an acceptable one, or to transform a sinful relationship into a righteous one. Prostitutes, homosexuals, polygamists, bisexuals, bigamists, and adulterers must sever their relationships.
Second, the biblical doctrine of forgiveness must not be confused with the equally biblical doctrine of the consequences of sin. Being forgiven never implies that all of the consequences of sin will be erased. Past sin may be blotted out, but the consequences of past sin generally remain. For example:
- Syphilis of the brain is a lasting consequence of a promiscuous lifestyle;
- Permanent removal from the garden was a lasting penalty and consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3);
- Being banned from Canaan was a lasting penalty of Moses’ sin (Deuteronomy 32:51-52), though he could be forgiven and one day be in heaven (Revelation 15:3);
- God pardoned the murmurers (Numbers 14:20)—but the negative effects of their sin were lasting and disastrous (Numbers 14:29-35);
- Esau’s mistake of selling his inheritance rights could not be rectified—“though he sought it diligently with tears” (Hebrews 12:17).
This biblical principle simply does not square with the notion that if anyone has to break up a marriage, too much is expected of them and forgiveness is not really what it’s “cracked up” to be. If biblical history teaches us anything, it teaches us that people cannot sin and then expect to have things the way they were before. More often than not, much suffering comes upon those who violate God’s will, even though they may be forgiven and have the hope of heaven.
So it is with marriage. People may reject God’s laws of marriage and fly in the face of His will. They may then be forgiven, but they may also have gotten their lives into such a fix that they will have no choice but to live single and celibate the rest of their lives. Such is not a reflection upon God’s justice or mercy. Rather, such is a reflection of man’s own stubborn disobedience and rejection of what God designed to be for man’s good. Just as a person can sin and in so doing lose his physical life without God intervening to prevent the effect of the sin (e.g., rob a bank and be killed by the police), likewise a person can so sin in the marital realm that he or she forfeits marital life without God intervening.
Third, baptism is not biblical immersion if it is not preceded by repentance. We often forget this, so anxious are we to get people into the baptistery. Repentance is not simply being sorry. Godly sorrow precedes genuine repentance which is, in turn, followed by a reformation of life (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). Reformation of life entails the cessation of sinful practices and the severance of sinful relationships (Matthew 3:8; 1 Corinthians 6:11). Paul put it this way in Romans 6:2—a person must not “live any longer therein.”
What did those who practiced sorcery do to show repentance in Acts 19:19? They burned their scrolls, showing that they were ceasing their former practices. Simply vowing to refrain from buying any further books, while insisting on keeping the books they already had, would manifest a lack of true repentance. If they held membership in a sorcery society, repentance would mean that they would sever that relationship. Simon’s repentance and baptism in Acts 8 demanded the cessation of his former relationship with sorcery. What did repentance and baptism mean to the Corinthians? Consider the following chart:
Whether the Corinthians had been practicing adultery, homosexuality, male prostitution, thievery, or swindling (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), repentance prior to baptism would mean that they would have ceased living in illicit sexual unions—whether adulterous or homosexual. They would have ceased stealing and would have severed their relationship with ill-gotten gain. They would have given up any business arrangement that would call for swindling others. Repentance, by definition, would demandsuch. And those who continue to live in such relationships have not really repented.
One final point merits attention. Some attempt to justify adulterous unions by comparing the sin of adultery to murder. They say that there are some wrongs which cannot be righted. In the case of murder, a man may repent but he cannot raise his victim to life. They say that an unscriptural marriage fits in the same category.
This is a false analogy. In the first place, severing an illicit relationship is not an attempt to rectify past divorces or restore past marriages. Rather, it is what is demanded by repentance and God’s laws of marriage. Second, the basic principle which does apply to both murder and adultery is that repentance demands that the individual cease committing murder and that he cease living in adultery (Colossians 3:7). Can a penitent murderer continue to murder? No. He will cease the relationship which he once had with the murderous life he once lived. Likewise, one who is living in a state of adultery will be lost if he or she dies in that state (Revelation 21:8). Just saying, “I’m sorry,” will not change that state or change that relationship into a righteous one so that it may be continued. Nowhere has God ever dealt with sin in such a way. He always demands the cessation of the sinful practice or relationship beforeHe abundantly pardons. John the Baptizer was not asking Herod to simply acknowledge his sin, say he was sorry and ask forgiveness, and then continue to live with Herodias. Herod had married her (Mark 6:17). What did repentance demand? That they break up their marriage. Why? Because, as John declared, “It [was] not lawful for [Herod] to have her” (Mark 6:18)! There wasn’t anything that Herod could merely verbalize that would change the status of the marital relationship. It had to be terminated.