A REVOLTIN DEVELOPMENT (A life time of troubles and worry.) Donald R. Fox


(A life time of troubles and worry.)
Donald R. Fox

Unless you have been around a lot of years you would not remember actor William Bendix and his radio show “The Life of Riley." Both TV and radio programs back years ago were designed to entertain with clean wholesome dispositions. Such was our hapless hero Riley, “His frequent exclamation of indignation—"What a revoltin' development this is!"—became one of the most famous catchphrases of the 1940s.” Riley was always in trouble because of his mistakes or his family and life in general. Within any life span, all of us will have troubles. Some are minor and others will cut your heart and soul to bits. Such is life!

“Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our troubles.” Charlie Chaplin (1889 – 1977)
Troubles are often the tools God fashions us for better things.” Henry Ward Beecher (1813 – 1887)
“Selfishness and greed, individual or national, cause most of our troubles.” Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972)
“I have spent most of my life worrying about things that have never happened.” Mark Twain (1835 –1910)

I must admit I have been troubled many times, and I know I cannot, for the most part, have any influence to change what bothers me. To illustrate, presently I am distressed with our current political parties and national government. However, like you, we press on to do the best we can. With this thought, I go for strength to my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. With my understanding and promises of our God, I know that our God still is in command. God help all of us to overcome useless worry.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalms 46:1 KJV)
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-5 KJV)
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7 KJV)

NOTE: For additional study see essays “WORRYWARTand “TROUBLED." www.essaysbyfox.org

First Begotten By Kevin Rhodes


First Begotten

By Kevin Rhodes

The position of being “firstborn” held great significance in the ancient world. It referred to more than simply birth order. Among males it generally served as a designation for the heir of family authority in regard to ownership, leadership and religion, though this could be altered should the son give it away (Genesis 25:33) or should the father have a reason to divest the elder son(s) of this right (Genesis 49:3-8). In fact, since another son could hold this position, this word as a specific reference to birth order almost disappeared. So the writer of Hebrews intended to indicate much more than a reference to Jesus’ birth when he wrote, “But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, ‘Let all the angels of God worship him’” (Hebrews 1:6 NKJV).
The first chapter of Hebrews presents strong argumentation regarding the superiority of Jesus Christ to angels. Thus, having already introduced Jesus as God’s Son (Hebrews 1:1-2), the writer proceeds to add that this Son has the right of the firstborn. When we then consider the deeper meaning of Christ being the firstborn, it enters a new level automatically because he is God’s Heir. However, this would be contingent upon his receiving the inheritance.  As firstborn he would have the rights of ownership of the world that rejected him. As firstborn he would take the role as Leader of God’s people that the Jews denied him. As firstborn he would exercise authority in religious matters that the Jewish sects seemed to covet. As firstborn he would reign at the side of his Father and receive the recognition that he is due (Philippians 2:9-11).
When Jesus walked upon this earth during his lifetime, most men scorned his position, his identity and his authority. They cruelly placed him on a cross and murdered him. But his Father raised him from the dead (Colossians 2:12) and brought him back into this world to demonstrate his triumph (Colossians 2:15). His triumphant entry into Jerusalem was nothing compared to the triumphant entry he made from death unto life. For through this suffering and humiliation, his Father gave him his inheritance as the Firstborn. Indeed, the world is his, created by him and for him (Colossians 1:16). He is the Leader of God’s people as he took his place as head of the church (Colossians 1:18). He has all authority to tell us how to live our lives and how to have a relationship with God (Matthew 28:18). He reigns as the King of Kings, because he is Firstborn. The character he proved as he lived upon this earth, gave him his inheritance as Firstborn. As God promised, “Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven” (Psalms 89:27-29). He reigns and has supremacy above all those that the world considers mighty. The writer of Hebrews himself makes reference to the Psalms, “Worship Him, all you gods” (Psalms 97:7). Let us, then, as the angels in heaven do, humble ourselves and worship Jesus Christ, the Firstborn.

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The Restored Kingdom (1:6-7) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                     The Restored Kingdom (1:6-7)


1. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, His disciples asked a question...
   a. "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" - Ac 1:6
   b. To which they were told it was not for them to know the times or seasons - Ac 1:7

2. Many commentaries suggest the disciples were mistaken regarding the kingdom...
   a. That they were still looking for an earthly, political kingdom
   b. That they still failed to appreciate the spiritual nature of the kingdom

[Yet Jesus did not correct them about the nature of the kingdom, only
their concern about the timing.  In fact, there are reasons to believe
they were not mistaken about the nature of the kingdom...]


      1. They were given privileged instruction about the kingdom
         a. They were given to know the mystery of the kingdom - Mk 4:10-11
         b. The parables about the kingdom were privately explained to them - Mk 4:30-34
      2. They heard Jesus speak openly about the nature of the kingdom
         a. When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about the coming of the kingdom - Lk 17:20
         b. How it would not come with observation, but would be "within you" - Lk 17:21
      3. Jesus also told Pilate about the nature of the kingdom
         a. That His kingdom was not of this world - Jn 18:36
         b. That He was indeed a King - Jn 18:37 

      1. Jesus spoke of things concerning the kingdom of God for 40 days - Ac 1:3
      2. He explained the Scriptures to the two disciples on the road
         to Emmaus - Lk 24:25-27,32 
      3. He opened the apostles' understanding to comprehend the Scriptures - Lk 24:44-45

[It seems unlikely that with such opportunities to learn from the Master
Teacher, the disciples were still mistaken about the nature of the
kingdom.  I prefer to think they properly understood about...]


      1. God promised David to establish his kingdom and throne forever - 2Sa 7:12-16
      2. A promise reviewed in Psalms 89
         a. A sworn oath, an everlasting covenant - Ps 89:3-4,28-29,35-36
         b. Which at times appeared to have been renounced - Ps 89:38-39, Ps 89:49
      3. Yet despite the divided kingdom, the captivity, etc., continued to be promised
         a. By prophets to the northern kingdom, Israel - Hos 3:5; Am 9:11
         b. By prophets to the southern kingdom, Judah - Isa 9:6-7; Jer 23:5-6; Eze 34:23-24
         c. Even after the restoration of Israel - Zech 6:12-13

      1. By the angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary - Lk 1:31-33
      2. By Zacharias after the birth of John - Lk 1:68-70
      3. By Peter in the first gospel sermon - Ac 2:30-36
      4. By Jesus to the church in Philadelphia - Re 3:7

      1. As announced by both Isaiah and Gabriel, Jesus would:
         a. Be given the throne (authority) of David - Isa 9:7; Lk 1:32
         b. Reign over the kingdom of David and house of Jacob - Isa 9:7; Lk 1:33
      2. As proclaimed by Jesus and His apostles, His reign includes the Gentiles
         a. Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth - Mt 28:18
         b. The gospel was to spread to all nations - Mt 28:19; Lk 24:46-47; Ac 1:8
         c. God has made Him Lord over all - Ac 2:36; 10:36; Re 3:21
         d. He is now head over all things - Ep 1:20-21; 1Pe 3:22; He 1:8-9; Re 1:5
         e. He is truly Lord of lords, King of kings! - 1Ti 6:14-15; Re 17:14; 19:16
      3. As explained by James, the Lord's brother...
         a. The tabernacle (house) of David has been rebuilt - Ac 15:13-16; cf. Am 9:11
         b. Which now includes the Gentiles (nations) - Ac 15:17; cf. Am 9:12
      4. The timing of its restoration began when Jesus...
         a. Ascended to heaven, given dominion, glory, and a kingdom 
            - Ac 1:9; cf. Dan 7:13-14
         b. To sit at God's right hand, over all principality, power,
            might, dominion - Ep 1:20-22

1. So the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus is a restored kingdom...
   b. The fulfillment of promises made to David and Israel
   b. In which a descendant of David now reigns over Israel

2. But the restored kingdom is even better; the reign of the Son of David is...
   a. Not just over the house of Israel, but includes Gentiles as well!
   b. Not limited to the land of Israel, but in heaven and on earth!
   c. Not physical (ruling over bodies), but spiritual (reigning in the hearts)!

