"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN" Chapter Four by Mark Copeland

                      "THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN"

                              Chapter Four

John cautions his readers not to believe everyone who claims to be led
by the Spirit, but to test them (1-6).  He then exhorts them to manifest
brotherly love in keeping with the character and example of God’s love
as demonstrated in the sacrifice of His Son (7-21).


   *  Distinguishing the spirit of truth from the spirit of error

   *  How God’s love should impact our love for one another


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Test the spirits - 1Jn 4:1-6
   - God is love - 1Jn 4:7-21

2) Why should one not believe every spirit? (1)
   - Because there are many false prophets

3) If one is truly led by the Spirit of God, what will they confess? (2)
   - That Jesus Christ has come in the flesh

4) What did John say about the coming of Antichrist? (3)
   - It was already in the world at the time John was writing

5) What did John write about their ability to overcome? (4)
   - He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world

6) How does one discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of
   error? (6)
   - By whoever listens to the apostles (cf. 1Co 14:37; 1Th 2:13)

7) Why should we love one another? (7-8)
   - Love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God

8) How was God’s love for us manifested? (9-10)
   - By sending His Son into the world to be the propitiation for our

9) How can we ensure that God will abide in us? (12-16)
   - By loving one another

10) When we love one another as we should, what does it give us? (17-18)
   - Boldness in the day of judgment; i.e., no fear

11) If we claim to love God, but hate our brother, what does that make
    us? Why? (20)
   - Liars; if we do not love someone we’ve seen, how can we love Him
     we’ve not seen?
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

How Paganism Affects Reality: Hinduism and Nepal Airlines by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


How Paganism Affects Reality: Hinduism and Nepal Airlines

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

State-run Nepal Airlines is not a large company by any means. The carrier runs international flights to five cities in Asia. When an electrical glitch developed recently in one of its Boeing 757 aircraft, the airline found it necessary to suspend some of its services temporarily. As part of the solution to the problem, airline officials sacrificed two goats to appease the Hindu sky god, Akash Bhairab (“Airline Sacrifices...,” 2007). That’s correct—in keeping with Hindu rituals, two goats were sacrificed in front of the ailing aircraft at Nepal’s international airport in Kathmandu. Situated on India’s northeast border, sacrificing animals in this Himalayan country to appease Hindu deities is common.
When humans embrace pagan superstition, their judgment becomes impaired. The behavior that results from an animistic belief system may seem quaint and harmless—but it can be deadly, both physically and spiritually. Listen to the apostle Paul’s observations on the matter:
[A]lthough they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (Romans 1:21-25, emp. added).
[Y]ou should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus (Ephesians 4:17-21, emp. added).
Sacrificing a couple of goats on an airport runway seems trivial enough. However, it hardly inspires confidence in the capability of airline personnel.


“Airline Sacrifices Goats to Appease Sky God” (2007), Reuters, September 4, [On-line], URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070904/od_nm/nepal_airline_odd_dc.

Biblical Accuracy Set in Stone by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Biblical Accuracy Set in Stone

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Writing about a rock that was discovered almost 150 years ago certainly would not fit in a current “in the news” section. In fact, since 1868, so much has been written about this stone that very few new articles pertaining to it come to light. But the truth of the matter is that even though it was discovered more than a century ago, many Christians do not even know it exists, and need to be reminded of its importance.
The stone is known as the Moabite Stone (or the Mesha Inscription). A missionary named Klein first discovered the stone in August of 1868 (Edersheim, n.d., p. 109). When he initially saw the black basalt stone, it measured about 3.5 feet high and 2 feet wide. Upon hearing of Klein’s adventure, a French scholar named Clermont-Ganneau located the antiquated piece of rock and made an impression of the writing on its surface. From that point, the details surrounding the stone are not quite as clear. Apparently, the Arabs who had the stone thought that it was a religious talisman of some sort, and broke it into several pieces by heating it in fire and then pouring cold water on it. The pieces were scattered, but about two-thirds of the original stone has been relocated, and currently resides at the Louvre in Paris (Jacobs and McCurdy, 2002).
The written inscription on the stone provides a piece of “rock-solid” evidence verifying the Bible’s accuracy. Mesha, the king of Moab, had the stone cut in about 850 B.C. to tell of his many conquests and his reacquisition of certain territories that were controlled by Israel. In the over 30-line text composed of about 260 words, Mesha mentions that Omri was the King of Israel who had oppressed Moab, but then Mesha says he “saw his desire upon” Omri’s son and upon “his house.” The Mesha stele cites Omri as the king of Israel, just as 1 Kings 16:21-28 indicates. Furthermore, it mentions Omri’s son (Ahab) in close connection with the Moabites, just as 2 Kings 3:4-6 does. In addition, both the stele and 2 Kings 3:4-6 list Mesha as the king of Moab. The stele further names the Israelite tribe of Gad, and the Israelite God, Yahweh. Taken as a whole, the Moabite stone remains one of the most impressive pieces of evidence verifying the historical accuracy of the Old Testament. And, although this find has been around almost 150 years, it “still speaks” to us today (Hebrews 11:4).


Edersheim, Albert (no date), The Bible History—Old Testament, book VI (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Jacobs, Joseph and J. Frederick McCurdy (2002), “Moabite Stone,” JewishEncyclopedia.com, [On-line], URL: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=680&letter=M.

Anything Finely Tuned Demands a Fine Tuner by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Anything Finely Tuned Demands a Fine Tuner

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

I have owned two new cars in my lifetime, both of which were fine-tuned machines. The pistons moved with remarkable precision. The spark plugs repeatedly ignited the gasoline at an intended time. Just the right amount of oxygen was mixed with the fuel for ideal performance. The front end was perfectly aligned. The tires were properly balanced. Thousands of intended actions took place at precisely the right times so that I could swiftly and safely drive from place to place, time and again. Until it was totaled in 2007, my 1997 Saturn SL1 ran amazingly well, and my 2008 Toyota Corolla is still functioning as a fine-tuned machine.
A fine-tuned machine demands a fine-tuner. Everyone knows that cars and computers, pianos and projectors all require engineers, technicians, and tuners for them to function properly. New machines are built by intelligent people. Older machines receive tune-ups by intelligent tuners. Surely, no one believes that tune-ups happen by accident. How can anything be finely tuned without a fine tuner?
Atheistic evolutionists continually find themselves in a conundrum, because of their admittance that our Universe is fine-tuned. If the physical laws of the Universe (e.g., gravity) are merely “inherent in the physical universe” and simply evolved to their current status by time and chance along with everything else that exists (Davies, 2007, 194[2610]:33), the question arises, “Why, then, is the Universe so fine-tuned?” Why do planets and moons not crash into each other during their orbits? How can astronomers predict with amazing accuracy where a planet will be in the distant future? Why is the force of gravity on Earth just right for life to exist?
In a recent New Scientist cover story about gravity, Michael Brooks described the force as strange, mysterious, and puzzling. He insisted that one reason gravity does not make sense (to him) is because it is “fine-tuned”: “If it [gravity—EL] were a tiny bit stronger, none of us would be here to scoff at its puny nature” (2009, 202[2712]:30, emp. added). Regarding the expansion of space (after the alleged Big Bang) and the pull of gravity, Brooks wrote:
It turns out that the struggle between these two was balanced on a knife-edge. If the expansion of space had overwhelmed the pull of gravity in the newborn universe, stars, galaxies and humans would never have been able to form. If, on the other hand, gravity had been much stronger, stars and galaxies might have formed, but they would have quickly collapsed in on themselves and each other. What’s more, the gravitational distortion of space-time would have folded up the universe in a big crunch. Our cosmic history could have been over by now.
Only the middle ground, where the expansion and the gravitational strength balance...allows life to form (p. 31, emp. added).
Brooks then asked, “Why does G [the designation for the gravitational constant—EL] have the value that allowed life to form in the cosmos?” (p. 31). His answer: “The simple but unsatisfying answer is that we could not be here to observe it if it were any different. As to the deeper answer—no one knows....We have never explained any basic constant of nature” (p. 31, emp. added).
Evolutionists like Michael Brooks admit that “no one knows” why the force of gravity is so perfect as to allow life to exist on Earth. Evolutionists acknowledge: “We have never explained any basic constant in nature.” Atheistic evolutionists allege that the Universe and its laws are the result of mindless, naturalistic, random processes, yet at the same time they contend that it is “uniquely hospitable,” “remarkable,” and “ordered in an intelligible way” (Davies, pp. 30,34). In a New Scientist article titled “Laying Down the Laws,” Paul Davies of Arizona State University admitted the many examples of “uncanny bio-friendly ‘coincidences’” and “fine-tuned properties” of the Universe (p. 30). He then wrote: “Like Baby Bear’s porridge in the story of Goldilocks, our universe seems ‘just right’ for life. It looks, to use astronomer Fred Hoyle’s dramatic description, as if ‘a super-intellect has been monkeying with
physics’” (p. 30).
In truth, it “looks...as if a super-intellect” lies behind the precise, fine-tuned, law-driven Universe, because there is a Super-intellect behind it all. The simple, satisfying answer for why the Universe works so well, and for why Earth is so perfect for life’s existence, is because the Universe has a fine-tuner. Just as a fine-tuned automobile demands a tuner, so our fine-tuned Universe demands a designer. Nothing makes sense if an ultimate Tuner does not exist, but everything makes sense if He does. Indeed, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1). He ordained the moon and the stars. The heavens are the work of His fingers (Psalm 8:3). They declare His glory (Psalm 19:1). “He upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3, NASB). The infinite, eternal Creator “is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17). He is the ultimate tuner of all that is finely tuned.


