A RED, GMC ASTRO 95 AND... by Allan Turner



I used to be a criminal investigator for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in Tampa, Florida. Teamed up with investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Florida Highway Patrol, and the National Auto Theft Bureau, I developed an informant who told me about a stolen tractor trailer truck that was being used by a trucking firm in the Tampa area. The vehicle was described as a red, GMC Astro 95 worth about $50,000. (This is back when $50,000 was a lot of money.) According to my informant, this truck had been stolen somewhere in Florida and had immediately been repainted red. According to the informant, the owner of the trucking firm knew the truck was stolen.
This fit with information we had already developed on this trucking firm owner, who we knew to be mob connected. If fact, I had already been at this man's place of business in regard to another investigation and had seen the red, GMC Astro 95 on the premises. Of course, at that time I did not know the truck was stolen.
Acting on the informant's information, we proceeded to the trucking firm, but the red, GMC Astro 95 was not on the premises. The owner, naturally, denied any knowledge of the stolen truck. The same afternoon we recovered the tractor trailer truck on a public right of way in the vicinity of the suspect's business. The investigators from the National Auto Theft Bureau went over the red, GMC Astro 95 with a "fine toothed comb," but they were unable to locate any primary or secondary (i.e., secret) vehicle identification numbers. Without these numbers we were not going to be able to trace this vehicle to an owner or a stolen vehicle report. Needless to say, we were quite frustrated.
As my fellow investigators continued to comb the vehicle for evidence, I had to leave for a court appearance. Several hours later while returning from court, I stopped my vehicle at a busy intersection. Immediately, a northbound turquoise and white, GMC Astro 95 caught my attention. Except for the color, it was the "spitting image" of the stolen truck we were trying to identify. Prior to leaving for court, I had scraped some of the red paint off the stolen truck and discovered that the original paint was—you guessed it—turquoise and white. Upon stopping the northbound truck, I found out from the driver that he was driving for a firm out of Canada and was returning home after a trip to southern Florida. I asked the driver if his boss had lost any trucks within the last year. He said he didn't know but that the boss' son was asleep in the truck's sleeper. I awoke the owner's son and he informed me that the truck I was looking at was the twin of a truck that had been stolen from his father on one of his previous trips to Florida. Subsequently, the owner flew from Canada and identified his stolen vehicle. He was able to do this even without a vehicle identification number because he had so uniquely customized his vehicle.
But we still had a problem. We could not charge the mob connected trucking firm owner with being in possession of stolen property because we could not conclusively prove the stolen truck had been in his possession. The truck we saw previously, which looked like the stolen truck, may not have been, and we would not be able to testify in court that it was. Once again, we were terribly frustrated.
Several days later, I was discussing my frustration with a police photographer. You can imagine my excitement when he said something like this: "Allan, several months ago I was working on a case that required me to photograph from the air the general vicinity of the trucking firm in question. It just may be that we photographed your stolen vehicle while it was on the suspect's property." Sure enough, the photographer was able to produce a photo of the suspect's property with the red, GMC Astro 95 sitting on it. When the photo was enlarged, the owner of the vehicle was able to note enough points of identification so that his identification would hold up in court, even though there were no primary or secondary vehicle identification numbers ever found on this vehicle. Incidentally, the suspect was subsequently arrested and convicted of possession of stolen property.

So, What's The Point?

A red, GMC Astro 95 and... providence, right? Wrong! Maybe it was and maybe it wasn't. Personally, I think the Lord had something to do with it, but without direct inspiration, I simply cannot know for sure.
This story is actually about a red, GMC Astro 95 and... the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, the inspired writer says: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." The writer goes on to say, "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (verse 24). What's the point? Namely this: If someone were trying to identify your owner, would there be enough points of identification to connect you with Christ?

Cafeteria Style Religion And Bumper Sticker Theology by Allan Turner

Cafeteria Style Religion And Bumper Sticker Theology

Allan Turner

We have a tendency to look for a passage that will substantiate our preconceived ideas. This tendency toward proof-texting might best be described as Smorgasbord or Cafeteria Style Religion. Invariably, this kind of attitude leads us to make serious mistakes concerning what the Bible actually teaches on any given subject. For example, those who believe “faith only” to be a very “wholesome doctrine,” look to John 3:16 as a proof-text. While discussing this subject with a “faith only” advocate, we heard him remark something to this effect: “John 3:16 is the only passage a person needs to know in order to be saved. If a person knew of no other scripture, he would still know enough to be saved.” Of course, when you pin these “faith only” people down, even they don't believe that John 3:16 is all one needs to know in order to be saved. All the “faith only” people we have spoken with believe that repentance is also necessary in order for one to be saved. Repentance, of course, is not mentioned in John 3:16. When we pointed this out to the aforementioned individual, he wanted to change the subject.
The man-made doctrine of “faith only” may make good “bumper sticker theology,” but is so superficial that when taken at face value it will cause those who believe it to reject every other condition God has placed on salvation. This must be seen as the absolute folly it really is. Without the rest of Scripture, it is impossible to know the real nature of the faith taught in John 3:16 and elsewhere. True saving faith is not just “faith only,” but is a faith made perfect by works (James 2:14-26). Far from being the contradiction Cafeteria Style religionists believe these two passages to be, James has simply given us greater insight into the faith John wrote about.
The “saving faith” of John 3:16 is not mere belief, but must be defined in light of repentance (Acts 17:30), confession (Romans 10:10), and baptism (I Peter 3:21). Add to this the concept of being “faithful until death” (Revelation 2:10) and one begins to understand what genuine saving faith is all about.

"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalms For Living And Worship by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

                     Psalms For Living And Worship


1) To illustrate the value of Psalms in our lives in different ways and
   at different times

2) To provide a quick reference guide for using the Psalms


Like the skilled fingers on the strings of a harp, the Psalms touch and
move the hearts of those individuals who will read and meditate upon
them.  Every emotion known to man is expressed in the Psalms, including
fear and faith, hope and doubt, trust and anxiety, as inspired men of
God shared their personal spiritual journeys in the service of God.  The
Psalms should be a constant resource to help the Christian learn how to
praise and pray, to meditate and contemplate, to face life and death.

In an attempt to illustrate the value of the Psalms and encourage their
frequent reading, I offer the following sampling of what Psalms might be
read at different times in your life.

