"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" Private Teaching And Its Benefits (4:33-34) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

              Private Teaching And Its Benefits (4:33-34)


1. Jesus was truly the Master Teacher...
   a. He preached often in the synagogues - Mk 1:39
   b. He taught large crowds by the sea shore - Mk 2:13; 4:1-2

2. He also taught in private...
   a. Especially regarding the parables, first told in public - Mk 4:33
   b. Which He later explained to His disciples - Mk 4:34

[The disciples of Jesus were blessed to have private instruction.  While
listening to the Word of God in a public setting is of great value, have
you considered the benefits of private teaching...?]


      1. Simply put, it is teaching in a private setting (home, office,
         park bench)
      2. Just the teacher and the learner, or at the most a small group
         of learners
      3. Where the teaching is informal, usually a dialogue rather than
         a lecture
      -- Private teaching involves a more intimate, personal environment
         for learning

      1. Jesus and His disciples in our text - Mk 4:33-34
      2. Jesus and Nicodemus - Jn 3:1-3
      3. Jesus and the Samaritan woman - Jn 4:5-26
      4. Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch - Ac 8:26-40
      5. Peter and the household of Cornelius - Ac 10:24,33
      6. Aquila and Priscilla working with Apollos - Ac 18:24-26
      7. Paul as he taught in homes, including his own - Ac 20:20;
      -- The Bible is filled with examples of private teaching

[Jesus and His followers made much use of private teaching in addition
to public instruction.  To appreciate why, consider the answer to the


      1. Public teaching is at best a "shotgun" approach
         a. An audience has many people with different needs, levels of
         b. No one subject or lesson meets the interests of every person
      2. Private teaching can address an individual's needs or interests
         a. The need might be basic ("What must I do to be saved?")
         b. The interest might be academic ("I ask you, of whom does the
            prophet say this...?)
         c. The desire might be to grow in understanding ("Explain this
            parable to us.")
         d. The student might want to act immediately ("What hinders me
            from being baptized?")
      -- Public instruction cannot provide such individual attention

      1. Public teaching does not lend itself to asking questions
         a. Some venues traditionally frown on asking questions (e.g.,
            during a sermon)
         b. Shy people are often are too intimidated to ask questions in
         c. Personal questions are not always suitable for public
      2. Private teaching is well suited for questions
         a. Related to one's interests or spiritual level
         b. Without fear of ridicule or interruption
      -- Private teaching allows for inquiry and follow-up questions

      1. Successful people have their mentors and advisors
         a. Olympic athletes have personal coaches
         b. Serious fitness buffs have personal trainers
      2. The disciples benefited by their time with Jesus - cf. Ac 4:13
      3. Personal spiritual training is part of God's plan - cf. 2Ti 2:2
         a. Don't think you need a personal teacher?
         b. Then you need to be a teacher! - cf. He 5:12
      -- Private teaching provides opportunity for accelerated and
         advanced learning


1. Willingness to listen to public preaching and teaching is
   a. Do you listen to sermons in worship?  Good!
   b. Do you attend and participate in Bible classes at church?  Great!

2. But if you want to really get serious about your salvation and
   spiritual growth...
   a. Find a personal "spiritual fitness" trainer
   b. Attend a home Bible study, or start one in your home

After the two disciples walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus, they
said to one another:

   "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the
   road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" - Lk 24:32

Their experience (hearts excited by learning) is often shared today by
many people who are willing to go beyond just attending church, to
become involved in the private teaching of the Word of God.

If you would like to experience the benefits of private teaching, please
let us know...

"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" The Parable Of The Mustard Seed (4:30-32) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

               The Parable Of The Mustard Seed (4:30-32)


1. In "The Parable Of The Growing Seed", kingdom growth caused by the
   Word is illustrated as:
   a. Imperceptible - in that we may not always understand how the
      growth occurs
   b. Independent - in that the seed bears fruit beyond our own efforts
   c. Gradual - in that it occurs in stages, not all at once

2. To further illustrate kingdom growth by the Word of God, Jesus told
   another parable...
   a. "The Parable Of The Mustard Seed" - Mk 4:30-32
   b. That describes a kingdom destined for remarkable growth

[To appreciate the point of the parable, some background information may
be helpful on...]


      1. The mustard plant is well known for its hot-flavored seeds
      2. Among seeds sown in a garden it was generally the smallest
      3. As a plant, it reaches ten, sometimes fifteen feet in height
      4. In the fall of the year, its branches have become rigid, and
         the plant often serves as a shelter for birds of many kinds
         (William Hendriksen, Commentary on Matthew)

      1. The mustard seed was used frequently to describe anything that
         is small in its beginning
      2. Jesus used it on another occasion to describe one's faith - cf.
         Mt 17:20
      3. The Koran reads "Oh, my son, every matter, though it be of the
         weight of a grain of mustard seed..." (quoted by R. C. Trench)

[With this understanding of the mustard plant and its seeds, perhaps we
are better able to appreciate the meaning of the parable itself (please
read Mk 4:30-32)...]


      1. Old Testament prophecy foretold this:
         a. Concerning the Messiah - cf. Isa 11:1; 53:2-3
         b. Concerning the kingdom - cf. Dan 2:35,44 (starting out as a
            stone, becoming a great mountain)
      2. Consider this description of the beginning:  "The Son of Man
         grew up in a despised province; he did not appear in public
         until his thirtieth year; then taught for two or three years in
         neighboring villages, and occasionally at Jerusalem; made a few
         converts, chiefly among the poor and unlearned; and then
         falling into the hands of his enemies, died the shameful death
         of the cross; such, and so slight, was the commencement of the
         universal kingdom of God." - R. C. Trench, Notes On The
         Parables Of Our Lord

      1. Just as the "small stone" of Dan 2:35 "became a great mountain
         and filled the whole earth"
      2. The growth of the church in the 1st A.D. certainly confirmed
         the truth of Jesus' parable
         a. The 120 disciples grew to over 3000 just in one day - Ac 2:
         b. It was soon about 5000 - Ac 4:4
         c. The number of the disciples continued to "multiply"
            1) In Jerusalem - Ac 6:7
            2) Throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria - Ac 9:31
         d. Years later, there were "myriads" of believers just in
            Jerusalem alone - Ac 21:20
      3. Today, we see the growth and influence of the kingdom in lives
         of believers worldwide!

      1. In the parable, Jesus spoke of how "the birds of the air come
         and nest in its branches"
      2. What is meant by Jesus?  He does not say, but the kingdom of
         God is certainly a blessing to all who take refuge in its
         a. E.g., "for the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but
            righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" - Ro 14:17
         b. To those seeking rest for their weary souls, the King offers
            His tender invitation to come to Him and enter His kingdom
            of rest - cf. Mt 11:28-30

{With this simple parable, Jesus offers encouragement to that small band
of disciples following Him over the hills of Palestine.  They would be a
part of something that would grow and bless the world immensely!

What about today?  The kingdom of heaven continues to grow and spread
out is branches to those who will accept it, certainly.  But can we ever
expect similar growth to that witnessed in the first century?  Consider
a few thoughts about...]


