"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (4:1-6:15) by Mark Copeland

                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

              Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (4:1-6:15)


1. Our previous study introduced us to the book of Zechariah...
   a. A prophet of God who worked together with Haggai
   b. Whose work focused mainly on the rebuilding of the temple -
      Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14-15

2. The book starts out in typical fashion with a call to repentance
   (Zech 1:1-6), but then we find eight visions that occurred in one
   a. We briefly considered the first four in the previous study
      1) The rider and the horses - Zech 1:7-17
      2) The four horns and four craftsmen - Zech 1:18-21
      3) The man with the measuring line - Zech 2:1-13
      4) Joshua the high priest - Zech 3:1-10
   b. These visions were designed to motivate the people in completing
      the temple
      1) As God related His zeal for Jerusalem and His house - e.g.,
         Zech 1:14,16,21; 2:4
      2) As God reassured Joshua the high priest of his role - e.g.,
         Zech 3:6-7
      3) As God revealed even greater things to come pertaining to His
         Servant (the Messiah) - e.g., Zech 3:8-10

3. In this study, we shall examine...
   a. The remaining four visions - Zech 4:1-6:8
   b. The command to crown Joshua the high priest - Zech 6:9-15

[From Zech 4:1, it appears that Zechariah had fallen into a deep sleep
after the first four visions.  Awakened by the angel, he is shown four 


      1. Awakened from a deep sleep, Zechariah is shown a golden 
         lampstand with seven lamps and seven pipes, with olive trees
         on both sides - Zech 4:1-3
      2. Asking the angel what they represent, he is told...
         a. That it is a message to Zerubbabel (the governor) - Zech 4:6a
         b. That by God's Spirit, not man's might or power, Zerubbabel
            shall bring forth the capstone (finishing stone) of the 
            temple - Zech 4:6b-7
         c. Thus Zerubbabel will finish the temple - Zech 4:8-9
         d. For the eyes of the Lord (represented by the seven lamps)
            which scan the whole earth, rejoice to see the plumb line
            in the hand of Zerubbabel - Zech 4:10
         e. And that the olive trees represent "two anointed ones" 
            (Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor?) who 
            stand beside the Lord - Zech 4:11-14
      -- With such encouragement, who can "despise the day of small 
         things?" (as the temple looked when its foundation was first 
         laid - cf. Ezra 3:11-12; Hag 2:2-3)

      1. Turning and raising his eyes, Zechariah sees a flying scroll,
         twenty cubits long and 10 cubits wide (approx. 30 feet by 15 
         feet) - Zech 5:1-2
      2. The scroll is explained as being the curse going out on the
         whole earth - Zech 5:3-4
         a. According to what is written on one side, every thief will
            be expelled
         b. According to what is written on the other side, every 
            perjurer will be expelled
         c. Thus it will enter and consume the houses of thieves and
            those who swear falsely
      -- Such people were responsible for the downfall of Israel and
         Judah (cf. Hos 4:2-3; Mic 2:2-3); this vision ensures such 
         will be removed from God's people

      1. Zechariah is directed to see a large basket, in which sits a
         woman - Zech 5:5-7
      2. As the woman is explained to represent wickedness...
         a. She is thrust down into the basket with a lead cover over
            the top - Zech 5:8
         b. Two women with wings like those of a stork lift the basket
            to take it a house in the land of Shinar (Babylon) - Zech 5:9-11
      -- This vision symbolizes that wickedness will be removed from 
         the land

      1. Zechariah sees four chariots coming between two bronze 
         mountains - Zech 6:1-3
         a. The first chariot had red horses
         b. The second chariot had black horses
         c. The third chariot had white horses
         d. The fourth chariot had dappled horses
      2. He is told what the chariots represent - Zech 6:4-8
         a. They represent the four spirits of heaven
         b. The chariot with the black horses is going to the north 
            country, followed by the chariot with the white horses
         c. The chariot with the dappled horses is going to the south
         d. The chariots go throughout the earth, with those going to
            the north giving rest to God's Spirit in the north country
      3. This final vision appears to correspond with the first (cf.
         Zech 1:7-11)
         a. In the first vision, the four horses report that the earth
            was at peace, while the temple lay uncompleted
         b. Now, it is God's Spirit which is given rest in the north 
            country (Babylon?)
      -- Perhaps this vision reflects that God would be at ease once 
         His purposes concerning Jerusalem (restoration of its temple)
         and Babylon (judgment for its sins) were completed

[With these eight visions in one night, Zechariah had a message to 
encourage Zerubbabel and Joshua in their efforts to rebuild the temple.
The message would be reinforced with yet another given to Zechariah...]


      1. Take the gift from the captives and make an elaborate crown 
         - Zech 6:9-11a
      2. Set the crown on the head of Joshua the high priest - Zech 6:11b
      3. Speak the following words to Joshua - Zech 6:12-13
         a. Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH!
         b. From His place He shall branch out
         c. He shall build the temple of the LORD
         d. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and reign on the His
         e. He shall be a priest on His throne, with the counsel of 
      4. The elaborate crown to be a memorial in the temple - Zech 6:14
      5. Those from far away will help build the temple - Zech 6:15

      1. Certainly this symbolic crowning was intended to encourage
         Joshua and those captives who had returned to build the temple
      2. But Joshua appears to be a type of the coming Messiah., i.e.,
         a. Jesus was called "a Nazarene" (branch) - Mt 2:23; cf. Zech 3:8
         b. He would "branch out" - cf. Isa 11:1-2; 53:2
         c. He would build the "temple of the Lord" (i.e., His church)
            - Mt 16:18; Ep 2:21-22
         d. He would "rule on His throne" - 1Co 15:25; Re 1:5; 2:27-28
         e. He would be "a priest on His throne" - He 8:1-2; Re 3:21
         f. He would provide the "counsel of peace" - Ep 2:14-17
      -- And so this symbolic crowning was not only to encourage 
         Joshua, but those who looked forward to the coming of the 
         Messiah, whom Joshua represented!


1. Through the use of such visions and symbolic representations...
   a. Zechariah succeeded in motivating Joshua, Zerubbabel, and the
      captives who returned with them to rebuild the temple - cf. Ezra 6:14-15
   b. Zechariah likely increased their anticipation of the future as
      well, as they would wonder about the fulfillment of these visions

2. Zechariah's work is not finished, however...
   a. He will provide answers to questions the people had regarding
      certain fasts
   b. He will have more to say about the future of Jerusalem and the
      coming Messiah
   ...which we shall consider in the next couple of lessons

Having been reminded in this study of our Lord's role as both king and
priest, perhaps we can close by asking:

   Are you submitting to the Kingship of Jesus Christ?

   Are you making proper use of His intercession as our High Priest?