There were certainly things the disciples still had to learn about the
kingdom (e.g., that Gentiles would not have to be circumcised and keep
the Law of Moses, cf. Ac 10,11,15); things about which the Holy Spirit
would later guide them (Jn 16:12-13).

But instead of assuming the disciples were still confused about the
nature of the kingdom, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether we might
be the ones confused about the nature of the kingdom...

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The Promise Of The Father (1:4-5) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                  The Promise Of The Father (1:4-5)


1. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave His apostles instructions...
   a. Not to depart from Jerusalem - Ac 1:4
   b. But to wait for the Promise of the Father - ibid.

2. The apostles had heard of this Promise before...
   a. From Jesus Himself - Ac 1:4; cf. Jn 14:16-17,26; 15:26; Jn 16:12-13
   b. Related to their being baptized with the Holy Spirit within a few days - Ac 1:5
   c. Of which John the Baptist spoke - Lk 3:15-16

[But even long before John and Jesus, God began making promises about the Spirit...]


      1. The Spirit would be poured out on all flesh - Joel 2:28-29
      2. Sons and daughters would prophesy, young and old men see
         visions, dream dreams
      3. God's Spirit would be poured out on His menservants and maidservants

      1. God would pour His Spirit on Israel's descendants, like water
         on dry ground - Isa 44:3
      2. Another prophecy related to the promise of the Spirit - Isa 32:15-17
         a. Found in a section with Messianic implications - cf. Isa 32:1
         b. The result of this pouring of the Spirit:  justice, righteousness, and peace 
             - cf. Ro 14:17

      1. One recorded in Eze 36:26-27
         a. God promises to put His Spirit "within you" (an indwelling?)
         b. Who will cause (enable) one to walk in His statutes and keep His judgments
      2. Another prophecy that might relate to the promise of the Spirit - Eze 39:29
         a. A prophecy that looks beyond the captivity and restoration of Israel
         b. One that might not have been fulfilled until the coming of the Messiah

      1. The Spirit of grace and supplication to be poured out on the
         inhabitants of Jerusalem - Zec 12:10
      2. Prompting people to look upon Jesus whom they have pierced,
         and mourn because of Him - cf. Ac 2:32-37

[Whether the prophecies of Ezekiel and Zechariah have reference to a
promise that would be fulfilled in the age of the Messiah may be
questionable, but certainly the prophecies of Joel and Isaiah demonstrate
that God promised an "outpouring" of the Spirit in a special way.  Let's
now return to...]


      1. He spoke of One coming who would "baptize you with the Holy
         Spirit" - Mt 3:11; Mk 1:7-8; Lk 3:16; Jn 1:33
      2. While he himself administered a baptism in water, there was
         One coming who would be the administrator of a baptism with the Holy Spirit
      3. The promise was made to large crowds; its nature and full
         extent revealed in its fulfillment 
         a. We know that it is somehow tied to the events of Pentecost in Ac 2:1-4
         b. Because of Jesus' comments in Ac 1:4-5

      1. The Spirit would be given to those who ask the Heavenly Father - Lk 11:13
      2. The Spirit would be given as "living water" to all those who
         thirst and come to Him in faith, and drink - Jn 7:37-39
         a. Might this "living water" be "the gift of God" Jesus alluded to earlier? - cf. Jn 4:10-14
         b. Note again the comparison of the Spirit to water in Isaiah's prophecy - Isa 44:3
      3. To His apostles, Jesus promised the "Spirit of truth" who would...
         a. Be a Helper, and abide with them - Jn 14:16-17
         b. Bring to their remembrance all things Jesus taught them - Jn 14:26
         c. Bear witness of Christ, together with the apostles - Jn 15:26-27
         d. Convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment - Jn 16:7-11
         e. Guide the apostles unto all the truth, including things to come - Jn 16:12-13
         f. Glorify Jesus, by taking of what is His and declaring it to them - Jn 16:14
      4. Jesus told His apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they
         received the "Promise of the Father" - Lk 24:49; Ac 1:4-5
         a. Which He clearly connects to the baptism of the Spirit spoken of by John
         b. In which the apostles would receive power, and be eyewitnesses - Ac 1:8

      1. On Pentecost, Peter connects the Spirit's outpouring to Joel's prophecy - Ac 2:14-16
      2. Then, in the course of his sermon, Peter...
         a. Speaks of the outpouring of the Spirit as a promise Jesus
            received from the Father - Ac 2:33; cf. Ac 1:4-5
         b. Offers the gift of the Spirit to all who repent and are baptized - Ac 2:38
         c. Says the promise is to them and others - Ac 2:39
            1) What promise does Peter have in mind?
            2) What promise would have come to mind to his hearers?
            3) Would it not have been the promise he just alluded to?
               a) The promise received by Christ, and poured out by Christ - Ac 2:33
               b) I.e., the Spirit which Jesus Himself promised to believers - Jn 7:37-39
               c) Which Peter would later say was given to those who obey God - Ac 5:32
            4) "That we are right in referring the word promise, in
               this sentence, to the promise of the Holy Spirit just made
               by Peter, is evident from the fact that this is the only
               promise made in the immediate context." - J. W. McGarvey
            5) "For the promise... - Of pardon, and the gift of the Spirit." - B. W. Johnson
            6) "Acts 2:39 shows that the gift of the Holy Spirit is to
               all, Jews and Gentiles, who accept that call of God."  - David Lipscomb

      1. Regarding those who have been saved - Tit 3:4-7
         a. Have experienced a washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit
         b. Have benefited by the Spirit poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ
      2. Regarding those who have been baptized - 1Co 12:13
         a. Have been baptized by the Spirit into one body
         b. Have been made to drink into one Spirit
      3. Regarding those in whom the Spirit dwells - Ro 8:9-13; Ep 3:16; 1Co 6:18-19
         a. Their mortal bodies will be given life
         b. No longer debtors to live according to the flesh
         c. Are able to put to death the deeds of the body
         d. Are to flee immorality because their body is a temple of the Holy Spirit
      4. Regarding those who have believed - Ga 3:14; Ep 1:13-14; 2Co 1:22; 5:5
         a. Have received the promise of the Spirit through faith
         a. Have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise
         b. Have received the Spirit as a guarantee (deposit) of our inheritance
      5. Regarding those walk after the Spirit - Ga 5:16-25
         a. Will not fulfill the lust of the flesh, the works of the flesh
         b. Will produce the fruit of the Spirit, because they live in the Spirit

1. In this lesson we have seen the following...
   a. Old Testament prophets promised a special dispensation of the Spirit to come
      1) One that would include the manifestation of special gifts
      2) One that would enable the people of God to keep His will
   b. John and Jesus promised a baptism of the Spirit, administered by Jesus
   c. Peter in his first gospel sermon...
      1) Proclaimed this promise to be fulfilled with the outpouring of the Spirit - Ac 2:16,33
      2) Offered the Spirit as a gift to all who obey the gospel - Ac 2:38-39
   d. Paul in his epistles...
      1) Wrote much about the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian
      2) Referring to the Spirit as "the Holy Spirit of Promise"

2. In view of "The Promise Of The Father" related to the Holy Spirit...
   a. We should not be surprised to read more of the work of the Holy Spirit in Acts
   b. In both the life of the church and in the lives of Christians

To what degree and in what way the Spirit continues to work today can be
ascertained by a careful study of the New Testament (please see my
series, "The Holy Spirit Of God"). 

