Donald R. Fox

When you feel bad physically or mentality, your activity level is reduced. The very fact that you are not active as you normally are has a tendency to make you feel “out of sorts”, “not up to par”. With this feeling we can also get a “little grumpy”. Know what I mean, bet you do! We all go through such periods in our life.

Active, activity is defined in part as: “functioning; working; causing action; normal power of mind or body; energetic action; liveliness; alertness...” Worst still is when a Christian without comprehending, understanding, they accept as normal non-activity. We set ourselves up as a Christian to fall into non-active passivity. Notice the following scriptures: “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:14-17) “But will thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20) The conclusion is; that we must be active if we be a follower of Jesus Our Savior.

I know of Christians that are now aged, have slowed down, yet they are still actively engaged in works. They write letters of encouragement, they make telephone calls to those who are weak in soul and sick in body. They are still “functioning; working” active in what they can or able to do. Passivity, non-activity must not enter our Christian life.

Liveliness is found in the Word of God, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) You see, the Word of God is active, powerful, and energetic. Christians must produce this type of activity in order to remain true to the Word, because, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

Three Objections Concerning the Sabbath By Grady Scott


Three Objections
Concerning the Sabbath

By Grady Scott

[The following article appeared in the excellent (free) publication Power (Vol. 8, No. 9, September 1999, p. 4), sponsored by the Southaven church of Christ, P.O. Box 128, Southaven, MS 38671.] Sabbatarians usually have at least three objections to the concept of doing away with the Sabbath.  I realize that there are more, but these are often heard during any discussion.  Many will contend, “Didn’t Constantine change the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday in A.D. 325?  This is a misunderstanding of what actually took place.  The facts are:
  1. Christians were already meeting on the Lord’s day (Sunday) from the first century.  See Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-2.
  2. Clement of Rome (ca. A.D. 150) writes concerning a service of God’s people.  What day does he mention?  Sunday.
  3. The Ante-Nicean fathers (those prominent in the church before A.D. 325) uniformly speak of the Lord’s day observance.
  4. Constantine did not change the worship day to Sunday.  Rather, he legally set apart the day that Christians were already using for worship as a day of rest.  Others say that the Roman Catholic Church changed the day of worship to Sunday from Saturday.  They will quote Cardinal Gibbon’s work as support for this.  But would those who take this for “gospel” also believe that the Catholic Church gave the world the Bible, as Catholics believe, and which Cardinal Gibbons holds?  The facts are that the church, as described above, always kept the Lord’s day.  The Catholic Church, who misunderstands the division of the testaments and the Scriptures in general, needed some explanation for the change of the worship day on the Sabbath in the Old Testament to the Lord’s day during the New Testament.  They mistakenly concluded that they (the Catholic Church) must have surely changed it somewhere along the way.  However, this simply is not the case.
Finally, many will point to the fact that God said that the Sabbath would be a perpetual covenant which would last through their generations (Exodus 31:16).  Does this mean that the Sabbath would last forever?  Once again, the facts are different from what many believe.
  1. The Sabbath was never intended for the Gentiles.  It was given to the Jews (Exodus 31:17).  Nowhere is there a command for the Gentiles to keep the Sabbath.
  2. Secondly, the key is the phrase “through their generations.”  In other words, it would continue as long as the Jewish system existed.
  3. In fact, the Old Law predicted the coming of a new system (Jeremiah 31:31ff).  Moreover, the New Testament says that it is the fulfillment of the prophecy (Hebrews 8:8-13).
When properly understood, these objections lose all their weight.  Do not be fooled by false arguments.  Search the Scriptures daily, just as the Bereans of old did (Acts 17:11).

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The Selection Of The Seven (6:1-7) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                  The Selection Of The Seven (6:1-7)


1. As the disciples in Jerusalem increased, problems increased as well...
   a. Problems from without - Ac 4:1-3; 5:17-18
   b. Problems from within - Ac 5:1-11

2. In chapter six of Acts, difficulties continue...
   a. Complaints from those within - Ac 6:1-7
   b. Persecution from those without - Ac 6:8-15

[In Ac 6:1-7, with "The Selection Of The Seven" we read how the church successfully addressed a serious complication...]


      1. The number of the disciples was multiplying - Ac 6:1; cf. Ac 2:41; 4:4; 5:14
      2. Increasing numbers in a congregation often lead to problems
         a. It is more difficult to know everyone
         b. Cliques begin to form based on common interests
         c. Misunderstandings become more frequent

      1. Hellenists 
         a. Jews living in Jerusalem but originally connected with
            Diaspora Judaism and characterized by the use of Greek as 
            their principle language, especially for worship and scripture - AYBD
         b. The Hellenists in Ac 6:1 are Christian Jews, while in Ac 9:29 they represent the larger group 
             of Diaspora Jews who have not converted - ibid.
      2. Hebrews
         a. Aramaic-speaking Jews who held to their native language and culture
         b. In this passage they are evidently Christian Jews as well

      1. Feature of communal Christianity practiced in Jerusalem - Ac 6:1; cf. Ac 2:44-45; 4:35
      2. Which was not the norm practiced elsewhere - see "Communal Christianity"
      1. Churches would provide support for widows, with qualification- cf. 1Ti 5:3-16
      2. The Hellenist widows were being neglected - Ac 6:1
      3. Leading to a complaint by the Hellenists against the Hebrews

      1. The twelve (apostles) summon the multitude - Ac 6:2
      2. "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables"
      3. Leaders should not be distracted from their primary responsibilities - e.g., Exo 18:13-26  
      4. Note well:  The apostles' duty was prayer and the ministry of the Word - cf. Ac 6:4

[The problem threatened the care of the widows, the unity of the church
and the spread of the Word.  The solution serves as an example for
solving church-related problems...]


      1. The apostles summon the multitude of disciples - Ac 6:2
      2. The apostles explain the problem to the disciples - ibid.
      3. The apostles propose a solution - Ac 6:3-4
         a. The congregation to select seven men
         b. Men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom
         c. Whom the apostles could appoint over the distribution
         d. So the apostles can be devoted to prayer and the Word

      1. The proposal pleases the multitude - Ac 6:5
      2. They select seven men - ibid.
         a. Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, later the first martyr - Ac 7:57-60
         b. Philip, who later served as an evangelist - Ac 8:4; 21:8
         c. Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch
      3. Note well:  the church, while mostly Hebrews, appointed seven Hellenists!

      1. Set before the apostles by the multitude - Ac 6:6
      2. Appointed with prayer and the laying on of hands - ibid.
         a. Indicating acceptance and approval of those who have been
            selected by the congregation - cf. 1Ti 5:22
         b. Beseeching God's blessing and protection on those who serve- cf. Ac 13:1-3
         c. It may have also involved imparting a miraculous measure of
            the Holy Spirit via the apostles - cf. Ac 6:8; 8:6-7,18;19:6; Ro 1:11

[The congregation was pleased, and the widows' need was met.  Not surprising, therefore, was...]