      1. Beginning with just twenty disciples, each converting just one
         person a year, and their converts doing the same...
      2. ...the growth would be like a mustard seed!
         a. End of year  1 - 40
         b. End of year  5 - 640
         c. End of year 10 - 20,480
         d. End of year 15 - 655,360
         e. End of year 20 - 20,971,520
         f. End of year 25 - 1,342,177,280
      -- All it takes is for each person to bring one soul to Christ
         each and every year!

      1. We have the same seed of the kingdom, the Word of God!
         a. Which is incorruptible, that lives and abides forever 
            - 1Pe 1:23-25
         b. Capable of producing what God intends - cf. Isa 55:10-11
      2. While the parable of "The Four Soils" reminds us that not all
         will accept the Word of God, this parable declares that the
         kingdom will grow!
      -- Do we believe in the power of the Word of God?

      1. People with vision
         a. Who have the vision of Christ, as expressed in His parables
         b. Who look not at an apple and count the seeds, but looks at a
            seed and counts the apples (with their many seeds)!
         c. Who look at converting and developing disciples in the same
      2. People willing to put the kingdom first in their lives
         a. The seed of the gospel will produce fruit, but only if it
            falls on good soil
         b. If we allow...
            1) The cares of this world
            2) The deceitfulness of riches
            3) The pleasures of life
            ...to "choke" us, we cannot bear good fruit
         c. Therefore we need to put the kingdom of God first - cf. Mt6:33
      3. People willing to abide in Christ
         a. For apart from Christ they can do nothing - Jn 15:4-5
         b. For only they are able to bear "much fruit" - Jn 15:5
         c. And only they will be able to glorify God and be His true
            disciples - Jn 15:8
      -- Are we willing to be such people?


1. The potential for the kingdom's amazing growth rests in the Person
   who reigns as its King...
   a. Those who will abide in Christ can be used by Him to produce the
      remarkable growth in the kingdom illustrated by this parable
   b. As per Paul:  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens
      me." - Php 4:13

2. Brethren, allow "The Parable Of The Mustard Seed" to serve as...
   a. An encouragement - The kingdom is destined for great things,
      despite its small beginnings
   b. A reminder - If we are going to be useful to the Master in this
      ever growing kingdom, we must "abide in Him" so we can "bear much

For those not yet Christians, why not rest your weary wings in this
great tree called "the kingdom of God"...?

   "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will
   give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I
   am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your
   souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

                                                   - Mt 11:28-30
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

Proof of Bible Inspiration: Shaking the Head by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Proof of Bible Inspiration: Shaking the Head

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Can mere humans predict future events? Not in actuality, since no human being knows the future. Only Deity can do so, or empower a human to do so. For example, living at the beginning of the 21st century, who could possibly provide very detailed, very specific information about the execution of an individual in another country and culture a thousand years into the future? Such ability is beyond human capability. Yet, the Bible portrays just this quality, thereby demonstrating its divine origin.
For example, in a clearly Messianic psalm, King David quoted the Messiah as saying: “All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, ‘He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!’” (Psalm 22:7-8, emp. added). In another psalm, a similar allusion is made: “I also have become a reproach to them; when they look at me, they shake their heads” (Psalm 109:25, emp. added). The individual or individuals who wrote these statements had been dead for centuries when Jesus came to the Earth and fulfilled their predictions. Historical fact verifies that the Psalms were complete centuries prior to the first century A.D. And the actions that were fulfilled were not fulfilled by sympathetic persons, but were, in fact, fulfilled unwittingly by hostile enemies of the Messiah. Consider Matthew’s account of what happened at the cross:
And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing (Matthew 27:39-44, emp. added).
How in the world could anyone predict that those who attended the crucifixion would “shake their heads” at Jesus? Lucky guess?
Well over 300 prophecies are scattered throughout the Old Testament that refer specifically to the Messiah. Such a number could not be gleaned artificially from the Old Testament and made accidentally to match the host of circumstances that characterized the life and death of Jesus Christ hundreds of years later in the first century A.D. This point is especially weighty when one sees the specificity of the predictions, from His birth village to His tormentors spitting on Him. Jesus’ disciples were scattered and hiding in fear (yet another feature predicted—Zechariah 13:7), with most of them likely not even attending the crucifixion (Matthew 26:56; John 16:32). They lacked the facility, opportunity, and wherewithal to identify hundreds of minute details about Jesus’ life and death, and then find matching components in the Old Testament text. A few coincidences might have some counterweight, but 300+ such predictions that entail minute details of Jesus’ life on Earth are overwhelming proof of the supernatural element. Indeed, there is an unprecedented cumulative impact of so many details converging into one Person. Only one conclusion is possible: the only way a writer could pinpoint such specific details is if he was guided in his writing by a divine, transcendent Being. This is the only logical, rational, plausible explanation. The Bible is, indeed, the inspired Word of the God of the Bible.

Intelligent Design: The Scientific Choice by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


Intelligent Design: The Scientific Choice

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Some incorrectly assert that science and religion are incompatible—that religion is based on feeling, and science is based on reason and evidence. Sadly, the contention that religion is based on feeling and not evidence does, in fact, characterize the bulk of the religious world. However, true religion—biblical Christianity—is in perfect harmony with reason and true science. After all, God, Himself, instituted the field of science and commanded His followers to draw only those conclusions that are warranted by the evidence (1 Thessalonians 5:21; cf. Miller, 2012a). The Universe contains countless features that exhibit purpose, intent, and planning—characteristics which imply the necessity of an intelligent Designer, not random chance, which characterizes evolutionary theories. Thus, science supports intelligent design and stands against atheistic origin proposals.
The scientific evidence indicates, without exception, according to the work of Spallanzani, Redi, and Pasteur, that in nature, life comes only from life (see Miller, 2012b). That evidence poses a dilemma for the naturalistic scientist. The naturalist must be able to propose a theory for the natural origin of life from non-life (i.e., abiogenesis) in order to be consistent with naturalism, and yet science indicates that life cannot arise from non-life. So, the naturalist cannot be a naturalist and still be a legitimate scientist! There is no scientific evidence which supports abiogenesis. However, the intelligent design model contends that since life comes only from life in nature, in order to be in keeping with science, there must be a supernatural explanation for the origin of life. The supernaturalist can easily be a scientist without contradicting himself.
Similarly, science reveals that nothing can last forever, since everything is deteriorating and all energy is transforming into less usable forms according to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Science reveals that nothing could spontaneously pop into or out of existence according to the 1st Law of Thermodynamics (see Miller, 2007). Those truths come from the scientific investigation of nature, and yet naturalistic models must contend that the matter and energy of the Universe either always existed or initially popped into existence (before the alleged “Big Bang”). Once again, this proposal is against the scientific evidence. Since science indicates that in nature, matter cannot spontaneously generate or exist forever, unprejudiced reasoning leads to the conclusion that a supernatural source is required to explain the origin of the Universe—an intelligent Designer. Why not argue for the re-instatement of true science into the school system where you are? Intelligent Design is the model in keeping with the scientific evidence.