Brooks, Michael (2009), “Seven Mysteries of Gravity,” New Scientist, 202[2712]:28-32, June 13.
Davies, Paul (2007), “Laying Down the Laws,” New Scientist, 194[2610]:30-34, June 29.

Are All Divorced Persons Eligible to Remarry? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Are All Divorced Persons Eligible to Remarry?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

American civilization is experiencing significant moral decay. “Traditional American values,” i.e., values that were drawn from the Bible, are being jettisoned by a sizable portion of the nation’s citizenry. This spiritual and social deterioration is nowhere more evident than in the breakdown and dissolution of the family. Divorce rates have consistently climbed to higher and higher levels. The marriage relationship no longer commands the respect it once did. This God-ordained institution, though originally intended to be held in honor and sanctity, has been significantly undermined and cheapened.
The religious response to this situation generally has been accommodative, as many within the church find their own families adversely affected by divorce. They have been intimidated by two factors: (1) the large numbers of divorced people; and (2) the emotional trauma associated with divorce. “Rethinking” their understanding of Bible teaching, they have decided to relax the high standards that God enjoined. The various viewpoints now available to those who wish to justify their marital decisions are legion.
The clear teaching of the Bible is that God wants one man for one woman for life (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6). The only exception to this foundational premise was articulated by Jesus when He said a person is permitted to divorce the original mate only for the specific reason of that mate’s sexual infidelity. Then and only then may the innocent mate form a second marriage with an eligible partner (Matthew 19:9). Consequently, the primary thrust of Scripture as it pertains to marriage is “God hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16). In fact, He permits it on only one ground.
This divine aversion to divorce refers specifically to divorce that occurs between two people who are scripturally married. Men and women who marry for the first time in their youth should so conduct themselves that they remain together. God does not want that first marriage to dissolve. He hates it when these couples unscripturally dissolve their scriptural marriage. Unscriptural divorce is the kind of divorcing that God hates.
However, not all divorce is contrary to God’s will. Jesus said an individual has permission to divorce the mate that commits fornication (Matthew 19:9). So divorce for that innocent marriage partner is not sinful. In Ezra’s day, exiled Jews had formed illicit marriages and were required to sever those marriages (Ezra 10:3,11). Divorce in that instance was likewise not sinful. John the baptizer informed Herod that when he married Herodias, he was sinning, and would have to dissolve the marriage (Mark 6:17-18). Divorce in that case was not sinful. When Paul identified several Corinthian Christians as having previously been adulterers (1 Corinthians 6:9), the putting away (i.e., divorce) that would have been necessary to end their adultery in order to be “washed” and “sanctified” (1 Corinthians 6:11) would not have been sinful. (The same principle would have applied equally to all other forms of fornication mentioned in the context—including homosexuality). These scriptural examples show that not all divorce is wrong in God’s sight.
On the other hand, much of the divorcing that is occurring today is contrary to the will of God. Any person who divorces their scriptural spouse for any reason, other than fornication, is sinning in so doing. They sin when they divorce! They sin on at least two counts. First, they sin because they have divorced for some reason other than fornication. Second, they sin because they violated the vows they took when they married (i.e., “until death do us part”).
In this divorced condition (i.e., having divorced for some reason other than fornication), the individual has placed himself in a predicament that comes under additional divine restrictions. Paul pinpointed those restrictions in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 where he insisted that scripturally married couples ought not to divorce. However, should their marriage break up unscripturally, both are to remain unmarried. Some feel this verse does not refer to a technical divorce but merely to a separation. Either way, their breakup (whether by separation or divorce) is contrary to God’s will, and neither of the two is eligible to marry someone else.
People are permitted to participate in marriage only insofar as God says they are eligible to do so. The Hebrews writer insisted that marriage (and the sexual relationship that accompanies marriage) is to be undertaken honorably—i.e., in accordance with God’s regulations. To engage in marriage (and the sexual relations that accompany marriage) out of harmony with God’s regulations is to be guilty of fornication and adultery (Hebrews 13:4). Fornication, by definition, refers to illicit sexual intercourse. Adultery is one type of fornication, and refers to the sexual relations between a man and a woman, at least one of whom has prior marital responsibilities. Adultery, by definition, derives its meaning on the basis of a person’s prior marital connections.
A person does not have to be married in order to please God and go to heaven. All a person has to be is a Christian. He does not have to be an elder, a deacon, or a preacher. He or she does not have to be a father, or a mother, or a parent. These are relationships and roles that God designed to be helpful to the human condition. However, not everyone qualifies to fill these roles, and people can go to heaven without ever occupying these roles. So it is with marriage. All people must meet God’s designated prerequisites before marriage may be had in honor. God nowhere promises anyone unlimited access to the marriage relationship.
Notice, then, that in view of God’s regulations, three categories of divorced persons are ineligible to remarry: (1) the person who committed fornication and was divorced for that act by his or her spouse (Matthew 19:9a); (2) the person who was unscripturally divorced (i.e., put away for some reason other than fornication) by a spouse (Matthew 19:9b); and (3) the person who was deserted by an unbelieving spouse (1 Corinthians 7:12-15). In these three instances, the divorced person is ineligible to remarry. Putting the entire matter positively, the only divorced person who is eligible in God’s sight to remarry (while the former mate is still living—Romans 7:3) is the person who divorced his/her original mate for that mate’s sexual unfaithfulness.
Many people feel that such strict limitations are out of harmony with the grace, love, and forgiveness of God. They believe that such high standards make divorce the “unpardonable sin.” But this conclusion does not follow. People can be forgiven of mistakes they make in the realm of divorce and remarriage. Forgiveness is not the issue. The issue is: can they remain in whatever marriage relationship they choose? Can they so sin that they forfeit their right to participate in a future marriage relationship? Jesus made the answers to these questions clear in His discussion in Matthew 19:1-12. All people who divorce their scriptural mates for any reason except fornication continue to commit adultery when they remarry.
However, do we have any indication elsewhere in Scripture that people can so sin that they forfeit their privilege to participate in a state, condition, or relationship that they previously enjoyed—even though they may be forgiven? As a matter of fact, the Bible is replete with such instances! Adam and Eve violated God’s word and were responsible for introducing sin into the Universe. One consequence of their sin was that they were expelled from Eden. Could they be forgiven? Yes! Could they ever return to the garden? No! Their expulsion was permanent. They had so sinned that they forfeited the privilege of enjoying that previous status.
Esau was guilty of profanity when he sold his birthright (Hebrews 12:16). Could he be forgiven for this mistake? Yes! Could he regain his birthright? No, “though he sought it diligently with tears” (Hebrews 12:17)!
Virtually the entire adult population of the nation of Israel sinned when they refused to obey God by proceeding with a military assault against the land of Canaan (Numbers 14:11-12). Could they be forgiven? Yes, and they were (Numbers 14:19-20). Were they then permitted to enter into the Promised Land? Absolutely not! They were doomed to wander in the desert for forty years (Numbers 14:33-34).
Moses allowed himself to be goaded into disobedience on one occasion by the incessant complaining of the nation committed to his keeping (Numbers 20:7-12). Could Moses be forgiven? Yes! In heaven, we will sing the song of Moses and the Lamb (Revelation 15:3)! But was Moses permitted to enter into the Promised Land? No. He was banned permanently from that privilege due to his own sinful choice (Deuteronomy 32:51-52).
Eli failed to manage his family properly, and so brought down upon himself lasting tragedies (1 Samuel 3:11-14). Though Saul acknowledged his own sin, his disobedience evoked God’s permanent rejection of him as king (1 Samuel 15:11,23,26,28). Samuel never visited Saul again. David’s sin, though forgiven, brought several negative consequences that could not be altered (2 Samuel 12:11-14). Solomon’s sin resulted in personal calamity and the division of the nation (1 Kings 11-12).
These biblical examples demonstrate that sin produces lasting consequences, despite the availability of God’s grace and forgiveness. If biblical history teaches us anything, it teaches 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, making it impossible for them to enjoy past privileges—though they can be forgiven and have the hope of heaven.
Many people feel that God would be unkind, unfair, or overly harsh if He did not permit divorced and remarried couples to stay together, regardless of their previous marital choices. Undoubtedly, these same people would feel that God was unfair to Adam and Eve for ejecting them from the garden, making it impossible for them to enjoy the condition that they once sustained! That would mean that God was unfair and harsh toward the Israelites as well as Moses! Such thinking betrays an inaccurate and unscriptural grasp of the nature and person of God. It reflects a failure to possess a healthy fear of God (Exodus 20:5; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Luke 12:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Hebrews 10:31; 12:29; Revelation 6:16-17).
God elevated the marriage relationship to a high plane when, at the beginning of the human race, He laid down the strict standards that govern marriage (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6). Many apparently feel that they have a right to be married regardless of their previous conduct. They feel that God’s high standards ought to be adjusted in order for them to exercise their “right.” Yet, the Bible teaches that the institution of marriage was founded by God to provide cohesion and orientation in life. Unlike one’s spiritual marriage (i.e., to Christ), which will proceed right on into eternity, human marriage is for this life alone (Matthew 22:30). Therefore, marriage is not a right; it is a privilege. People must conform to God’s marriage rules in order for marriage to serve its earthly purpose. Failure to comply neutralizes the ability of the marriage institution to do what it was divinely designed to do. Failure to comply with God’s “directions for use” causes us to forfeit our opportunity to participate in the institution. We must remember: Father knows best.