How you respond to His gospel will answer such questions!

"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (1:1-3:10) by Mark Copeland

                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

              Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (1:1-3:10)


1. Following 70 years of Babylonian exile, Israel was allowed to return
   a. Precipitated by the decree of Cyrus, they returned to rebuild the
      temple - Ezra 1:1-5
   b. The first group of exiles were led by Zerubbabel - Ezra 2:1-2
   c. While they were quick to build the altar and the foundation of 
      the temple, resistance by adversaries soon resulted in a long
      delay - Ezra 4:1-5
   d. To encourage Zerubbabel and the others, God sent two prophets:  
      Haggai and Zechariah - Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14-15

2. Our previous study looked at the book of Haggai; now we begin our 
   study of Zechariah...
   a. Concerning the MAN
      1) His name means "Whom Jehovah Remembers"
      2) At least 27 men bear this name in the Old Testament
      3) Like Ezekiel, he was of priestly descent
      4) He was also called to be a prophet, to stir up the people in
         building the temple
   a. Concerning the MESSAGE
      1) He prophesied around 520-518 B.C. - cf. Zech 1:1,7; 7:1
      2) In view of these dates, his book can be thought of as a sequel
         to Haggai's book
      3) His book is the longest and most obscure of "The Minor 
         a) Considered by some as the most difficult in the O.T.
         b) Apocalyptic in nature; filled with symbolic visions, like
            Ezekiel and Daniel
         c) Very messianic in nature; comparative to Isaiah
         d) Should certainly be approached with humility
      4) The basic message and theme seems clear enough:  I Am Zealous
         For Zion - cf. Zech 1:14

[As we read through the book, we must keep in mind that the primary
purpose of Zechariah's preaching was to encourage the people in 
building the temple.  This will be especially helpful later on, when we
get into the "visions" of Zechariah.  But we notice that the book 
begins with...]


      1. Dated in the 8th month of the second year of Darius (520 B.C.)
         - Zech 1:1
      2. This places his prophecy between Haggai's 2nd and 3rd 
         prophecies - Hag 2:1,10
      3. Comparing this prophecy with Haggai's third suggests that 
         while the temple was being rebuilt, some repentance was still
         necessary - cf. Hag 2:14

      1. The Lord has been angry with their fathers (e.g., Babylonian
         captivity) - Zech 1:2
      2. The people need to return to the Lord to gain His favor -  
         Zech 1:3; cf. Jm 4:8
      3. Don't be like their fathers, who ignored the prophets - Zech 1:4; cf. 2Ch 36:15-18
      4. Learn from their fathers, who learned things the hard way 
         - Zech 1:5-6

[The first message is certainly clear enough, and seems to complement
Haggai's third message. Then three months later, Zechariah had a series
of eight visions that occurred in one night...]


      1. Zechariah sees a man riding on a red horse among myrtle trees
         in a hollow, followed by red, sorrel, and white horses - Zech 1:7-9
      2. The horses are explained as sent by the Lord to walk 
         throughout the earth, who report (or perhaps those on them) 
         that the earth is resting quietly - Zech 1:10-11
      3. The "Angel of the Lord" asks how long will God not show mercy
         on Jerusalem and Judah - Zech 1:12
      4. The Lord responds with comforting words, which Zechariah is 
         told to proclaim - Zech 1:13-17
         a. Words describing the Lord's zeal for Jerusalem and Zion
         b. Words conveying God's anger at the nations 
      5. So while the nations may appear "at ease", their judgment is
         forthcoming and God will show mercy to Jerusalem
      -- The purpose of this vision (and the one to follow) appear to 
         confirm the promise made to Zerubbabel by Haggai - cf. Hag 2:
      1. Zechariah sees four horns that are identified as that which 
         scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem - Zech 1:18-19
      2. He is then shown four craftsmen, who will cast out the horns
         (nations) that scattered Judah - Zech 1:20-21
      -- This vision appears to confirm the promise made in the first
         vision; both visions designed to comfort the people who were
         building the temple!

      1. This vision appears to develop further the thought expressed
         in Zech 1:16c
      2. The FIRST PART of the vision indicates that Jerusalem would be
         inhabited to overflowing, and protected by the Lord - Zech 2:
      3. The SECOND PART calls for the dispersed Jews to return - Zech 2:6-9
         a. To flee from Babylon
         b. For the Lord is against such nations
      4. The THIRD PART proclaims the future joy of Zion and many 
         nations - Zech 2:10-12
         a. Fulfilled in part soon after the completion of the temple?
         b. Fulfilled in part with the coming of the Messiah?
      5. Finally, a call to all to be silent, for God is aroused (i.e.,
         is about to act!) - Zech 2:13
      -- This vision also appears designed to encourage the building of
         the temple!

      1. In the first part of the vision... - Zech 3:1-5
         a. Joshua, the high priest (cf. Hag 1:1), stands in filthy 
            garments before Satan and "the Angel of the Lord"
         b. Satan is rebuked, while Joshua is forgiven and clothed with
            rich robes, as "the Angel of the Lord" stands by
      2. In the second part of the vision... - Zech 3:6-10
         a. Joshua is admonished by "the Angel of the Lord"
         b. He is given conditions for serving as priest before God
         c. Joshua and his companions (the restored priesthood?) are a
            1) Of the coming Servant, the "Branch" 
            2) I.e., the coming Messiah - cf. Isa 11:1-2; Mt 2:23
         d. A stone is laid before Joshua
            1) Upon which are seven eyes
            2) Upon which the Lord will engrave its inscription
         e. The Lord promises the removal of iniquity, describing
            prosperity "in that day"
      -- This vision seems designed to encourage the re-establishment 
         of the priestly service in the temple, and it certainly has
         Messianic overtones


1. Remember that the context of these visions is the work of Zechariah
   and Haggai, who were sent to stir up the people to complete building
   the temple
   a. Exhorting them through messages calling the people to repentance
   b. Encouraging them by proclaiming the visions the Lord had revealed

2. This is not to discount the fact their messages and visions often
   had Messianic connotations...
   a. As so much of what happened in the Old Testament was a type of 
      what was to come
   b. And even these prophecies of Zechariah often appear to have a
      double fulfillment
      1) A fulfillment pertaining to the people of that day
      2) A fulfillment that was realized with the coming of the 
         Messiah, Jesus! - cf. Zech 3:8b

3. But we must be careful in seeking to understand these visions...
   a. Unless we have an inspired interpretation provided for us in the
      New Testament...
   b. We should use caution and humility in interpreting them outside
      of their context

We shall resume our study of Zechariah in the next lesson, in which we
will consider the remaining four of eight visions seen in one night...