Miller, Jeff (2007), “God and the Laws of Thermodynamics: A Mechanical Engineer’s Perspective,” Reason & Revelation, 27[4]:25-31, April (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3293.
Miller, Jeff (2012a), “Science: Instituted by God,” Reason & Revelation, 32[4]:46, April (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1026&article=1760.
Miller, Jeff (2012b), “The Law of Biogenesis,” Reason & Revelation, 32[1]:2-11, January (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1018&article=1722.

Guardian Angels by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Guardian Angels

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Though Scripture never uses the term “guardian angel,” millions of Bible believers through the centuries have professed their conviction in such a classification of angels. In the third century A.D., Origen wrote that “each one of us, even to the ‘least’ who are in the church of God” has “a good angel, an angel of the LORD, who guides, warns and governs” (p. 128). More than a century later, Jerome declared that “the worth of souls is so great that from birth each one has an angel assigned to him for his protection” (p. 209). Around that same time, Chrysostom, in his Homily on Colossians 1:15-18, remarked: “For each believer hath an Angel; since even from the beginning, every one of those that were approved had his Angel.... [T]here is a demon present also” (p. 273). In the centuries to follow, the Catholic Church popularized the concept of guardian angels even more. In 1615, for example, Pope Paul V officially added “Feast of the Guardian Angels” to the Roman calendar (“Feast...,” 2010). Later, “Guardian Angels” Catholic churches began to arise across America, from Rochester, New York to Chaska, Minnesota.

There is no doubt that millions of people around the world have been captivated by the thought of guardian angels. Though many people who identify themselves as Christians believe in the existence of this special class of angels, the only thing that ultimately matters about this subject or any other is, “What does God’s Word have to say on the matter?”



The English word “angel” is translated from the Greek angelos and the Hebrew malawk, and literally means “messenger” (“Angel,” 1988). Sometimes in Scripture “angel” is used in reference to human messengers. For example, on one occasion the Old Testament prophet Haggai was called “the Lord’s malawk” (i.e., “messenger,” 1:13). On another occasion, when God spoke through the prophet Malachi, He prophesied of the coming of John the Baptizer, the forerunner of Christ, saying, “Behold, I send My messenger (Hebrew malawk), and he will prepare the way before Me” (3:1). Hundreds of years later, when the apostle Matthew recorded Jesus’ quotation of this scripture, he used the Greek term angelos (11:10). John the Baptizer was the angelos of God (i.e., not a heavenly being, but God’s human messenger).

Most of the time, however, the terms malawk and angelos refer to created (Psalm 148:2,5; Colossians 1:16), celestial beings who perform a variety of duties for the Creator of heaven and Earth. They are strong (Matthew 28:2), swift (Daniel 9:20-23), breathtaking (Daniel 8), ministering (Hebrews 1:14) messengers (Luke 1:26), who are concerned about the salvation of man (Luke 15:10). God’s faithful angels have done everything from ministering to the Son of God following His 40-day fast (Matthew 4:11) to contending with the devil (Jude 9), and they will play a major role at the end of time when Jesus returns to judge the world (Matthew 13:41; 25:31-32; 2 Thessalonians 1:7).

Guardian Angel

Since the term “guardian” has as its most basic meaning “one that guards” (see “Guardian,” 2010), there is a sense in which the Bible speaks very clearly on the subject: God has used angelic beings to “guard” a variety of people and places in the past. As early as Genesis chapter three, after the fall of man, God “placed cherubim [“winged angelic beings”—see “Cherubim,” 1986] at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (3:24, emp. added). Approximately 2,000 years later, two angels struck blind a group of Sodomites and guarded Lot and his household from harm (Genesis 19:9-11). When Nebuchadnezzar cast Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego into the fiery furnace, “God sent His angel and delivered His servants” (Daniel 3:28), thus guarding the three Hebrews from the furnace’s consuming flames. During the reign of Darius the Mede, God sent His angel to guard Daniel in a den of lions (Daniel 6:21-22). Centuries later, after the establishment of the church, God sent an angel to release Peter from prison, guarding and guiding him safely out of the prison (Acts 12:1-10). Without a doubt, Almighty God has used His marvelous angelic creation in the past to serve as a kind of guardian for His people.

Consider, however, the way in which the term “guardian angel” is most often used in the 21st century. Merriam-Webster defines “guardian angel” as “an angel believed to have special care of a particular individual” (2010, emp. added). According to Encyclopedia.com, a “guardian angel” is “a spirit that is believed to watch over and protect a person or place” (2010, emp. added). Popularly speaking, if a person googles the phrase “My guardian angel saved/helped,” he will discover thousands of articles or posts where people avow that their personal guardian angels have saved them from certain death, or helped them escape some serious calamity.

Although religionists have defined guardian angels in a variety of ways in the past (cf. Origen, Jerome, Chrysostom), since Catholics claim these angels “are a development of Catholic doctrine and piety based on Scripture” (see “Feast...,” 2010), it is appropriate to consider how they define these angels. According to AmericanCatholic.org, a guardian angel is “an angel assigned to guide and nurture each human being” (“Feast...,” emp. added). In the 47th volume of the Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism, Pie-Raymond Regamey summarized Catholicism’s teachings on the matter, particularly regarding who has a guardian angel:

Whatever school of philosophy we may follow, an understanding of the work of the guardian angel...in its place in the whole order of creation, implies that every man has the benefit of his aid, not only the faithful, and has it from the first moment of independent life, from birth.... The worst sinners have this faithful and kindly friend (1960, 47:92-93).


Although God certainly “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45), no passage of Scripture teaches that every person who has ever lived, whether good or evil, had/has a guardian angel assigned to him from birth. No Bible verse suggests that every man, even “the worst sinners” (Regamey, p. 93), “has an angel assigned to him for his protection” (Jerome, p. 209) and “the benefit of his aid” (Regamey, p. 92). Are we to think that Pharaoh and Herod had guardian angels when they butchered myriads of innocent children (Exodus 1:15-22; Matthew 2:16-18)? [The Bible says nothing about giving any wicked Pharaoh a guardian angel, but God did harden Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 9:12,34; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:8; cf. Butt and Miller) and send “angels of destruction” against him and his fellow Egyptians (Psalm 78:49, emp. added). Likewise, Scripture is silent regarding Herod’s protective angel. However, “an angel of the LORD” did warn Joseph in a dream, saying, “Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him” (Matthew 2:13).] And what about the wicked Jezebel, who “massacred the prophets of the LORD” (1 Kings 18:4), or the multi-million-man-murderer Hitler? Are we to think that God provided each of them with a special angel to “benefit” and “aid” him/her? The very thought is absurd, not to mention foreign to Scripture.

Are we to believe that God allows the wicked to have guardian angels, but He does not hear (to respond to) their prayers? Throughout the Old and New Testaments, Bible writers repeatedly stressed that rebellious, sinful individuals should not expect to have God answer their prayers in a positive way. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16, emp. added), because “the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12, emp. added; cf. Psalm 34:16; Proverbs 15:29). The psalmist testified: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (66:18). The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2, emp. added). In light of the fact that God will not even hear (to respond to) the rebellious, how could one ever conclude that “the worst sinners” have a “faithful” guardian angel (Regamey, p. 93)?