Are you remorseful and penitent for your sins?  Read Psalms 51, 32

Are you experiencing affliction, and remain comfortless?  Read Psalm 22

Are you steadfast in times of distress, and want encouragement?  Read
Psalms 27, 31

Are you under various mental strains?  Read Psalms 41, 70

Are you falsely accused?  Read Psalm 7

Are you in trouble?  Read Psalms 54, 63

Are you tempted?  Read Psalm 130

Are you wanting in confidence?  Read Psalms 61, 91

Are you envious of the wicked?  Read Psalm 73

Are you in a position of authority and need to be reminded of your
responsibilities?  Read Psalms 82, 101

Do you need to be reminded of the importance of humility?  Read Psalm

Do you need to be reminded of the futility of this life?  Read Psalms
39, 49, 90

Do you desire to pray for others?  Read Psalm 20

Do you wish to praise God for His mercies in helping people through
adverse circumstances?  Read Psalms 34, 40

Do you wish to praise God for common blessings He has bestowed upon
people?  Read Psalm 46, 48, 66, 67

Do you desire to meditate upon the characteristics of God and praise Him
especially for His grace and mercy?  Read Psalms 23, 103, 121, 145, 146

Do you desire to meditate upon the attributes of God, such as His power?
Read Psalms 8, 19, 65, 66, 97, 99, 104, 111, 139

Do you desire to mediate upon the magnificence of the Scriptures?  Read
Psalms 19, 119

Do you wish to gain instruction regarding the contrast between the
righteous and the wicked?  Read Psalms 1, 15, 25, 32, 34, 36, 37,
52, 127, 128

Do you wish to reflect upon the Messiah and His kingdom?  Read Psalms 2,
16, 22, 40, 45, 72, 110

Do you desire to review the history of Israel?  Read Psalms 78, 105, 106

To Accompany Morning Prayer - Read Psalms 5, 94, 95

To Accompany Evening Prayer - Read Psalms 4, 90, 139, 141

To Prepare For Private Devotion - Read Psalms 23, 27, 91, 103, 104, 138,

To Prepare For Public Worship - Read Psalms 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100,
122, 133, 134, 145, 147, 148

To Enhance The Observance Of The Lord's Supper - Read Psalm 22

To Enhance The Collection For The Saints - Read Psalms 41, 112

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 51 - The Penitent's Prayer by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

                    Psalm 51 - The Penitent's Prayer


1) To learn "the art of confessing our sins" from the example of David
   confessing his sins

2) To consider whether one can rightly argue for "total hereditary
   depravity" based upon the figurative language in verse 5


This psalm was written by David when Nathan had come to him after
committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband Uriah (cf.
2Sa 11:1- 12:15).  It is an outstanding example of a "penitential
psalm" (cf. also Ps 6, 38, 130) in which David confesses his sin and
prays for forgiveness.  We do well to learn from it "the art of
confessing our sins" to help us when we have sins to confess to God (cf.
1Jn 1:9).

David begins with his plea for God to forgive him, appealing to His
loving kindness and tender mercy.  Note that he does not ask God to
forgive him based upon any good he may have done in the past.  He
acknowledges his sin against God (in very figurative terms), and how it
is contrary to God's desire for him.  He prays not only for God to
cleanse him, but also to renew and restore to him the joy of salvation

David's plea is followed by his promise to teach other sinners, that
they too might be converted to God.  He promises also to sing aloud of
God's righteousness, for he knows that God delights in such when it
comes from a broken and contrite spirit (13-17).

The psalm ends with his prayer for God to do good for Zion and
Jerusalem, that He might be pleased by the burnt offerings offered on
the altar.  Note that David has not forgotten to pray for God's
interest, while praying for his own (18-19).

This penitential psalm should be studied along with Psalm 32, in which
David describes the blessedness and joy of one who has received the
forgiveness prayed for in this psalm.


I. DAVID'S PLEA (51:1-12)

      1. He pleads mercy according to God's loving kindness
      2. He implores forgiveness according to God's tender mercies
      3. He begs washing and cleansing from his sin

      1. He admits his sin which is ever before him
      2. He confesses that he has sinned against God, and done evil in
         His sight
      3. God is just and blameless in judging him

      1. His expression of sinfulness
         a. He was brought forth in iniquity
         b. In sin his mother conceived him
      2. His awareness of what God's desire
         a. God wants truth in the inward parts
         b. God wills to make him know wisdom in the hidden part

      1. He prays for forgiveness, for God to...
         a. Purge him with hyssop, that he might be clean
         b. Wash him, that he might be whiter than snow
         c. Hide His face from his sins
         d. Blot out all his iniquities
      2. He prays for restoration, for God to...
         a. Make him hear joy and gladness
         b. Make his broken bones rejoice
         c. Create in him a clean heart
         d. Renew a steadfast spirit in him
         e. Not cast him away from His presence
         f. Not take His Holy Spirit from him
         g. Restore to him the joy of His salvation
         h. Uphold him with His generous Spirit

II. DAVID'S PROMISE (51:13-17)

      1. He will teach transgressors the ways of God
      2. Sinners will be converted to God

   B. TO OFFER PRAISE (14-17)
      1. If the God of his salvation will deliver him from
         bloodguiltiness and open his lips...
         a. He will sing aloud of God's righteousness
         b. His mouth will show forth His praise
      2. For he knows in what God delights
         a. Not sacrifice or burnt offering, or he would have offered it
         b. But a broken spirit and a contrite heart, God will not

III. DAVID'S PRAYER (51:18-19)

      1. That God do His good pleasure to Zion
      2. That God build the walls of Jerusalem

      1. With the sacrifices of righteousness
      2. With burnt offering and whole burnt offering
      -- Then they shall offer bulls on His altar


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - David's plea (1-12)
   - David's promise (13-17)
   - David's prayer (18-19)

2) What is David praying for in this psalm? (1-2)
   - For God to have mercy upon him
   - For God to blot out his transgressions
   - For God to wash and cleanse him from his sin

3) Upon what does David base his appeal for God's forgiveness? (1-2)
   - According to His loving kindness
   - According to the multitude of His tender mercies

4) How does David describe the extent of his guilt? (3-4)
   - His sin is ever before him
   - Against God alone has he sinned (figuratively speaking, for David
     sinned against his wife, Uriah, and many others)

5) How does David further describe the extent of his sinfulness? (5)
   - He was brought forth in iniquity, in sin his mother conceived him
     (figuratively speaking, in contrast to what God desires of him as
     expressed in verse 6)

6) What does God desire of David? (6)
   - Truth in the inward parts
   - Wisdom in the hidden part

7) In praying for forgiveness, what does David ask God to do? (7-12)
   - Purge him with hyssop, that he might be clean (note the figurative
     language again)
   - Wash him, that he might be whiter than snow
   - Hide His face from his sins
   - Blot out all his iniquities

8) In praying for restoration, what does he ask God to do? (7-12)
   - Make him hear joy and gladness
   - Make his broken bones rejoice
   - Create in him a clean heart
   - Renew a steadfast spirit in him
   - Not cast him away from His presence
   - Not take His Holy Spirit from him
   - Restore to him the joy of His salvation
   - Uphold him with His generous Spirit

9) What two things does David promise to do when forgiven? (13-15)
   - Teach transgressors the ways of God
   - Sing aloud the righteousness of God

10) What does God desire more than burnt offering? (16-17)
   - A broken and contrite heart

11) For what does David pray as he concludes this psalm? (18-19)
   - For God's good pleasure regarding Zion and Jerusalem, and the
     sacrifices of righteousness

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 38 - The Penitent Plea Of A Sick Man by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

               Psalm 38 - The Penitent Plea Of A Sick Man


1) To note the physical consequences that may often follow sin

2) To consider the connection David made between his illness and God's
   chastening for sin


This is a penitential psalm, a prayer for deliverance from God's
chastening for his sins.  Physical ailments have come upon David because
of sin, which he perceived as God's righteous anger (3).  The impact of
the illness on his body was devastating (5-10).  It affected his
relationship with family and loved ones (11), while his enemies used it
as opportunity to plot against him (12,16,19-20).