God’s Wood or Man’s Plastic? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


God’s Wood or Man’s Plastic?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Evolutionists are confident in their conviction that their explanations demonstrate their independent, autonomous existence to the exclusion of God. They literally “jump through hoops” and engage in scientific “ventriloquism” in their quest to achieve legitimacy for their atheistic bent. However, when all relevant evidence eventually comes to light, it fits “hand in glove” with the presence of the God of the Bible.
Prior to the invention of modern plastics, what would the Creator have humans to do for suitable containers? Wood, stone, or clay, and eventually metal, pretty much exhausted the possibilities. Yet, government agencies, like the USDA and the FDA, generally have advocated the use of plastic for cutting boards and other surfaces that sustain food contact, on the grounds that the micropores and knife cuts in wood provide hidden havens for deadly bacterial organisms. As one Extension Specialist from the Department of Human Nutrition stated: “for cleanability and control of microorganisms, plastic is the better choice.”
However, the best research available on the subject suggests otherwise. Dr. Dean Cliver, a microbiologist with the Food Safety Laboratory and World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Food Virology at the University of California-Davis, disputes the oft’-repeated claim regarding the superiority of plastic over wood. His research findings, conducted over a period of several years, have consistently demonstrated the remarkable antibacterial properties of wood.
Dr. Cliver and his research associates have tested five life-threatening bacteria (Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus) on four plastic polymers and more than ten species of hardwood, including hard maple, birch, beech, black cherry, basswood, butternut, and American black walnut. Within 3 minutes of inoculating wooden boards with cultures of the food-poisoning agents, 99.9 percent of the bacteria were unrecoverable. On the other hand, none of the bacteria tested under similar conditions on plastic died. In fact, leaving microbe populations on the two surfaces overnight resulted in microbial growth on the plastic boards, while no live bacteria were recovered from wood the next morning. Interestingly, bacteria are absorbed into the wood, but evidently do not multiply, and rarely if ever come back alive. In contrast, bacteria in knife scars in plastic boards remain viable (even after a hot-water-and-soap wash) and maintain their ability to surface later and contaminate foods. Treating wood cutting boards with oils and other finishes to make them more impermeable actually retards wood’s bactericidal activity. Microbiologists remain mystified by their inability to isolate a mechanism or agent responsible for wood’s antibacterial properties.
Do these research findings bear any resemblance to Mosaic injunctions 3,500 years ago which required the destruction of pottery that had become contaminated—while wood was simply to be rinsed (Leviticus 6:28; 11:32-33; 15:12)? Dr. Cliver concluded: “I have no idea where the image of plastic’s superiority came from; but I have spent 40 years promoting food safety, and I would go with plastic if the science supported it. I don’t necessarily trust ‘nature,’ but I do trust laboratory research.” Kudos to Dr. Cliver’s honesty. What about trusting nature’s God?


Cliver, Dean O. (2002), “Plastic and Wooden Cutting Boards,” Unpublished manuscript.
Cliver, Dean O. (2002), personal letter.
Penner, Karen (1994), “Plastic vs. Wood Cutting Boards,” Timely Topics, Department of Human Nutrition, K-State Research and Extension.
Raloff, Janet (1993), “Wood Wins, Plastic Trashed for Cutting Meat,” Science News, 143[6]:84-85, February 6.
Raloff, Janet (1997), “Cutting Through the Cutting Board Brouhaha,” Science News Online, Food For Thought, July 11.

Evolution Can’t Explain “Smart” Plants by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Evolution Can’t Explain “Smart” Plants

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Lisa Krieger recently wrote an article titled, “How Do Flowers Know to Bloom in Spring? Now Humans Know, Too.” She reported about research on flower blooming that is being done by plant molecular geneticist Jose Luis Riechmann from the California Institute of Technology, published in Science magazine. Riechmann’s research centers on the ability of flowers to know when to bloom to take advantage of the proper weather conditions to reproduce. It turns out that for plants to survive, timing is everything. As plant biologist Jorge Dubcovsky of UC Davis stated: “Flowering time is one of the most important traits in breeding because it affects the yield of crops. Too early and you are killed by frost; too late and you are killed by heat” (as quoted in Krieger, 2010).
Reichmann believes he has identified the tiny protein that is responsible for setting blooming in motion. The protein is named APETALA1, or AP1. This tiny wonder “regulates more than 1,000 genes” and “serves as the door that opens the way to flowering” (2010). Without this amazing protein, the plant world as we know it would not exist. The importance of this single protein becomes clear, when we realize that “almost everything we eat is a plant, or something that just ate a plant” (2010).
This petite protein poses a powerful problem for the theory of evolution. According to the theory, all plants and animals evolved over billions of years by chance, random processes that were not directed by any intelligence. Although evolution has been repeatedly shown to be false (see Butt and Lyons, 2009), research like Reichmann’s continues to add more weight to the fact that evolution is scientifically impossible.
First, it should be noted that no research ever done has shown us how random processes can produce a protein like AP1. Second, even if random processes produced AP1, which they cannot, how many times of trial and error would we need to grant the evolutionary process to allow it to finally strike upon the perfectly timed sequence to bloom? If the plants that were supposedly evolving bloomed at the wrong time, they would die or fail to reproduce. While that would be bad for those individual plants, it would also be devastating for the alleged evolutionary process, since evolution would have to start over trying to randomly assemble protein AP1 after every failure. Since all evolutionary scenarios are imaginary, and not backed by real scientific evidence, it is easy to propound a scenario by which natural selection somehow “chose” the plants that happened to bloom at the right time and have the proper protein sequence. But in reality, the first wrong turn would have sent plant evolution (although there really is no such thing) back to the drawing board, as would each additional wrongly timed blooming.
In truth, there never have been millions of years of gradual, chance mutations and natural selections that produced the “intelligent” flowering plants that we see today. The intricate design of plants, as manifested by tiny proteins like AP1, testifies to the fact that an intelligent Designer created flowering plants. Plants “know” exactly when to bloom simply because, when God created them, He endowed them with the ability to perpetuate their kind. As Genesis 1:11 states: “Then God said, ‘Let all the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth’; and it was so” (emp. added).


Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2009), “Darwin in Light of 150 Years of Error,” Reason & Revelation, 29[2]:9-15, February, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240057.
Krieger, Lisa (2010), “How Do Flowers Know to Bloom in Spring? Now Humans Know, Too,” [On-line], URL: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_14803818?source=rss.