The Bible clearly teaches that God has worked all manner of miracles in the past, and has the potential to work them at any moment (e.g., at any second Jesus could miraculously “descend from heaven with a shout with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise”—1 Thessalonians 4:16). Wondrous miracles wrought by God and His messengers spatter the biblical text. God miraculously created the Universe and everything in it (Genesis 1). He sent ten plagues upon the Egyptians (Exodus 7-12), parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14), and caused water to come from a rock twice during Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the wilderness (Exodus 17; Numbers 20). In the days of Elijah and Elisha, as well as in the first century, God occasionally raised the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:8-37; Acts 20:7-12). During the time of Christ, God worked all manner of miracles, displaying His infinite power—over nature, disease, demon, and death. God also used angels occasionally in the past to work a variety of wonders: from striking Lot’s attackers with blindness to setting Peter free from prison (Genesis 19:9-11; Acts 12:7,10). Thus, every Bible-believing Christian must acknowledge that God has worked an array of miracles in the past, and has the power and potential to work them at any time. However, simply because God has the ability to work miracles at any moment, and simply because He has used angels to work a variety of miracles in the past, does not mean that He has chosen to work miraculously in this present age.

The fact of the matter is, the kinds of verifiable miracles recorded in Scripture are not occurring in this day and age. Neither man nor angel has been miraculously restoring shriveled hands in the midst of their enemies (Luke 6:6-10) or supernaturally reattaching severed ears (Luke 22:51). God has chosen to use neither preacher nor “guardian angel” to miraculously cure congenital blindness (John 9:1-7). What’s more, no one today is being raised from the dead (John 11:43). Once again, this is not a “God-power” issue; it is a “God-purpose” issue. God has chosen to cease working miracles (i.e., He has chosen to stop working outside His laws of nature) during this time period because the purpose of miracles has been fulfilled.

Unlike magicians, who perform amusing tricks for entertainment purposes, Scripture teaches that miracles happened in Bible times for a very specific purpose: to confirm the Word. Before the New Testament was written, when the apostles and prophets were preaching the Gospel, Mark 16:20 indicates that God worked with them by “confirming the word through the accompanying of signs.” The message that the first-century apostles and prophets preached could be shown to be true by the various miracles that God worked through them (Hebrews 2:3-4). When a God-inspired speaker stepped forward to declare God’s Word, God confirmed His Word by having the speaker perform a miracle to show that he was from God (cf. Exodus 5-12; Acts 8:5-12). The miracle showed the hearers that God was behind the speaker’s remarks. Miracles authenticated the spoken word as being God’s Word (cf. John 3:2). Like the essential scaffolding on the sides of incomplete apartment buildings, miracles were once necessary to “complete” (confirm) the revelations of God. However, as with the scaffolding that is needless (and, in fact, is very out of place) on a finished apartment building, once God’s Word was completely revealed and confirmed (cf. 2 Peter 1:3), miracles became unnecessary. [For a thorough study of God’s cessation of miracles in modern times, see Dave Miller’s 2003 article titled, “Modern-Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation.”]

Although many guardian-angel advocates insist that their alleged angels have performed various miraculous feats, neither earthly reality nor the heavenly Scriptures confirm their stories. The kinds of verifiable miracles Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets, and even various angels have worked (e.g., Genesis 19:11; Daniel 3:19-29), are not being duplicated today. Furthermore, the Scriptures insist that those things that were incomplete and partial (miraculous gifts) would be replaced by the total and complete (i.e., the fully revealed Word of God; 1 Corinthians 13:8-10; James 1:25; see Miller, 2003).


To say that God has not chosen to work miraculously today is not equivalent to denying God’s activity on Earth. From Genesis through Revelation, the Bible clearly teaches God works providentially (through natural means) in the lives of His people. The LORD was with Joseph during his enslavement in Potiphar’s house (Genesis 39:2,3), his imprisonment (39:20,23), and his role as a powerful ruler in Egypt (45:5-9). Though it was Joseph’s brothers who had sold him into slavery and Pharaoh who had appointed him second in command of all of Egypt, Joseph understood that, ultimately, God was behind it all. By working providentially (within natural laws) in the life of Joseph, “God...made” him “lord of all Egypt” (Genesis 45:9, emp. added).

God’s providential care for His people did not stop with Joseph, Esther, or Elijah (1 Kings 18:41-46). God continues to care for (1 Peter 5:7), help (Hebrews 13:5-6; 1 Corinthians 10:13), and discipline His children (Hebrews 12:3-11). God answers the prayers of the humble-hearted, working providentially in the lives of His people (Matthew 6:25-33). As Paul proclaimed: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Simply because God is not working miraculously through man or angel to give sight to the blind, raise the dead, etc., does not mean that God is inactive in the affairs of mankind (see Jackson, n.d.).

God is not passively sitting on the sidelines while the wicked “god of this age” (i.e., Satan; 2 Corinthians 4:4) and his rebellious angels work “in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2; Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:7,9). If “the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8), attempting to trick and deceive mankind (Ephesians 6:11; 1 Timothy 3:7), rest assured that God’s good angelic creation also plays an important role on Earth, even during this non-miraculous age. The New Testament does not specifically detail how God uses angels in His providential care of the world and His people, but one thing is certain: He does use them.

Not only are angels merely interested in the salvation of men (Luke 15:10) and involved in the spiritual realm transporting the souls of the dead into paradise (Luke 16:22), they also work in God’s overall providential care of His people as “ministering spirits.” In the context of exalting Christ above God’s angelic heavenly hosts, the writer of Hebrews rhetorically asked: “But to which of the angels has He ever said: ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (1:13-14, emp. added). Although far inferior to Christ, angels are special celestial beings whom God uses to “minister” (Greek diakonian) or “serve” (RSV, NIV) His people. What’s more, considering the present tense form of the participle “being sent forth,” God’s people have every reason to believe that God is continually sending out His angels “as human needs correspond to His divine will” (Jackson, 2000; Dods, 2002, 4:258). Even though no particulars are given in this passage, we can rightly conclude that God uses angels to positively affect the lives of His people. Angels are actively working as God’s ministering spirits. Still, there is no evidence in Scripture that each child of God, much less every heathen, has his or her own guardian angel, and especially not one who is performing miraculous feats on his or her behalf.


Psalm 34:7

In the midst of a beautiful passage of Scripture in which the psalmist repeatedly acknowledges and extols the LORD for His wondrous care, guidance, and protection, he testifies that “[t]he angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them” (34:7). Was the psalmist here referring to man’s guardian angel? Was he teaching the doctrine of guardian angels as modern religionists often define the term?

First of all, as is frequently the case in the Old Testament, the expression “the angel of the LORD ” in this passage likely refers to the preincarnate Christ (cf. Genesis 16:11-13; Judges 13:3-23; Exodus 23:20-21; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4; see Myers, 1978, pp. 59-79; see also Quertermous, 2002, pp. 200-220). It is God, not created angelic beings (Psalm 34:7), Whom the Bible states time and again that man is to “fear” and worship (Psalm 33:18; 67:7; 85:9; Ecclesiastes 12:13). Thus, if it is the case that the eternal Word (John 1:1-5) is meant in this passage, then Psalm 34:7 obviously is not referring to one or more “guardian angels” (as the term is popularly defined in the 21st century). Today, Jesus certainly dwells with His church (Matthew 18:20; 28:20) and strengthens those who fear Him (Philippians 4:13), but He is not what most people are referring to when they speak of their “guardian angel.”