Have you experienced the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy
Spirit, made possible because the Father kept His promise to pour out His
Spirit abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior?  Let Peter show you how...

   Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be 
   baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;
   and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 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." - Ac 2:38-39
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

Hell and the Quran by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Hell and the Quran

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The classic Christian doctrine of hell receives a most interesting treatment in the Quran, providing a number of fanciful particulars and whimsical embellishments. On the Day of Judgment, unbelievers will be “dragged into the Fire upon their faces” (Surah 54:48) “by their scalps” (Surah 70:16, Dawood, Sale, and Rodwell translations). Their faces will be “blackened” (Surah 39:60). They will have manacles, chains, and yokes placed upon them (Surah 34:33; 40:71; 76:4). One surah even declares that the wife of Abu Lahab (one of Muhammad’s bitter opponents) “will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fibre” (Surah 111:5)—apparently fireproof palm fiber.
According to the Quran, hell is a place of raging, fiercely blazing fire (Surah 73:12; 92:14; 101:11) with leaping, piercing, burning flames (Surah 4:10; 17:97; 25:11; 37:10; 48:13; 77:30-31; 85:10; 104:6-7), in which people “neither die nor live” (Surah 87:12-13). In addition to flames, hell also contains scorching winds, black smoke (Surah 56:42-43), and boiling hot water through which the disbelievers will be dragged (Surah 40:71-72; 55:44). In fact, unbelievers will both drink and be drenched with boiling water:
Lo! We have prepared for disbelievers Fire. Its tent encloseth them. If they ask for showers, they will be showered with water like to molten lead which burneth the faces. Calamitous the drink and ill the resting-place! (Surah 18:30, emp. added).
These twain (the believers and the disbelievers) are two opponents who contend concerning their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads. Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning (Surah 22:19-22, emp. added; cf. 6:70; 10:5; 37:67; 44:48; 56:54,93)
The ingested boiling water will cut and tear the bowels (Surah 47:15). Yet the drinking of boiling water apparently will be accompanied by an occasional cold drink: “Hell, where they will burn, an evil resting place. Here is a boiling and an ice-cold draught, so let them taste it, and other (torment) of the kind in pairs (the two extremes)!” (Surah 38:57-59, emp. added; cf. 78:24-25). Ali renders the phrase: “a boiling fluid, and a fluid dark, murky, intensely cold!”
In addition to liquid, the diet of the unbeliever will include some solid food: “On that day (many) faces will be downcast, toiling, weary, scorched by burning fire, drinking from a boiling spring, no food for them save bitter thorn-fruit which doth not nourish nor release from hunger” (Surah 88:2-7, emp. added). The Quran alleges the existence of a specific tree from which hell’s occupants will eat:
Is this better as a welcome, or the tree of Zaqqum? Lo! We have appointed it a torment for wrong-doers. Lo! it is a tree that springeth in the heart of hell. Its crop is as it were the heads of devils. And lo! they verily must eat thereof, and fill (their) bellies therewith. And afterward, lo! thereupon they have a drink of boiling water (Surah 37:62-67).
All will certainly be gathered together for the meeting appointed for a Day well-known. Then will you truly—O you that go wrong, and treat (Truth) as Falsehood!—you will surely taste of the Tree of Zaqqum. Then will you fill your insides therewith, and drink Boiling Water on top of it: Indeed you shall drink like diseased camels raging with thirst! Such will be their entertainment on the Day of Requital! (Surah 56:50-56, Ali’s translation).
Lo! the tree of Zaqqum, the food of the sinner! Like molten brass, it seetheth in their bellies as the seething of boiling water (Surah 44:43-46).
Uninspired Jewish folklore postulated the same tree (cf. Sukkah 32).
The Quran also claims that hell possesses “keepers” or “guardians” (Surah 40:49; 96:18). Malic is the primary angel in charge of hell who presides over the torments inflicted on unbelievers: “The sinners will be in the punishment of Hell, to dwell therein (forever)…. They will cry: ‘O Malik! Would that your Lord put an end to us!’ He will say, ‘Nay, but you shall abide!’ ” (Surah 43:74,77). Of course, the Bible says nothing of any so-called guardians of hell. In fact, the Bible teaches that even Satan is not presently in hell. Rather, “our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8; cf. Job 1:7; 2:2). The Bible appears to indicate that some angels are being confined in a waiting place prior to the Day of Judgment: “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6). But Satan and his angels will be thrown into the lake of fire at the end of time (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).
Additional allusions in the Quran to unbiblical (and outlandish) concepts regarding hell (also borrowed from uninspired ancient rabbinical literature) include: (1) a veil between hell and Paradise (Surah 7:46), drawn from the legend recorded in the Midrash on Ecclesiastes 7:14 (cf. Tisdall, 1905, p. 124), as well as a place between the two that enables a “crier” to communicate with both sides (Surah 7:44); and (2) the report of angels who eavesdrop on God (Surah 15:18; 37:8; 67:5; cf. Hagigah 6.1).
Even giving the Quran’s allowance for the difficulty of representing a nonphysical, eternal realm in language that enables humans to derive a sufficient understanding of the horror of hell, the Quran makes the mistake of depicting hell as a place for physical bodies. It offers an abundance of detail that removes the impression of hell being a spiritual realm. It shows no understanding or awareness of eternity involving a spiritual, nonmaterial realm where human spirits will be clothed with new, spiritual bodies. The Bible, on the other hand, provides clarification on just such matters, giving just enough information for the honest, objective reader to grasp this very point—i.e., that it will be a nonphysical realm, but will entail unending pain and suffering for the spiritual body (Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 12:4-5; John 5:28; 1 Corinthians 15:35-55). The Bible is sufficiently generic to be credible. The Quran suffers from the embellishment that one would expect from an uninspired, human author. Its myriad of detail on this subject cannot be dismissed as merely figurative.
Next to the doctrine of monotheism, the doctrine of hell and punishment receives more attention than any other doctrine in the Quran—maybe even more than monotheism. In fact, to the unbiased reader, the Quran is positively top-heavy—completely unbalanced—in its almost constant emphasis on fire, torment, and eternal punishment. Keeping in mind there are 114 surahs in the Quran, observe that the word “hell” occurs 102 times in Pickthall’s translation (95 in Ali’s) in 54 surahs. “Fire” occurs 161 times (203 in Ali) in 65 surahs. “Punish/punishment” occurs 115 times (169 in Ali) in 43 surahs. “Doom” occurs 215 times in Pickthall in 62 surahs. This means that the Quran refers to hell, fire, doom, and punishment in 92 of its 114 surahs—which is 80 percent of the Quran! In sharp contrast, the New Testament—which approximates the Quran in length—uses the word “hell” (gehenna) only 12 times (Matthew 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6). While the Bible certainly emphasizes the certainty and inevitability of eternal punishment, it places the subject in proper perspective and provides a divinely balanced treatment. The Quran, on the other hand, is thoroughly preoccupied with incessant threats of punishment ad infinitum. Its inordinate fixation on hell, fire, torment, and punishment is another proof of its human origin.


Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (1934), The Qur’an (Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Quran), ninth edition.
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
Rodwell, J.M., trans. (1950 reprint), The Koran (London: J.M. Dent and Sons).
Dawood, N.J., trans. (1976 reprint), The Koran (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin).
Sale, George, trans. (no date), The Koran (New York: Hurst).
Tisdall, W. St. Clair (1905), The Original Sources of the Quran (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge).

The Imprecatory Psalms by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Imprecatory Psalms

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The book of Psalms in the Old Testament contains 150 separate psalms written by David and various other individuals inspired by the God of the Bible to write them, initially, for the nation of Israel. Critics of the Bible, who question its divine inspiration, insist that the “imprecatory” psalms are proof of the human origin of the Psalms. For example, Psalm 5:10 states: “Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You.” Psalm 18:40-42 declares: “You have also given me the necks of my enemies, so that I destroyed those who hated me…. Then I beat them as fine as the dust before the wind; I cast them out like dirt in the streets.” Psalm 35:1-8 asserts:
Plead my cause, O LORD, with those who strive with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help. Also draw out the spear, and stop those who pursue me…. Let those be put to shame and brought to dishonor who seek after my life; let those be turned back and brought to confusion who plot my hurt. Let them be like chaff before the wind, and let the angel of the LORD chase them. Let their way be dark and slippery, and let the angel of the LORD pursue them…. Let destruction come upon him unexpectedly, and let his net that he has hidden catch himself; into that very destruction let him fall.
Psalm 58:6-10 is equally graphic:
Break their teeth in their mouth, O God! Break out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD! Let them flow away as waters which run continually; when he bends his bow, let his arrows be as if cut in pieces. Let them be like a snail which melts away as it goes, like a stillborn child of a woman, that they may not see the sun. Before your pots can feel the burning thorns, He shall take them away as with a whirlwind, as in His living and burning wrath. The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.
And Psalm 55:15 exclaims: “Let death seize them; let them go down alive into hell….”
Critics of the Bible claim that the imprecatory psalms are proof that the Bible is not inspired (e.g., McKinsey, 2000, p. 394; Vjack, 2009). They say that the psalms are hateful, vindictive, and manifest an unchristian spirit. They say such “hate speech” demonstrates that the author(s) of the Psalms could not have been inspired by a divine Being. Atheists say these psalms prove that the Hebrew God is a blood thirsty, tribal deity like all the other pagan deities conjured up by mere men. Of course, the New Testament is not exempt from this same accusation, since Old Testament words of imprecation are quoted in the New Testament approvingly. For example, John 15:25 quotes Psalm 109:3, Acts 1:20 draws from Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8, Romans 11:9-10 quotes Psalm 69:22-23, and Romans 15:3 refers to Psalm 69:9.
What’s more, the New Testament contains its own imprecations that are comparable to those in the Old Testament. Paul declared: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words” (2 Timothy 4:14-15). When hauled before the Jewish authorities, Paul suffered when “the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, ‘God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?’” (Acts 23:2-3; cf. Dungan, 1888, p. 319). Such sarcastic exclamations by Paul are also seen in his suggestion that the Judaizers be castrated (Galatians 5:12), and his remarks to the Corinthians:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works…. For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! (2 Corinthians 11:13-15,19, emp. added).
And when Simon attempted to bribe the apostles in hopes of receiving miraculous ability,
Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:20-23, emp. added).
Further, Paul minced no words when he denounced his fellow Jews:
For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, emp. added).
And the faithful martyrs of persecution “cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’” (Revelation 6:10).
Are such Bible passages inappropriate, unkind, unchristian, and unloving? Does the Bible contradict itself in this regard? Is the inspiration of the Bible writers compromised by the imprecatory psalms? How are we to make sense of this seeming disparity? Consider the following seven observations.

Prophetic, Personal Feelings, & Poetry

In the first place, some of these psalms are merely prophetic: the psalmist announces what the enemies of God deserve and what, in fact, will come upon them—without conveying the actual desires of the psalmist (Barnes, 2005, 1:xxx). Second, some of these psalms may be expressions of the feelings that would be felt by those who would take vengeance on the enemies of God—those armies that God would use to punish the wicked (Barnes, 1:xxxi). Third, the English reader must understand that Hebrew poetry used extravagant language that is often exaggerated, passionate, and picturesque—not intended to be taken literally (cf. Barnes, 1:xxix-xxx). The oriental mind often expressed itself in terms that the Western mind might consider disrespectful when, in fact, the speaker was not being disrespectful (e.g., Jesus referring to Mary as “woman”—John 2:4; cf. Lyons, 2004).

Sin Is Really Bad

While these first three observations (identified by Barnes) have merit, a fourth clarification, one that is more to the point, concerns the fact that most humans fail to realize just how heinous sin is, and the need for human sin to be denounced for its extreme ugliness. We humans simply do not have a handle on the gravity of sin. In a day when merely stating that a certain act is sinful is regarded as “hate speech,” “mean-spirited,” and “intolerant,” it is increasingly difficult for Americans to grasp the heinousness of sin. It is absolutely imperative that people train, shape, and mold their moral sensibilities to mimic God’s. They must strive to “have the mind of Christ” so that they have the right balance and the correct assessment and attitude toward every human action. An accurate assessment of spiritual reality requires that we must “abhor what is evil” (Romans 12:9) and “hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104). We must possess the same righteous revulsion that God possesses for those things that are spiritually repulsive and harmful.
The case of the Israelites at Peor provides a proper example of what it means to approximate the proper, righteous reaction to sin. When Phinehas followed a fornicating couple into their tent and, with a single thrust, drove a spear through the two of them, God’s assessment of his action is seen in the following words:
Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. Therefore say, “Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel” (Numbers 25:11-13, emp. added).
One prominent reason atheists and the like are disturbed by the imprecatory psalms is because their spirits have been shaped by their own flawed conceptions concerning the nature of an infinite, eternal God who is perfect in all of His attributes. If such a God exists (and He does), the imprecatory psalms capture the essence of perfect love in harmony with perfect justice. This thought brings us to a fifth clarification.

God Is Perfect

God is righteous. The very nature of God is contrary to evil. God’s very character and essence—His justice, His goodness, His holy hatred of all that is evil—demands that He take two actions: (1) express His love by atoning for sin in order to make a way for people to be forgiven, and (2) then punish those who choose not to avail themselves of that love. Since we humans have indulged in sin, we lack a proper perspective for offering a correct assessment of the righteous nature of God. Hence, we lack a clear understanding of why the psalms of imprecation are spiritually pure.