Did Peter Authorize Infant Baptism? by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


Did Peter Authorize Infant Baptism?

by  Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

While there is no documentation of infant baptism in Acts 2, some allege that Acts 2:39 proves the necessity of infant baptism (e.g., Lenski, 1961, p. 110; Barnes, 1972, p. 54). Acts 2:39 reads: “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (emp. added). This immediately follows Acts 2:38, which reads: “Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ ” The phrase “to all who are afar off ” implies that Gentiles would have the opportunity and obligation to submit to baptism for the remission of sins (see Coffman, 1977, p. 57; Lenski, 1961, p. 110). But what did Peter mean when he said “the promise is to you and to your children”? Did he command infants to be baptized?
When Peter said, “the promise is to you and to your children,” he was not speaking specifically about infants or implying that young children needed to respond to the commands of Acts 2:38. Peter’s presentation was designed for the people who shared responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ (verse 36), a group that certainly did not include children. Peter assured his listeners that the promise of salvation was not limited to them, but would be available to every future generation. Albert Barnes commented on the “promise” of Acts 2:39:
Similar promises occur in Isaiah 44:3, “I will pour my Spirit on thy seed, and my blessing on thine offspring;” and in Isaiah 59:21, “My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord from henceforth and for ever.” In these and similar places their descendants or posterity are denoted. It does not refer merely to children as children... (1972, p. 54, emp. in orig.).
Luke intended the reader to understand “children” to mean “descendants” in Acts 13:33, so it is not unreasonable to suggest that the same meaning is present in Acts 2:39. One meaning of teknois, the Greek word translated “children” in Acts 2:39, is “descendants” (Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, 1979, p. 994). Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker suggest that teknois does denote “descendants” in Acts 2:39. This interpretation fits in the context of Peter’s discussion concerning the fulfillment of prophecy: Joel prophesied that everyone who called upon the name of the Lord would be saved (Joel 2:32), and Peter affirmed that the blessings associated with conversion would be available not only to those in his hearing, but also to the members of every subsequent generation who obeyed (see Longenecker, 1981, p. 285).
The idea that God cares for all people in every generation, and desires that all be saved, is not unique to Peter’s comments in Acts 2:39. God said to Israel, “ ‘As for Me,’ says the Lord, ‘this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,’ says the Lord, ‘from this time and forevermore’ ” (Isaiah 59:21). The message of concern for future generations is evident in the New Testament as well. The text of 2 Peter 3:9 reveals that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
If Peter’s use of the word “children” did include a reference to the children who were in his audience, Peter did not command the children to be baptized. Nor did Peter imply that Joel, Isaiah, or David prophesied concerning infant baptism (see McGarvey, 1863, p. 44). Peter simply said that the “promise” was partially for the children. Of what promise did Peter speak? In the context of Peter’s presentation on Pentecost, it appears that the promise was salvation through Christ, but nowhere did it imply the necessity of infant baptism (see Longenecker, 1981, p. 285; De Welt, 1967, p. 49; Reese, 1983, p. 79). Wayne Jackson observed:
Peter affirmed that the divine promise (of salvation with its accompanying gift of the Spirit) would be available to future generations (expressed by the phrase “your children”). Contrary to the assertions of some (cf. Lenski, 110), there is no support here for infant baptism. Prof. Howard Marshall of the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) declared that to use this passage in support of infant baptism is to “press it unduly” (81). Babies can neither believe nor repent, hence, are not valid candidates for immersion (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). Hackett renders the phrase “unto your descendants” (cf. Acts 13:3) [2000, p. 28, parenthetical comment in orig.].
Not every gift given to children is intended for children to possess and enjoy at the time the gift is given. Instead, gifts often are intended to be used by recipients after they mature. In such cases, the gifts will be ready when the children are ready for them. Peter said that the gift of salvation is available to all those who were called by God (Acts 2:39)—and God calls people by His Gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14). But people who cannot yet understand the Gospel cannot believe in Christ and obey the Gospel (Romans 10:13-16). Furthermore, infants cannot repent of wrongdoing or decide to cease sinning, because they cannot choose to do wrong. Peter commanded the members of his audience to repent, so the applicability of his message was not to infants. Only those who can believe and repent can be included in the “children” of Acts 2:39, because the “promise” was conditioned on belief and repentance (see McGarvey, n.d., p. 40).
As children grow up, they learn the difference between right and wrong, and, eventually, they reach an age when they have the ability to choose sin. All mature humans sin at some point (Romans 3:23). It is at that time that we need to have our sins washed away by Christ’s blood—we need to be baptized, but not when we are infants.


Arndt, William, F.W. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (1979), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition revised.
Barnes, Albert (1972 reprint), Barnes’ Notes on the Old and New Testaments: Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Coffman, James Burton (1977), Commentary on Acts (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).
De Welt, Don (1967 reprint), Acts Made Actual (Joplin, MO: College Press).
Jackson, Wayne (2000), The Acts of the Apostles: From Jerusalem to Rome (Stockton, CA: Courier).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1961 reprint), The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Longenecker, Richard N. (1981), The Expositor's Bible Commentary, F.E. Gaebelein, Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
McGarvey, J.W. (1863), Original Commentary on Acts (Bowling Green, KY: Guardian of Truth), ninth edition.
McGarvey, J.W. (no date), Commentary on Acts (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).
Reese, Gareth L. (1983 reprint), New Testament History: Acts (Joplin, MO: College Press).

What's So Important about Jesus' Resurrection? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


What's So Important about Jesus' Resurrection?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