      1. Once again the Word of God had free course - Ac 6:7; cf. 2Th 3:1
      2. They were able to devote themselves to the ministry of the Word - cf. Ac 5:42 

      1. Once again the growth of the church grew exponentially - Ac 6:7
      2. Which is what happens when the Word of God is spread - cf. Ac 2:41,47; 4:4
      1. A great many of the priests were obedient to the faith - Ac 6:7
      2. Perhaps many who earlier believed but were ashamed to confess - cf. Jn 12:42-43


1. Church problems are a common occurrence...
   a. Especially as churches grow rapidly
   b. Satan does what he can to hinder growth - cf. Mt 13:24-25

2. Church problems can be a great hindrance...
   a. Creating ill will among members
   b. Distracting members from important tasks

3. Church problems can be solved successfully...
   a. By informing the congregation of the problem
   b. By involving the congregation in finding a solution

From "The Selection Of The Seven", a congregation can learn how to turn a trial into a triumph...! 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The Persecution Intensifies (5:17-42) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                The Persecution Intensifies (5:17-42)


1. Previously, we saw where persecution against the church began...
   a. Religious leaders in Jerusalem had become greatly disturbed - Ac 4:1-2
   b. They made threats against Peter and John, but nothing more - Ac 4:18-22

2. We saw how the apostles responded to the threats...
   a. With fellowship and prayer for boldness - Ac 4:23,29
   b. Strengthened by the Spirit, they continued to preach with boldness - Ac 4:31

[But as the church in Jerusalem grew, so did the persecution against it. 
Beginning with Ac 5:17, let's read about the apostles of Christ...]


      1. By the high priest and those of the Sadducees - Ac 5:17-18
      2. Who were filled with indignation - cf. Ac 4:1-2,18,21

      a. Who came at night, opened the prison doors, and brought them out - Ac 5:19
      b. Who charged them to return to the temple and speak the words of life - Ac 5:20
      c. Which they did, entering the temple in the early morning - Ac 5:21

[For the first time, we read of an angel freeing servants of the Lord
(cf. Ac 12:5-11).  But it is not long before the apostles are...]


      1. To be brought from the prison - Ac 5:21
      2. But the officers are unable, for the apostles are not there!  - Ac 5:22
      3. Despite secure doors and the guards standing outside - Ac 5:23

      1. The council is informed that the apostles are teaching in the temple - Ac 5:24-25
      2. The apostles are brought to the council peacefully, for fear of the people - Ac 5:26

      1. Were they not strictly commanded to teach in Jesus' name? - Ac 5:27-28
      2. "You have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, intending to bring this Man's blood on us!"

      1. We ought to obey God rather than man - Ac 5:29
      2. God has raised Jesus, whom you murdered - Ac 5:30; cf. Ac 4:19
      3. God has exalted Jesus to His right hand - Ac 5:31; cf. Ac 2:33,36
         a. To be Prince and Savior
         b. To give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins - cf. Lk 24:47
      4. We are witnesses to these things - Ac 5:32
         a. And so is the Holy Spirit
         b. Whom God has given to those who obey Him - cf. Ac 2:38-39

[The council's immediate reaction was anger, and plotted to kill them (Ac
5:33).  But one of the council, like Nicodemus a good and fair man (cf.
Jn 3:1-2; 7:50-51; 19:38-39), stands up to speak...]


      1. A Pharisee, a teacher of the law - Ac 5:34
      2. Held in respect by all the people - cf. Ac 22:3
      3. Who commands the apostles to be put outside

      1. To be careful what they do with the apostles - Ac 5:35
      2. To remember what happened to Theudas - Ac 5:36
         a. A man claiming to be someone, joined by 400 men
         b. He was slain, and those who obeyed him came to nothing
      3. To remember what happened to Judas of Galilee - Ac 5:37
         a. He drew away many people after him
         b. He also perished, and those who obeyed him dispersed
      4. His advice regarding the apostles: leave them alone - Ac 5:38-39
         a. If their work is of men, it will come to nothing
         b. If it is of God, it cannot be overthrown and you will be fighting against God

[The Pharisee and teacher, Gamaliel, displayed wisdom and justice that
spared the apostles' death on that occasion.  But despite his efforts,
the apostles were not released unharmed...]


      1. They agree with Gamaliel to let the apostles go - Ac 5:40
      2. But first beat them and commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus - cf. Ac 4:17-18

      1. Left rejoicing they were counted worthy to suffer for His name - Ac 5:41; cf. Mt 5:10-12
      2. Continued to teach and preach Jesus daily in the temple and in every house - Ac 5:42


1. From threats to beatings, the persecution was intensified against the church 

2. Once again, the apostles show how to respond to persecution:  with
   joy! - cf. Lk 6:22-23; Ro 5:3-4; 1Pe 2:19; 3:14; 4:14; Jm 1:2-4 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

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


Polygamy and the Quran

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Those people who have modeled their thinking after New Testament Christianity are, to say the least, a bit surprised (if not shocked and appalled) to learn that the religion of Islam countenances polygamy. But the Christian mind must realize that Muhammad’s Islam arose out of Arabia in the sixth and seventh centuries A.D. The Arab culture was well-known for the practice of polygamy, in which the men were allowed to have as many wives as they desired. The Quran addressed this social circumstance by placing a limitation on the number of wives a man could have. The wording of the pronouncement is in a surah titled “Women”: “And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess” (Surah 4:3).
Setting aside the issue of why Muhammad himself was exempt from this limitation (Surah 33:50—see Miller, “Muhammad’s Polygamy,” 2004), the divine origin of the Quran is discredited on the basis of its stance on polygamy. In the first place, for all practical purposes, the Quran authorizes a man to have as many wives as he chooses, since its teaching on divorce contradicts its teaching on marriage. Unlike the New Testament, which confines permission to divorce on the sole grounds of sexual unfaithfulness (Matthew 19:9), the Quran authorizes divorce for any reason (e.g., Surah 2:226-232,241; 33:4,49; 58:2-4; 65:1-7). If a man can divorce his wife for any reason, then the “command” that limits a man to four wives is effectively meaningless—merely restricting a man to four legal wives at a time. Theoretically, a man could have an unlimited number of wives—all with the approval of God!
In the second place, Jesus declared in no uncertain terms that “whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9, emp. added). Jesus gave one, and only one, reason for divorce in God’s sight. In fact, even the Old Testament affirmed that God “hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16). The teaching of the Bible on divorce is a higher, stricter, nobler standard than the one advocated by the Quran. The two books, in fact, contradict each other on this point.
In the third place, why does the Quran stipulate the number “four”? Why not three or five wives? The number four would appear to be an arbitrary number with no significance—at least, none is given. Though the passage in question indicates the criterion of a man’s ability to do justice to those he marries, there is no reason to specify the number four, since men would vary a great deal in the number of women that they would have the ability to manage fairly.
The answer may be seen in the influence of the contemporaneous Jewish population of Arabia. Sixth century Arabia was a tribal oriented society that relied heavily on oral communication in social interactions. Muhammad would have been the recipient of considerable information conveyed orally by his Jewish, and even Christian, contemporaries. Many tales, fables, and rabbinical traditions undoubtedly circulated among the Jewish tribes of Arabia. The Jews themselves probably were lacking in book-learning, having been separated from the mainstream of Jewish thought and intellectual development in their migration to the Arabian peninsula. The evidence demonstrates that the author of the Quran borrowed extensively from Jewish and other sources. The ancient Talmudic record (Arbah Turim, Ev. Hazaer, 1) stated: “A man may marry many wives, for Rabba saith it is lawful to do so, if he can provide for them. Nevertheless, the wise men have given good advice, that a man should not marry more than four wives” (see Rodwell, 1950, p. 411; Tisdall, 1905, pp. 129-130). The similarity with the wording of the Quran is too striking to be coincidental. It can be argued quite convincingly that the magic number of four was drawn from currently circulating Jewish teaching.