The heading says "To Bring To Remembrance."  This may mean to remind God
of His mercy, as its preface here and in Psalm 70 both introduce pleas
for God to make haste in providing deliverance (cf. 22; 70:1,5).
Leupold suggests that Psalms 38 may have been written after Psalms 51
and 32, following the events surrounding David's sin with Bathsheba.
While forgiven of his sin, David was told he would still suffer
consequences (2Sa 12:10-14).  If David contracted a venereal disease
due to his sin (7), he may have viewed it as a form of chastening from
which he sought deliverance.  Whatever the nature of his illness, this
psalm is the penitent plea of a sick man who understood that he was
suffering because of his sin and God's anger.



   A. THAT THE LORD NOT... (1)
      1. Rebuke him in His wrath
      2. Chasten him in His hot displeasure

   B. FOR THE LORD HAS... (2)
      1. Pierced him deeply with His arrows
      2. Pressed him down with His hand


      1. Because of his foolish sin and God's anger...
         a. There is no soundness in his flesh, no health in his bones
         b. His iniquities are a heavy burden
         c. His wounds are foul and festering
      2. Description of his illness
         a. Troubled, bowed down greatly, mourning all day long
         b. Loins full of inflammation, no soundness in his flesh
         c. Feeble and broken, groaning because the turmoil of his heart
         d. Heart pants, strength fails him
         e. The light of his eyes has gone from him

      1. Forsaken by those close to him
         a. Loved ones and friends stand aloof from his plague
         b. Relatives stand far off
      2. Plotted against by his enemies
         a. Those who seek his life lay snares
         b. Those who seek his hurt speak of destruction


      1. His response to this abuse
         a. Like a deaf man he does not hear
         b. Like a mute he does not respond
      2. His hope is the Lord that He will hear
         a. Since his enemies will rejoice if he falls
         b. Since they will exalt themselves if he slips

      1. He is ready to fall, his sorrow continually before him
      2. He will declare his iniquity, be in anguish over his sin

      1. His enemies are strong, those who hate him wrongfully are
      2. They render evil for good, they are his adversaries because he
         follows what is good





1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - Introductory plea for mercy (1-2)
   - The wretchedness of his condition (3-12)
   - The basis for his hope that God will hear (13-20)
   - Concluding plea for help (21-22)

2) For what does David plead?  Yet what has already occurred? (1-2)
   - For God not to rebuke or chasten him in His wrath
   - The Lord's arrows have pierced him; His hand pressed him down

3) To what two things does David attribute his poor condition? (3)
   - God's anger; his own sin

4) What does David acknowledge as the cause of his "heavy burden" and
   "wounds"? (4-5)
   - His iniquities; his foolishness

5) What two descriptive phrases may imply some sort of venereal disease?
   - "I am bowed down greatly"
   - "For my loins are full of inflammation" (NKJV)

6) What other symptoms does David describe? (8-10)
   - He is feeble and severely broken; he groans because of the turmoil
     of his heart
   - His heart pants, his strength fails him
   - The light of his eyes has gone from him

7) What is said of his loved ones, friends, and relatives? (11)
   - They stand afar off

8) What about those who seek his life? (12)
   - They lay snares, speak of his destruction, plan deception

9) How does David respond to this mistreatment by others? (13-14)
   - He does not hear and does not respond

10) In whom does David put his trust? (15)
   - The LORD his God

11) Upon what three things does David base his plea to be heard? (16-20)
   - Lest his enemies rejoice and exalt themselves over him
   - His sorrow and confession of his sin
   - His persistence in doing good, while others render evil for good

12) What is David's concluding plea?  How does David view the LORD?
   - For God not to forsake him or be far from him; for God to help him
   - As his God and his salvation

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 37 - The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

              Psalm 37 - The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth


1) To learn why we should not fret, become angry, or be envious of the
   wicked when they prosper

2) To see the importance of trusting in the Lord and committing our ways
   to Him

3) To note the context from which came the beatitude "Blessed are the
   meek, for they shall inherit the earth."


This psalm of David is didactic in nature, filled with instruction for
God's people.  It was evidently written late in life, in which David
shares his observations (25).  A recurring theme is who will inherit the
earth (9,11,22,29,34), and the answer of the psalmist is one of the
beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 5:5).  From the context of
the psalm, we might understand the beatitude to refer to blessings in
this life for those who trust in God (cf. Mt 6:33; Mk 10:29-30).  Not
that they may literally possess more of this earth's riches, but their
ability to enjoy it is blessed by God (16; cf. Ec 5:19-6:2).

Acrostic in the original Hebrew, the psalm is somewhat difficult to
outline.  It begins with a series of exhortations directed to the
righteous, to trust in the Lord and not fret or be angry when the wicked
prosper (1-8).  It continues with an exposition contrasting the wicked
and the righteous, illustrating the futility of the wicked and the
steadfastness of the righteous (9-26).  It ends with counsel for one to
do good and depart from evil, to wait on the Lord and keep His way, and
to take careful note of the future of the righteous as opposed to the
end of the wicked (27-40).