Discovering the Truth About “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” by Dewayne Bryant, M.A.


Discovering the Truth About “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”

by  Dewayne Bryant, M.A.

[EDITORS NOTE: The following article was written by one of A.P.’s auxiliary staff scientists. Bryant holds two Masters degrees, and is enrolled in Masters study in Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology and Languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, as well as doctoral studies at Regions University. He has participated in an archaeological dig at Tell El-Borg in Egypt and holds professional membership in both the American Schools of Oriental Research and the Society of Biblical Literature.]
Reinventing the Son of God is big business. Every year around Easter, Christians can expect to see the latest challenge to the historical picture of Jesus in magazines like TIME and Newsweek. For producers with bigger budgets, movies and television specials provide slick visuals to illustrate these new “truths.” There has been a recent flurry of these productions, ranging from popular novels to announcements about lost gospels, that allegedly will revolutionize how we understand the New Testament. For anyone with an interest in the sensational, the most recent addition to the growing host of heresy does not disappoint.
A new documentary titled The Lost Tomb of Jesus aired on the Discovery Channel on March 4, 2007. At the helm were award-winning filmmakers James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici. The documentary promised to shed new light on Jesus through the earliest artifacts connected to the rise of Christianity. They claimed to take us to the tomb of Christ Himself, showing that He was a historic figure in spite of those who would claim Him to be nothing more than a myth. Are they doing Christians a favor, or are they doing more harm than good?


In the modern Jerusalem suburb of Talpiyot, a construction crew uncovered an ancient tomb while digging for a new apartment complex in 1980. Archaeologists immediately were called in to document the find in a salvage operation, lasting from March 28 to April 14 of that year (Kloner, 1996, 29:22). The find was a rock-cut tomb with 10 limestone ossuaries (bone boxes), six of which bore inscriptions identifying the occupants as Jesus, Joseph, Matthew, Simeon, and two Marys. The names were common ones to the period, so the archaeologists thought nothing of them. No special significance was attached to the tomb. The excavators finished their work, the construction resumed, and the ossuaries were placed in storage. Bone fragments found inside the ossuaries were buried in a cemetery according to Orthodox Jewish custom. The tomb soon lay buried, hidden by modern development.
Twenty-three years later, filmmaker Jacobovici began working on a documentary on the ossuary of James, the brother of Jesus. He observed that there were several ossuaries with familiar names, including Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. Could this be the holy family of the New Testament? He explored the work of the original excavators and found the evidence too tantalizing to pass up. After talking with the archaeologists who worked on the dig and writing a proposal, his work began. The fruit of his labor is the new documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, which features the hidden tomb that supposedly contained the remains of Christ.
In order to determine the accuracy of the theory presented in the documentary, we first must look at the important idea of convergence. When the historical, archaeological, and biblical evidence is interpreted and weighed, we expect there to be harmony. The three will converge, or come together. There may be cases where evidence from one area might be lacking, but we do not expect the evidence to be in conflict without adequate explanation. This is a key factor in determining whether Jacobovici’s conclusions are right or wrong.

Tales of Tombs and Ossuaries

A typical Palestinian rock-cut tomb
Rock-cut tombs were used in antiquity at least as early as the eighth century B.C. They are artificial underground caves in the bedrock slopes of Jerusalem, nearly always located outside the city walls (Magness, 2005, 124[1]:122-123). They were choice burial sites for those wealthy enough to afford them, while those with less financial means settled for trench graves, similar to those used in modern cemeteries. Families used rock-cut tombs over several generations, a practice which is reflected in biblical phrases such as “he slept and was gathered to his fathers” (2 Chronicles 34:28). They usually appear only in periods where the Jewish people had a measure of political independence.

In Jewish tombs, there were two burials involved for a single individual. In the initial or primary burial, the body would be placed on a loculus or kokh (rectangular burial niche) for the body to decay. About a year later, the bones would be gathered together for a secondary burial, usually in a limestone ossuary (bone box). Ossuaries began to appear during the reign of Herod the Great, dateable perhaps to 20-15 B.C. (Rahmani, 1994, p. 21). Their use continued at least until the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but may have extended through the early second century.

Archaelogical Evidence

One of the primary problems with connecting the Talpiyot tomb with Jesus Christ involves the expense of owning such a tomb in antiquity. Even modest tombs were outside the price range of most people. Further complicating the matter is the fact that Jesus and His family never are portrayed as wealthy enough to afford a rock-cut tomb. If Joseph died early, as suggested by some who note his absence in Jesus’ adult life, an additional financial burden would have been placed on the family, further decreasing their already minuscule chances of owning a tomb.
On the Biblical Archaeology Society Web site, scholar James Tabor (who supports the idea that the Talpiyot tomb could be that of Jesus) has objected to comments about the default burial of Jesus being in a trench grave along with others who were too poor to own a rock-cut tomb. He argues that it seems only natural that a popular religious leader like Jesus would be given an honorable burial by His devoted followers (Tabor, 2007). However, Rahmani’s Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries notes that the name of Jesus is carved clumsily on the ossuary (labeled as no. 701). If this is the tomb of a popular religious figure, why give Him a simple, unadorned ossuary with only His name shoddily scrawled on the outside? Tabor’s objection clearly does not fit the evidence.
Another problem is that Jesus and his family did not come from Jerusalem. Joseph and Mary originally were from Bethlehem, and settled in Nazareth. While ossuaries frequently have the names of a person’s father or mother, ancient sources also typically make a distinction concerning the place of a person’s origin, as in the cases of Simon of Cyrene and Saul of Tarsus. Ossuaries in Jerusalem have been found that indicate a person’s place of origin when they were not originally from that city. If the tomb were truly that of Jesus Christ, we would expect Him to be identified on the ossuary as “Jesus of Nazareth” rather than “Jesus son of Joseph.” No one in the Talpiyot tomb is identified by place of origin. This evidence strongly suggests that the people buried in the tomb were natives of Jerusalem.
Additional evidence concerning the names on the ossuaries found in the Talpiyot tomb complicates the conclusions drawn by the documentary. The ossuary of the woman identified as Mary Magdalene is problematic, and conflicts with other evidence. First, if the ossuary belonged to Mary, we would expect her to be identified as “Mary of Migdal,” as she is in the New Testament (Luke 8:2).
Second, scholars are divided on how to translate the wording of MARIAMENOU MARA (the name appearing on one of the ossuaries), whether it gives two names for the same woman (“Mary, who is called Mara”) or if it indicates the names of two women—Mary and Martha—meaning that two people were buried in the same ossuary, which was not unknown (there are cases of as many as five people buried in a single ossuary). Stephen Pfann’s piece on the Society of Biblical Literature homepage disputes the reading used by the documentary, arguing that the inscription should be read MARIAME KAI MARA (Pfann, 2007). In this case, the inscription would refer to two women, Mariam and Martha. Most scholars now appear to be accepting Pfann’s corrected reading of the ossuary’s inscription, concluding that the remains of two individuals shared this ossuary.
An additional problem with “Mary Magdalene’s” ossuary is that the inscription is in Greek. According to the documentary, Mary spoke Greek and helped her brother Philip in evangelistic work. In reality, Mary Magdalene came from Migdal, a small Jewish fishing village. Usually in the first century, only upper class Jews spoke Greek. The average Jew would have spoken Aramaic. So why is her ossuary inscription written in Greek? This evidence suggests a Jerusalemite woman named Mary who was from the upper classes, and whose family could afford to bury her in a rock-cut tomb.
The program claims that “Mara” in the inscription means “teacher,” a conclusion with which no reputable scholar agrees. The word is actually a shortened form of the name “Martha.” It is suggested that Francois Bovon, Frothingham professor of the history of religion at Harvard Divinity School, has equated Mariamne with Mary Magdalene (Desmond, 2000). Bovon has denied this claim, however, in a letter sent to the Society of Biblical Literature in which he says the “reconstructions of Jesus’ marriage with Mary Magdalene and the birth of a child belong for me to science fiction” (Bovon, 2007).
One final concern regarding the archaeological evidence: a primary assumption of the documentary is that the James ossuary comes from the same tomb in Talpiyot. The program claims that the 10th ossuary went missing during the original work on the tomb. To rebut this claim, Israeli archaeologist Joseph Zias has posted an excellent “viewer’s guide” to understanding the documentary on his Web site (www.joezias.com). Zias shows that the FBI proved the James ossuary was photographed in the 1970’s because of a criminal investigation against Oded Golan, the ossuary’s current owner (Zias, 2007). If the James ossuary was already in Golan’s possession when the tomb was discovered, it could not be the tenth “missing” ossuary. Zias also shows that he had indeed accounted for the tenth ossuary when the original work was done, and that it had no inscription.