Miller, Dave (2004), “Muhammad’s Polygamy,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2219.
Rodwell, J.M., trans. (1950 reprint), The Koran (London: J.M. Dent and Sons).
Tisdall, W. St. Clair (1905), The Original Sources of the Quran (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge).

The Silence of the Scriptures: An Argument for Inspiration by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


The Silence of the Scriptures: An Argument for Inspiration

by  Wayne Jackson, M.A.

J.W. McGarvey (1829-1911) once was characterized by The London Times as the greatest Bible scholar on either side of the Atlantic. There is no question but that the professor of sacred history in the College of the Bible at Lexington, Kentucky (where he taught for forty-six years) was one of the most skillful defenders of the Scriptures in his day. His books on Christian evidences, and other topics, are still classics and should be circulated widely.
In the summer of 1893, McGarvey delivered a lecture on the “Inspiration of the Scriptures” before the YMCA at the University of Missouri. His arguments appealed mainly to certain internal evidences from the New Testament itself that argue for the Bible’s supernatural origin. One of McGarvey’s points was this: the very brevity of the New Testament narratives is astounding. For example, in connection with some of the most dramatic episodes of the New Testament, where we would expect the writers to satisfy our longing for loads of details, the sacred narrative contains only abbreviated descriptions.
Consider the episode of Christ’s baptism. How many pages might have been consumed in describing this epochal event, had such been left to the literary skill of human authors? God broke a verbal silence of fifteen centuries and audibly acknowledged His beloved Son. And yet, Matthew records the circumstance with but a dozen lines, Mark and Luke utilize about half that space, and John has only a sentence of about twelve words describing the occasion. McGarvey asked: “What man with a writer’s instinct could have stopped short of many pages in describing the scene so as to do it justice?” (n.d., p. 6). The scholarly professor cited other equally impressive examples of the startling restraint employed by the New Testament writers. It is quite reasonable, he argued, to conclude that God Himself was supervising the composition of the documents. The Bible was not designed to satisfy our inquisitiveness. Only such materials as were consistent with the Lord’s higher purpose were incorporated into the text.
McGarvey’s argument is quite compelling. Moreover, we are convinced that it may be pursued even further. A strong case can be made in favor of the Bible’s inspiration on the basis of things that it omits altogether. In other words, the silence of the Scriptures—in areas where human curiosity clamors for additional information—is another internal evidence that reflects the heavenly origin of the biblical documents. Let us consider this matter.


The Bible begins with the simple declarative, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Neither in Genesis 1, nor elsewhere in Holy Writ, is any attempt made to explain the origin of the Creator of the Universe. His self-existence is assumed as a primary truth. The prophets speak of His eternal presence without any adorning explanation. From everlasting to everlasting, He is the eternal God (cf. Psalm 90:2 and Deuteronomy 33:27).
The religions of ancient paganism postulate bizarre origins for their deities. Egyptian theology “dwelt on the birth of the gods from Osiris, and told how he, the sun, brought forth the seven great planetary gods, and then the twelve humbler gods of the signs of the zodiac; they, in their turn, producing the twenty-eight gods presiding over the stations of the moon, the seventy-two companions of the sun, and other deities” (Geikie, n.d. 1:27). How significant it is that Moses, who grew up in Egypt, incorporated no such foolishness into the Genesis record. A Babylonian creation epic, Enuma elish, tells how pagan deities, Apsu and Tiamat, “procreated the other gods” (Mitchell, 1988, p. 69). The mythology of India spoke of Brahma, “the father of all creatures,” being hatched from a great egg of golden splendor. The Greeks constructed genealogical tables chronicling the history of their gods, etc., but the Scriptures stand aloof from such absurdities.


The literature of heathenism is filled with representations of its gods. For instance, Baal, a Canaanite deity, frequently became a factor in the apostasy of the Hebrew people. Baal was a god of fertility. He is depicted on ancient monuments holding a lightning bolt in his hand (suggestive of his control of the weather); at other times his genital organ is prominently displayed because he was the “god of sex.” His mother, Asherah, the patron goddess of sex, is depicted in a vulgar fashion in the artwork of ancient Ras Shamra (see Boyd, 1969, pp. 117-122). El, the husband of Asherah, is portrayed as an old man with white hair and a beard (Smick, 1988, 1:411). Many other pagan gods likewise are represented quite graphically.
The God of the Bible, however, never is given any sort of a physical description. While it is true that anthropomorphic (meaning “man form”) language is employed frequently in Scripture to denote certain attributes of the Lord (e.g., the “eyes,” “hands,” etc., of the Lord)—because such figures are necessary to accommodate a human level of comprehension—nevertheless, the divine writers clearly stress that God is a spirit being and, as such, has no physical composition (John 4:24; Luke 24:39). He is invisible to human sight (1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16). If the Bible is a work of fiction, why is there no description of God?


When William Manchester wrote his acclaimed biography, American Caesar—Douglas McArthur, he referenced descriptions of the illustrious military commander on more than seventy pages (1978, p. 781). By way of contrast (even though Jesus Christ is the central character of the Scriptures, and is found either directly or indirectly in every book of the Bible), there is not one line in the New Testament giving a depiction of His physical attributes. In fact, the only remote reference to Jesus’ appearance is a vague allusion in the book of Isaiah where the Savior is represented as having “no comeliness” that His fellows would consider desirable (Isaiah 53:2). Imagine that. No description is given of the most prominent person of the Bible, the founder of the Christian religion—only a passing prophetic remark that suggests He was less-than-handsome! What group of writers, desiring to ensure the success of Christianity, would have adopted such an approach?


With the exception of the miraculous events connected with the birth of Jesus, we know little of the first thirty years of His life upon this Earth. When He was eight days old, He was circumcised according to Jewish law (Luke 2:21). Thirty-three days later He was presented in the temple (Luke 2:22-39). There is the account of the visit of those wise-men from the east (Matthew 2:1-12), and then the flight into Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod (Matthew 2:13-23). There is a general reference to His eventual settlement at Nazareth (Matthew 2:23:Luke 2:39-40), and then the record of a visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve years old (Luke 2:41-50). Following this, there is a blank space in the narrative that covers eighteen years in the life of Christ. Other than the generic notation that He was advancing in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:51-52), we know absolutely nothing of this time span. Are we not curious? Would not an average human biographer have given some interesting data? That is a normal expectation. It was this very circumstance that called forth a number of ancient spurious writings, known collectively as the Apocryphal Gospels. These extra-canonical documents arose because of the desire to have a fuller knowledge of certain periods of the life of Christ that the genuine Gospels omitted. Consider, for instance, the Childhood Gospel of Thomas. It depicts the boy Jesus making little birds out of clay and causing them to fly away. Again, when another boy accidentally bumped into Him, Jesus supposedly caused him to die immediately (see Findlay, 1906, 1:671-685). No such absurdities deface the New Testament.


In addition to the foregoing cases, there are scores of biblical contexts within which there are strange absences of information—from a purely human viewpoint.
(1) Moses is the most prominent character of the Old Testament. He is mentioned more than 750 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, and approximately 80 times in the New Testament. At a very early age he was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter (a brilliant strategy by his mother to save her son’s life). He thus was reared as an Egyptian prince. The first forty years of his life were spent in the environment of Egypt’s splendor and power. Between Exodus 2:10 and 2:11, however, there is a silent gap of four decades. Only the book of Acts briefly says: “And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; and he was mighty in his words and works” (7:22). What were those words and works? What exciting events occurred during that first third of Moses’ life? We long to know, but the Holy Spirit did not see fit to supply the information.
(2) The most revered item of furniture in Israel’s sacred tabernacle was the “Ark of the Covenant,” that small wooden chest, overlaid with gold, which contained the tables of the ten commandments, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod that had budded miraculously. What happened to the ark? Sometime after the chest was placed in Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 8:1-11), it simply vanished. Movies and television specials have speculated regarding its fate, but no one knows what happened to it. Surely a non-inspired literary genius would not have left the ark’s destiny shrouded in obscurity. Indeed, the apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees has Jeremiah hiding it in a cave until the time when God would restore His people (2:4-8). Men cannot resist the temptation to speak where God has been silent.
(3) Joseph of Nazareth was the foster father of Jesus, and Mary was his mother. The benevolent character of Joseph is tenderly revealed in Matthew 1. He was willing to endure the scorn of his peers by taking his pregnant betrothed into his home. What happened to him? He simply disappears from the New Testament record following that journey to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve years old (Luke 2:41ff.; cf. Matthew 12:46). And what of Mary? Surely she was one of the noblest women God ever made. Apparently she was in the care of the apostle John following the death of her son (John 19:26-27). We find her in the company of the disciples following Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:14). But how did she eventually die? There is not a clue. What human biographer would have left these matters dangling?
(4) Is it not most unusual that there are no descriptions of the Lord’s apostles in the New Testament, and, except for a few scant references (see Luke 4:38; 1 Corinthians 9:5), there is no information regarding their families.
(5) The mission of John the Baptizer was to prepare the Jews for Christ. Accordingly, John immersed those who repented of, and confessed, their sins (Matthew 3:6-8). His baptism was “for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4), and those who rejected it were repudiating the very counsel of God Himself (Luke 7:30). Unquestionably the Lord’s apostles submitted to John’s baptism, but where is the record of such? One can only infer it. Furthermore, where, after the establishment of Christianity, is there any mention of the evangelistic work of Andrew, Simon the Zealot, Thomas, et al.? The labors of most of the apostles are missing from the record. Who in the world, following common literary impulses, is going to pass over things of this nature? Finally, with the sole exception of James (see Acts 12:1), there is not a word as to how the apostles died.
(6) When Jesus died, following His six hours of agony on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, there was a tremendous earthquake, and, perhaps most shocking of all, the tombs in Jerusalem were opened, “and many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were raised; and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered into the holy city and appeared unto many” (Matthew 27:52-53). Did these ex-corpses speak to folks on the street? What was the effect of this miracle upon the citizens of the city? What ultimately happened to those saints? Are we to be left hanging? Additionally, what was the impact of that severing of the temple’s veil? There is not a word concerning the panic that must have seized the Jewish leaders.
(7) The book of Acts is one of the great adventure narratives of the New Testament. It tells of the establishment and growth of Christianity. A major component of that expansion was the ministry of the brilliant zealot, Saul of Tarsus (later to become known as Paul, the apostle). Paul’s conversion and his fruitful missionary campaigns are detailed in thrilling fashion from Acts 9 onward. Towards the end of Acts, Paul is arrested as a result of Jewish harassment. Ultimately, he appeals his case to Caesar (the Roman Supreme Court, if you will), and is taken to Rome. As the book of Acts concludes, Paul has been under house-arrest—daily chained to a Roman soldier—for two years. But Acts then ends quite abruptly. When did Paul appear before Caesar (Acts 27:24)? What did he say? What effect was produced?
(8) There is a considerable amount of extra-biblical evidence indicating that the author of the third Gospel was Luke, the physician (Colossians 4:14). This view was “universally believed” by the middle of the second century. No one “speaks doubtfully on this point” (Plummer, 1896, p. xvi). Moreover, both external and internal evidence suggests that the author of the third Gospel also penned the book of Acts. The Muratorian Canon (a fragmentary list of New Testament books from the late second century A.D.) states that Luke compiled “the Acts of all the Apostles” for “most excellent Theophilus (see Acts 1:1; cf. Luke 1:3). Luke was an associate of Paul on several of the apostle’s missionary journeys and during the dramatic voyage to Rome. This circumstance is reflected in the “we” segments of the book of Acts (16:10-17; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16). The character of Luke’s writings reveals that he was a brilliant scholar and a devoted companion to Paul—to the very end of the great apostle’s life (see 2 Timothy 4:11). And yet, as valuable as his contributions were, the New Testament student knows absolutely nothing of his background (e.g., where he was born, his educational training, his family associations, his conversion, etc.). Nor is anything known of his death. He is the only Gentile writer of the New Testament (his literary contributions comprising about 25% of that document), yet he is ever discreetly in the background. He is named in only three places in the entire New Testament (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11). Given the propensity of ordinary journalists, would any writer—who played such a prominent role in the affairs he chronicled—have so veiled himself? Surely, to the analytical person, this must suggest the superintendence of the divine Spirit of God.


What shall we make of these—and many other—puzzling omissions from the sacred text? Simply this: the Holy Spirit was the guiding hand behind the composition of the Bible. He incorporated into the sacred volume only such materials as were germane to the divine purpose. He did not cater to human curiosity. Thus, Bible inspiration is demonstrated as much by its exclusions as by its inclusions. The wide variety of evidence documenting the authenticity of the Holy Scriptures is truly profound.


Boyd, Robert T. (1969), A Pictorial Guide to Biblical Archaeology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Findlay, A.F. (1906), “Gospels (Apocryphal),” A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, ed. James Hastings (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark).
Geikie, Cunningham (n.d.), Hours with the Bible (New York: Hurst).
McGarvey, J.W. (n.d.), Sermons (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).
Manchester, William (1978), American Caesar—Douglas McArthur, 1880-1964 (Boston: Little, Brown).
Mitchell, T.C. (1988), The Bible in the British Museum (London: British Museum).
Plummer, Alfred (1896), The Gospel According to Luke (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark).
Smick, Elmer B. (1988), Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Walter Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

The Human Skin—Engineered by God by Taylor Richardson


The Human Skin—Engineered by God

by  Taylor Richardson

In what single place can you find the following things: 19 million cells, 625 sweat glands, 90 oil glands, 65 hairs, 19 feet of blood vessels, and 19,000 sensory cells? The answer: in one square inch of human skin! The human skin is considered the largest organ in the body (about 16% of your body weight), and covers an area of 20 square feet. Your skin, or integument, has many different protective and metabolic functions that help keep your body stabilized.


You have two skin layers. The outer layer, the epidermis, consists of rows of cells about 12 to 15 deep, and is between 0.07 and 0.12 millimeters thick (about as thick as a piece of paper). This top layer is composed mainly of dead cells that are being replaced constantly by newer cells. Isaac Asimov explained the process in his book, The Human Body:
The cells at the base of the epidermis are alive, and are constantly growing and multiplying so that cell after cell is pushed upward and away from the dermis. Without a blood supply, the cell dies and much of it, aside from the inert keratin, atrophies. The vicissitudes of existence are constantly rubbing away some of this dead material from the surface of our body, but this is constantly being replaced from below, and we retain our epidermis ever fresh (1963, pp. 258-259).
Sometimes, when areas of the skin are subjected to constant friction, the epidermis responds by thickening itself in that area, creating a callus. These patches of hard skin usually are found on the soles of feet of people who walk barefoot, and on the hands of farmers. It is as though the dermis had traded in its thin plastic gloves for a pair made of leather.
The inner layer, or dermis, is a spongy, leathery area that is about one to two millimeters thick, consisting mainly of collagen (a fibrous protein found in the skin) connective tissue. The dermis is joined to the epidermis by a grooved surface that contains nerves, blood vessels, hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and sweat glands, all of which have important functions. Each hair follicle, for example, contains one hair that transmits the reception of touch to sensory nerves around the follicle. Sebaceous glands produce a waxy secretion called sebum, which helps to waterproof the skin. Sweat glands help to cool the skin and keep the body temperature constant.


One of the most important functions of the skin is to provide us with a sense of touch. Werner Gitt explained it best:
The most important property of the skin is that it contains our sense of touch… The sense of touch is difficult to investigate. All other senses have a definite key organ which can be studied, but the skin is spread over the entire body and cannot easily be delimited or “switched off.” In the case of vision, scientists can observe blind persons to learn more about seeing, and they can study deaf people to learn more about hearing. But this is impossible for the sense of touch (1999, p. 41).
Receptors (from the Latin word receptor, meaning “recorder”) located at the ends of nerve fibers are used to detect stimuli and convert them into neural impulses to be sent to the brain through the peripheral and central nervous systems. Receptors also are located in the internal organs, muscles, and skeletal joints, and can detect information such as the temperature of a cup of coffee or the roughness of sand paper. Although we “touch” with our epidermis, the sense of touch actually is recorded in the dermis and passed on to the central nervous system.
Layers of Skin
Another important function of the skin is that it helps the body keep a constant temperature. Gillen, et al., wrote: “The word homeostasis comes from two Greek terms, homeo (alike or the same) and stasis (standing or remaining). Thus the word means remaining the same” (1999, italics, parenthetical items, and emp. in orig.). A person’s average body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but if it increases by 7 or 8 degrees, and remains there for any of length of time, a person will almost certainly die. So how does the body keep a generally constant temperature? It does so via a method of cooling known as perspiration. The main sources of body heat are the internal organs that work all the time, such as the heart and kidneys. The heat created by these organs is carried off by the blood and distributed evenly throughout the body. This is an efficient way to diffuse the heat at a slow pace, but what happens when the body must get rid of heat quickly? Asimov explained:
We are equipped with tiny glands distributed all over our skin, about two million of them all together, the purpose of which is to bring water to the surface of the skin. On the surface this water is vaporized and heat is in this manner withdrawn from the body. The glands are sweat glands and the liquid produced is sweat or perspiration. A sweat gland consists of a tiny coiled tube, the main body of which situated deep in the dermis. The tube straightens out finally and extends up through the epidermis. The tiny opening on the surface is a pore and is just barley visible to the naked eye. When you are working or playing hard, and heat production is increased, the sweat glands accelerate their production of perspiration. This is also true when the temperature is unusually high. The rate of production may then outstrip the rate of evaporation, particularly if humidity is high, since the rate of evaporation declines with the rise in humidity. Perspiration will then collect on the body in visible drops and we are conscious of sweating (p. 265, italics in orig.).
The temperature determines how many sweat glands a person has, in the same way that the amount of sunlight determines how much melanin is in the skin. People who live in hot, humid climates tend to have more sweat glands, and produce perspiration with a smaller concentration of salt, than people living in colder, drier climates.
The skin also acts like a chemical-processing plant for the entire body. When you are outside, the skin absorbs ultraviolet rays from the Sun, and then uses them to convert chemicals into vitamin D. This vitamin is very important to our body because it helps stimulate the absorption of calcium. Without calcium, our bones grow thin and brittle, eventually leading to diseases such as rickets and osteomalacia (skeletal diseases that weaken bones). In addition, the epidermis contains a special pigment called melanin, which is responsible for the variety of color in our skin. It also acts as a protection against ultraviolet light. The melanin absorbs ultraviolet light without harming itself, and acts as a protective covering over the area beneath it. Like vitamin D, melanin is formed by the exposure to sunlight, so people in tropical regions have more melanin to protect them from the harmful ultraviolet rays, while people in northern regions have little traces of melanin because the Sun is rarely out for long periods of time. But not all people are able to produce melanin in their bodies. Occasionally, individuals are born who are incapable of forming any melanin at all. Their skin and hair are pinkish-white and their eyes are pinkish-red, because the tiny blood vessels are visible in the iris of their eyes (where there are typically colors such as blue, green, hazel, and brown). A person with this condition is referred to as an albino, indicating that they lack pigmentation in their skin. Albinism is not limited just to humans, but also is found in other species of animals as well (e.g., the white rat, the white elephant, the white tiger, etc.).
Furthermore, the skin also helps protect the inside of the body. If you have ever been to an amusement park, you probably have seen the bumper cars that you can drive to bump into other cars. Collisions in those cars are perfectly safe because of the rubber rings that surround the cars. The skin is like those rubber rings in that it acts like a shock absorber when you fall, protecting all of your internal organs. If we didn’t have this “shock absorber,” it would be practically impossible to do physical activities without damaging internal organs or bruising easily.
It is impossible that evolution could have produced such an important and complex organ as the human skin. The many intricacies of its functions are evidence of a Creator. One writer remarked: “The skin is a miracle of evolutionary engineering: it waterproofs the body, blocks out and destroys harmful bacteria, regulates temperature, and continuously communicates with the brain” (McCutcheon, 1989, p. 113). Yes, the skin is a “miracle” all right—but not a miracle of evolution. And yes, the skin was “engineered”—but the engineer was God!


Asimov, Isaac (1963), The Human Body (New York: New American Library).
Gillen, Alan L., Frank J. Sherwin III, and Alan C. Knowles (1999), The Human Body: An Intelligent Design (St. Joseph, MO: Creation Research Society).
Gitt, Werner (1999), The Wonder of Man (Bielefeld, Germany: Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung E.V.).
McCutcheon, Marc (1989), The Compass in Your Nose (Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher).

Jesus’ Hermeneutical Principles by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Jesus’ Hermeneutical Principles

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

We live in a pluralistic society where differing, even conflicting, viewpoints are seen as equally valid. This attitude has become very prevalent in our culture since the 60s. Television and radio talk shows continually stress that no absolutes exist. Many consider truth to be subjective and relative. They insist that there are very few, if any, definites—very little black and white, but a lot of gray. The matter is further muddled by the fact that on any religious or moral question, there are knowledgeable, sincere authorities on both sides of the issue. The general American mindset is that since truth is so elusive, no one should judge anyone else. No one should be so arrogant or dogmatic as to insist that a certain viewpoint is the only correct viewpoint. Truth to one person is not truth to another.
But without even examining God’s Word, we ought to be able to see that such thinking is self-contradictory and unacceptable. Why? Because those who espouse it insist that they are correct. They are dogmatic in their insistence that “no one should be dogmatic.” They hold as absolute and certain truth the fact that there are no absolute truths. Therefore, they have to deny their viewpoint in order to hold it!
Especially in religion, people tend to take the foolish position that truth is elusive and unattainable. Only in the task of interpreting the Bible do people take the position that truth is relative, always changing, and something of which we can never be sure. We reason in religion in a way that differs from the way we reason in every other facet of our lives.
For example, when we visit the doctor, we communicate to him our symptoms and expect him to understand us. We expect him to gather all the relevant evidence (the verbal information we give as well as the signs our bodies manifest) and then properly interpret that evidence to draw the right conclusions concerning our ailment and proper treatment. He then writes down a prescription that we take to the pharmacist and, once again, we expect the pharmacist to interpret properly the doctor’s instructions. We take the prescription home and read the label, fully expecting to understand the directions. The fact that doctors and pharmacists may sometimes make mistakes by drawing unwarranted conclusions from the evidence they gather about our physical condition does not change the fact that if they gather sufficient evidence and reason properly about the information, they can arrive at truth regarding our medical condition.
Everyday we interpret thousands of messages accurately. We read the newspaper, fully expecting to understand what we are reading. We read novels with the same expectation. We watch the news on television, we go to the mailbox and get our mail and browse through it, fully expecting to interpret properly the messages being conveyed to us. The fact that misunderstanding sometimes occurs, does not negate the fact that more information can be examined in order to draw the right conclusions and arrive at correct interpretations.
We go through this process constantly—every waking hour of the day, day in and day out, year after year. We give ourselves credit for having the ability to operate sensibly and communicate with one another intelligibly. Yet we turn right around and imply that the God of heaven, the One Who created our minds and our thinking capacity, the One Who is infinitely wiser and more capable than humans, is incapable of making His will known to humanity in a clear and understandable fashion! When we come to the Bible, we do a sudden about-face and insist that we can’t be sure what God’s will is, we must not be dogmatic on doctrine, and we must allow for differing opinions on what is spiritually right and wrong!
Did God author the Bible through inspired men with the purpose of making known His will for us? Did God have the Bible written in such a way that we can grasp the meanings that He intended to convey? The Bible declares, “yes.” God has given man written revelation with the understanding that it can be comprehended correctly. This means that for every teaching, for every passage, for every verse, for every word in the Bible, there is a meaning that God intended to convey. That’s what Peter meant when he wrote: “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). He meant that men did not decide what information to include in inspired material—God did. God has given every responsible human being the task of ascertaining that one correct interpretation. There is only one correct interpretation to any given passage—the right one: God’s view!
Let us return to the New Testament and Jesus Christ Himself. Let us examine the very approach that Jesus took in interpreting Scripture. Let us discover Jesus’ attitude toward truth and revelation. Let us consider how He employed Scripture to face the assaults of those who would deter Him from conformity to the will of God. Then let us “go and do likewise.” Jesus’ own approach to interpretation may be viewed in terms of His attitude toward Scripture and His actual use of Scripture.

Jesus’ Attitude Toward Scripture

Concerning His attitude toward Scripture, several elements emerge from His life on Earth.
1. Jesus clearly considered Scripture to be divinely inspired through human instrumentality. He attributed David’s words in Psalm 110:1 to the Holy Spirit (Mark 12:36). He treated Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9:27 as an inspired prediction that most certainly would come true (Matthew 24:15). On the very day He visited the synagogue in Nazareth and read aloud from Isaiah 61, He declared the passage fulfilled in their hearing (Luke 4:21). He maintained that Scripture’s affirmation that Elijah was to precede the Messiah’s appearance (Malachi 4:5) was exactly what transpired (Mark 9:11-13).
At His arrest, He asked Peter two questions, the second of which further confirmed His belief in the inspiration of Scripture: “How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” (Matthew 26:54). He attributed His selection of Judas to the inevitable fulfillment of Psalm 41:9 (John 13:18). Indeed, He was so sure of the inspiration of the Old Testament that even at His death, He quoted Psalm 22:1 (Matthew 27:46). Clearly, Jesus recognized Scripture as originating in the mind of God, thus imparting a controlling unity to the whole of Scripture. To Jesus, the Old Testament from beginning to end is inspired of God.
Jesus consistently approved the idea that Scripture has been preserved from error and is the Word of God in all of its parts. Not only did He receive the predictive elements of Old Testament Scripture, but also He acknowledged the credibility of the didactic and historical portions as well. Daniel’s historicity (Mark 13:14), Jonah’s fish experience (Matthew 12:40), the divine creation of Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4), the reality of Noah and the Flood (Luke 17:26-27), Lot and the destruction of Sodom as well as the fate of Lot’s wife (Luke 17:29,32), the widow, famine, and drought of Elijah’s day (Luke 4:25-26), and the leprous Syrian commander, Naaman (Luke 4:27)—all attest to His conviction that Scripture is inspired fully “in all of its parts.” The credibility of the inspired writers was unquestioned and their literary productions contained no mistakes.
For Jesus, Old Testament inspiration extended to the verbal expression of the thoughts of the sacred writers. Jesus clearly embraced this understanding of the matter. He based His powerful, penetrating defense of the reality of the resurrection of the dead upon the tense of the grammar of Exodus 3:6. If God was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the very moment He was speaking to Moses, though the three had already died, then they must still exist beyond the grave (Matthew 22:32). [NOTE: The claim that Jesus made an argument based upon the “tense” of Old Testament language needs clarification. Actually, Hebrew has no past, present, or future tenses. Rather, action is regarded as being either completed or incomplete, and so verbs occur in the Hebrew Perfect or Imperfect. No verb occurs in God’s statement in Exodus 3:6. Consequently, tense is implied rather than expressed. In this case, the Hebrew grammar would allow any tense of the verb “to be.” Of course, Jesus clarified the ambiguity inherent in the passage by affirming what God had in mind. Matthew preserves Jesus’ use of the Greek present tense: “Ego eimi.”] The argument depends on God having worded His statement to convey contemporaneity.
When Jesus challenged the Pharisees to clarify the identity of the Messiah, He focused upon David’s use of the single term “Lord” in Psalm 110:1—“If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” (Matthew 22:45). His whole point depends upon verbal inspiration. On yet another occasion, Jesus was on the verge of being stoned by angry Jews because He identified Himself with deity. His defense was based upon a single word from Psalm 82:6—“gods” (John 10:34-35). His whole point depends upon verbal inspiration.
Jesus’ allusion to the “jot and tittle” constituted a tacit declaration of belief in verbal inspiration (Matthew 5:18). Not only the thought of Scripture, but also the words themselves and the letters that formed those words, were viewed as inspired. The same may be said of Jesus’ quotation of Genesis 2:24 in His discourse on divorce. Notice the wording: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said...” (Matthew 19:4-5). The verse to which Jesus alludes occurs immediately after a statement made by Adam. No indication is given in the text that the words are a direct quote of God. In fact, the words seem to be more authorial, narratorial comment by Moses, the author of the Pentateuch. Yet Jesus attributed the words to God. In other words, God was the author. The Genesis passage is not a record of what God said; it is what God said.
2. On the basis of this divine origin, Jesus also clearly demonstrated His attitude that Scripture is authoritative and that men are obligated to follow its precepts. When He described Abraham’s chat with the rich man in Hades, He quoted Abraham’s remark, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:29). In so doing, He manifested His high regard for the authority of the Old Testament as the ultimate voice and guide for Israel.
To Jesus, Scripture is the foundation of belief. He declared, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25). He told the Jews, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life.... [H]ad you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:39,46-47). Jesus asserted that the Old Testament bore authoritative divine witness to Himself and, in so doing, bore witness to the authority of the Old Testament itself.
Many instances demonstrate Jesus’ recognition of the authority of Scripture. In Matthew 12:39-40, Jonah’s experience (Jonah 1:17) foreshadowed Jesus’ own burial: “For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation” (Luke 11:30). In Matthew 4:17ff. Jesus opposed Jewish traditions and scribal commentary for making void the Word of God. In Mark 12:10, to confirm the point of His parable, Jesus introduced an authoritative Scripture with the rhetorical query, “Have you not read this Scripture?” In Luke 4:21, Jesus declared Isaiah 61:1-2 to be applicable to those who were in His presence on that occasion. In Luke 24:27,44, Jesus expounded the Old Testament Scriptures and declared the necessity of their fulfillment—a superfluous, futile exercise unless they were authoritative for His listeners. In John 15:25, words from a Psalm are described as “law.”
Perhaps the most striking proof that Jesus viewed Scripture as authoritative is the occasion when He ascribed legal authority to the entirety of Scripture—a view also held by the Jews (John 12:34). By maintaining that “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), Jesus asserted that its authority could not be annulled, denied, or withstood. Scripture’s authority is final and irrevocable. It governs all of life and will be fulfilled, come what may. Clearly, Jesus’ uniform attitude toward Scripture was one of complete trust and confidence in its authority.
3. Jesus also viewed Scripture as propositional, absolute, and objective. Phrases such as “it is written,” “God said,” “through the prophets,” and “Scripture says” show that Jesus and His apostles esteemed the Old Testament as divine and regarded its precepts as absolute truth. Its objective and absolute quality is seen in His frequent allusion to the Jewish writings as a unit—a well-defined, sacred totality (Matthew 5:17-18; Luke 24:44; cf. Matthew 24:35). The apostles and gospel writers agreed with Jesus’ view that Scripture must be fulfilled (cf. Matthew 26:26; Luke 3:4; 22:37; John 12:38).
Even as a boy of 12, Jesus’ handling of Scripture as an objective body of truth was evident as He dazzled the doctors of the law with “His understanding and answers” (Luke 2:47). This characteristic continued throughout His earthly habitation. He contradicted His antagonists (e.g., the chief priests, scribes, and Sadducees) by pinpointing ignorance of the Scriptures as the cause of their religious error (Matthew 21:16; 22:29). He as much as said: “If you knew Scripture, you would not be in error” (cf. Mark 12:24). He prodded the Pharisees to consult Hosea 6:6—“go and learn what this means” (Matthew 9:13). On the other hand, Jesus knew Scripture (He ought to, He wrote it!), and used it as the basis of objective perception.
The propositional nature of Scripture is particularly apparent in Christ’s frequent use of isolated Old Testament statements (i.e., propositions) to prove various contentions. He used Psalm 110:1 to prove His lordship (Mark 12:36). He proved His Messianic identity and impending resurrection by alluding to an apparent conflation of Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13 (Mark 14:62). He proved His death and resurrection were imminent by referring to Psalm 118:22 (Mark 12:10-22; cf. Acts 4:11).

Jesus’ Use of Scripture

Not only does the New Testament enlighten us as to Christ’s attitude toward Scripture, it also gives us many striking samples of Jesus’ pragmatic use of Scripture in day-to-day life. At least three observations emerge from an examination of Jesus’ actual handling of Scripture.
1. He relied very heavily upon Scripture. He quoted from the Old Testament frequently. He constantly reiterated to His disciples how the written Word of God should permeate life (e.g., Luke 24:27). He consistently affirmed the certainty of Scripture’s fulfillment in the world (e.g., Luke 24:44-46). He possessed a sense of the unity of history and a grasp of its wide sweep (e.g., Luke 11:50-51).
Preachers were once distinguished by their “book, chapter, and verse” approach to preaching. This very quality was typical of Jesus’ own approach to life. Yet preachers and members today are far more impressed by the theologians and latest popular authors than with the words of John, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and Moses. We have abandoned the primary sources in exchange for secondary, inferior, and in many cases, erroneous sources. We are now the most academically educated generation the church has ever known—yet we are the most ignorant when it comes to plain Bible knowledge. It is time to abandon the heart-warming anecdotes and reacquaint ourselves with the divine text. It is time to emulate Jesus’ own extensive reliance upon and allusion to Scripture.
2. In addition to a heavy reliance upon scriptural quotation, Jesus repeatedly demonstrated incredible proclivity for rationality in His sharp, potent, penetrating use of logic and sound argumentation. His first recorded responsible activity consisted of logical dialogue between Himself and the Jewish theologians at the age of 12. His logical prowess was evident not only to the doctors of the law, but to His parents as well (Luke 2:45-51). On the occasion of His baptism, He reasoned with John in order to convince John to immerse Him (Matthew 3:13-15). He advanced a logical reason to justify the action.
Immediately after this incident, Jesus faced Satan in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). Satan posed three arguments, urging Christ to act on the basis of erroneous reasoning. The sequence of the disputation between the two demonstrates Christ’s superior (i.e., accurate) use of logic to defeat His opponent. Jesus used direct statement, account of action, and implication. His allusion to the behavior of the Israelites, His use of direct statements from Deuteronomy, and His implied applications to the situation He was facing, all demonstrate a hermeneutic analogous to the traditional one that calls for “command, example, or necessary inference” as authority for belief and practice.
This incident also provides a marvelous demonstration of Christ’s mastery of debate and logical disputation. The example is not an isolated instance. Jesus employed logic and reason throughout His earthly sojourn. He responded to His contemporaries with piercing, devastating logic. He continually was besieged with questions and verbal tests to which He consistently displayed rational, reasoned response (Luke 11:53-54). Consider these few examples:
The exchange with the Pharisees over eating grain (Matthew 12:1-9);
The dialogue with chief priests and elders over authority (Matthew 21:23-27);
The interaction with the Pharisees over taxes (Matthew 22:15-22);
The response to the Sadducees concerning marriage and the resurrection (Matthew 22:23-33);
The argument posed to the Pharisees over the identity of the Messiah (Matthew 22:41-46);
The demonstrations of healing on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6; Luke 13:14-16; 14:1-6);
The response to the lawyers concerning the source of His miraculous power (Luke 11:14ff);
The answer to the scribes and Pharisees concerning fasting (Luke 5:33-39);
The handling of Simon’s disgruntled view of the sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50);
The exchange with the Pharisees concerning His triumphal entry (Luke 19:39-40);
The comments upon the occasion of His arrest (Luke 22:47-53).
Jesus was so sensible and rational in His discourse that when hard-hearted Jews declared Him to be mad or demon-possessed, others countered: “These are not the words of one who has a demon” (John 10:21). Indeed, Jesus consistently provided evidence, even empirical evidence, to substantiate His claims (John 10:24-26,36-38). How could anyone possibly question the fact of Jesus’ uniform use of logic and correct reasoning? He was and is the Master Logician who created the human mind to function rationally as well! His inspired followers were no different.
3. Closely related to Jesus’ emphasis upon logic is His virtually constant use of implication. Modern scholars are surely uncomfortable with Jesus’ use of what many have called “necessary inference.” Indeed, cries that call for an abandonment of implication in interpreting the Scriptures have grown louder. Not only is such thinking self-contradictory, it is patently foolish in light of Jesus’ own frequent and accurate use of implication.
Over and over, Jesus used implication. In Matthew 4:1-11, every case of Jesus’ use of Old Testament Scripture to counter Satan’s arguments requires proper reasoning and drawing of correct conclusions implied by the explicit statements. In Matthew 12:1-9, Jesus implied that if the Pharisees accepted David, who clearly violated Old Testament law, they should have no problem accepting the disciples, who did not violate Old Testament law. In Matthew 21:23-27, Jesus implied that if the chief priests and elders believed John’s baptism to be from Heaven, they should have submitted to John’s teaching—and to Jesus’ teaching as well. He further implied that if they believed John’s baptism to be from men, they ought to have been willing to face the peoples’ displeasure. The chief priests and elders had enough sense to infer precisely what Jesus implied and so refused to answer.
In Matthew 22:23-32, Jesus implied that if God declared Himself to be presently the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then they were still in existence. He also implied that if they were still in existence after their physical deaths, then resurrection of the dead is factual. Further, in context, Exodus 3:6, 13-16 are intended to identify the One who sent Moses to Egypt. However, in making this point, God implied that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still in existence. Jesus, in fact, was basing His point on a minor side point of the Exodus passage, but a point that is nevertheless clearly and divinely implied.
In Matthew 22:41-45, in response to Jesus’ question, the Pharisees identified the Christ as David’s son, no doubt alluding to 2 Samuel 7:11-17. Jesus cited Psalm 110:1 in order to encourage the Pharisees to fit two distinct concepts together by reasoning correctly about them and inferring what they clearly implied. Notice also that in its original context, Psalm 110:1 referred to the supremacy and conquest of the Messiah over the world. But Jesus focused upon an implication of the passage—that the Messiah would be both physically descended from David and yet Lord over David.