      1. Do not fret nor be envious of the workers of iniquity
      2. They shall soon wither and be cut away

      1. Trust in the Lord and do good
         a. Dwell in the land, feeding on His faithfulness
         b. Delight in the Lord, who will give you the desires of your
      2. Commit your way to the Lord, trusting in Him
         a. He shall bring your plans to pass
         b. He shall bring forth your righteousness and justice
      3. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him
         a. Do not fret because of the prosperous or wicked
         b. Cease from anger, wrath and worry, it only causes harm


      1. The wicked shall be cut off and be no more
         a. While those who wait on the Lord shall inherit the earth
         b. While the meek shall inherit the earth and enjoy an
            abundance of peace
      2. The wicked shall be defeated
         a. Despite their plots against the just and gnashing of teeth
            1) The Lord laughs
            2) He sees their day coming
         b. Despite their weapons against the poor and righteous
            1) Which they have drawn to cast down and slay
            2) Which shall enter their own hearts and be broken
      3. Better than the riches of the wicked is the poverty of the
         a. The arms of the wicked shall be broken
         b. The Lord will uphold the righteous

      1. The LORD knows the days of the righteous
         a. Their inheritance shall be forever
         b. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time
         c. They shall be satisfied in the days of famine
      2. The wicked and enemies of the LORD shall perish
         a. They shall vanish like the splendor of the meadows
         b. They shall vanish away like smoke
      3. The righteous shows mercy and gives, the wicked who borrows and
         does not repay
         a. For those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the earth
         b. While those cursed by Him shall be cut off
      4. The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD
         a. The Lord delights in his way
         b. Even though he falls, he is not utterly cast down
         c. For the Lord upholds him with His hand


      1. For the LORD loves justice and does not forsake His saints
         a. They are preserved, while the wicked shall be cut off
         b. The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell in it forever
      2. The virtues of the righteous
         a. His mouth speaks wisdom, his tongue talks of justice
         b. The law of his God is in his heart, none of his steps shall
      3. The protection of the LORD
         a. Despite the attempts of the wicked to slay the righteous
         b. The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him
            when he is judged

      1. He shall exalt you to inherit the land
      2. You shall see it when the wicked are cut off
         a. Even as the wicked once grew like a tree in great power
         b. But later could not be found for he was no more

      1. Mark the blameless, observe the upright, in contrast to the
         a. The future of that man is peace
         b. The future of wicked shall be destroyed and cut off
      2. The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD
         a. He is their strength in times of trouble
         b. He shall help and deliver them from the wicked, because they
            trust in Him


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - Exhortation for the righteous (1-8)
   - Exposition on the wicked and the righteous (9-26)
   - Counsel for the righteous (27-33)

2) What does David tell us not to do when others are wicked and
   prosperous?  Why? (1,7,8)
   - Do not fret, be envious, or angry; it only causes one harm

3) Why should we not be bothered about the prosperity of the wicked?
   - They shall soon be cut off; they shall soon be no more

4) What are we encouraged to do? (3-7)
   - Trust in the Lord, do good
   - Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness
   - Delight in the Lord
   - Commit your way to the Lord
   - Trust in Him
   - Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him

5) Who is said to inherit the earth? (9,11,22,29,34)
   - Those who wait on the LORD
   - The meek
   - Those blessed by the LORD
   - The righteous
   - Those who wait on the LORD and keep His Way

6) What will happen to the efforts of the wicked against the just?
   - Their efforts will turn on to themselves

7) What is better than the riches of many wicked?  Why? (16-17)
   - A little that a righteous man has; because the LORD upholds the

8) What is said concerning the upright? (18-19)
   - The LORD knows their days
   - Their inheritance shall be forever
   - They shall not be ashamed in the evil time
   - They shall be satisfied in the days of famine

9) What will happen to the wicked and the enemies of the LORD? (20)
   - They shall perish and vanish away

10) What difference is noted between the wicked and righteous
    concerning money? (21)
   - The wicked borrows and does not repay; the righteous shows mercy
     and gives

11) What is said about the steps of a good man? (23-24)
   - They are ordered by the LORD, He delights in his way
   - If he falls, he will not be utterly cast down, for the LORD upholds

12) What observation has the psalmist made in life? (25-26)
   - He has never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants
     begging bread
   - The righteous is ever merciful and lends, his descendants are

13) Why should we depart from evil and do good? (27-29)
   - For the LORD loves justice and does not forsake His saints
   - They are preserved, and the righteous shall inherit the land

14) What is noted about the mouth and heart of the righteous? (30-31)
   - The mouth speaks wisdom and tongue talks of justice; the law of his
     God is in heart

15) Who protects the righteous from the wicked? (32-33)
   - The LORD

16) What is one exhorted to do in verse 34?  Why?
   - Wait on the LORD and keep his way; He shall exalt you to inherit
     the land

17) What has the psalmist seen? (35-36)
   - The wicked in great power, spreading like a tree; yet he passed
     away and could not be found

18) What are we told to notice about the blameless and upright man? The
    wicked? (37-38)
   - His future is peace; their future shall be cut off

19) What is said about the righteous in the last two verses? (39-40)
   - Their salvation is from the LORD
   - He is their strength in time of trouble
   - They LORD shall help them and deliver them from the wicked

20) Why will the LORD save the righteous? (40)
 - Because they trust in Him

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 32 - The Blessedness Of Confessing Sin by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

              Psalm 32 - The Blessedness Of Confessing Sin


1) To note the connection between this psalm and Psalm 51

2) To observe the use and possible meaning of the word "Maschil"

3) To be impressed with the importance of confessing our sins to God


This psalm was written by David (cf. Ro 4:6-8) and is generally thought
to have been composed after he received forgiveness in the matter of
Bathsheba (cf. 2Sa 11:1-12:15).  In seeking forgiveness, he had
promised to "teach transgressors Your ways" (cf. Ps 51:13), and with
this psalm he fulfill his promise.  The heading calls this psalm a
"Maschil", possibly meaning a poem of contemplation or meditation.  It
certainly qualifies as a didactic or instructive psalm (cf. Ps 32:8).

It begins with stating the blessedness or joy of forgiveness, where the
Lord does not count one's sins against him, and in whose spirit there is
no guile (1-2).  What led David to this conclusion was first the curse
of remaining silent, in which he experienced both physical and emotional
stress.  This was partly due to the guilt of sin itself, but David also
mentions the chastening hand of the Lord upon him (3-4).

But then he confessed his sin to the Lord, and the Lord forgave him.
This prompts Dave to bless (speak well of) God as a source of protection
easily found by the godly in time of trouble, Who will surround him
with songs of deliverance (5-7).

The psalm ends with David (though some think it is God speaking)
offering to instruct and teach one in the way he should go (cf. Psa
51:13).  With a caution not to be like the mule or horse which lacks
understanding and must be drawn near, David contrasts the sorrows of the
wicked with the mercy that will surround him who puts his trust in the
Lord.  This ought to cause the righteous to be glad in the Lord, and the
upright in heart to shout for joy (8-11).



   A. THE BLESSED MAN (1-2a)
      1. Is the one whose transgression is forgiven
      2. Is the one whose sin is covered
      3. Is the one to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity

      1. Is the one whose sins have been forgiven as described
      2. In whose spirit there is no deceit (for he has nothing to
         hide!) - cf. Re 14:5


      1. The psalmist remained silent about his sin
      2. The psalmist groaned all day long, his bones wasting away

      1. The heavy hand of the Lord was upon him day and night - cf. Psa 38:1-11; 39:10-11
      2. His strength sapped as in the heat of summer


      1. He decided to acknowledge his sin to God
      2. He chose to no longer hide his sin
      3. He confessed his transgressions to the Lord

      1. The Lord forgave David the iniquity of his sin
      2. David blesses (speaks wells of) God for His forgiveness
         a. For this reason everyone who is godly shall pray to Him
            1) In a time when He may be found
            2) In a flood of great waters, they shall not come near
         b. God is his hiding place
            1) He shall preserve him from trouble
            2) He shall surround him with songs of deliverance


      1. To teach one the way he (or she) should go
      2. To guide one with his eye (his insight? perspective?)
      3. With a caution not to be like the horse or mule
         a. Which has no understanding
         b. Which has to be harnessed, or they will not come near

      1. Many sorrows will be to the wicked
      2. Mercy will surround the one who trusts in the Lord
         a. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous!
         b. Shout for joy, all you upright in heart!


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - The joy of forgiveness (1-2)
   - The curse of silence (3-4)
   - The benefit of confession (5-7)
   - The value of trust (8-11)

2) What is the condition of the blessed man described in this psalm?
   - His transgression is forgiven
   - His sin is covered
   - The Lord does not impute iniquity against him
   - There is no deceit (guile) in his spirit

3) What had been the affect of keeping silent about his sin? (3-4)
   - His bones grew old through his groaning all day long
   - The hand of the Lord had been heavy on him day and night
   - His vitality had become like the drought of summer

4) What did he then decided to do?  What was the result? (5)
   - To confess his transgressions to the Lord
   - The Lord forgave him

5) What will the godly do when in need of forgiveness? (6)
   - Pray to God

6) What blessings does God provide for those who put their trust in Him?
   - In a flood of great waters, they shall not come near
   - He is their hiding place
   - He preserves them from trouble
   - He surrounds them with songs of deliverance

7) What does David (or perhaps God) offer to do in this psalm? (8)
   - Instruct and teach one in the way they should go
   - Guide one with his eye (insight, perspective?)

8) What warning is given concerning those who read this psalm? (9)
   - Don't be like the horse or mule, which lacking understanding have
     to be drawn in order to come near

9) What antithetical statements are made concerning the wicked and those
   who trust in the Lord? (10)
   - Many sorrows shall be to the wicked
   - He who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him

10) What are the righteous and upright in heart called upon to do? (11)
   - Be glad in the Lord and rejoice
   - Shout for joy

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 27 - Light And Salvation In Dark Times by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

              Psalm 27 - Light And Salvation In Dark Times


1) To glean David's source of strength and courage in difficult times

2) To learn where to turn when persecuted by enemies or forsaken by


This psalm is ascribed to David, evidently written in a time of danger
(12).  It may have been prompted by the help provided by Ahimelech the
priest, and the opposition of Doeg the Edomite, who saw David at the
tabernacle and later reported him to Saul (cf. 1Sa 21:1-10; 22:9).
This was also a time when David sought protection for his parents (cf. 1
Sam 22:3) which may have left David feeling abandoned (10).

As always, David found the LORD to be his "Light And Salvation In Dark
Times".  The first part of the psalm expresses his confident trust in
the LORD for blessings received in the past, and his desire to dwell in
the house of the LORD who will protect him in the future (1-6).  In the
second part David offers an anxious plea for God's mercy and deliverance
from his enemies (7-12).  It ends with a confession that he would have
lost heart without faith in God's goodness, and an exhortation to wait
on the Lord for strength and courage of heart (13-14).



      1. Of whom shall David be afraid?
         a. When the LORD is his light and salvation
         b. When the LORD is the strength of his life
      2. The LORD's help in the past
         a. When the wicked, his enemies and foes came against him
         b. They stumbled and fell
      3. The LORD's help in the future
         a. Though encamped by an army in time of war
         b. His heart will not fear, it remains confident in the LORD

      1. The one thing he desires of the LORD
         a. To dwell in His house all his life
         b. To behold His beauty, and inquire in His temple
      2. The reason for David's fervent desire
         a. In time of trouble the LORD will hide him
            1) In His pavilion
            2) In the secret place of His tabernacle
         b. The LORD will set him high upon a rock
      3. His response to being lifted high above his enemies
         a. To offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle
         b. To sing praises to the LORD


   A. PLEA FOR MERCY (7-10)
      1. David's cry to the LORD
         a. To hear when he cries with his voice
         b. To have mercy and answer him
         c. For his heart responded to the LORD saying "Seek My face"
      2. David's plea to the LORD
         a. Do not hide His face from him
         b. Do not turn His servant away in anger, for He has been his
         c. Do not leave or forsake him, for He is the God of his
      3. David's hope in the LORD
         a. When forsaken by his parents
         b. The LORD will take care of him

      1. David's request for guidance from the LORD
         a. To teach him His way
         b. To lead him in a smooth path, because of his enemies
      2. David's reason for asking the LORD for deliverance from his
         a. For false witnesses have risen against him
         b. Such as breathe out violence


      1. He would have lost heart unless he believed
      2. That he would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the

      1. To be of good courage
      2. He shall strengthen your heart


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - Confident trust in time of danger (1-6)
   - Anxious prayer in time of danger (7-12)
   - Lessons learned in time of danger (13-14)

2) What does David offer as the solution to fear? (1)
   - The LORD as one's light and salvation
   - The LORD as one's strength in life

3) Why would David not fear though an army may encamp him? (2-3)
   - In the past his enemies and foe stumbled and fell

4) What did David earnestly desire of the Lord? (4)
   - To dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of his life
   - To behold the behold the beauty of the LORD, to inquire in His

5) Why did David desire such fellowship with God? (5)
   - The LORD would hide him in His tabernacle in times of trouble

6) How would David respond to victory over his enemies? (6)
   - Offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle
   - Sing praises to the LORD

7) Why did David hope for the LORD to hear his prayer and have mercy on
   him? (7-9)
   - He responded to the LORD's invitation to seek His face
   - The LORD had been his help in time past

8) Who would take care of David when forsaken by his parents? (10)
   - The LORD

9) What did David ask for when enemies and false witnesses rose against
   him? (11-12)
   - For the LORD to teach him, and lead him in a smooth path
   - For the LORD to not deliver him to the will of his enemies

10) What prevented David from losing heart? (13)
   - Faith that he would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the

11) What is the key to being of good courage? (14)
   - To wait on the LORD, for He will strengthen your heart

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 23 - The Shepherd Psalm by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

                     Psalm 23 - The Shepherd Psalm


1) To remind ourselves of the wonderful provision, protection, and
   preservation the Lord furnishes His people

2) To note how this psalm foreshadows the blessings provided by "The
   Good Shepherd", Jesus Christ


This much-beloved psalm of David makes use of the Shepherd motif to
describe the deep faith and hope available to the child of God, made
possible the watchful care of the Lord.  It also mixes other metaphors,
especially that of a gracious Host.

As outlined below, David begins by illustrating the provision of the
Lord, both physical and spiritual (1-3).  David then describes the
protection of the Lord, as he travels through dangerous places and in
the presence of enemies (4-5).  The psalm ends with an expression of
faith and hope in the Lord's preservation, that God will furnish the
goodness and mercy needed throughout life, so that he made abide in the
house of the Lord forever (6).

The Christian sees in this psalm a wonderful foreshadowing of "The Good
Shepherd", Jesus Christ, who gave His life for His sheep and even now
watches over them  (cf. Jn 10:11-15; He 13:20; 1Pe 2:21-25; 5:4).

A good follow-up to this psalm is Psalm 100, which expresses the praise
we should render to God as His people and the sheep of His pasture.



      1. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (cf. Lk 12:22-32)
      2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures
      3. He leads me beside the still waters (cf. Re 7:17)

      1. He restores my soul (cf. Re 3:19)
      2. He leads me in the paths of righteousness, for His name's sake
         (cf. 1Co 10:13)


      1. I will fear no evil, for He is with me (cf. He 13:5-6)
      2. His rod and staff comfort me (cf. He 12:5-11)

      1. He prepares a table before me in their presence (cf. Jn 16:33)
      2. He anoints my head with oil, my cup runs over (cf. Ep 3:20)


      1. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
      2. All the days of my life (cf. 2Ti 4:18)

   B. FOREVER (6b)
      1. I will dwell in the house of the Lord
      2. Forever (cf. Jn 14:1-3)


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - The Shepherd's provision (1-3)
   - The Shepherd's protection (4-5)
   - The Shepherd's preservation (6)

2) Who is the author of the psalm?
   - David

3) What is the main figure used in this psalm?  The main idea? (1)
   - The Lord is my shepherd
   - I shall not want (lack anything)

4) How does David illustrate the physical necessities provided by the
   Lord? (2)
   - The Lord makes him to lie down in green pastures
   - The Lord leads him besides the still waters

5) How does David describe the spiritual necessities provided by the
   Lord? (3)
   - The Lord restores his soul
   - The Lord leads him in the paths of righteousness for His name's

6) What protection or comfort does the Lord provide when one walks
   through the valley of the shadow of death? (4)
   - The comfort of His presence
   - His comfort of His rod and staff

7) What provisions does the Lord furnish in the presence of one's
   enemies? (5)
   - He prepares a table
   - He anoints one's head with oil
   - He provides a cup which runs over

8) What does the Lord provide to ensure that He will preserve us in
   this life? (6)
   - Goodness and mercy all the days of our life

9) What wonderful hope do we have for eternity? (6)
   - To dwell in the house of the Lord forever

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 22 - The Victorious Sufferer by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

                   Psalm 22 - The Victorious Sufferer


1) To note the messianic nature of this psalm fulfilled in the
   crucifixion of Jesus

2) To be impressed with its literal fulfillment, and the insight it 
   gives us into how Jesus must have felt as He hung on the cross

3) To see what gave the psalmist confidence that God would hear his cry
   for deliverance


This psalm of David could be called "The Psalm Of The Cross", as much of
the suffering described in it was literally fulfilled in the crucifixion
of Jesus Christ (though it may also relate to sufferings experienced by
David).  Where the four gospel writers provide a description of Jesus'
sufferings from the viewpoint of witnesses, this messianic psalm reveals
His suffering from the viewpoint of Jesus Himself.

The heading indicates the psalm was set to "The Deer of the Dawn".  No
one really knows what this refers to, though it may be the name of a
tune known by the Chief Musician.

The psalm begins with a cry that was uttered by Jesus on the cross (Mt
27:46).  The first half of the psalm depicts a sufferer surrounded by
enemies who feels forsaken by God.  While much of the suffering is
described figuratively ("Many bulls have surrounded me"), some of it was
literally fulfilled.  Not only the words of Jesus in verse 1, but also
the very words of the chief priests and scribes who mocked while Jesus
hung on the cross (Mt 27:43).  There is also the piercing of the hands
and feet, the dividing of the garments (Mt 27:35).  As the psalmist
cries out for deliverance, he also expresses hope based upon God's
faithfulness in the past.  At the end of the first half, the psalmist
declares that God has answered him (1-21).

The second half of the psalm expresses the joy of "The Victorious
Sufferer".  He will gladly praise God for hearing him and providing
deliverance.  He encourages all those who fear God to praise and glorify
Him, confident that God's blessings will extend to many nations and to
people not yet born.  This is because the kingdom is the Lord's, and He
rules over the nations (22-31).



      1. Why has God forsaken him?  Why does God not help?
      2. Day and night his cry is made...why does God not hear?

      1. God is holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel
      2. The fathers trusted in God, and He delivered them
      3. They cried to Him, and God did not disappoint them

      1. Reduced to be like a worm, not a man
      2. The object of derision, despised by others
      3. Ridiculed, he is taunted by those who mock his trust in God

   D. HIS FAITH IN GOD (9-11)
      1. He acknowledges that God has been with him since birth
      2. He looks to God as his only helper

      1. Depiction of his enemies
         a. They surround him like strong bulls of Bashan
         b. Their mouths opened like a raging and roaring lion
      2. Depiction of his suffering
         a. Poured out like water, bones out of joint
         b. Heart like wax, melted within him
         c. Strength dried up, tongues clinging to his jaws
         d. Brought to the dust of death
      3. The suffering imposed by his enemies
         a. Like dogs, they surround him; like evildoers they encircle
         b. They have pierced his hands and feet
         c. He can count all his bones, while they feast their eyes on 
         d. They divide his garments, and cast lots for his clothing

   F. HIS FINAL CRY (19-21)
      1. For God not to be far off
         a. For He who is his strength to hasten and help him
         b. For Him to deliver his life from the sword, his precious 
            life from the power of the dog
         c. For Him to save him from the lion's mouth and horns of wild
      2. A sudden declaration that God has answered him!