Second, even if “the angel of the LORD” in this passage does not refer to the preincarnate Christ (which is difficult to imagine given that man is to “fear Him”), “guardian angel” advocates still cannot find proof of their doctrine here. This verse does not teach that each person on the planet has an angel assigned to him to deliver him from harm. Rather, one angel (“the angel of the LORD”) looks after a plurality of God’s faithful children (as is evident by the use of the plural pronouns “those” and “them”).

Psalm 91:9-13

In Psalm 91, the inspired poet says of the one who puts his trust in God,

Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot (9-13).
This passage, which Satan once misapplied when tempting Jesus (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10-11), certainly is encouraging to the faithful child of God. It describes in general terms God’s protection of His people under the Old Law; but it does not say that each child of God (and certainly not every person who has ever lived) has his own “guardian angel.” The psalmist noted that God would give a plurality of angels the responsibility of keeping one that trusts in him. During the age of miracles, this certainly could have included God using His angels to work various supernatural feats (e.g., striking the enemies of righteousness with blindness in Genesis 19:11). Though the age of genuine biblical miracles has ended (see Miller, 2003), this scripture can still be comforting to the Christian in the same manner in which Hebrews 1:14 is: God sends forth His angels to minister to the saints, providentially taking care of His people.

One other important detail to remember when reading the psalms (including especially Psalm 91) is the inspired penmen’s use of figures of speech, particularly hyperbolism. As in Psalm 58:3, where the psalmist intentionally exaggerated the wickedness of mankind by referring to them as going “astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies,” in Psalm 91, the writer hyperbolically stresses God’s protection of His people. Not that God is incapable of keeping his people from harm, but as Travis Quertermous noted, to press the psalmist’s reference to treading upon snakes and lions literally “would be an obvious absurdity, not to mention forcing a contradiction with other Bible passages wherein God’s faithful saints suffered great persecution. It must be remembered that the Psalms are poetry and thus abound with figurative language. It is a terrible exegetical blunder to unduly literalize it” (2002, p. 261).

Acts 12:15

After God sent an angel miraculously to release and guide him from prison, Peter traveled to the house of Mary, John Mark’s mother, where “many were gathered together praying” (Acts 12:11). When he arrived at the door of the gate and knocked, a girl named Rhoda “recognized Peter’s voice,” and “because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate” (12:14). What was the group’s response? They said to Rhoda, “You are beside yourself!” When she insisted, they said, “It is his angel” (12:15, emp. added).

Does this passage prove, as some believe, that “humans have guardian angels” (“Angels...,” n.d.)? As “[i]nteresting as this passage is,” Peter Davids rightly concluded, “it simply witnesses to the beliefs of the Christians in that house. The author of Acts reports rather than endorses their views” (Kaiser, et al., 1996, p. 527, emp. added). As Lenksi remarked, Luke, the inspired writer of Acts, “does not state a Scriptural doctrine but only the superstitious ideas of those who were alarmed by Rhoda’s report” (Lenski, 1943, p. 692). Even the scholarly J.W. McGarvey, who endorsed to some extent the idea of “guardian angels” (1875, p. 157), admitted in his commentary on Acts that those meeting at Mary’s house “undoubtedly had allusion to the popular superstition of their day, that a man’s guardian angel sometimes assumed his form” (1872, p. 139). [NOTE: It is also possible, as the studious Guy. N. Woods remarked, that those in Mary’s house, “[c]ertain...that he [Peter—EL] did not escape death at the hands of the murderous Herod...simply understood that his spirit, separated from his body” and “had come to them” (1991, 106[9]:18).]

An angel of God most certainly worked a great miracle in Judea on this occasion. For the second time, Luke records that an angel set Peter free from prison (cf. Acts 5:19). No Bible-believing Christian would ever deny such wondrous acts that God worked through His angelic creation, nor should any child of God ever deny that He is working providentially through them today (Hebrews 1:14). But, nothing in Acts 12 indicates that God has given each person (or even each Christian) a “guardian angel” to protect him from harm. Furthermore, a lesson can be learned from this text regarding Who should receive the glory for the extraordinary works God’s angels perform. When Peter finally spoke to those gathered at Mary’s house, he “declared to them how the LORD had brought him out of the prison” (Acts 12:17, emp. added). Notice that nothing is said here about Peter giving a discourse about a “guardian angel.” And he certainly did not rename Jesus’ church “the church of the Guardian Angels,” or insist on starting a yearly feast in honor of guardian angels (cf. Roman Catholic’s “Feast of the Guardian Angels”). Luke simply records that Peter wanted his brethren to know what “the LORD” had done. Given that even God’s good angelic creation will not accept worship from mankind, but insist that they are fellow servants (Revelation 19:10; 22:9), it is wise for Christians simply to acknowledge God for His wonderful care in our lives, even if such help is being carried out by His faithful angelic servants.

Matthew 18:10

More than any other passage of Scripture, guardian-angel advocates point to Matthew 18:10 as their “proof” of guardian angels. On page 88 of his otherwise helpful book, A Study of Angels (1978), Edward P. Myers succinctly stated: “Children have guardian angels.” He then referenced only “Matthew 18:10” as the Bible passage that supposedly proves the doctrine. Though Peter Davids questioned the doctrine and popular definition of guardian angels, he noted: “Matthew [18:10—EL] makes the only clear reference to ‘guardian’ angels” (Kaiser, et al., 1996, p. 527). And, according to AmericanCatholic.org, “Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:10 best support the belief [of guardian angels—EL]” (“Feast...,” 2010).

So what exactly did Jesus say in Matthew 18:10? In the midst of warning His disciples not to offend “little ones who believe in Me” (18:1-9), Jesus taught them to “[t]ake heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (18:10, emp. added). Since Jesus spoke of “their angels,” allegedly He was implying that children (or “believers”—18:6) have “guardian angels.”

Matthew 18:10 certainly indicates that there is a special relationship between God’s heavenly host and “these little ones.” And, “[i]n some sense...the angels do belong to the ‘little ones’ under discussion” (Quertermous, 2002, p. 263). One needs to keep in mind, however, that angels were by no means the main emphasis of Jesus’ lesson. In context,

Jesus was speaking to those who were filled with ambition and desire for prominence which leads to a total disregard for children of the poor and deprived of society. Thus Christ’s intent was to let those of ambitious bent know that the high lofty angels of glory are always concerned with the welfare of the young children, as well as the humble hearted poor of society (Turner, 1989, p. 76, emp. added).

Certainly, if the angels of God are concerned about the welfare of children and the humble-hearted, as well as those who are young in the faith (cf. 18:6—“little ones who believe”), Jesus’ apostles needed to be as well (and less concerned about “who...is greatest in the kingdom of heaven”—18:1). This is the lesson to be learned from Matthew 18:1-14, and not the popular doctrine that each person has an angel on Earth guiding and guarding him from harm.