Punishment Is Not Evil

A sixth clarification concerns the fact that punishment is right and good—and not in conflict with true compassion. Current culture has difficulty conceptualizing the fact that retribution is a godly, righteous principle that applies to individuals as well as groups of individuals (e.g., nations). All laws from God have attached to them appropriate, just penalties—which are right and good to invoke. In fact, laws without penalties would be a farce! Consider the inspired historian’s report regarding the reign of Zedekiah:
And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand (2 Chronicles 36:15-17, emp. added).
Observe that God “had compassion” on people in that He provided them with warnings and information that would enable them to be happy and righteous. But they spurned that instruction (even as Americans are spurning God’s moral framework today), which naturally and rightly elicited the “wrath of the Lord.” That wrath manifested itself in the form of enemies wreaking havoc on the people. The enemy “had no compassion,” which implies that God’s perfect compassion does not mean that He will exempt people from the punishment that is due them because of their own behavioral choices.
Interestingly, we humans have built into our nature a realization of this spiritual principle (that cannot be accounted for on the basis of naturalistic evolution). We, in fact, approve of punishment when properly inflicted—from the proper discipline of children to the punishment of a mass murderer. We are no more to be blamed for approving the punishment of the guilty than we are for approving the acquittal of the innocent. God authored both the law and the proper penalties of law (the “curse” of Galatians 3:10). Peter implied the appropriateness of punishment when he asked Christians: “For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently?” (1 Peter 2:20). Corporal punishment for certain faults is right (cf. Deuteronomy 25:2; Psalm 89:32; Luke 12:47-48). Indeed, the Bible insightfully affirms: “Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, as do stripes the inner depths of the heart” (Proverbs 20:30). [NOTE: Parents who refuse to spank their children, mistakenly buying into current culture’s warped assessment of what constitutes proper discipline, fail to grasp God’s own directives on the matter (e.g., Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15,17).]
God’s nature defines sin and punishment. Law was given by God to define crime and designate its just penalty. The more our society moves away from firm commitment to law and punishment, the more our society will be crime-ridden and filled with anarchy and bloodshed. Liberals—in both the church and society at large—continually chip away at the divinely bestowed power of law and its due punishment. This incessant dissolution has been transpiring in the penal system of America for over 50 years. It is associated with the significant shift from focus on the rights of the victim to the rights of the criminal.

Due Punishment

One sample of this malady is seen in the liberal media’s attempt to paint punishment as somehow mean, cruel, and barbaric. As an example, the media tried to create public sympathy for a woman convicted in 1984 of murdering two people in Houston, Texas. Karla Faye Tucker participated with her boyfriend in the brutal, horrifying death of a couple lying in bed when she used a pickax to puncture her victim with multiple stab wounds. After sitting on death row for nine years, her lawyer and other supporters insisted that “she has now undergone a startling change. She has found religion, has pursued an education and does not deserve to die” (“Texas Set…,” 1992). Tucker, herself, contended that she is “a changed woman who has found God and can serve as a resource for others if her death sentence is changed to life in prison” (“Woman’s Texas…,” 1998). Observe that by accentuating the perpetrator as a woman—and the first woman to be executed since the Civil War—as well as stressing that she has “found religion,” the media sought to divert attention away from the gravity and heinousness of her behavior by playing on emotion and pointing to completely irrelevant information. The transparent assumption is that due punishment for flagrant crime is somehow inherently evil, unmerciful, or unforgiving.
Such notions are fraught with misconception and spiritual confusion. They betray the critical realization that such people are unacquainted with the infinite, perfect God; they lack an accurate assessment of the nature of deity. They fail to understand that God’s forgiveness of sin extends to the guilt of sin—not its physical consequences. Contrast Karla Faye’s uninformed, biblically illiterate attitude with that of Paul who, when he stood before Porcius Festus, the Roman procurator of Judea, to give account of accusations made against him, declared: “If I am an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I do not object to dying” (Acts 25:11, emp. added). Here is inspired, tacit acknowledgement of the validity of capital punishment—due punishment for behavior that is worthy of death. Imagine if Karla Faye had known her Bible well enough to announce to the world that, while she now understood the Gospel and had submitted herself to Christ, nevertheless, she fully recognized her guilt and was perfectly willing to receive the proper punishment due for her crimes against society. The liberal media, no doubt, would have immediately silenced her by refusing to report such a statement—a statement that would have immediately “taken the wind out of the sails” of their propaganda.
God has always harnessed civil government to take vengeance on those who need to be punished. As Paul explained to Christians in Rome: “For he [the civil government—DM] is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:4). For the government to “bear the sword” (i.e., utilize capital punishment) is “good” and it is not “in vain,” i.e., it is not an inappropriate or useless action. It is God’s will for those who perpetrate crimes on society to be confronted and properly processed in accordance with righteous principles. God requires each person to bear responsibility for his or her own actions. This principle was articulated repeatedly by God in the civil law code He gave to the Israelites by means of the phrases “his blood shall be upon him” (Leviticus 20:9,13,27; Deuteronomy 19:10; Ezekiel 18:13; 33:5) and “his blood be on his own head” (Joshua 2:19; 2 Samuel 1:16; Ezekiel 33:4; Acts 18:6).

Misdefined Compassion

Much of American society has been severed from the moral framework God gave to nations to make sense of human behavior. Most people merely make their moral and ethical decisions based on their personal opinions, rooted largely in their emotions and feelings—how things seem to them. They misdefine “compassion.” Only Deity is capable of defining compassion, and harmonizing it with justice and punishment. The Law of Moses provides God’s delineation of appropriate punishment in the broad, summarizing declaration of the lex talionis: “Your eye shall not pity; but life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deuteronomy 19:21). This prescription was neither unloving nor immoral. It was intended to promote just and fair punishment.
By altering God’s laws, thinking we are being compassionate and merciful (i.e., allowing our “eye to show pity”), we can be guilty of circumventing and frustrating the purposes of God. Indeed, many arrogant politicians and judges are guilty of thinking they are more loving than God. They redefine love to mean sentimentality, subjective feelings, and an attitude of “tolerance” that insists on all people being allowed to do anything they desire—without question or condemnation. They are unable or unwilling to grasp the idea that God will continue to love every person consigned to hell—even as loving parents reluctantly inflict pain on their children in the form of proper discipline. True compassion does not and cannot exclude the application of just punishment. Indeed, genuine love embraces it.
The wholesome blending of compassion and justice is actually seen in the imprecatory psalms themselves. For example, in Psalm 109 David explains that the wicked had exchanged the love and goodness that he had extended to them for hatred and evil: “In return for my love they are my accusers, but I give myself to prayer. Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love (vss. 4-5, emp. added). Psalm 83 couples the psalmist’s call for the shame and dismay of the wicked with a desire that they come to their senses, abandon their evil behavior, and get themselves right with God: “Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O LORD. Let them be confounded and dismayed forever; yes, let them be put to shame and perish, that they may know that You, whose name alone is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth” (vss. 16-18, emp. added). The psalmist even prayed for his enemies (35:12-14), even as Christians are admonished to do (Matthew 5:44). Following through with appropriate punishment of the one who spurns love is, in reality, a further extension of love—love for good and right, love for God, and yes, love for the wicked. Today’s distorted understanding of these eternal principles would imply that those who would condemn Satan himself ought to be derided as “intolerant,” “unloving,” and guilty of “hate speech.”