After the widow’s son of Zarephath died, Elijah prayed to God, “and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived” (1 Kings 17:22). A few years later, the prophet Elisha raised the dead son of a Shunammite (2 Kings 4:32-35). Then, after Elisha’s death, a dead man, in the process of being buried in the tomb of Elisha, was restored to life after touching Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:20-21). When Jesus was on Earth, He raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Mark 8:21-24,35-43), as well as the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-16) and Lazarus, who had been buried for four days (John 11:1-45). After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Matthew recorded how “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (27:52-53). Then later, during the early years of the church, Peter raised Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36-43), while Paul raised the young man Eutychus, who had died after falling out of a three-story window (Acts 20:7-12). All of these people died, and later rose to live again. Although some of the individuals arose very shortly after death, Lazarus and (most likely) the saints who were raised after the resurrection of Jesus, were entombed longer than was Jesus. In view of all of these resurrections, some have asked, “What is so important about Jesus’ resurrection?” If others in the past have died to live again, what makes His resurrection so special? Why is the resurrection of Jesus more significant than any other?
First, similar to how the miracles of Jesus were worked in order to set Him apart as the Son of God and the promised Messiah, even though all others who worked miracles during Bible times were not God in the flesh, the resurrection of Jesus is more significant than any other resurrection simply because the inspired apostles and prophets said that it was. Many people throughout the Bible worked miracles in order to confirm their divine message (cf. Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:1-4), but only Jesus did them as proof of His divine nature. Once, during the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, a group of Jews surrounded Jesus and asked, “If You are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24)? Jesus responded to them saying, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me…. I and My Father are one” (John 10:25,30). These Jews understood that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God in the flesh (cf. 10:33,36), and Jesus wanted them to understand that this truth could be known as a result of the miracles that He worked. They testified of His deity (cf. John 20:30-31). Why? Because He said they did (10:25,35-38; cf. John 5:36). The miracles that Jesus performed bore witness of the fact that He was from the Father (John 5:36), because He said He was from the Father. A miracle in and of itself did not mean the person who worked it was deity. Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Peter, Paul, and a host of others worked miracles, with some even raising people from the dead, but not for the purpose of proving they were God in the flesh. The apostles and prophets of the New Testament worked miracles to confirm their message that Jesus was the Son of God, not to prove that they were God (cf. Acts 14:8-18). Jesus, on the other hand, performed miracles to bear witness that He was the Son of God, just as He claimed to be (cf. John 9:35-38).
Likewise, one reason that Jesus’ miraculous resurrection is more significant than the resurrections of Lazarus, Tabitha, Eutychus, or anyone else who was raised from the dead, is simply because the inspired apostles and prophets in the early church said that it was more important. Like the miracles He worked during His earthly ministry that testified of His deity, His resurrection also bore witness of His divine nature. There is no record of anyone alleging that Lazarus was God’s Son based upon his resurrection, nor did the early church claim divinity for Eutychus or Tabitha because they died and came back to life. None of the above-mentioned individuals who were resurrected ever claimed that their resurrection was proof of deity, nor did any inspired prophet or apostle. On the other hand, Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). His resurrection was different because of Who He was—the Son of God. Just as the miracles He worked during His earthly ministry testified of His divine message, and thus also of His divine nature, so did His resurrection.
Second, the significance of Jesus’ resurrection is seen in the fact that He was the first to rise from the dead never to die again. Since no one who has risen from the dead is still living on Earth, and since there is no evidence in the Bible that God ever took someone who had risen from the dead into heaven without dying again, it is reasonable to conclude that all who have ever arisen from the dead, died in later years. Jesus, however, “having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him” (Romans 6:9). Jesus said of Himself: “I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Revelation 1:17-18). All others who previously were raised at one time, died again, and are among those who “sleep” and continue to wait for the bodily resurrection. Only Jesus has truly conquered death. Only His bodily resurrection was followed by eternal life, rather than another physical death. Although it has been argued by skeptics that “it’s the Resurrection, per se, that matters, not the fact that Jesus never died again” (see McKinsey, 1983, p. 1), Paul actually linked the two together, saying, God “raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption” (Acts 13:34, emp. added). Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews argued for a better life through Jesus on the basis of His termination of death. One reason for the inadequacy of the old priesthood was because “they were prevented by death.” Jesus, however, because He rose never to die again, “continues forever” in “an unchangeable priesthood,” and lives to make intercession for His people (Hebrews 7:23-25).
A third reason why Jesus’ resurrection stands out above all others is because it alone was foretold in the Old Testament. In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter affirmed that God had raised Jesus from the dead because it was not possible for the grave to hold Him. As proof, he quoted Psalm 16:8-11 in the following words:
I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence (Acts 2:25-28).
Peter then explained this quote from Psalms by saying:
Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses (Acts 2:29-32).
The apostle Paul also believed that the psalmist bore witness to Christ, and spoke of His resurrection. In his address at Antioch of Pisidia, he said:
And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: “I will give you the sure mercies of David.” Therefore He also says in another Psalm: “You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:32-39).
Where is the prophecy for the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter? When did the prophets ever foretell of Eutychus or Tabitha’s resurrection? They are not there. No resurrected person other than Jesus had his or her resurrection foretold by an Old Testament prophet. This certainly makes Jesus’ resurrection unique.
Fourth, the significance of Jesus’ resurrection is seen in the fact that His resurrection was preceded by numerous instances in which He prophesied that He would defeat death, even foretelling the exact day on which it would occur. Jesus told some scribes and Pharisees on one occasion, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40, emp. added). Matthew, Mark, and Luke all recorded how Jesus “began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Matthew 16:21, emp. added; cf. Mark 8:31-32; Luke 9:22). While Jesus and His disciples were in Galilee, Jesus reminded them, saying, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up” (Matthew 17:22-23, emp. added). Just before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus again reminded His disciples, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again” (Matthew 20:18-19, emp. added). Jesus’ prophecies concerning His resurrection and the specific day on which it would occur were so widely known that, after Jesus’ death, His enemies requested that Pilate place a guard at the tomb, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day…” (Matthew 27:63-64, emp. added). They knew exactly what Jesus had said He would do, and they did everything in their power to stop it.
Where are the prophecies from the widow’s son of Zarephath? Had he prophesied of his resurrection prior to his death? Or what about the son of the Shunammite woman that Elisha raised from the dead? Where are his personal prophecies? Truly, no one mentioned in the Bible who rose from the dead prophesied about his or her resurrection beforehand, other than Jesus. And certainly no one ever prophesied about the exact day on which he or she would arise from the dead, save Jesus. This prior knowledge and prophecy makes His resurrection a significant event. He overcame death, just as He predicted. He did exactly what he said He was going to do, on the exact day He said He was going to do it.
Finally, the uniqueness of Jesus’ resurrection is seen in the fact that He is the only resurrected person ever to have lived and died without having committed one sin during His lifetime. He was “pure” and “righteous” (1 John 3:3; 2:1), “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). He was “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19), “Who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). No one else who has risen from the dead ever lived a perfect life, and then died prior to his or her resurrection for the purpose of taking away the sins of the world (cf. John 1:29). Because Jesus lived a sinless life, died, and then overcame death in His resurrection, He alone has the honor of being called “the Lamb of God” and the “great High Priest” (Hebrews 4:14). “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many,” and because of His resurrection “those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).
Whether or not Eutychus, Tabitha, Lazarus, etc., rose from the grave, our relationship with God is not affected. Without Jesus’ resurrection, however, there would be no “Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). Without Jesus’ resurrection, He would not be able to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). Without Jesus’ resurrection, we would have no assurance of His coming and subsequent judgment (Acts 17:31).
Most certainly, Jesus’ resurrection is significant—more so than any other resurrection ever to have taken place. Only Jesus’ resurrection was verbalized by inspired men as proof of His deity. Only Jesus rose never to die again. Only Jesus’ resurrection was prophesied in the Old Testament. Only Jesus prophesied of the precise day in which He would arise from the grave, and then fulfilled that prediction. Only Jesus’ resurrection was preceded by a perfect life—a life lived, given up, and restored in the resurrection for the purpose of becoming man’s Prince, Savior, and Mediator.