But, even if one were to ignore the overall context of Matthew 18 in an attempt to force the popular “guardian-angel” slant on verse 10, still the plural possessive pronoun “their” angels scarcely supports the idea that God assigns one angel for each and every child or believer on Earth. As R.C.H. Lenski noted, God “often assigns individual angels for special duties” (1943 p. 692; cf. Hebrews 1:14), but that does not mean that each person has his or her own angel. Furthermore, “It should be observed that these angels are in heaven, not upon earth providing human protection” constantly (Chouinard, 1997, p. 326, emp. added). If they are in heaven, they are not continuously guarding “their people” on Earth, as angels are not omnipresent, and must go from place to place (e.g., Daniel 9:20-23).

Finally, although AmericanCatholic.org insists that “Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:10 best support the belief [of guardian angels—EL],” even they were forced to admit: “The concept of an angel assigned to guide and nurture each human being is a development of Catholic doctrine and piety based on Scripture but not directly drawn from it” (“Feast...,” 2010). Such an admission speaks volumes about the soundness of the guardian-angel doctrine.


Rather than be infatuated with whether or not each person on Earth (or each Christian) has his or her own guardian angel; rather than conjure up all sorts of reasons why we might like the idea of a guardian angel; rather than celebrate a “Feast of the Guardian Angels” or call ourselves “Guardian Angels Churches,” etc., Christians simply need to accept by faith what the Bible unequivocally does say about these spiritual servants of God (Revelation 19:10): they are interested in our activities and well-being (Luke 15:10; 1 Corinthians 11:10), and are continually working on our behalf “as human needs correspond to His divine will” (Jackson, 2000).

Discovering that the Bible writers were silent regarding whether each human or believer has his or her own special guardian angel should not be a disheartening revelation. For, as Travis Quertermous concluded, the Bible “promises not the protection of a single angel, but many of them” (2002, p. 261, emp. added; cf. 2 Kings 6:16-17). Should it not be “much more comforting to know that God sends many angels to look out for me rather than just one when such is in harmony with His will (cf. Heb. 1:14)” (Quertermous, p. 261)?

Finally, although there certainly is a time and place to acknowledge and discuss the wonderful works that the angels of God are performing (keeping in mind that few particulars are given in Scripture), more than anything, God’s people need to focus and meditate on God’s greatness, and not the wonderful ways of God’s angelic creation. They exist in the spiritual realm because God made them (Psalm 148:1-5). They minister to us because God sends them (Hebrews 1:14). They will have a part in the Second Coming because God will bring them (Matthew 13:40-43,49-51; 25:31-32). As thankful as we should be for what angels have done throughout history for God’s people, we should be driven to our knees in thanksgiving for Who God is and what He has done and continues to do for His people.


“Angel” (1988), The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).

“Angels in the Bible” (no date), http://www.maryourmother.net/Angels.html.

Butt, Kyle and Dave Miller (2003), “Who Hardened Pharaoh’s Heart?” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2259.

“Cherubim” (1986), Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).

Chouinard, Larry (1997), Matthew (Joplin, MO: College Press).

Chrysostom, Homilies on Colossians, http://books.google.com/books?id=djswAAAAYAAJ& pg=PA273&lpg=PA273&dq=” each+believer+hath+an+Angel;+since+even+from”&source= bl&ots=kVE64upVV1&sig=ou5fktnwP5uSP9vWgyemHJkUuFY&hl= en&ei=bKnaTOTPG4Kr8AaB5PTaCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct= result&resnum=1&ved= 0CBcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=”each believer hath an Angel; since even from”&f=false.

Dods, Marcus (2002), The Expositor’s Greek New Testament, ed. W.  Robertson Nicoll (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).

“Feast of the Guardian Angels” (2010), http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/saint.aspx?id=1156.

“Guardian” (2010), Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/guardian.

“Guardian Angel” (2010), Encyclopedia.com, http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O999-guardianangel.html.

“Guardian Angel” (2010), Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/guardian%20angel.

Jackson, Wayne (no date), “A Study of the Providence of God,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/Study-of-Providence.pdf.

Jackson, Wayne (2000), “Do Angels Minister to Christians Today?” http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/172-do-angels-minister-to-christians-today.

Jerome, Commentary on Matthew, http://books.google.com/books?id=j0UmWBivNJgC&pg= PA15&lpg=PA15&dq=jerome+commentary+on+matthew&source= bl&ots=0vzUuT2HyM&sig=C5MgMyDyiXrLf7mTg2M1D8Oc1TI&hl= en&ei=d0rITKGsFsKBlAetnun3Ag&sa=X&oi=book_ result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CC8Q6AEwBQ#v= snippet&q=angel&f=false.

Kaiser, Walter C. Jr., Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce, and Manfred T. Brauch (1996), Hard Sayings of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL InterVarsity Press).

Lenski, R.C.H. (1943), The Interpretation of St. Matthew Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).

McGarvey, J.W. (1872), A Commentary on Acts of Apostles (Lexington, KY: Transylvania Press).

McGarvey, J.W. (1875), Commentary on Matthew and Mark (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).

Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking and Holy Spirit Baptism—A Refutation,” Reason & Revelation, 23[3]:17-23, March, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2569.

Myers, Edward P. (1978), A Study of Angels (West Monroe, LA: Howard Book House).

Origen, Homilies on Numbers, http://books.google.com/books?id=P4pPyRXeWkUC&pg= PA94&dq=Origen+has+an+angel+by+his+side&hl= en&ei=0FXITN7oD4et8AaqkqiBBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum= 7&ved=0CE0Q6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=has%20an%20angel&f=false.

Quertermous, Travis (2002), The Hosts of Heaven: A Biblical Study of Angels (Henderson, TN: Hester Publications).

Regamey, Pie-Raymond (1960), What is an Angel? in Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism (New York: Hawthorn Books).

Turner, J.J. (1989), Systematic Theology (Montgomery, AL: Alabama Christian School of Religion).

Woods, Guy N. (1991), Firm Foundation, 106[9]:18-19, September.

Design Rules by Jerry Fausz, Ph.D.