Justifying the Wicked

The same malady has infected the criminal justice system, which has been transformed into a bargaining establishment in which prosecutors and defense attorneys barter with each other over the guilty—the prosecutor seeking to get as stringent a punishment as possible for the accused, while the defense attorney seeks to get his client minimal punishment. The premiere and ultimate concern of guilt or innocence has been swept aside. How many murderers have received prison sentences—some of which even permit eventual release? The words of God spoken through the Law of Moses desperately need to be heard today: “Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death” (Numbers 35:31). The justice system has come to specialize in “plea bargaining”—another expression for taking ransom for the life of the murderer. How dare any judge or jury spare the life of a person that God demands to be executed! God warned the Israelites: “Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will notjustify the wicked” (Exodus 23:7, emp. added). God declares that He will not justify the person who kills an innocent person. Yet, how many lawyers seek to acquit their guilty clients, thereby justifying the wicked? [NOTE: For the Bible view of capital punishment, see Miller, 2012.]
Writing over a century ago, Moses Lard commented on the negative impact on American society of the crime of murder (listed in Romans 1:29), and predicted a frightful reaction from God for America’s failure to address the crime in accordance with His will—
This crime, according to the Bible, should always be punished with death. But in our day, especially in our country, it generally brings with it only a good deal of notoriety, and not death. But we may rest assured of this, that God will one day visit on the people of this country a fearful retribution for the indulgence which they show to the crime. Take the life of him who willfully and with malice takes the life of his fellow man—do this surely, do it in all cases, and murder will cease. Fail to do this, and you breed mobs; for the world is apt to feel that a murderer hung by a mob is a less evil than a murderer turned loose by a corrupt court of law, to murder again at will. That is a morbid and most pernicious sentiment which forgets what is due to God, to society, and to the murdered, through sickly sympathy for the murderer. It is devoid of justice; nor is it any proper expression of mercy (1875, p. 64, emp. added).
Writing 70 years later, R.L. Whiteside echoed similar sentiments:
It is foolish to expect anything but an increase of murders…. Three things will decrease murders—: namely, (1) quick and sure punishment of the killer, (2) impress upon the growing generation higher regard for human life, and (3) teach them a deeper reverence of God and his word by impressing upon them that God is the rightful ruler and that we must give account to him. And it would do a lot of good for people to be reminded that a lot of foolish speculation does not abolish hell (1945, p. 42, emp. added).
These observations suggest that American society has been traveling down a road for over a century in which a healthy, sensible, indispensable view of crime and punishment has been steadily eroding. We are now reaping the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7).

Condemning Evil Is Right

A final clarification that establishes the legitimacy and divinity of the imprecatory psalms is seen in the fact that pronouncing a person’s dire spiritual predicament is holy, right, and good (Proverbs 27:5). The current “politically correct” portion of society, no doubt desiring to justify their own sins (Luke 10:29), claims that pinpointing misconduct is “mean-spirited,” “judgmental,” “intolerant,” and “hate speech.” But the spiritually-minded person, the one who has sought to emulate the spirit and temperament of Deity, understands the value and the necessity of being forthright in the condemnation of behavior that endangers society and souls. That is why Peter, quoted earlier, reacted so abruptly to Simon’s attempt to bribe the apostles with money. That is why Paul could write by inspiration concerning the Judaizing teachers who sought to subvert souls: “I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!” (Galatians 5:12). And it is why, in Matthew 23, Jesus Himself pronounced seven “woes” on the Pharisees, labeling them “hypocrites,” “sons of hell,” “blind guides,” “fools and blind,” “whitewashed tombs,” “full of hypocrisy and lawlessness,” and “serpents, brood of vipers.” Imprecations were designed to signal a spiritual state of emergency in which the righteous person is fighting desperately for God’s honor and reputation—while attempting to reclaim the recalcitrant. Imprecations even provide encouragement and reassurance for the faithful, motivating them to take courage and press the spiritual battle.


All of these observations point to the fact that it cannot be inherently wrong to desire the downfall and appropriate punishment of God’s enemies. Those who are intensely interested in seeing God’s will done on Earth (Matthew 6:10), will yearn and pray for God’s justice to be done for all—with punishment inflicted on those who deserve it. This may be done without personal malice, or a vindictive or revengeful spirit. Indeed, the imprecatory psalms are—
  • Pure, unselfish zeal for the honor of God;
  • Holy hatred of that which is contrary to the nature of God and His divine purposes;
  • Righteous indignation—anger without sin (Ephesians 4:26);
  • A desire to see the righteous character of God vindicated;
  • A desire that those who hold God in contempt be held accountable;
  • A desire to give glory to God’s justice and goodness.

One Question

But what are we to make of the apparent tension between the exclamations of the “imprecatory psalms” and the passages that warn the faithful not to glory in the death of the wicked? For example, Obadiah 12 warns: “But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother in the day of his captivity; nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; nor should you have spoken proudly in the day of distress.” Proverbs 24:17 states: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.” [NOTE: Jonah was wanting in this regard (Jonah 4:1).] Jesus commanded love for enemies (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:35). Paul said Christians are to bless those who persecute them, overcome evil with good, and never render evil for evil (Romans 12:14,21; 1 Thessalonians 5:15). Peter said the same (1 Peter 3:9).
The answer lies in the fact that, like God, we do not desire that anyone be lost eternally. We take no joy or delight in those who die lost and face eternal torment. We hold no ill will or desire for personal vengeance against those who wrong us. Concerning this feature of the divine nature, Ezekiel 33:11 quotes God as saying: “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die?” Paul alluded to this feature of divinity as well when he said that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4, emp. added). Peter added that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emp. added). It is God’s will that no human being go to hell! Hence, all who are consigned to hell will have chosen to be there, based on the choices they made during their one and only probationary period on Earth. They cannot logically or justly blame anyone else for their own choices.
In perfect harmony with this principle is the fact that we should desire that those who refuse to turn from their evil ways be held accountable accordingly (cf. Moses’ attitude in Numbers 14:13-23). What person in his or her right mind does not want to see a child rapist—say one who has sexually assaulted a five-year-old girl—be caught and punished for his foul deeds? While we should not harbor hatred in our hearts for such a degraded individual, we should possess a righteous desire that he be called to account for his heinous behavior and properly punished. This rational, righteous desire is one critical principle that is reflected in the imprecatory psalms.
For all wicked behavior (as defined by God Himself), we should desire to see His righteous character vindicated. Like the psalmist, we should be content to trust God that He will render suitable vengeance in His own way, in His own good time. Though God does not want anyone to be lost; though He loves—with a perfect love—every single person who has lived on Earth throughout the thousands of years of human history; nevertheless, He has plainly declared that He will consign the vast majority of them to a place of unending torment (Matthew 7:14; cf. Butt, 2012). We must respect this logical principle—and urge all humans to emulate it.


The imprecatory psalms cannot rationally be used by atheists and skeptics to disprove the divine origin of the Bible. Indeed, such material is precisely what we would expect to encounter in a document produced by a holy, infinite God. No logical argument, using the imprecatory psalms, may be set forth that proves that the Bible is not inspired by God.
All people on Earth are under obligation to face spiritual reality before it is too late. The ultimate imprecation looms before us. Hear the words of Jesus: “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5, emp. added). The threat of, and consignment to, hell is neither unloving nor unholy. All persons of accountable age and mind have the ability to choose the right course in life that will terminate in the heavenly home (Revelation 21:10-27). The God of the Bible earnestly desires and expects us to exercise that ability. Each individual decides his own eternal destiny by his own actions while on Earth.


Barnes, Albert (2005 reprint), Notes on the Old Testament: Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Butt, Kyle (2012), “Why Did God Create People—Knowing That Many Would Go to Hell?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=4194.
Dungan, D.R. (1888), Hermeneutics (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
Lard, Moses (1875), Commentary on Paul’s Letter to Romans (Lexington, KY: Transylvania Printing and Publishing).
Lyons, Eric (2004), “How Rude!?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=770.
McKinsey, Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (New York: Prometheus Books).
Miller, Dave (2012), “Capital Punishment and the Bible,” Reason & Revelation, 32[7]:62-64,68-71.
“Texas Set to Execute First Woman Since 1863” (1992), The New York Times, June 21, http://www.nytimes.com/1992/06/21/us/texas-set-to-execute-first-woman-since-1863.html.
Vjack (2009), “Psalm 109:8 Reveals Christian Extremist Hate,” Atheist Revolution, November 23, http://www.atheistrev.com/2009/11/psalm-1098-reveals-christian-extremist.html.
Whiteside, R.L. (1945), A New Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Saints at Rome (Denton, TX: Inys Whiteside).
“Woman’s Texas Execution to Proceed” (1998), CNN, February 2, http://www.cnn.com/US/9802/02/tucker/index.html.

The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

The famous philosopher from the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas, is generally given credit for articulating what is known as the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God, although the Bible described the essence of the argument hundreds of years before he was on the scene (e.g., Hebrews 3:4). The argument essentially says that the cosmos is here and had to come from somewhere. It could not have created itself. Nothing comes from nothing in nature, as verified by the First Law of Thermodynamics (Miller, 2013).
The rational person will only draw conclusions that are supported by the evidence (Ruby, 1960, pp. 130-131). The evidence from the natural realm indicates that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent (or simultaneous—Miller, 2012a) cause. The mass of a paper clip is not going to provide sufficient gravitational pull to cause a tidal wave. There must be an adequate cause for the tidal wave, like a massive, offshore, underwater earthquake (“Tsunamis,” 2000, pp. 1064, 2000). Leaning against a mountain will certainly not cause it to topple over. Jumping up and down on the ground will not cause an earthquake. If a chair is not placed in an empty room, the room will remain chairless. If matter was not made and placed in the Universe, we would not exist. There must be an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause for every material effect. If this Law of Cause and Effect seems intuitive to you, then you understand why the Cosmological Argument is powerful, logical evidence for the existence of God.

Causality and History

The Law of Cause and Effect, or Law/Principle of Causality, has been investigated and recognized for millennia. From at least the time of Plato (1966, 1:96a-b) and Aristotle (2009, 1[3]) in the fourth century B.C., philosophers have pondered causality. In 1781, the renowned German philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote concerning the Principle of Causality in his Critique of Pure Reason that “everything that happens presupposes a previous condition, which it follows with absolute certainty, in conformity with a rule…. All changes take place according to the law of the connection of Cause and Effect” (Kant, 1781, emp. added). In the nineteenth century, German medical scientist and Father of Cellular Pathology, Rudolf Virchow, affirmed that “[e]verywhere there is mechanistic process only, with the unbreakable necessity of cause and effect” (1858, p. 115, emp. added). Fast forwarding another century, our increased understanding of the world still did not cause the law to be discredited. In 1934, W.T. Stace, professor of philosophy at Princeton University, in A Critical History of Greek Philosophy, wrote:
Every student of logic knows that this is the ultimate canon of the sciences, the foundation of them all. If we did not believe the truth of causation, namely, everything which has a beginning has a cause, and that in the same circumstances the same things invariably happen, all the sciences would at once crumble to dust. In every scientific investigation this truth is assumed (p. 6, emp. added).
The truth of causality is so substantiated that it is taken for granted in scientific investigation. It is “assumed.”
This principle is not some idea that can simply be brushed aside without consideration. If the Law of Causality were not in effect, science could not proceed—it would “crumble to dust” since, by its very nature, it involves gathering evidence and testing hypotheses in order to find regularities in nature. The goal of scientific experimentation is to determine what will happen (i.e., what will be the effect) if one does certain things (i.e., initiates certain causes). If there were no relationship between cause and effect, then nothing could be taken for granted. One day gravity may be in effect, and the next day it may not, and there would be no point in studying it, since it might be different tomorrow. There would be no such thing as a “scientific law,” since there would be no such thing as a “regularity,” which is fundamental to the definition of a law of science (McGraw-Hill Dictionary…, 2003, p. 1182).
Moving farther into the 20th century, the Law of Cause and Effect still had not been repealed. In 1949, Albert Einstein, in The World as I See It, under the heading “The Religiousness of Science,” wrote, “But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation” (2007, p. 35, emp. added). In The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, renowned American philosopher and professor Richard Taylor wrote, “Nevertheless, it is hardly disputable that the idea of causation is not only indispensable in the common affairs of life but in all applied sciences as well” (1967, p. 57, emp. added).
Even today, when scientific exploration has brought us to unprecedented heights of knowledge, the age old Law of Causality cannot be denied. Today’s dictionaries define “causality” as:
  • “the principle that nothing can happen without being caused” (“Causality,” 2009).
  • “the principle that everything has a cause” (“Causality,” 2008).
The National Academy of Science’s guidebook, Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science, says, “One goal of science is to understand nature. ‘Understanding’ in science means relating one natural phenomenon to another and recognizing the causes and effects of phenomena…. Progress in science consists of the development of better explanations for the causes of natural phenomena” (1998, p. 42. emp. added). Notice that, according to the National Academy of Science (NAS), there can be no progress in science without causality. The NAS, though entirely naturalistic in its approach to science, recognizes causality to be fundamental to the nature of science. It is not, and cannot rationally be, denied—except when necessary in order to prop up a deficient worldview. Its ramifications have been argued for years, but after the dust settles, the Law of Cause and Effect still stands unscathed, having weathered the trials thrust upon it for thousands of years.

The Law of Causality—A Problem for Atheism

The Law of Causality is fundamental to science, and yet it stands in the way of the bulk of today’s scientific community due to their flawed definition of “science.” In an interview in 1994, the late, famous evolutionary astronomer Robert Jastrow, founder and former director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA, said:
As Einstein said, scientists live by their faith in causation, and the chain of cause and effect. Every effect has a cause that can be discovered by rational arguments. And this has been a very successful program, if you will, for unraveling the history of the universe. But it just fails at the beginning…. So time, really, going backward, comes to a halt at that point. Beyond that, that curtain can never be lifted…. And that is really a blow at the very fundamental premise that motivates all scientists (as quoted in Heeren, 1995, p. 303, emp. added).
The scientific community today, by and large, incorrectly defines “science” in such a way that anything supernatural cannot be considered “scientific,” and therefore science “fails” in certain areas. Only natural phenomena are deemed worthy of being categorized “science.” According to the definition, if something cannot be empirically observed and tested, it is not “scientific.” [NOTE: The naturalistic community contradicts itself on this matter, since several fundamental planks of evolutionary theory are unnatural—they have never been observed and all scientific investigation has proven them to be impossible (e.g., spontaneous generation of life and the laws of science, macroevolution, etc.; cf. Miller, 2012b).] One result of this flawed definition is highlighted by Jastrow, himself, in the above quote. Contrary to Jastrow’s statement, the laws of science, by definition, do not “fail.” They have no known exceptions. So, it would be unscientific to claim, without conclusive evidence in support of the claim, that a law has failed.
This leaves atheistic evolutionists in a quandary when trying to explain how the effect of the infinitely complex Universe could have come about “unscientifically”—without a natural cause. Four decades ago, Jastrow wrote:
The Universe, and everything that has happened in it since the beginning of time, are a grand effect without a known cause. An effect without a known cause? That is not the world of science; it is a world of witchcraft, of wild events and the whims of demons, a medieval world that science has tried to banish. As scientists, what are we to make of this picture? I do not know (1977, p. 21).
When Jastrow says that there is no “known cause” for everything in the Universe, he is referring to the fact that there is no known natural cause. If atheism were true, if the material realm is all that exists, if naturalistic science can shed light on the matter of origins, there must be a natural explanation of what caused the Universe. Scientists and philosophers recognize that there must be a cause that would be sufficient to bring about matter and the Universe—and yet no natural cause is known. The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms says that “causality,” in physics, is “the principle that an event cannot precede its cause” (p. 346). However, the atheist must concede that in order for his/her claim to be valid, the effect of the Universe did not precede its cause—rather, it actually came about without it! Such a viewpoint is hardly in keeping with science.

The Law of Causality—A Friend to Creationists

Instead of flippantly disregard­ing the truth of the Law of Causality because it contradicts naturalistic theories, why not recognize that the highly respected, exception-less Law of Causality is not the problem? Why not recognize the fact that naturalistic theories, such as the Theory of Evolution and the Big Bang Theory, are simply not in harmony with science on a fundamental level? Why not consider an option that does not contradict the Law? If one were to follow the evidence wherever it leads, rather than defining God out of science, one is led to the unavoidable conclusion that there must be Someone super-natural that caused the Universe to be. If every material (i.e., natural) effect must have a cause, then the ultimate Cause of the Universe must be supernatural.
Every material effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause. Notice that creationists have absolutely no problem with the truth articulated by this God-ordained law from antiquity. In Hebrews 3:4, the Bible says that “every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.” A house must have a cause—namely, a builder. It will not build itself. Scientifically speaking, according to the Law of Cause and Effect, there had to be a Cause for the Universe. And that is the essence of the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God.
The only book on the planet which contains characteristics that prove its production to be above human capability is the Bible (see Butt, 2007). The God of the Bible is its author (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and in the very first verse of the inspired material He gave to humans, He articulated with authority and clarity that He is the Cause Who brought about the Universe and all that is in it. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1).
Emile Borel was a famous French mathematician for whom the Borel lunar crater was named (O’Connor and Robertson, 2008). He once said concerning the amazing human brain that is able to author works of literature, “Now the complexity of that brain must therefore have been even richer than the particular work to which it gave birth” (1963, p. 125). The effect of the brain’s existence, like a work of literature, must have an adequate cause. In the same way, we know that the infinite Mind behind the creation of this infinitely complex Universe had to be, and was, more than adequate for the task of bringing it all into existence (Revelation 19:6).

Uncaused Cause?

"But if everything had to have a beginning, why does the same concept not apply to God? Doesn’t God need a cause, too? Who caused God?” First, notice that this statement is based on a misunderstanding of what the Law of Cause and Effect claims concerning the Universe. The law states that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause. A law of science is determined through the observation of nature—not super-nature. Since they have not observed the supernatural realm, scientists cannot apply the scientific Law of Causality to it. The laws of nature do not apply to non-material entities. The God of the Bible is a spiritual Being (John 4:24) and therefore is not governed by physical law. In the words of skeptic Michael Shermer, executive director of the Skeptics Society and columnist for Scientific American:
If God is a being in space and time, it means that He is restrained by the laws of nature and the contingencies of chance, just like all other beings of this world. An omniscient and omnipotent God must be above such constraints, not subject to nature and chance. God as creator of heaven and earth and all things invisible would need necessarily to be outside such created objects (2006, Ch. 8, emp. added).
Recall also what Professor W.T. Stace wrote in A Critical History of Greek Philosophy concerning causality. “[E]verything which has a beginning has a cause” (p. 6, emp. added). God, according to the Bible, had no beginning. Psalm 90:2 says concerning God, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (emp. added). The Bible describes God as a Being Who has always been and always will be—“from everlasting to everlasting.” He, therefore, had no beginning. Recall Hebrews 3:4 again, which indicates that God is not constrained by the Law of Cause and Effect, as are houses, but rather, presides as the Chief Builder—the Uncaused Causer—the Being Who initially set all effects into motion (John 1:3).
Again, philosophers recognize that, logically, there must be an initial cause of the Universe. [Those who attempt to sidestep the need for a Cause and argue the eternality of the physical Universe are in direct contradiction to the Law of Causality (since the Universe is a physical effect that demands a cause), as well as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which indicates that nothing physical lasts forever (see Miller, 2013).] Aristotle, in Physics, discussed the logical line of reasoning that leads to the conclusion that the initial cause of motion must be something that is not, itself, in motion—an unmoved mover (1984, 1:428). Aquinas built on Aristotle’s reasoning and said:
Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another…. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality…. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e., that it should move itself. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently no other mover…. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God (1952, 19:12,13, emp. added).
God, not being a physical, finite being, but an eternal, spiritual being (by definition), would not be subject to the condition of requiring a beginning. Therefore, the law does not apply to Him. Concerning the Law of Causality, Kant said that “everything which is contingent has a cause, which, if itself contingent, must also have a cause; and so on, till the series of subordinated causes must end with an absolutely necessary cause, without which it would not possess completeness” (2008, p. 284, emp. added). An uncaused Cause is necessary. Only God sufficiently fills that void.
Consider: in the same way that dimensional space—length, width, and height—are part of the physical Universe, time, itself, is as well. In the same way that space had to have a cause, time itself had to as well: time had a beginning. That means that its Creator logically could not have a beginning. A “beginning” implies a specific timeframe that has begun. Without time in existence, there could be no such thing as a “beginning.” So the Cause of the Universe could not have a beginning since He created time, itself. In essence, there was no such thing as a “beginning” until the uncaused Cause began something. [NOTE: If time was not created, then it exists apart from God and even God is subject to it. The Bible affirms, however, that time itself was created along with the Universe when it uses the phrase “in the beginning” in Genesis 1:1.]
Consider further: if there ever were a time in history when absolutely nothing existed—not even God—then nothing would continue to exist today, since nothing comes from nothing (in keeping with common sense and the First Law of Thermodynamics; Miller, 2013). However, we know something exists (e.g., the Universe)—which means something had to exist eternally, or we would eventually get to a point in past time when nothing existed, which we have already noted cannot be. That something that existed forever could not be physical or material, since such things do not last forever (cf. the Second Law of Thermodynamics; Miller, 2013). It follows that the eternal something must be non-physical or non-material. It must be mind rather than matter. Logically, there must be a Mind that has existed forever. That Mind, according to the Bible, is God. He, being spirit, is not subject to the Second Law of Thermodynamics and can exist forever—the uncreated Creator. While usable energy in the Universe is inevitably expended, according to the Second Law, moving the Universe ever closer to a state of completed deterioration and unusable energy, God’s power is “eternal” (Romans 1:20).
Of old You laid the foundation of the Earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end (Psalm 102:25-27, emp. added).
The Universe exists. It cannot be eternal according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It could not create itself according to the First Law of Thermodynamics. Its existence requires an adequate, supernatural Cause. The Bible calls Him Jehovah.


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