McKinsey, C. Dennis (1983), “Commentary,” Biblical Errancy, pp. 1-4, February.

Atheism’s Contradictory Supernatural “Natural” Explanations by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Atheism’s Contradictory Supernatural “Natural” Explanations

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Atheism contends that a supernatural Creator does not exist. Allegedly, a supernatural Being is unnecessary in our material Universe. Everything can be explained purely naturally through a study of the natural world. In short, nature exists “naturally,” not supernaturally.
If such is the case, however, then how did nature get here to begin with? In nature, matter and energy do not appear from nothing (so says the First Law of Thermodynamics).1 In nature, nothing always comes from nothing and something always comes from something. So from whence came the first “something”? That is, where did nature itself come from? According to some of the world’s foremost atheistic evolutionists, something came from nothing. Atheistic cosmologist Stephen Hawking stated on national television in 2011, “Nothing caused the Big Bang.”2 In the book The Grand Design that Dr. Hawking co-authored, he and Leonard Mlodinow asserted: “Bodies such as stars and black holes cannot just appear out of nothing. But a whole universe can.”3 So, although it is not natural for something to come from nothing, many atheists assume that it did “in the beginning.”
And what about the first life form? From whence did it arrive? According to atheistic evolution, life was not created supernaturally by a supernatural Creator, rather life came from non-life; it spontaneously generated “naturally.” But does life ever come from non-life naturally? Never. As evolutionist Martin Moe observed, “[A] century of sensational discoveries in the biological sciences has taught us that life arises only from life.”4 It would take a miracle for life to come from non-life, yet atheists contend that no God exists to work in such a supernatural manner. So how did the first life get here? Atheists (who have “refused to have God in their knowledge”—Romans 1:28, ASV), contend that it must have arisen naturally, yet it did so in a way that breaks the natural Law of Biogenesis.5
Atheism can continue to deny the existence of a supernatural Creator, but it does so in the only way possible—illogically and self-contradictorily. Rather than irrationally endowing nature with the ability to act supernaturally while alleging nothing supernatural exists, the reasonable person should conclude that what happened supernaturally must be the effect of a supernatural Being at work.
In truth, both Heaven and Earth reveal that “the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Rather, the supernatural “God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).


1 See Jeff Miller (2013), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=2786.
2 See “Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7, emp. added.
3 2010, New York: Bantam Books, p. 180.
4 “Genes on Ice” (1981), Science Digest, 89[11]:36, emp. added.
5 For more information on the Law of Biogenesis, see Jeff Miller (2013), “The Law of Biogenesis—Parts 1 & 2,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4165&topic=93.

Cockeyed Conclusions About Connecticut by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Cockeyed Conclusions About Connecticut

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

In the wake of the horrifying rampage in Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults shot to death, reactions from the anti-Christian media and liberal politicians are exactly what you would expect: “We’ve got to get rid of the guns!” Never mind the fact that murder goes back to the beginning of the human race when Cain killed his brother—without a gun. Guns have been around only a few hundred years; people have been killing each other for thousands of years. You do the math. If there were no guns—clubs, rocks, and sharpened sticks would do the job. Building a bomb or setting the school on fire would accomplish the same or worse. Shall we outlaw rocks, sticks, matches, and fertilizer?
Legion are the emotional, irrational explanations that have inundated the Web: “Adam Lanza and his mother both spent time at an area gun range” (Thomas, 2012); “Technology has rendered the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution obsolete” (“Adam Lanza’s…,” 2012); “New York mayor demands action on gun control” (“Connecticut…New York…,” 2012)”; “Connecticut Governor calls for a federal framework for gun control laws” (“Connecticut…State’s…,” 2012).“Time to get rid of the guns!” (Mackey, 2012); “The gunman had hundreds of rounds of ammunition!” (“Connecticut…Gunman…,” 2012); “The mother and father are Republicans” (Swain and Sanchez, 2012). Even the National Rifle Association missed the point when it announced, “The N.R.A. is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again” (“NRA News Release…,” 2012). As if money can fix morality.
Interestingly, regarding the propriety of citizens having free access to guns, prominent Founder Thomas Jefferson approvingly quoted (1926, p. 314) from the celebrated Italian jurist, philosopher, and politician, Cesare Beccaria’s 1764 treatise, An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, words which are hauntingly prophetic of our present predicament:
Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794)
The laws of this nature are those which forbid to wear arms, disarming those only who are not disposed to commit the crime which the laws mean to prevent. Can it be supposed, that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, and the most important of the code, will respect the less considerable and arbitrary injunctions, the violation of which is so easy, and of so little comparative importance? Does not the execution of this law deprive the subject of that personal liberty, so dear to mankind and to the wise legislator? and does it not subject the innocent to all the disagreeable circumstances that should only fall on the guilty? It certainly makes the situation of the assaulted worse, and of the assailants better, and rather encourages than prevents murder, as it requires less courage to attack unarmed than armed persons (1983, p. 91, emp. added).
Yet, as American society’s Christian moorings continue to erode, and immoral human behavior rapidly replaces traditional American values, the left continues to trot out their insane assessments and godless “solutions”—completely missing the only explanation and the only solution. If only Americans would take the time to reread their Bibles and go back to the Founding Fathers to see the clear and unmistakable explanation for our predicament. This is not rocket science. It is not that difficult to see with clarity what is happening.