Design Rules

by  Jerry Fausz, Ph.D.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was written by one of A.P.’s auxiliary staff scientists. Dr. Fausz holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech and serves as liaison to the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. (All images in Dr. Fausz’ article are Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories, SUMMiTTM Technologies, www.mems.sandia.gov.)]
One of the most fascinating areas of modern engineering research is the development of what has become known as MicroElectroMechanical Systems, or MEMS. Imagine a closed-cycle steam engine no bigger than a pinhead that operates on a single drop of water (e.g., Frechette, et al., 2003, pp. 335-344), or mirror mechanisms for micro-optical systems with structures that can be obscured by a single dust mite (McWhorter, 2001; McWhorter, 2006). These devices are so miniscule that their operational performance has to be verified through a microscope. MEMS devices are used to actuate airbags in automobiles, precisely control optics in digital projectors and video cameras, and perform a variety of other functions (see “SAMPLES Program,” 2005; “MEMS Technology,” 2006). Yet, we have barely scratched the surface of possible applications for MEMS.
spider mite
Spider mite on mirror assembly
The fabrication process for MEMS devices is the epitome of exacting, painstaking effort, requiring the highest levels of intricacy and precision. Built on technology developed to fabricate integrated circuits, the procedures for building MEMS must follow methodical rules and be carried out in a tightly controlled environment. This requires very expensive, high fidelity robotic assembly lines operating in clean rooms with extremely low contaminant concentrations (one speck of dust could be the proverbial monkey wrench for these mechanisms). As in the case of micro-chips, MEMS fabrication controls must be followed strictly for the devices to have any chance of carrying out their design functions once their fabrication is complete (“SAMPLES Program,” 2005).
Thus, in the design, fabrication, and operation of MEMS devices, it is clear that “small” is not synonymous with “simple” or “easy to understand or fabricate.” As seen through the microscope, MEMS parts are easily as complex as their counterparts on the larger scale, if not more so. Furthermore, due to the strict requirements imposed by the meticulous fabrication process, the MEMS designer must exercise much more care in laying out the configuration of his design than would a designer working on a larger scale.
The incredible MEMS clutch mechanism. The miniscule gears are 50 microns across. Keep in mind that there are 25,400 microns to an inch.
To aid the designer in accounting for the tight constraints of a particular MEMS fabrication process, the developers of that process typically provide him a set of design rules to follow in laying out the design. In turn, these rules usually are incorporated within the fabrication process itself through software that checks designs against these rules, and will not admit a design that violates them (“SAMPLES Program,” 2005). So, we see that the design rules and the fabrication process work together to produce devices that ideally will fulfill the desire of the designer throughout its operational life. The design rules characterize fundamental aspects of the fabrication process and, thus, leave an indelible imprint of those process characteristics on each and every new design. These design rules, then, represent a bridge between the mind of the designer and the finished product, in a sense “guiding” the design through the fabrication process.
It is amazing that many of the engineers and scientists who have worked to make MEMS technology a reality believe that the vast, intricate, mechanical workings of the Universe, a Universe that appears to conform to immutable natural laws, came about through mostly random processes. They have witnessed the microscopic complexity of MEMS, yet they admit reasoning that suggests the galaxies, solar systems, planets, and stars evolved from “simpler” particles of matter that somehow came into existence at the beginning of time. They hold these beliefs in spite of their understanding of the painstaking process that is required to design and fabricate a single MEMS mechanism.
Fully-functioning MEMS transmission
Scientists continue to discover with increasing clarity that the elementary particles of matter that make up everything in the observable Universe, though extremely small, are far from “simple.” In his book, A Brief History of Time, well-known physicist Stephen Hawking states:
Up to about twenty years ago, it was thought that protons and neutrons were “elementary” particles, but experiments in which protons were collided with other protons or electrons at high speeds indicated that they were in fact made up of smaller particles. These particles were named quarks by the Caltech physicist Murray Gell-Mann, who won the Nobel prize in 1969 for his work on them.... So the question is: What are the truly elementary particles, the basic building blocks from which everything is made? (1988, p. 65).
Since science so far has been incapable of even identifying the most elementary components of the Universe, it is unreasonable to conclude that “small” means simple or easy. Given this unexpected complexity at the sub-microscopic (quantum) level, it is incredible that otherwise reasoned thinkers would conclude that everything we observe resulted from random processes.
Close-up view of one vernier; the teeth are two microns wide and the spaces between them measure four microns.
Likewise, small structures in biological study exhibit extremely high levels of order, complexity, and information content. Now that scientists actually are able to observe single-cellular life, accounts of the immense complexity in these “simple” life forms are becoming increasingly abundant. Consider Dean Overman’s summary of the research of Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe in his monograph, A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization:
Sitting atop some MEMS gears, this spider mite is the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
Because there are thousands of different enzymes with different functions, to produce the simplest living cell, Hoyle calculated that about 2,000 enzymes were needed with each one performing a specific task to form a single bacterium like E. coli. Computing the probability of all these different enzymes forming in one place at one time to produce a single bacterium, Hoyle and his colleague, Chandra Wickramasinghe, calculated the odds at 1 in 1040,000. This number is so vast that any mathematician would agree that it amounts to total impossibility.... [T]he total atoms in the observable universe are estimated to be only approximately 1080 (1997, pp. 58-59, emp. added).
The performance observed in such a system (a bacterium) is so intricate and complex on such a small scale, that so far humans are incapable of duplicating it—MEMS is about as close as science has come to doing so. Yet, in stark contradistinction, many scientists seem to accept that a “simple” life form must have organized by accident and, in turn, given rise to all of the life that we observe on Earth.
ratchet mechanism
Complex MEMS ratchet mechanism
The complexity inherent in MEMS, especially in comparison to larger scale systems, suggests a more natural conclusion regarding the existence of the Universe. If one were looking through a microscope in a science class, or working in a laboratory, and unexpectedly saw tiny gears turning or pistons moving, what would he conclude? This scenario actually has been used as a story line in multiple science fiction shows, and the conclusion reached was not that the microscopic machines had evolved naturally through random processes. Besides the fact that such a conclusion might make for a rather boring story, it is simply an unsound conclusion under the circumstances. Complexity on such a small scale, as we have noted, is not easy to design, so why would we ever conclude that it came about by accident? As in the science fiction scenario depicted, the intricate complexity that we observe on such a small scale is not only evidence of a designer, but also evidence of an incredibly advanced design capability—not of undirected random processes.

The world’s smallest functioning triple-piston steam engine. One piston is five microns across or 1/5080 of an inch.
The fact that the Universe operates under seemingly immutable natural laws is further evidence of a designer. We have noted that MEMS designers utilize design rules to ensure the viability of their designs. While science has not fully characterized the rules that govern the Universe, or even proved their existence, scientists firmly believe in them. Countless observations and experiments have demonstrated that the Universe appears to behave in repeatable and predictable ways, indicating that there is an inherent yet unobservable constraint being enforced on that behavior. Similar to MEMS design rules, the natural laws of the Universe determine what structures can viably exist in the system (Conservation of Matter and Energy), how they will behave (Causality, Laws of Motion, Relativity, etc.), and how long they will last (Thermodynamics). It simply is no more reasonable to assume that random processes gave rise to the behavior of the Universe than to assume that random fabrication processes could give rise to operational MEMS devices.

drive gear
Drive gear chain and linkages, with a grain of pollen (top right) and coagulated red blood cells (top left, lower right) to demonstrate scale.
Indeed, experience with MEMS illustrates that the ordered complexity we observe at every level within the Universe, but especially on the small scale, is indisputable evidence of a Designer whose capability far exceeds human accomplishment. MEMS research is impressive and fascinating, but pales in comparison to what we observe at the microscopic level, and what we theorize at the sub-atomic level. The science and engineering of mankind has not come anywhere close to duplicating the intricate functional complexity that exists in the realm of nature’s small scale. The Designer responsible for these micro- mechanisms fully understands the fabrication process parameters that are required to bring them into existence and sustain their operation, and has used that process to its utmost effectiveness in the creation of everything we observe. Furthermore, the “design rules” that have been employed to accomplish this are nothing less than the natural laws that, in turn, continue to constrain and direct the ongoing operation of His design.