Scientific Evidence

People in the Western world are trained to think that scientific evidence assures the quality of any product. Advertisers make sure the public knows that their work has been “scientifically proven.” This gives the consumer the idea that independent, objective research has gone into its production. The commercials for The Lost Tomb of Jesus did much the same in advertisements leading up to the premiere of the documentary.
The first major area of evidence concerns the DNA testing performed on two of the ossuaries, those of Jesus and Mary. Mitochondrial DNA was tested by the Paleo-DNA Laboratory at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario (Jacobovici and Pellegrino, 2007, pp. 167-174). It was determined that the two individuals in this tomb were not related to each other. Since this was a family tomb, the documentary suggests, the two must have been husband and wife. But the only thing this test proves is that Jesus and Mary did not have the same mother. In addition, there are a number of other possibilities in terms of family relations. Mary could have been Jesus’ daughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law through marriage to a brother, sister-in-law from a previous marriage of his father, mother-in-law from a subsequent marriage of his father, or paternal cousins, with more distant relations remaining as further possibilities. To leap to the conclusion that the two must have been married to one another is problematic and prejudicial, to say the least.
Exterior view of a Jewish rock-cut tomb
In addition to the DNA evidence, further proof from statistics is supposed to support the claim that this is the tomb of Jesus. Andrey Feuerverger of the University of Toronto assembled the statistical evidence, shown on the Discovery Channel Web site, which supposedly proves the tomb to be that of Jesus (2007). Unfortunately, the names represented on the ossuaries are extremely common. In his book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Richard Bauckman indicates that the male names in the tomb are among the most popular, with Simon ranking first, Joseph second, Judah fourth, and Jesus sixth, with Mary being the most common female name (Bauckman, 2006, p. 70). This is why archaeologists initially thought nothing of the tomb when it was discovered. While the names corresponded to those of Jesus’ family in the gospel records, they were also the most common names in the first century. The equivalent today would be trying to find a modern cemetery that did not have anyone named Smith or Jones. Taking this evidence into account, the documentary claims that while the individual names are common, the cluster of names is not. After all, how many families in the first century could have people named Joseph, Jesus, and Mary?
While the argument initially sounds convincing, a number of problems persist with the statistics presented on the Discovery Channel Web site. In a letter to his colleagues posted on the Internet, Feuerverger admits that he made a number of assumptions before he performed his calculations. First, he assumed that the Joseph (Yose) of the ossuary and the Joseph, father of Jesus, are two different people—an unprovable assumption. He also assumed that the second Mary refers to Mary Magdalene, forcing a virtually statistical certainty that this is the tomb of Jesus. But this interpretation is impossible, as discussed earlier. A third assumption is that the presence of unknown people, such as Matthew and Judah, do not invalidate the statistical evidence, though that assumption goes against the historical evidence (Feuerverger, 2007).
The statistical evidence is invalid because the names on the ossuaries do not match the evidence for several reasons. First, there are two persons for whom the historical evidence does not account (Matthew and Judah). Furthermore, there are other family members that are missing, including His brothers James and Jude, and sisters Salome and Mary (who are named only in later tradition; cf. Mark 6:3). The documentary contends that Yose (Joseph) is not the father of Jesus. This contention drives the statistical probability higher, yet the documentary never addresses the fact that the Yose in the ossuary and the father of Jesus could have been the same person. Admittedly, this is not certain, but there is no good reason why the father of this Jesus could not have gone by Yose. Actually, a facsimile of the Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries presented on the Discovery Channel Web site shows that Rahmani’s opinion was that Yose very well could be the father of the Jesus in this tomb. Finally, attributing the ossuary to Mary Magdalene further inflates the statistics, though no evidence exists to connect the name on the ossuary to her. It also assumes that the Matthew of the ossuary is a relative of Mary, but not her son, despite a lack of any evidence to support that possibility.
The final piece of scientific evidence involves the use of “patina fingerprinting.” Patina is a thin layer of buildup on the surface of an artifact due to chemical reaction with the environment. According to the program, the makeup of the patina holds clues about the tomb. Though touted as an important piece of information in the documentary, it is completely inadmissible as evidence. The use of the term “fingerprinting” is a misleading description, since it gives the viewer the impression that the science behind the process is exact. The truth is, the procedure is not exact, nor would we expect it to be. The patina evidence is rigged from the start. The patinas from ossuaries discovered in other environments are tested and shown to be different from the ossuaries in the Talpiyot tomb. Those in the Talpiyot tomb were tested and shown to be relatively similar. But these conclusions are to be expected. The real test is whether ossuaries from tombs similar to the Talpiyot tomb are different, which would strengthen Jacobovici’s case. But there is no reason to expect substantial differences in patina evidence from similar environments. No way exists to connect a single ossuary with a specific tomb. The use of this evidence is intellectually dishonest.

Historical Evidence

While the evidence from archaeology and science—the main underpinnings of the documentary’s premise—has been shown to be lacking, the program faces further difficulties in terms of the historical evidence. The basis for the documentary is drawn in part from later, extra-biblical traditions. It is strange, though perhaps to be expected, that the documentary draws on sources centuries later than the New Testament gospel accounts—further evidence of the utter lack of objectivity in the documentary. Rather than using the gospel records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (which have demonstrated their historical reliability and are accepted even by most non-believing scholars—see Lyons and Miller, 2004, 24[6]:57-63), the documentary is guided by pseudepigraphical works of highly dubious historical value.
The major problem is that no evidence exists to suggest that Jesus had a wife and child. There is no hint Jesus ever was married (Lyons, 2006). While archaeology occasionally fills in gaps left out by historical evidence, this fact would not have gone unmentioned in the earliest sources. The marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalene is found nowhere in the ancient evidence.
The statistical probability of the Talpiyot tomb being that of Jesus hangs on Mariamne and Mary Magdalene being one and the same. Yet no early evidence connects the two. The only connection available comes from the Acts of Philip, an uncertain and widely disputed text, whose earliest surviving copy is from the 14th century, though possibly dated to the fourth. The text not only fails conclusively to connect Mariamne with Mary Magdalene, it has a few other discrediting features—including talking animals. Speaking from the historian’s perspective, it is grossly irresponsible to dismiss the best sources and use disputed evidence to support an already-drawn conclusion.