The Bible presents itself in terms of principles by which its truth may be ascertained. We can transcend our prejudices and presuppositions sufficiently to arrive at God’s truth—if we genuinely wish to do so. There is simply no such thing as “my interpretation” and “your interpretation.” There is only God’s interpretation. There is only God’s meaning—and with diligent, rational study, we can arrive at the truth on any subject that is vital to our spiritual well-being.
Rather than shrugging off the conflicting views and positions on various subjects (such as baptism, music in worship, miracles, how many churches may exist with God’s approval, etc.), rather than dismissing religious differences as hopeless, irresolvable, and irrelevant—we must study and search God’s book, cautiously refraining from misinterpreting and misusing Scripture. If we give diligent and careful attention to the task with an honest heart that is receptive to the truth, we will know God’s will. We will be prepared, as Jesus said in John 12:48, to stand before God at the Judgment and be judged by His words.
It is evident that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, demonstrated several significant hermeneutical principles in His own attitude toward and use of Scripture. He approached Scripture with the abiding conviction that the Old Testament is the authoritative, absolute, propositional, plenary, verbally inspired Word of God. In His handling of Scripture, He relied heavily upon extensive Scripture quotation, proper logical reasoning, and implication.
As American civilization jettisons the Bible from public life, so many in the church are participating in the culture-wide devaluation of God’s Word. They are accomplices in the sinister dissolution of Christianity in American culture. May God bless us in our efforts to conform ourselves to the hermeneutical principles of Jesus.

Isaiah and the Deity of Christ by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Isaiah and the Deity of Christ

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

It has become popular in recent years to consider the divine nature of Christ as simply a doctrine invented by Christians long after Jesus’ death. In his blockbuster book The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown alleged that Jesus’ deity was concocted 300 years after His crucifixion (2003, pp. 233-234). Jehovah’s Witnesses also frequently distribute literature espousing that Christ’s divine nature is a trumped-up teaching of men, rather than an actual doctrine of God (see “What Does...,” 1989, pp. 12-16). Although many New Testament passages could be consulted to demonstrate the deity of Christ (e.g., John 1:1-5,14; 20:28; Philippians 2:6; Hebrews 1:5-13; etc.), of particular interest is the fact that long before Jesus appeared on Earth in the form of man in the first century, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah foretold His Godhood.
In approximately 700 B.C., Isaiah prophesied about many things concerning the Christ. Hebrew scholar Risto Santala wrote: “The Messianic nature of the book of Isaiah is so clear that the oldest Jewish sources, the Targum, Midrash and Talmud, speak of the Messiah in connection with 62 separate verses” (1992, pp. 164-165), including Isaiah 9:6. “For unto us,” Isaiah foretold, “a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6, emp. added). The Messiah, Isaiah wrote, would be not only the “Prince of Peace,” and the “Wonderful Counselor” (NASB), but also “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father.” [NOTE: “The Targum elucidates this verse, saying: ‘His name has been from ancient times...’ and, regarding the ‘Everlasting Father’ part, that ‘the Messiah has been for ever’” (Santala, 1992, p. 196), or that He is “the Father of eternity” (see Jamieson, et al., 1997)]. What’s more, Isaiah also prophesied of the virgin birth of the Messiah, and that His name would be “Immanuel” (7:14), which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23, emp. added). Why would Isaiah call the Messiah “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” and “Immanuel,” if He was not God?
Interestingly, more than 100 years before Jesus allegedly was “made God” at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 (cf. Brown, pp. 233-234), Irenaeus quoted from Isaiah 9:6 and applied the divine names to Christ, Who “is Himself in His own right...God.”
...this is Christ, the Son of the living God. For I have shown from the Scriptures, that no one of the sons of Adam is as to everything, and absolutely, called God, or named Lord. But that He is Himself in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, and Lord, and King Eternal, and the Incarnate Word, proclaimed by all the prophets, the apostles, and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth. Now, the Scriptures would not have testified these things of Him, if, like others, He had been a mere man. But that He had, beyond all others, in Himself that pre-eminent birth which is from the Most High Father, and also experienced that pre-eminent generation which is from the Virgin, the divine Scriptures do in both respects testify of Him: ...that He is the holy Lord, the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the Beautiful in appearance, and the Mighty God, coming on the clouds as the Judge of all men;—all these things did the Scriptures prophesy of Him (Book III, Chapter 19, emp. added).
Isaiah not only referred explicitly to Jesus as “Mighty God” in 9:6, he also alluded to the Messiah’s divine nature in a prophecy about John the Baptizer in 40:3. “The voice of one that crieth, prepare ye in the wilderness the way of Jehovah; make level in the desert a highway for our God” (ASV, emp. added; cf. Malachi 3:1). According to the New Testament, this “preparer” (or forerunner) was John the Baptizer (John 1:23). He prepared the way for Jesus, as all four gospel accounts bear witness (Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-23; John 1:15-34). Notice that Isaiah wrote that John would prepare “the way of Jehovah;...our God” (40:3, emp. added). Thus, Isaiah claimed that the Messiah is God.
Truly, long before the Christian age, even long before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah provided inspired testimony of the nature of Christ. He is Jehovah, Mighty God, Immanuel (“God with us”), Everlasting Father, “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 1:8; cf. Isaiah 44:6).


Brown, Dan (2003), The Da Vinci Code (New York: Doubleday).
Irenaeus (1973 reprint), “Irenaeus Against Heresies,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Santala, Risto (1992), The Messiah in the Old Testament: In the Light of Rabbinical Writings, trans. William Kinnaird (Jerusalem, Israel: Keren Ahvah Meshihit).
“What Does the Bible Say About God and Jesus?” (1989), Should You Believe in the Trinity? (Brooklyn, NY: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society).