Frechette, L.G., C. Lee, S. Arslan, and Y.C. Liu (2003), “Design of a Microfabricated Rankine Cycle Steam Turbine for Power Generation,” American Society of Mechanical Engineers International Mechanical Engineering Congress, International Meeting on Energy Conversion Engineering, pp. 335-344, November.
Hawking, Stephen (1988), A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (New York: Bantam).
McWhorter, Paul (2001), “Intelligent Multipurpose Micromachines Made at Sandia,” Sandia National Laboratories, [On-line], URL: http://www.sandia.gov/media/micro.htm.
McWhorter, Paul (2006), MEMS Image Gallery, [On-line], URL: http://www.memx.com/image_gallery.htm.
“MEMS Technology” (2006), [On-line], URL: http://www.memx.com/technology.htm.
Overman, Dean (1997), A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield).
“SAMPLES Program” (2005), Sandia National Laboratories, [On-line], URL: http://mems.sandia.gov/samples.

Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Drug Testing by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Drug Testing

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Imagine walking into a laboratory and seeing thousands of one-month-old babies being forced to ingest experimental drugs. Scientists are testing a new kind of heart medicine on group A. Group B is taking a drug that scientists hope will slow the progress of Parkinson’s disease. Group C is given both experimental drugs. Researchers are especially focusing on the children’s livers in hopes that the drugs prove to be non-toxic. While there, several of the babies in Group A flat-line after scientists gave them a third dose of the experimental heart medicine. No effort is taken to revive the children. Instead, scientists immediately begin taking them away to inspect the heart and liver of each child. Afterward, the bodies of the children are thrown into a furnace, consumed, and forgotten.
Though you may think that such a scenario occurs only in sci-fi movies, consider that Scientific American recently reported how “[t]hree of Europe’s top drugmakers have backed a new public-private scheme to use stem cells for safety testing of experimental medicines” (Hirschler, 2007). Three drug companies and the British government have given a combined $2.1 million to start a non-profit British company called Stem Cells for Safer Medicines. “By working across academic and industrial laboratories, the project aims to develop effective ways of using human embryonic stem cells to screen for potentially dangerous side effects of new drugs before they go into clinical trials” (Hirschler, 2007, emp. added). Alok Jha, science correspondent for The Guardian, noted how Stem Cells for Safer Medicines is “aimed at turning human embryonic stem cells into liver tissue” that “could then be used early during drug development to weed out harmful compounds” (2007). What’s more, “[t]he research could also help reduce the number of animals used to test drugs” (Jha).
Although PETA must be ecstatic with Britain’s new company, the Creator of life is not. Human life is precious (cf. Genesis 9:6). Humans are the only creatures made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Willfully terminating the lives of humans who are in embryonic stages (whether in utero or ex utero) is murder. Regardless of man’s reasons (e.g., to cure diseases, to make drugs safer, to save animals, etc.), the destruction of innocent human life is wrong. God hates “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17). What could be more innocent than a human in the embryonic stage of life (cf. Matthew 18:3)?


Hirschler, Ben (2007), “Glaxo, Astra, Roche Back Stem Cells for Drug Tests,” Science News, October 2, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?alias=glaxo-astra-roche-back-st& chanId=sa003&modsrc=reuters_box.
Jha, Alok (2007), “Stem Cell Bank for Drug Testing May Cut Animal Experiments,” The Guardian, October 3, [On-line], URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/oct/03/stemcells.animalrights.

To Every Creature Under Heaven? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


To Every Creature Under Heaven?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Only about 30 years after the Lord’s church was established on Pentecost (Acts 2), the apostle Paul reminded the Christians in Colosse about their reconciliation in Christ. He then mentioned to them how the Gospel had been “preached to every creature under heaven” (Colossians 1:23). However, according to skeptics who have commented on Colossians 1:23, “Never at any time has every living person heard the gospel. Millions of people have come and gone without having had any contact whatever with Christianity or the Bible” (McKinsey, 2000, p. 569). Thus, Paul allegedly was mistaken and therefore not inspired by God to write to the Colossians or anyone else in the first century. Are we really to believe, as skeptic Tony Kuphaldt asked, “that the entire world had heard about Jesus at this time (about 60 A.D.)?!” (2002).
The phrase en pase ktisei (“to every creature,” NKJV) could just as easily (and accurately) be translated “in all creation” (ESV, NASB)—that is, Paul declared that “the gospel…has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven” (Colossians 1:23, ESV). Is it possible that some 30 years after Jesus’ resurrection and the establishment of the church that the early apostles, prophets, and evangelists had preached the Gospel “in all the world” (Colossians 1:6)—“in all creation under heaven”? Although admittedly, such a feat may seem quite unlikely, “the things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:26). If Jesus could use His disciples to feed 5,000 men (plus the women and children) with only five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:19); if He could allow the apostle Peter to miraculously walk on water (Matthew 14:29); if God could use Peter and Paul to raise the dead (Acts 9:36-42; 20:10-12); if He could call “a man in Christ” (probably Paul) up into Paradise without killing him (2 Corinthians 12:1-6); if God could deliver His spokesmen from imprisonment and shipwreck (Acts 12:5-10; 27:13-44); if Jesus could miraculously ensure that the apostles could cast out demons, speak in tongues, and be unaffected by poisonous concoctions and venomous snakes (Mark 16:17-18; Acts 28:3-6)—it may very well be that by the time Paul wrote to the Colossians the Lord had miraculously and providentially helped Christians spread around the globe with the Gospel. After all, this was the commission given to the apostles—“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15, ESV).
Most likely, however, when Paul wrote that “the gospel” had been preached “in all the world” (Colossians 1:6), “to every creature under heaven” (1:23), he merely was using a figure of speech known as hyperbole (exaggeration). Consider how people today will often make the statement, “Everyone knows that,” yet they do not literally mean that all seven billion-plus people on Earth actually know the subject matter being discussed. A frequent world traveler may say, “I’ve been all over the world,” but does not literally mean he’s been over every square mile of Earth. Similarly, the Bible writers often employed the same type of hyperbolic statements. Luke wrote that prior to the birth of Christ “a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered…. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city” (Luke 2:1,3, emp. added). It should be obvious that Luke did not literally mean that every single person in every country on Earth (even those outside the Roman Empire) were expected to be registered. Similarly, in Acts 2:5 Luke mentioned that on the Day of Pentecost “there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven” (emp. added). Although the Jews were dispersed in many countries around the world, it is likely that Luke merely used another hyperbolic statement to describe the various backgrounds among hundreds of thousands of Jews. There is no need to interpret Luke’s words to mean that Jews must have come from North America, South America, and Australia.
The fact is, “everyone” understands that Paul’s statement in Colossians 1:23 was intentionally exaggerated, at least to some extent. Even the skeptic would not contend that by indicating the Gospel had been preached “to every creature under heaven,” Paul meant that all of the animal kingdom had heard the Gospel. Most likely, the skeptic would not even demand that “every creature” (or “all creation”) must include infants, the mentally ill, etc. Although “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), Paul’s statement was not meant to be taken strictly literal. Most likely, Paul was merely using hyperbole to communicate an astounding truth: the then-known world (of both Jews and Gentiles) had been exposed to the Good News of Jesus Christ.


Kuphaldt, Tony (2002), “The Word of the Lord,” The Secular Web, http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/tony_kuphaldt/word.html.
McKinsey, Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books).