Response of the Early Church

Finally, we must examine the response of early believers to Jesus. In the gospel accounts, after the crucifixion of Christ, the disciples are depicted as a band of disillusioned idealists. They thought their Messiah was dead and gone, buried in a tomb, when He was supposed to save the world. Despite their initial disenchantment, they soon transformed into powerful preachers bent on evangelizing the Mediterranean world. Going on missions that put them directly in harm’s way (cf. Acts 8:1-3; 2 Corinthians 11:23-27), they defied worldly authorities for the cause of Christ. Why the turnaround?
Being a Christian did not bode well for one’s health. History records that all of the apostles but one were martyred. So was James, the brother of Jesus. Even the average Christian at the time could expect to be executed if discovered by the Roman authorities. Of all the religious choices in the first century, why choose the one with the shortest life expectancy? It is hard to believe that such a religion would be the chosen course of people who had put Jesus’ body in the tomb, then later placed His bones in an ossuary. They would have been reminded of the lie every time the next family member was buried, at the very time people were preaching His resurrection. The only explanation for this complete inability to face reality would be insanity.
We are at a loss to find any other explanation for the dramatic turnaround of some of the fiercest defenders of the faith in the early church. There was tension in the family of Jesus, which would have included His brothers James and Jude (Mark 3:31-34). Paul actively persecuted the church (Acts 8:3). It is difficult—if not impossible—to explain such a dramatic reversal of men who were originally skeptics and even enemies of Christ.
In early church history, absolutely no awareness of this family tomb is indicated. During the reign of Constantine the Great, traditional sites of New Testament significance were marked. Churches were constructed over venerated locations, such as the purported burial place of Jesus and the site of his ascension to heaven, and even the site identified as Peter’s house. Before the reign of Constantine, Christians commemorated the final resting place of Jesus’ brother James. Yet, we are supposed to believe that the early church inexplicably lost track of the real tomb, in spite of the fact that it was used for at least four generations, until the end of the first century? Even so, the location never appears in Christian traditions or the writings of the early patristic writers. Christianity shows no awareness of the tomb from earliest times.
Both Roman and Jewish authorities were hostile to the early church. If the documentary is correct, all they had to do was point to the ossuary occupied by the body of Jesus to refute utterly the Christian claims of His resurrection. Yet there was no body to be produced. The fact that the body of Jesus was missing may well be reflected in a stone monument found in Nazareth in 1878, dubbed the “Nazareth Inscription Against Grave Robbing,” possibly dating to the time of the Roman emperor Claudius (A.D. 41-54). The inscription states that tomb-robbing is a capital crime under Roman law. Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome in A.D. 49 because of problems generated by the budding Christian faith. He also may have issued this order because of problems concerning the claims that Jesus rose from the dead. This observation is uncertain, however, and so must be weighed with caution (Ferguson, 2003, pp. 586-587).
In the end, the tomb discovery has wide-ranging theological implications. Some of the most basic tenets of the Christian faith hang upon the bodily resurrection of Christ. While the producers of the documentary have downplayed this aspect, claiming that Jesus could have had a spiritual resurrection, their view is yet another instance of failure to understand properly the ancient evidence. The unusual aspect of Christ’s resurrection was not that it was physical—which is what the Jews anticipated. The unexpectedness of it is the fact that it occurred before the end of time. According to Jewish belief, resurrection was physical, as can be seen in the book of 2 Maccabees. In chapter 7, one of several individuals being tortured expresses the belief that his mutilated body parts would be restored in the resurrection. In 2 Maccabees 17:46, a man named Razis, who committed suicide by pulling out his own intestines, called upon God to restore them to him again, presumably in the afterlife. It has been suggested that the point of having an ossuary was to preserve the bones for a physical resurrection (Rahmani, 1981, 44[3]:175-176).

Responses from Experts

While critics of the Christian faith make fun of believers scurrying to do damage control in the wake of the documentary’s premiere, it is not Christians who are leading the charge against the film, but atheists and agnostics. The majority of the archaeologists who have denounced the program are unbelievers. Their ire is not because the program controverts the gospel message, but because it violates standards of scientific and academic professionalism (Thompson, 2007). The established process of presenting new discoveries and interpretations is by means of scholarly venues, such as papers presented at professional conferences and articles published in peer-reviewed journals. By announcing the findings of the program in the popular media, complete with a perfectly-timed news conference to coincide with the release of the book and documentary, Cameron and Jacobovici have stepped on the toes of scholars everywhere.
Amos Kloner, the archaeologist who initially worked on the excavation and later published his findings in 1996, argues that the documentary is nothing more than a commercial enterprise (Nissenbaum, 2007). Kloner’s colleague in the excavation, Joseph Zias (one-time curator of the well-known Rockefeller Museum in Israel), has lamented that the documentary makes a mockery of the archaeological profession (Zias, 2007). From their comments in the popular media, it is readily apparent that both men, who are reputable archaeologists—but unbelievers—are frustrated with the project.
Some of the harshest language about the documentary came immediately after its airing. In a scholarly program that discussed the validity of the documentary’s radical claims, The Lost Tomb of Jesus—A Critical Look, Ted Koppel interviewed two archaeologists. The first was William Dever, arguably the most recognized American archaeologist. The other was Jonathan Reed, a well-respected archaeologist who currently excavates at the site of ancient Sepphoris. Dever, who noted that he was not a believer and did not “have a dog in this fight,” labeled the program a “docu-drama.” Reed was even more hostile in his evaluation, denouncing the documentary as “archaeo-porn.” Reed’s evaluation of the evidence was that the theory is much like a chain made up of links, but one in which each link has a tremendous number of “ifs” that makes the final product difficult to accept.
It must be noted that Cameron and Jacobovici were unable to find archaeological experts to agree with their conclusions. While a few scholars have been sympathetic to the premise of the documentary, no one has endorsed it carte blanche. The vast majority of experts are frustrated, even angry, about it. In addition to the comments by Dever and Reed noted above, other archaeologists have expressed dismay and quickly moved to refute the thesis of the program. Jodi Magness, professor of archaeology at the University of North Carolina, has published articles on the Web sites of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Archaeological Institute of America exposing the shortcomings of the documentary (2007). Joseph Zias’ viewer’s guide posted on his Web site refutes nearly every claim made by the show, giving additional insight into what went into the program behind the scenes (2007). Tel Ilan, the scholar whose Lexicon of Jewish Names was used in providing the evidence for the statistical research presented in the program, has expressed outrage that her work has been connected to the documentary. The Web site of Scientific American has quotes from both Ilan and Magness expressing their anger and frustration (Mims, 2007). The verdict of the scholars? Professionals have given responses ranging from irritation to anger and disgust. Indeed, reaction of the experts is almost unanimously negative.


When one steps back from the documentary and looks to see if filmmakers handled the evidence properly, the result can be described only as pure disappointment. Rather than converging, the scientific, archaeological, and historical evidence are thrown into chaotic disarray. Evidence from one area is pitted against evidence from another. The best sources are dismissed, while disreputable sources are given an undeserved prominence in the conclusion of the program. Jacobovici has been unable to find any expert who will agree with him. The evidence is cherry-picked to create the appearance of the strongest possible case, but the end result is that the chain of evidence is weak at every link.
These artifacts have been known for 27 years, yet no one of scholarly repute has thought much of them until now. As vocal as critics of Christianity are, it is strange that this sleeping giant has lain undisturbed for nearly three decades. This is the kind of ammunition that the Bible’s detractors drool over, yet it never made a blip on the radar despite being published in 1996 and being featured on a BBC special the same year. Apparently, it takes a filmmaker to connect the dots on 2,000 year-old “evidence” that contradicts Christianity.
The Lost Tomb of Jesus has the potential to shake Christianity to its core, but the utter lack of good evidence means the documentary goes forth more with a whimper than a bang. Both Cameron and Jacobovici have admitted that neither is an archaeologist or scientist. They make it appear as if anyone with a budget and a film crew can do archaeology. This is painfully obvious at the end of the program, when Jacobovici goes to find the location of the tomb. He eventually discovers it and removes the concrete slab that seals it shut, essentially committing archaeological “breaking and entering.” Eventually, a representative from the Israel Antiquities Authority shows up to force the intruders to leave. Jacobovici demonstrates a flagrant disregard for proper procedure; the same may be said for the rest of his work.
In the wake of the program’s premiere, it appears that those involved are attempting to distance themselves from the project. In an e-mail to evangelical theologian James White posted on the Alpha and Omega Ministries Web site, Dr. Carney Matheson (the scientist responsible for DNA testing on the Jesus and Mary ossuaries) indicated that his responses in interviews with the filmmakers were manipulated (White, 2007). In a letter to his colleagues, Andrey Feuerverger, the statistical expert from the University of Toronto, emphasizes the assumptions that went into his calculations (2007). Even the Discovery Channel is refusing to promote the documentary, and now appears to be backing away from it. Despite drawing over four million viewers for the premiere, the channel has not celebrated its ratings. Subsequent re-airings of the show were cancelled. The channel scheduled the panel debate in The Lost Tomb of Jesus—A Critical Look quite abruptly, the conclusions of which cast serious doubt upon Jacobovici’s findings.
Do Christians have anything about which to worry? Not at all. The documentary’s conclusion is based on poor use of evidence and faulty statistics. The evidence in the documentary has been skewed, even manipulated—a charge brought by scholars who have no spiritual stake in the program. While the documentary makes for sensational television, it has no scholarly basis. Rather than the evidence achieving convergence, the documentary pits different aspects of the evidence against other aspects. The difficulties in reconciling the scientific, archaeological, and historical data in a meaningful way can be solved by one simple solution: this is not the tomb of Christ.
If we could travel back in time nearly 2,000 years to the territory now occupied by the suburb of Talpiyot in modern-day Jerusalem, we could observe Jesus’ funeral, with mourners dressed in first-century Jewish garb solemnly marching toward a rock-cut tomb. The family of the deceased would gather around sorrowfully to lay their beloved to rest in the cool, stone chamber. A year later, they would put his bones in a limestone ossuary. Our hearts would go out to the family—even though the deceased was not Jesus of Nazareth.