The Central Issue and Solution

The fact is that the Creator of the human race is the sole Author and Source of objective morality. Otherwise, moral distinctions would simply be the product of the subjective whims of humans. Morality would thus legitimately vary from person to person and country to country. One society might decide to legalize pedophilia while another might make it illegal—and both would be “right” in the sense that each person would be free to formulate his own moral standards. The result would be complete and utter social anarchy in which every person would be equally free to believe and behave however he or she chooses. Sound like America? What has happened? How can such profound change come over an entire civilization?The Founders of the American Republic anticipated just this social scenario—and even described the circumstances under which it would occur. The Founders predicted that if Americans do not retain an ardent commitment to the moral principles of Christianity, civil society will wane.
Consider the following prophetic voices. In the 1811 New York State Supreme Court case of The People v. Ruggles, the “Father of American Jurisprudence,” James Kent, explained the importance of punishing unchristian behavior, when he wrote that Americans are a “people whose manners are refined, and whose morals have been elevated and inspired with a more enlarged benevolence, by means of the Christian religion” (1811, emp. added). The gentility of the American spirit has historically been contrasted with those peoples “whose sense of shame would not be affected by what we should consider the most audacious outrages upon decorum” (1811, emp. added).
The Founders understood that the Bible presents the only logical and sane assessment of reality: an objective standard, authored by the Creator, which exists for the entire human race—what Thomas Jefferson identified as “one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively” (1789). That standard resides within the confines of the Christian religion as articulated in the New Testament. Unless human civilization gauges its moral behavior according to that objective, absolute framework, moral and spiritual chaos in society will be the end result—even if all the guns in the world were dumped into the ocean. In the words of Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence: “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they, therefore, who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure...are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments” (as quoted in Steiner, 1907, p. 475, emp. added).
Yet, for some 50 years now, Americans have been pummeled with the humanistic notion that morality can be maintained in society to the exclusion of Christianity. With almost prophetic anticipation, the very first president of the United States—the Father of our country—anticipated and addressed this sinister misnomer. After serving his country for two terms as president, George Washington delivered his farewell address to the nation, articulating forcefully the key to achieving security and protection for our lives:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric? (1796, pp. 22-23, emp. added).
Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Rush stated: “[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments” (1806, p. 8, emp. added). Dr. Rush further stated:
We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible. For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism (pp. 112-113, emp. added).
Dr. Rush also insisted:
I wish to be excused for repeating here, that if the Bible did not convey a single direction for the attainment of future happiness, it should be read in our schools in preference to all other books, from, its containing the greatest portion of that kind of knowledge which is calculated to produce private and public temporal happiness.... By withholding the knowledge of this [Christian] doctrine from children, we deprive ourselves of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds (pp. 100,105, emp. and bracketed item added).
Over the past 50 years or so, the liberal establishment has convinced society that evil actions are merely the result of “disturbed,” “mentally ill,” and “genetically predisposed” people who are not, in the final analysis, responsible for their behavior. But both the Bible and the Founders insisted that a failure to fill one’s mind and thoughts with pure, righteous, virtuous concepts found in the Bible inevitably leads to a confused mind, a reckless lifestyle, and harm to society. In his scathing repudiation of Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason, Continental Congress president Elias Boudinot insisted: “[O]ur country should be preserved from the dreadful evil of becoming enemies to the religion of the Gospel, which I have no doubt, but would be introductive of the dissolution of government and the bonds of civil society” (1801, p. xxii, emp. added). Dr. Benjamin Rush added his blunt observation: “Without the restraints of religion and social worship, men become savages” (1951, 1:505, emp. added). Noah Webster stated: “[R]eligion has an excellent effect in repressing vices [and] in softening the manners of men” (1794, Vol. 2, Ch. 44, emp. added).
The Founders believed that, should Christian principles be jettisoned by Americans, manners would be corrupted, and social anarchy and the fall of the Republic would naturally follow. Declaration signer and “The Father of the American Revolution,” Samuel Adams, issued a solemn warning in a letter to James Warren on February 12, 1779: “A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy” (1908, 4:124). In his inaugural address as the Governor of Massachusetts in 1780, Founder John Hancock insisted that both our freedom and our very existence as a Republic will be determined by public attachment to Christian morality: “Manners, by which not only the freedom, but the very existence of the republics, are greatly affected, depend much upon the public institutions of religion and the good education of youth” (as quoted in Brown, 1898, p. 269, emp. added). The words of Declaration signer John Witherspoon are frightening: “Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction” (1802, 3:41, emp. added). In contrasting the general religion of Christianity with Islam, John Quincy Adams likewise explained:
The fundamental doctrine of the Christian religion, is the extirpation of hatred from the human heart. It forbids the exercise of it, even towards enemies. There is no denomination of Christians, which denies or misunderstands this doctrine. All understand it alike—all acknowledge its obligations; and however imperfectly, in the purposes of Divine Providence, its efficacy has been shown in the practice of Christians, it has not been wholly inoperative upon them. Its effect has been upon the manners of nations. It has mitigated the horrors of war—it has softened the features of slavery—it has humanized the intercourse of social life (1830, p. 300, emp. added).
We are a blind and hard-hearted people if we refuse to recognize the truth and validity of these observations. Fixating on guns, and other peripheral issues, sidesteps the eternal reality that when a society is organized and geared to respect God and His Word, aberrant behavior will still occur, but it will be far more infrequent that what America is now experiencing. Though mocked, ridiculed, and hotly denied, the truth remains that Connecticut, Columbine, and a host of other tragic occurrences America is experiencing, are the result of banishing God from our schools, our government, and our civic institutions. It is the natural result of teaching three generations of Americans that they owe their ultimate origin to rocks, slime, and soup which produced them over millions of years. It is the result of over half of Americans no longer attending church. It is the inevitable result of demeaning the Bible in universities and the corresponding loss of respect for inspired writ as seen in the failure of most Americans to read and study it. As the ancient prophet Hosea, in quoting God, forcefully declared many millennia ago concerning another nation: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you.... Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they increased, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame” (4:6-7, emp. added).
A good summary of the attitude of the Founders regarding the key to a tranquil, nonviolent society is seen in an “election sermon” preached by Chandler Robbins before the joint assembly of government officials of Massachusetts on May 25, 1791 which included the Governor, John Hancock (the first to sign the Declaration of Independence), the Lieutenant-Governor, Samuel Adams (the “Father of the American Revolution”), and both houses of the state government. Robbins articulated the widespread sentiments of his fellow citizens that now, more than two centuries later, sound haunting and eerily prophetic:
Our advantages for happiness as a people are great, almost beyond a parallel, bounteous Heaven has, with liberal profusion, poured his blessings upon our land, has given us a name and distinction among the kingdoms of the earth, we are spread over a great continent, so that…“we make a WORLD within ourselves…. We enjoy the divine WORD—are favored with the glorious privilege of the GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Indeed, there seems to be nothing wanting, to complete our character and our happiness as a community, but the spirit and practice of real religion. The want of this, it must be acknowledged, has the most threatening aspect upon our nation. The diffusive and rapid progress of declared infidelity and deism, of licentiousness and skepticism, the disregard of divine institutions, the practical contempt of the gospel of our Salvation, the awful dishonor, which, with unblushing confidence, many have openly cast upon the ETERNAL SON OF GOD, whom we are commanded to “honor as we honor the FATHER,” because he is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” In fine, the torrent of immorality, profaneness and impiety, which daily increased among us, exhibit but a sad presage, if persisted in, of impending miseries on our land. It is, in the nature of things, impossible it should eventually go well with a people of the above description, and who remain impenitent and unreformed…. It is manifest therefore, that righteousness alone can truly exalt our nation—that RELIGION is the only basis, on which true happiness can be founded, either in communities or individuals. Let this then, be the object of universal concern (pp. 5-51, italics and caps in orig., emp. added).
A sizeable percentage of our politicians and citizens don’t get it. Yet the truth is so simple and plain, echoed in Robbins’ allusion to Proverbs 14:34—“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Mark it down: as more and more Americans lose their connection to the nation’s spiritual and moral roots—the Christian religion—the more our nation will be plunged into the nightmarish onslaught of events like the one which occurred in Newtown, Connecticut.