   A. GOD BE PRAISED! (22-25)
      1. The sufferer will praise God
         a. Proclaiming His name to his brethren
         b. Praising Him in the middle of the assembly
      2. Let those who fear God praise Him
         a. Let the descendants of Jacob honor Him
         b. Let the descendants of Israel stand in awe of Him
      3. Reasons for such praise
         a. God has not despised or abhorred his affliction
         b. God has not hidden His face from him, but hearkened to his
      4. The sufferer will praise God and pay his vows
         a. In the great assembly
         b. Before them that fear Him

   B. GOD BE WORSHIPPED! (26-31)
      1. By the meek, and those that seek the Lord
         a. They shall be eat and be satisfied
         b. They shall praise Him
      2. By those from the ends of the earth
         a. Who shall bear these things in mind and return to the Lord
         b. All families of the nations will bow down before Him
         c. For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He is the Ruler among the
      3. By the prosperous and the dead
         a. The prosperous will eat, and worship Him
         b. The dying shall bow before Him
      4. By the generations to come
         a. Posterity shall serve him
         b. For men shall tell of what God has done
         c. People yet born shall hear of God's justice


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - Forsaken by God (1-21)
   - Delivered by God (22-31)

2) Who is the author of this psalm?
   - David

3) What is the nature of this psalm?
   - Messianic

4) When did Jesus quote the first verse of Psalm 22?
   - As He suffered on the cross (Mt 27:46)

5) Upon what basis does the psalmist hope for deliverance? (3-5)
   - The fathers trusted in God, and He delivered them when they cried
     out to Him

6) What scornful remark in the psalm were also expressed at Jesus' 
   crucifixion? (8)
   - "He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him..." (Mt 27:43)

7) Upon what basis does the psalmist have faith in God's help? (9-11)
   - God has been with him since birth

8) What two metaphors are used to describe the enemies of the psalmist?
   - They surround him like strong bulls of Bashan
   - They gape at him with mouths like a raging and roaring lion

9) How does the psalmist describe his bodily suffering? (14-15)
   - Poured out like water
   - Bones out of joint
   - Heart like wax, melted within him
   - Strength dried up like a potsherd
   - Tongue clinging to his jaws
   - God has brought him to the dust of death

10) What two things did the enemies do to the psalmist that were
    literally fulfilled at the crucifixion of Jesus? (16-18)
   - They pierced his hands and feet (Mt 27:35a)
   - They divide his garments and cast lots for his clothing (Mt 27:35b)

11) As the psalmist makes another cry for deliverance, how does he
    indicate that God has helped him? (19-21)
   - By saying "You have answered me."

12) What does the psalmist promise to do in response to God's 
    deliverance? (22,25)
   - Declare God's name to his brethren
   - Praise God in the midst of the congregation  (cf. He 2:11-12)
   - Pay his vows in the presence of those who fear Him

13) What does the psalmist call upon people to do?  Why? (23-24)
   - To praise, glorify, and fear God
   - For God has heard the cry of the afflicted

14) As the psalm nears its end, what eight things does the psalmist say
    will happen? (25-31)
   - The poor will eat and be satisfied
   - Those who seek God will praise Him
   - All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord
   - All the families of the nations shall worship before Him
   - All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship
   - All who go down to the dust shall bow before Him
   - A posterity shall serve Him
   - God's deliverance and righteousness will be recounted to the next
     generation, even those who are yet unborn

15) Why is the psalmist confident that such things will occur? (28)
   - For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He rules over the nations

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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Allah vs. the God of the Bible by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Allah vs. the God of the Bible

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

An honest and objective reading of both the Quran and the Bible reveals a significant clash between the two both in terms of how to conceptualize God, as well as in their respective depictions of the behavior of deity. Allah says and does things that the God of the Bible did not and would not say or do. The Quran’s representation of the sovereignty of God (like Calvinism) contradicts the character of God by attributing actions to Him that are unlike deity.
For example, the Quran repeatedly represents God, on the occasion of the creation of Adam, requiring the angels/djinn to bow down and worship this first human. All do so with the exception of Iblis (i.e., Satan), who refuses to do so on the grounds that Adam was a mere mortal:
Verily We created man of potter’s clay of black mud altered, and the Jinn did We create aforetime of essential fire. And (remember) when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am creating a mortal out of potter’s clay of black mud altered, so, when I have made him and have breathed into him of My spirit, do ye fall down, prostrating yourselves unto him. So the angels fell prostrate, all of them together save Iblis. He refused to be among the prostrate. He said: O Iblis! What aileth thee that thou art not among the prostrate? He said: Why should I prostrate myself unto a mortal whom Thou hast created out of potter’s clay of black mud altered? He said: Then go thou forth from hence, for verily thou art outcast. And lo! the curse shall be upon thee till the Day of Judgement (Surah 15:26-35, emp. added; cf. 2:34; 7:11-12; 17:61; 18:51; 20:116; 38:72-78).
This characterization of deity is completely unacceptable. This one incident alone illustrates that Allah is not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible simply would not do what the Quran says He did. Numerous Bible verses convey the complete impropriety—even blasphemy—that the worship of a mere human constitutes. Humans are forbidden to worship other humans (Acts 10:25-26; 14:14-15). Humans are forbidden to worship angels (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). And, most certainly, angels are not to worship mere humans. The Law of Moses declared that worship is to be directed to God (Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:20). When Satan tempted Jesus, and Satan urged Jesus to worship him, Jesus quoted the deuteronomic declaration from the Law of Moses, and then added His own divine commentary: “and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew 4:10, emp. added). No one, and no thing, is the rightful object of worship—except deity!
Interestingly enough, Satan’s reasoning as reported in the Quran was actually biblical and right. Satan recognized that not only should angels not worship humans, but in view of his own angelic condition, Adam occupied a status that was beneath his own accelerated, celestial existence—a fact affirmed by the Bible: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:4-5; cf. Hebrews 2:9). The Quranic depiction of God ordering Iblis/Satan to worship Adam is a serious breach of divine propriety and a further indication of the Quran’s conflict with the Bible. [Once again, the Quran appears to have been influenced by Jewish sources, since the Talmudists also represent the angels as bestowing special attention and honor on Adam (Sanhedrin 29; Midrash Rabbah on Genesis, paragraph 8)].

How Can a Person Know Which God Exists? by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


How Can a Person Know Which God Exists?