Bauckman, Richard (2006), Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Bovon, Francois (2007), The Tomb of Jesus, [On-line], URL: http://www.sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleId=656.
Desmond, Peter H. (2000), “Woman Priests, Vegetarians, and Summer Dresses: Fourth Century Church Tales,” Harvard Magazine, May-June, [On-line], URL: http://www.harvardmagazine.com/on-line/0500113.html.
Ferguson, Everett (2003), “Back”grounds of Early Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), third edition.
Feuerverger, Andrey (2007), “Dear Statistical Colleagues,” [On-line], URL: http://fisher.utstat.toronto.edu/andrey/OfficeHrs.txt.
Jacobovici, Simcha and Charles Pellegrino (2007), The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence that Could Change History (New York, NY: HarperCollins).
Kloner, Amos (1996), “A Tomb with Inscribed Ossuaries in East Talpiyot, Jerusalem,” Antiqot, 29:15-22.
Lyons, Eric (2006), “The Real Mary Magdalene,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3059.
Lyons, Eric and Dave Miller (2004), “Biblical Inerrancy,” Reason & Revelation, 24[6]:57-63, June, [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=416.
Magness, Jodi (2005), “Ossuaries and the Burials of Jesus and James,” Journal of Biblical Literature, 124[1]:121-154.
Magness, Jodi (2007), “Has the Tomb of Jesus Been Discovered?” Society of Biblical Literature, March 2 and April 3, [On-line], URL: http://www.sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleId=640 ; Archaeological Institute of America, [On-line], URL: http://www.archaeological.org/webinfo.php?page=10408.
Mims, Christopher (2007), “Says Scholar Whose Work Was Used in the Upcoming Jesus Tomb Documentary: ‘I think it’s completely mishandled. I am angry’,” Scientific American, March 2, [On-line], URL: http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=says_scholar_whose_work_was_used_ in_the&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1.
Nissenbaum, Dion (2007), “Tomb of Jesus, Son Found, Film Reports,” Chicago Tribune, February 27, [On-line], URL: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0702270145feb27,1 ,1790100.story.
Pfann, Stephen (2007), “Mary Magdalene is Now Missing: A Corrected Reading of Rhamani Ossuary 701,” Society of Biblical Literature, [On-line], URL: http://sbl-site.org/PDF/Pfann.pdf.
Rahmani, Levy Yitzhak (1981), “Ancient Jerusalem’s Funerary Customs and Tombs, Part One,” Biblical Archaeologist, 44[3]:171-177, Summer.
Rahmani, Levy Yitzhak (1994), A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries in the Collections of the State of Israel (Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority).
Tabor, James D. (2007), “Two Burials of Jesus of Nazareth and the Talpiot Yeshua Tomb,” [On-line], URL: http://www.bib-arch.org/bswbKCtombtabor.html.
Thompson, Marshall (2007), “Claims about Jesus’ Lost Tomb Stir Up Tempest,” MSNBC, February 26, [On-line], URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17345429/from/RSS.
White, James R. (2007), “Dr. Carney Matheson Responds,” [On-line], URL: http://www.aomin.org/index.php?itemid=1809.
Zias, Joseph (2007), “Deconstructing the Second and Hopefully Last Coming of Simcha and the BAR Crowd,” [On-line], URL: http://www.joezias.com/tomb.html.

“Emotional Blocks or Plain Bigotry,” or Something Else? by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


“Emotional Blocks or Plain Bigotry,” or Something Else?

by  Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

Allegedly, “it was Darwin, above all others, who first marshaled convincing evidence for biological evolution...” (“Evidence Supporting...” 1999). Creationists insist that their point of view is substantiated by evidence, so it is natural that evolutionists claim to bolster their theory by pointing to evidence. Frequently, evolutionary scientists proclaim to have found original, striking evidence that confirms beyond doubt the factuality of the naturalistic view of origins. One hardly can scan the morning paper or search the Internet without seeing a new piece of “evidence.”
Is such evidence piled so high that creationists have no hope of climbing high enough even to stage an argument? As Trevor Major noted: “Indeed, newspaper stories frequently talk about ‘creationism’ versus ‘evolution’ as if belief in creation were exactly that—an ‘ism’—whereas evolution is an established fact” (2000). Stephen J. Gould put it strongly, if not without contradiction:
“[E]volution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don’t go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein’s theory of gravitation replaced Newton’s in this century, but apples didn’t suspend themselves in midair, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered” (1983, pp. 254-255).
And perhaps Dobzhansky summarized the prevailing view of the scientific community when he wrote: “Evolution as a process that has always gone on in the history of the earth can be doubted only by those who are ignorant of the evidence or are resistant to evidence, owing to emotional blocks or to plain bigotry” (1983, p. 27).
Are creationists so skewed in their perceptions of the data that they are blind to a mountain of undeniable evolutionary evidence, ignoring the proverbial elephant in their own living rooms? Are they just ignoring what the New England Skeptical Society calls “the mountain of evidence for evolution” (see “Intelligent Design”)? Francois Tremblay echoes: “How do [creationists—CC] refute the mountain of evidence for evolution?” (2003). Richard Dawkins affirms: “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that)” (1989, p. 7, emp. in orig.). Gould, Dobzhansky, Dawkins, and many others would be troubled by the fact that there are those who, “hampered” by a belief in God, “just don’t get it.”
Consider this important principle: If someone labels data, even a large set of data, as “evidence” for his theory, the data may or may not support his theory. The law of rationality dictates that a person draw only such conclusions as are warranted by the evidence (Pugh, 2002, p. 29). However, a person may label anything as evidence, whether or not it supports his theory. Quite simply, a lot of data may not support a particular view simply because a person says it does. More data does not necessarily equal stronger evidence. We must analyze each new piece of data to see how, and whether, it bears on the origins discussion. This is a Scriptural process. “‘Present your case,’ says the Lord, ‘Bring forth your strong reasons, says the King of Jacob’” (Isaiah 41:21). Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to “test all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Jesus rebuked the apostles for initially questioning the evidence for His resurrection (Mark 16:14; cf. Gray, 2005, pp. 216ff.).
Sadly, personal prejudice or wishful thinking might cause one to believe that theory is fact without full knowledge or understanding of the facts. For example, consider the University of California at Berkeley’s “Understanding Evolution” Web site (“Understanding Evolution,” n.d.). In 1956, American geologist Clair Patterson announced that the Earth was 4.5 billion years old. He based his old age for the Earth upon “evidence” from radiometric dating. Since then, it has been shown that radiometric dating systems are unreliable because they are based on groundless assumptions (see Jackson, 2003, pp.13-22; cf. Harrub, 2003). However, the Berkeley site continues to offer radiometric dating as an evidence for an old Earth and naturalism (“Radiometric Dating,” n.d.).
Similar criticism has disproved other alleged evidences for evolution, such as homology, horse evolution, the geologic column, and many others. Living things, such as viruses, may exhibit microevolution but not macroevolution (cf. Harrub, 2001). We could go on. What of that mountain of evidence for evolution? If we may subtract evidence supported by radiometric dating methods from the mountain of evidence, should we remove other portions of the mountain? How much of the mountain would be left if we removed all the pieces that resulted from irrational conclusions?
Bruce Silverthorne observed: “Evidence...makes us honest when we are asked to form and explain premises” (2004, p. 145). Both evolutionists and creationists should be honest when addressing the evidence. The Christian must be careful of “pursuing the inquiry with so fixed a determination that the Bible shall be found true, as to lead him to accept shallow sophisms for sound arguments, and to disregard the force of serious objections” (McGarvey, 1974, p. 3). Unfortunately, many will fail to analyze data, will feel that the “evidence” for evolution is too strong, and therefore will blindly subscribe to evolution. Our plea is that they will pay close attention to what scientists and others offer as evidence supporting their theory.