It is fully to be expected—it is absolutely inevitable—that as society expels God and Christianity, civility and morality among the people decreases. As people abandon Christian morality, more laws must be made to restrain their evil deeds. As more laws are made to restrain a lawless people, the less freedom those people enjoy. I repeat: Morality and religion are absolutely necessary to achieve and retain freedom. Once Americans abandon the Christian moral framework, they will inevitably clamor for more prisons, more security forces, more screening devices, and yes, fewer guns. But these “solutions” are merely temporary band aids that will not fix the problem and, in actuality, create more problems. The truth is that only two options lie before us, pinpointed in the 1840s by the Speaker of the U.S. House, Robert Winthrop: “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet” (1852, p. 172, emp. added). Observe: Americans have banned the Bible from the public square and have opted for the bayonet—more government control and fewer freedoms.
What was going on in that child’s life that would enable him to so conduct himself? Not the existence of guns! The Left does not want to go to the root of the problem—because their very philosophy and belief system has already dismissed God and Christian morality as irrelevant, if not harmful. They recoil at the thought of promoting self-restraint and strict Christian morality. Hence, to them, the problem must lie elsewhere. (Although, they are perfectly happy to blame God for the killings.) But this 20-year-old boy was not born with the propensity to kill children. Even his suspected autism is not responsible for the violence. His attitude and behavior was developed and nurtured during his formative years. His training, experiences, and personal choices made him who he became. Not his genes, not the presence of guns in the world, not visits to the gun range, and certainly not the existence of “Bible-thumping, right wing radical Christians.” The Bible plainly teaches that a stable home environment, with both biological parents present nurturing their children in the principles of Christianity, are the most effective aids to producing successful, productive, law-abiding citizens. The Founders wholeheartedly affirmed this approach to life and realized that the societal environment most conducive to producing stable citizens and a happy country is one that is based on and rooted in the moral principles of the Bible. Yet this boy’s personal life very likely possessed features that contributed to his degeneration to a “debased mind” (Romans 1:28), even enabling him to kill his own mother by shooting her in the face (Swain and Sanchez, 2012). This was a troubled child, to say the least. His troubled condition did not arise from the presence of guns. Until America faces the reality of what creates the increasing numbers of troubled children, society will continue to reap the consequences.


“Adam Lanza’s Weapons” (2012), New York Post, December 18, http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/adam_lanza_weapons_NU2tb0tIf9hNsOCZkPJ1XP.
Adams, John Quincy (1830), The American Annual Register (New York: E. & G.W. Blunt).
Adams, Samuel (1904-1908), The Writings of Samuel Adams, ed. Harry Cushing (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons).
Beccaria, Cesare (1983), An Essay on Crimes and Punishments (Boston, MA: International Pocket Library, http://books.google.com/books?id=InuKBpD_  21YC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Cesare+Beccaria,+An+Essay+on+Crimes+ %26+Punishments&hl=en&sa=X&ei=TkzTUJ-ZNIH88gScxoGoCg&ved =0CDQQ6AEwAA).
Boudinot, Elias (1801), The Age of Revelation (Philadelphia, PA: Asbury Dickins), http://www.google.com/books?id=XpcPAAAAIAAJ.
Brown, Abram (1898), John Hancock, His Book (Boston, MA: Lee & Shepard Publishers), http://www.archive.org/details/johnhancock00browrich.
“Connecticut School Shooting: Gunman Had Hundreds of Rounds of Ammunition” (2012), Chicago Tribune, December 16, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-connecticut-school-shooting-victims-20121216,0,5491415.story?page=2.
“Connecticut School Shooting: New York Mayor Demands Action on Gun Control” (2012), The Telegraph, December 17, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews /northamerica/usa/9751633/Connecticut-school-shooting-New-York-mayor -demands-action-on-gun-control.html.
“Connecticut School Shooting: State’s Governor Calls for Action on Gun Control” (2012), The Telegraph, December 17, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews /northamerica/usa/9751905/Connecticut-school-shooting-states-governor- calls-for-action-on-gun-control.html.
Jefferson, Thomas (1789), “Letter to James Madison,” The Works of Thomas Jefferson in Twelve Volumes, ed. Paul Leicester Ford, http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mtj:@field(DOCID+@lit (tj050135)).
Jefferson, Thomas (1926), The Commonplace Book of Thomas Jefferson: A Repertory of His Ideas on Government, ed. Gilbert Chinard (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press).
Mackey, Robert (2012), “Dec. 18 Updates on Connecticut Shooting Aftermath,” The New York Times, December 19, http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/latest-updates-on-connecticut-shooting-aftermath/.
“NRA News Release on December Press Conference” (2012), The National Rifle Association of America, http://www.nrablog.com/.
The People v. Ruggles(1811), 8 Johns 290 (Sup. Ct. NY.), N.Y. Lexis 124.
Robbins, Chandler (1791), A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency John Hancock, Esq., Governour, His Honor Samuel Adams, Esq., Lieutenant-Governour, the Honourable the Council, and the Honourable the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, May 25, 1791 Being the Day of General Election (Boston, MA: Thomas Adams), http://openlibrary.org/works/OL1743074W /A_sermon_preached_before_His_Excellency_Jonh_sic_Hancock_Esq. _governour_His_Honor_Samuel_Adams_Esq._.
Rush, Benjamin (1806), Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical (Philadelphia, PA: Thomas & William Bradford).
Rush, Benjamin (1951), Letters of Benjamin Rush, ed. L.H. Butterfield (Princeton, NJ: The American Philosophical Society).
Steiner, Bernard (1907), The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland, OH: Burrows Brothers).
Swain, Jon, and Raf Sanchez (2012), “Connecticut School Shooting: Adam Lanza Was Assigned Psychologist,” The Telegraph, December 17, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/ usa/9750422/Connecticut-school-shooting-Adam-Lanza-was-assigned- psychologist.html.
Thomas, Pierre, et al. (2012), “Connecticut School Shooting: Adam Lanza and Mother Visited Gun Ranges,” ABC News, December 16, http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/connecticut-school-shooting-adam-lanza-mother-visited-gun/story?id=17992396.
Washington, George (1796), Address of George Washington, President of the United States...Preparatory to His Declination (Baltimore, MD: George & Henry Keating).
Webster, Noah (1794), “The Revolution in France,” in Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805, ed. Ellis Sandoz (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund), 1998 edition, http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/817/69415.
Winthrop, Robert (1852), Addresses and Speeches on Various Occasions (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Co.).
Witherspoon, John (1802), The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon (Philadelphia, PA: William Woodard).