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Poseidon: Greek god of the sea
Several decades ago, the United States was overwhelmingly Christian in its religious persuasion. When naturalism and Darwinian evolution picked up speed in the U.S. and challenged the biblical story of man’s origins—the perspective most held by Americans—apologists sprang up in response, dealing a death blow to the naturalistic religion in the minds of many. Once evolutionary theory had been dealt with, both biblically and scientifically, it was natural for many Americans to recognize that they had always been right—Christianity is the true religion.
Sadly, under the banner of “tolerance,” the “politically correct” police have made significant inroads in compelling the American public, not only to tolerate, but to endorse and encourage pluralism and the proliferation of false religion in America. What was once an understood conclusion—that if evolution is wrong, then biblical Creation must be true—is now heavily challenged in America.
Nisroch: Assyrian god of agriculture
It has become a popular tactic among atheistic scoffers to mock Bible believers by sarcastically arguing that there’s just as much evidence for the Flying Spaghetti Monster as there is for any god. Therefore, if intelligent design doctrine deserves time in the classroom, so does the doctrine of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster—the Pastafarians (cf. Langton, 2005; Butt, 2010, p. 12). At the University of South Carolina, a student organization made up of Pastafarians was responsible for sponsoring the debate held between A.P.’s Kyle Butt and popular atheist, Dan Barker (Butt, 2010).
One such scoffer approached me awhile back after one of the sessions of my evolution seminar—a biology professor from the local university in the city where I was speaking. His quibble was a fair one: “Even if you’re right that naturalistic evolution/atheism is false, you still haven’t provenwhich God exists. You haven’t proven it’s the God of the Bible. Why couldn’t it be Allah? Or [sarcastically] the Flying Spaghetti Monster?”
It is true that many times when apologists discredit naturalism and show that the evidence points to supernaturalism, they do not necessarily always take the next step and answer how we arrive specifically at the God of the Bible as the one true God. Perhaps the main reason, again, is because the answer was once so obvious that the additional step did not need to be taken. People already had faith in the Bible, and they only needed someone to answer an attack on its integrity. Upon answering it, they went back to their faith in Christianity comfortably. But as naturalism and pluralism have eroded the next generation, and Bible teaching—the impetus for developing faith (Romans 10:17)—has declined, Christianity is no longer a given.
Jupiter: Roman god of light and sky, and protector of the state and its laws
Many in Christendom would respond to the professor’s questions by saying, “You just have to have faith. You just have to take a leap and accept the God of the Bible. You don’t have to have tangible evidence.” That reaction, of course, is exactly how scoffers want you to answer. Their response: “Aha! You don’t have proof that God exists. So why should I believe in Him? I might as well pick one that suits me better or make up my own god to serve.”
The Bible simply does not teach that one should accept God without evidence. We should test or prove all things, and only believe those things that can be sustained with evidence (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We should not accept what someone tells us “on faith,” because many teach lies; they should be tested to see if their claims can be backed with evidence (1 John 4:1). The truth should be searched for (Acts 17:11). It can be known (John 8:32). God would not expect us to believe that He is the one true God without evidence for that claim.
While there are different ways to answer the question posed by the professor, the most direct and simple answer is that the Bible contains characteristics which humans could not have produced. If it can be proven that a God exists and that the Bible is from God, then logically, the God of the Bible is the true God. It is truly a sad commentary on Christendom at large that the professor, as well as the many individuals that are posing such questions today, have not heard the simple answer about the nature of God’s divine Word.
After taking a moment to recover from the fact that he clearly had never experienced anyone responding rationally to his criticisms, the professor said, “Really? [pause] I’d like to see that evidence.” I pointed him to our book that summarizes the mounds of evidence that testify to the inspiration of the Bible (cf. Butt, 2007), and although he said he did not want to support our organization with a purchase, he allowed an elder at the church that hosted the event to give it to him as a gift.
Ganesh: Hindu god of wisdom, knowledge, and new beginnings
If you have not studied the divine qualities of the Bible, or are not prepared to carry on a discussion with others about the inspiration of the Bible, might I recommend to you that you secure a copy of Behold! The Word of Godthrough our Web store immediately. Consider also getting the free pdf version in the “PDF-Books” section of our Web site, browsing the “Inspiration of the Bible” category on our Web site, or at the very least, order a back issue of our Reason & Revelation article titled “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God” (Butt and Lyons, 2015). Consider also those friends, loved ones, and even enemies that might benefit from a copy. The professor’s question is one of the most pivotal questions one can ask today, and the Lord’s army must be armed with the truth to be able to aid those seeking it.


Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Butt, Kyle (2010), A Christian’s Guide to Refuting Modern Atheism (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2015), “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God,” Reason & Revelation, 35[1]:2-11.
Langton, James (2005), “In the Beginning There Was the Flying Spaghetti Monster,” The Telegraph, September 11,http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1498162/In-the-beginning-there-was-the-Flying-Spaghetti-Monster.html.

Geography as the Most Important Predictor of Religion? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Geography as the Most Important Predictor of Religion?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Seven and a half minutes into his 10-minute rebuttal speech during our February 12, 2009 Darwin Day debate, Dan Barker noted that “there are other reasons besides reason and truth that people come to their faith.” He continued:
The most obvious one is geography. Geography is the greatest single predictor of what religion a person will have. If you were born in Baghdad, you can pretty much predict what religion that person will have. If you were born in Tennessee, you can pretty much predict what kind of person you are going to be with your religion, generally. It’s the highest predictor (Butt and Barker, 2009).
While it may be true that geography is the highest predictor of a person’s religion, it is important to understand what Barker is trying to say and why it has no bearing on the truth of the proposition that God exists. The implication is that if most people in an area hold a certain religious belief, then the mere fact that it is the “traditional” belief of that area should cast disparaging light on the belief, or at least should call into question the honesty and intellectual rigor of those who hold the belief.
When Barker’s statement is studied critically, however, it becomes apparent that his point is moot. So what if the biggest predictor of a person’s religion is geography? Does that mean that when geography is the biggest predictor of those who will hold a certain belief, then that belief is false? If that were the case, we could simply lump atheism in with all other “religions” and say that geography is the single biggest predictor of whether a person will claim atheism. Polls indicate that those born in China or the former Soviet Union, and certain other areas of Europe, are much more likely to be atheists than other areas of the globe (“Major Religions of the World...,” 2007). So what does that mean about atheism? We are forced by rationality to agree that it means nothing, other than the fact that most people, including atheists, adopt the beliefs of the people nearest to them. It says nothing whatever about the truth of the beliefs.
Suppose we were to suggest that geography is the single biggest predictor of whether a person will know his or her multiplication tables by age 12? Would that mean that all those who learned their “times tables” hold an incorrect view of the world? Of course not. Would it mean that the local knowledge of multiplication casts suspicion on the truth of the math being done? No. It has absolutely no bearing on the accuracy of the multiplication tables. Again, suppose that we said that geography is the single most important indicator of whether a person understands how germs are passed. Does that mean that all those people who wash their hands because that is “what their mothers taught them about germs” have been taught wrong? Certainly not.
In truth, everyone knows that geography has nothing to do with truth claims. Is it the case that truth seekers often break away from their culturally held beliefs, forsake false ideas, and embrace the truth that God exists, the Bible is His Word, and Jesus is His Son? Yes. It is also true that many forsake the cultural truths that they were taught as children, reject the reality of God’s existence, and exchange that belief for false worldviews like atheism and agnosticism. Yes, that happens as well.
In logic, there is a common fallacy known as a “red herring.” The term comes from the idea of dragging a fish across an animal’s scent trail in an attempt to throw the hounds off the scent. In logic, a “red herring” is a device used to divert the attention of the audience from the real point that is being addressed. When we look at Barker’s use of the “geography” idea, something smells very fishy.


Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Butt/Barker Debate: Does the God of the Bible Exist?(Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
“Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents” (2007), [On-line]: URL:http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html#Nonreligious.