“Intelligent Design” (no date), The New England Skeptical Society, [On-line], URL: http://www.theness.com/articles.asp?id=31.
Dawkins, Richard (1989), “Book Review,” The New York Times, section 7, p. 34. April 9.
Dobzhansky, Theodosius (1983), “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution,” Evolution versus Creationism: The Public Education Controversy, ed. J. Peter Zetterberg (Phoenix, AZ: Oryx).
Gould, Stephen Jay (1983), Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes (New York: W.W. Norton).
Gray, Phillip A. (2005), Training Manual for Cultural Combat: Apologetics and Preaching for the Postmodern Mind (Altamonte Springs, FL: Advantage).
Harrub, Brad (2001), “Are Viruses Really ‘Evolving’?,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=1017.
Harrub, Brad (2003), “When Dating Methods Don’t Agree,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=703.
Jackson, Wayne (2003), Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth (Stockton, CA: Courier), second edition.
Major, Trevor (2000), “The Intelligent Design Movement [Part I],” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2514.
McGarvey, J.W. (1974), Evidences of Christianity (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
“Evidence Supporting Biological Evolution” (1999), A View from the National Academy of Sciences, [On-line], URL: http://books.nap.edu/html/creationism/evidence.html.
Pugh, Charles (2002), Things Most Surely Believed (Sugarcreek, OH: Schlabach).
“Radiometric Dating” (no date), University of California at Berkeley[On-line], URL: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/history_23.
Silverthorne, Bruce K. (2004), The Pest Control Technician’s Guide to Christian Faith (Salt Lake City, UT: Millennial Mind).
Tremblay, Francois (2003), “The Intellectual Poverty of Creationism,” [On-line], URL: http://www.liberator.net/articles/TremblayFrancois/IntellectualPoverty.html.
“Understanding Evolution” (no date), University of California at Berkeley, [On-line], URL: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/.

Abortion and the Self-Contradiction of Political Correctness by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Abortion and the Self-Contradiction of Political Correctness

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

In May 2004, 16-year-old Erica Basoria asked her boyfriend, Gerardo Flores, to stomp on her belly, since she did not want to give birth to his twin sons, and her own efforts to kill her babies had been unsuccessful. Flores complied and subsequently was arrested on the basis of Texas’ 2003 Prenatal Protection Act which extends the protections of the entire criminal code to “an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth” (“State Homicide Laws...,” 2006). His lawyer argued that the Texas law used to prosecute was unconstitutional. Nevertheless, Flores received a double capital murder conviction with two concurrent life sentences, making him ineligible for parole for 40 years—a ruling that was upheld by the Texas Ninth Court of Appeals (Ertelt, 2007).
Wait a minute. If Flores had been to medical school, he would have been legally free to employ barbaric instruments of torture to butcher the children in the womb. Or he could have pulled the babies’ bodies from his girlfriend’s womb, leaving only their heads, jammed scissors into their skulls to make a hole, and then sucked out their brains with a suction tube (see “Abortion Methods,” n.d.). But, no, young Flores did not have access to such sophisticated “education” and “expertise.” He simply stomped on his girlfriend’s stomach. Now he’s doing time for most of the rest of his life, while hundreds of abortion doctors continue to practice their deadly trade to the tune of 54 million+ babies since 1972—while being paid enormous sums of money (“Abortion in the...,” n.d.).
Such is the moral confusion, hypocrisy, and self-contradiction, or shall we say insanity, that grips America by its spiritual throat, brought on by the forces of political correctness over the last half century. The innocent blood that has been shed in the United States of America cries out for justice and retribution—which one day will surely be meted out (Proverbs 6:17). As Thomas Jefferson declared: “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever” (1787, Query XVIII). Or as Solomon affirmed: “The violence of the wicked will destroy them, because they refuse to do justice” (Proverbs 21:7). The God of the Bible eventually “administers justice for the fatherless” (Deuteronomy 10:18). “The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:6).


“Abortion Methods” (no date), [On-line], URL: http://readthetruth.com/abortion-methods.htm.
“Abortion in the United States: Statistics and Trends” (no date), National Right to Life, [On-line], URL: http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/facts/abortionstats.html.
Ertelt, Steven (2007), “Texas Appeals Court Upholds Law Protecting Pregnant Women, Babies,” Life News, January 29, [On-line], URL: http://www.lifenews.com/state2046.html.
Jefferson, Thomas (1787), Notes on the State of Virginia, [On-line], URL: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/jevifram.htm.
“State Homicide Laws That Recognize Unborn Victims” (2006), National Right to Life, December 30, [On-line], URL: http://www.nrlc.org/Unborn_Victims/Statehomicidelaws092302.html.

A Donkey and Her Colt by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


A Donkey and Her Colt

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Although most Christians would rather not concern themselves with some of the more minute details of Jesus’ life reported in the New Testament, when challenged to defend the inerrancy of The Book that reports the beautiful story of Jesus, there are times when such details require our attention. Such is the case with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem during the final week of His life. People who wear the name of Christ enjoy reading of the crowd’s cries of “Hosanna!,” and meditating upon the fact that Jesus went to Jerusalem to bring salvation to the world. Skeptics, on the other hand, read of this event and cry, “Contradiction!” Allegedly, Matthew misunderstood Zechariah’s prophecy, and thus contradicted what Mark, Luke, and John wrote regarding Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem (see van den Heuvel, 2003). Matthew recorded the following:
Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:1-9, emp. added).
Skeptics are quick to point out that the other gospel writers mention only “one colt,” which the disciples acquired, and upon which Jesus rode. Mark recorded that Jesus told the two disciples that they would find “a colt tied, on which no one has sat” (11:2). The disciples then “went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it…. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it” (Mark 11:4,7, emp. added; cf. Luke 19:29-38; John 12:12-16). Purportedly, “[t]he author of Matthew contradicts the author of Mark on the number of animals Jesus is riding into Jerusalem” (“Bible Contradictions,” 2003). Can these accounts be reconciled, or is this a legitimate contradiction?
First, notice that Mark, Luke, and John did not say that only one donkey was obtained for Jesus, or that only one donkey traveled up to Jerusalem with Jesus. The writers simply mentioned one donkey (the colt). They never denied that another donkey (the mother of the colt) was present. The fact that Mark, Luke, and John mention one young donkey does not mean there were not two. If you had two friends named Joe and Bob who came to your house on Thursday night, but the next day while at work you mention to a fellow employee that Joe was at your house Thursday night (and you excluded Bob from the conversation for whatever reason), would you be lying? Of course not. You simply stated the fact that Joe was at your house. Similarly, when Mark, Luke, and John stated that a donkey was present, Matthew merely supplemented what the other writers recorded.
Consider the other parts of the story that have been supplemented by one or more of the synoptic writers.
  • Whereas Matthew mentioned how Jesus and His disciples went to Bethphage, Mark and Luke mentioned both Bethphage and Bethany.
  • Mark and Luke indicated that the colt they acquired for Christ never had been ridden. Matthew omitted this piece of information.
  • Matthew was the only gospel writer to include Zechariah’s prophecy.
  • Mark and Luke included the question that the owners of the colt asked the disciples when they went to get the donkey for Jesus. Matthew excluded this information in his account.
As one can see, throughout this story (and the rest of the gospel accounts for that matter), the writers consistently supplemented each other’s accounts. Such supplementation should be expected only from independent sources—some of whom were eyewitnesses. It is very possible that Matthew was specific in his numbering of the donkeys, due to the likelihood that he was an eyewitness of Jesus’ final entrance into Jerusalem. (Bear in mind, Matthew was one of the twelve apostles; Mark and Luke were not.)
Second, regarding the accusation that Matthew wrote of two donkeys, instead of just one, because he allegedly misunderstood Zechariah’s prophecy, it first must be noted that Zechariah’s prophecy actually mentions two donkeys (even though only one is stated as transporting the King to Jerusalem). The prophet wrote: “Behold, your King is coming to you…lowly and riding on a donkey [male], a colt, the foal of a donkey [female]” (Zechariah 9:9). In this verse, Zechariah used Hebrew poetic parallelism (the balancing of thought in successive lines of poetry). The terms male donkey, colt, and foal all designate the same animal—the young donkey upon which the King (Jesus) would ride into Jerusalem (Mark 11:7). Interestingly, even though the colt was the animal of primary importance, Zechariah also mentioned that this donkey was the foal of a female donkey. One might assume that Zechariah merely was stating the obvious when mentioning the mother’s existence. However, when Matthew’s gospel is taken into account, the elusive female donkey of Zechariah 9:9 is brought to light. Both the foal and the female donkey were brought to Christ at Mount Olivet, and both made the trip to Jerusalem. Since the colt never had been ridden, or even sat upon (as stated by Mark and Luke), its dependence upon its mother is very understandable (as implied by Matthew). The journey to Jerusalem, with multitudes of people in front of and behind Jesus and the donkeys (Matthew 21:8-9), obviously would have been much easier for the colt if the mother donkey were led nearby down the same road.
The focal point of the skeptic’s proposed problem to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is how He could have ridden on two donkeys at once. Since Matthew 21:7 states, “They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them” (NKJV), some have concluded that Matthew intended for his reader to understand Jesus as being some kind of stunt rider—proceeding to Jerusalem as more of a clown than a king. Such reasoning is preposterous. Matthew could have meant that Jesus rode the colt while the other donkey walked along with them. Instead of saying, “He rode one donkey and brought the other with Him,” the writer simply wrote that He rode “them” into Jerusalem. If a horse-owner came home to his wife and informed her that he had just ridden the horses home a few minutes ago from a nearby town, no one would accuse him of literally riding both horses at once. He merely was indicating to his wife that he literally rode one horse home, while the other one trotted alongside or behind him.
A second possible solution to this “problem” is that Jesus did ride both donkeys, but He did so at different times. However unlikely this possibility might seem to some, nothing in Zechariah’s prophecy or the gospel accounts forbids such. Perhaps the colt found the triumphant procession that began on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives near the towns of Bethphage and Bethany (about 1¾ miles from Jerusalem—Pfeiffer, 1979, p. 197) too strenuous. Zechariah prophesied that Jesus would ride upon a colt (9:9), which Jesus did. He also easily could have ridden on the colt’s mother part of the way.
Perhaps a more likely answer to the question, “How could Jesus sit ‘on them’ (donkeys) during His march to Jerusalem?,” is that the second “them” of Matthew 21:7 may not be referring to the donkeys at all. Greek scholar A.T. Robertson believed that the second “them” (Greek αυτων) refers to the garments that the disciples laid on the donkeys, and not to the donkeys themselves. In commenting on Matthew 21:7 he stated: “The garments thrown on the animals were the outer garments (himatia), Jesus ‘took his seat’ (epekathisen) upon the garments” (1930, 1:167). Skeptics do not want to allow for such an interpretation. When they read of “them” at the end of Matthew 21:7 (in the New King James Version), skeptics feel that the antecedent of this “them” must be the previous “them” (the donkeys). Critics like John Kesler (2003) also appeal to the other synoptic accounts (where Jesus is said to have sat upon “it”—the colt), and conclude that Matthew, like Mark and Luke, surely meant that Jesus sat upon the donkeys, and not just the disciples’ clothes (which were on the donkeys). What critics like Kesler fail to acknowledge, however, is that in the Greek, Matthew’s word order is different than that of Mark and Luke. Whereas Mark and Luke indicated that the disciples put their clothes on the donkey, Matthew’s word order reads: “they put on the donkeys clothes.” The American Standard Version, among others (KJV, RSV, and NASB) is more literal in its translation of this verse than is the NKJV. It indicates that the disciples “brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their garments; and he sat thereon” (Matthew 21:7, ASV; cf. RSV, KJV, NASB). When Matthew wrote that Jesus sat “on them,” he easily could have intended for his readers to understand this “them” to refer to the clothes, and not to the donkeys. If the disciples’ clothes were placed on both donkeys (as Matthew indicated), and then Jesus mounted the colt, one logically could conclude that Jesus sat on the clothes (which were placed upon the colt).
One of the fundamental principles of nearly any study or investigation is that of being “innocent until proven guilty.” Any person or historical document is to be presumed internally consistent until it can be shown conclusively that it is contradictory. This approach has been accepted throughout literary history, and still is accepted today in most venues. The accepted way to critique any ancient writing is to assume innocence, not guilt. If we believe the Bible is innocent until proven guilty, then any possible answer should be good enough to nullify the charge of error. (This principle does not allow for just any answer, but any possible answer.) When a person studies the Bible and comes across passages that may seem contradictory at first glance (like the verses explained in this article—Matthew 21:1-9, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-38), he does not necessarily have to pin down the exact solution in order to show their truthfulness. The Bible student need only show the possibility of a harmonization among passages that appear to conflict, in order to negate the force of the charge that a Bible contradiction really exists. We act by this principle in the courtroom, in our treatment of various historical books, as well as in everyday-life situations. It is only fair, then, that we show the Bible the same courtesy by exhausting the search for possible harmony among passages before pronouncing one or more accounts false.
Finally, in an attempt to leave no allegation unanswered regarding the passages discussed in this article, one more point must be made. Although Jesus and His disciples have been accused of stealing the donkeys used in the procession to Jerusalem (see Barker, 1992, pp. 165-166), the text never indicates such thievery. Jesus may well have prearranged for the use of the animals. However, since the donkeys’ owners did not know who the disciples were, there was a need to tell the owners what Jesus said to them. It was after the disciples stated, “The Lord has need of them,” that the owners let the disciples take the donkeys (Luke 19:32-35). It was voluntary. Jesus certainly did not advocate stealing on this occasion, or any other (Matthew 19:18; 1 Peter 2:22; cf. Exodus 20:15). Remember, we are not told all of the facts in the story—the Bible is not obligated to fill in every detail of every event. If it did, “I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).


Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith In Faith—From Preacher to Atheist (Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation).
“Bible Contradictions,” Capella’s Guide to Atheism, [On-line], URL: http://web2.iadfw.net/capella/aguide/contrad.htm#num%20animals%20Jesus%20rode.
Kesler, John (2003), “Jesus Had Two Asses,” [On-line], URL: http://exposed.faithweb.com/kesler2.html.
Pfeiffer, Charles (1979), Baker’s Bible Atlas (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House), revised edition.
Robertson, A.T. (1930), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
van den Heuvel, Curt (2003), “Matthew Misunderstood an Old Testament Prophecy,” New Testament Problems, [On-line], URL: http://www.2think.org/hundredsheep/bible/ntprob.shtml.

Let us pursue the knowledge of God by Roy Davison


Let us pursue the knowledge of God
“Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD” (Hosea 6:3).

To pursue is to resolutely strive for something even if it is difficult to obtain.

God placed people on earth “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).

Through God’s creation we know that He exists.

The creation is solid evidence for the existence of God.

“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 heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory” (Psalm 97:6).

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 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 1:18-20).

There is no excuse for anyone not to believe in God. Yet knowing God is much more than just knowing that He exists.

Through the Scriptures we know what God is like.

Knowing a person is different from knowing a fact. You know someone only if you are familiar with his characteristics, if you know what he is like. Effort is required to get to know anyone, so it is not strange that effort is required to know God.

God’s nature is revealed in the Scriptures. God reveals Himself to us as our Maker, our Sustainer, our Ruler, our Lawgiver, our Judge and our Savior. He is the source of life on earth and the source of eternal life. God reveals Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Yet knowing God is more than just knowing what He is like. Some things can be known about God through His creation. More can be known through His word. Most can be known through His Son.

Through His Son we can know God.

To know someone well, one must have a personal relationship with that person. Likewise, we must have a personal relationship with God to know Him well. By sending His Son, the Father has made this possible! Before discussing this, let us examine some fundamentals.

We cannot know God through human wisdom alone.

“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

God has made Himself known through testimony.

Paul did not use human wisdom when he declared “the testimony of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1). “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son” (1 John 5:9, 10).

We must be God-fearing truth-seekers to know God.

We must seek knowledge and be open to God’s testimony to find the knowledge of God.
“Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding”
(Proverbs 2:3-6).

Only those who love truth and seek knowledge accept God’s testimony and find the knowledge of God.

Paul speaks of certain people who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). This is because they have insufficient respect for God: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). “For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight” (Ecclesiastes 2:26).

Someone who hates knowledge cannot know God.

God does not listen to the prayers of people who hate knowledge: “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, they would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies” (Proverbs 1:28-31).

God said about Israel: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

“How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge” (Proverbs 1:22).

We may not reject the knowledge of God.

Deceitful people refuse to know God: “‘Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me,’ says the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:6).

Just claiming to know God is not enough. Of certain people Paul wrote: “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work” (Titus 1:16).

Much evil emanates from a rejection of the knowledge of God: “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man - and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Romans 1:21-25).

They who do not know God will be punished when Jesus is “revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8).

To be God’s people we must know God.

Under the New Covenant one cannot be a part of God’s people unless one knows God: “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).

Under the Old Covenant, God’s people were a regular nation that included people who knew God and people who did not know God. The faithful encouraged the others to know God.

Under the New Covenant, God’s people are a spiritual nation consisting only of those who know God. “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7).

In Christ we know God.

Jesus Christ has made God known: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18).

If we are in the Son, we have a personal relationship with the Father: “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

Being “in Christ” involves being an active member of His body, the church (Ephesians 1:22, 23). We are “baptized into Christ” (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27). “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 13).

Paul explains that Christians have a personal relationship with the Father because the Spirit of His Son is in their hearts: “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:6, 7).

Our knowledge of God must increase.

Paul prayed that the Colossians might “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).

Peter admonishes us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Knowledge of God must be put into practice.

We can know God only if we love one another and keep His commandments: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3, 4). “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7, 8).

Pursue the knowledge of God.

Through God’s creation we know that He exists. Through the Scriptures we know what God is like. Through the Son we can have a personal relationship with God.

Although we must seek wisdom and knowledge in general to find the knowledge of God, we cannot know God through human wisdom alone. We must be God-fearing truth-seekers who accept God’s testimony. Someone who hates knowledge cannot know God. We may not reject the knowledge of God. They who do not know God will be punished. We must know God to be His people. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, has made Him known. In the Son we have a personal relationship with the Father through His Spirit within us. Our knowledge of God must increase and must be put into practice.

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2). Amen.

Roy Davison
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive