When I use the word “world” in this piece I’m not using it to mean “organized evil, the anti-God, anti-life and anti-human” structure that we’re not to love or be friends with (1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4 style). I mean it John 3:16-17 style that speaks of humans who are entangled in the cosmic network of evil and need rescued, whether they know it or not.
For all their “lostness” they are loved by God who finds no pleasure—none at all (Ezekiel 18)—in the final death of the impenitent wicked. For all they waywardness and their choosing to walk away from God and follow their own path (and they choose it, God doesn’t foreordain them to do it as some fools with a Bible in their hand claim He does)—for all their sinful foolishness God leaves us a witness that He loves us still by “doing good, giving us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with gladness” (Acts 14:16-17). This is the God Paul tells the idolatrous Athenians about; the God who gives to humans “life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:25).
“Life and breath and everything else!”
I know—how could I not? Wickedness shows up all over the place or hides in plain sight in respectable places; evil that shocks even us who are used to hearing about it, watching in on the news and sometimes engaging in it ourselves, though we are good at rationalizing or minimizing it. We sincere Christian people should insist we’re different from non-Christian people but we need to be clear in what way we are different. We’ve been “called out” by the gospel of God not because we’re better or smarter or stronger than non-Christians—we’re not—we never were—Ephesians 2:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:7.
We’ve been called out to experience salvation and life in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) that we might be the visible and concrete proof of God’s love and faithfulness to His eternal purpose to bless humanity (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:9-10).
The world need us!
But we need the world!
Non-Christians grow our food, heal our sick, teach our children, build our roads, employ our workers, make our automobiles, produce our medicines, staff our hospitals, build our houses, supply clean water, dispose of our garbage and sewage, retail our daily necessities, supply heat and cool, provide technology, police our cities, fight our wars, man our courts, function for us in local, state and federal government, negotiate foreign trade, care for our children when parents must work, counsel the mentally distressed, protect those domestically abused, work in adoption situations and……..and……..
Yes, well all right, it isn’t always done well and there are those among them who don’t care that these jobs aren’t done well. Is there any Christian who thinks we are free of such failures? Who do we think we are?
We’re glad to have all these gifts and blessings and we thank God for them and then—what? We look down our noses at the people God uses to bless us.
We use them!
When did you last hear someone in your assembly thank God for the millions of non-Christians that enable us to live? We often enough ask Him to empower the doctors and nurses if they’re working on our sick friends or family but, listen to the prayers—the surgeons and other medical staff are instruments, the person as a person is forgotten. When success is achieved we thank God and not a word of warmth in a thanksgiving prayer about these gifted people as people—gifted by God and as people who use their gifts in kindness and with skill. (Almost always, as individuals, we speak a word of thanks to the medical people if our loved one is healed! But as a People we don’t see our need and utter dependence on the world We distance ourselves from them.)
There’s something we need to keep in mind as we grow more and more pleased (as we should!) when our assembly becomes more and more like God and to be a great community to be a part of. We speak of the varied gifts and skills we see in fellow-Christians as “spiritual gifts” and so we should but need to bear in mind that the varied gifts and character qualities that are obvious in the assembly existed in the non-Christians before God called them to Himself by the Spirit’s gospel about Jesus Christ.
You didn’t think they were giftless before they became Christians—did you? God gifts all humans! Without them we Christians couldn’t live! You didn’t think they came giftless and when they rose from the baptismal waters that God only then gifted them as administrators, speakers, teachers and such—did you? All God’s good gifts are “spiritual”.
It’s when people are called to God by His wondrous gospel that they then see their already existent gifts in a new or newer light and use them consciously or more consciously in the service of God. (Would it not be true and gracious to tell such people that God has blessed them richly with these gifts?)
Like all Christians these new Christians remain part of the world (John 17:12-15; Matthew 28:18-20), using the gifts God has given them as part of how He blesses the world and doing it as they gospel their way through the rest of their lives. One aspect of Christ’s miracles made it clear that God cares about the well-being of His human family. Maybe we can’t work His miracles but we can use His gifts to do the same thing Jesus did. Millions of non-Christians are doing it! We thank fellow-Christians for doing it—the Church AS THE CHURCH needs to thank them! To do less is graceless and is an expression of distorted isolation!
Finally this: The awful pain and suffering and deprivation of this world should serve to remind us that Christians are not God’s “pets”. They exist as a Covenant People for the world. To the degree that an assembly (with help from its leaders) forgets that they forget their God who is for the world and to the degree that our gathered people are made happy without being gospeled the more they become like “the world” of 1 John 2.
(Holy Father, help us with good and wise hearts to re-vision the world that we might see our need of them and your love of them and how you have gifted them. Thank you for them. We apologize. Grant us the gift of real metanoia that we will feel more than regret; that we will have a mind that looks forward and sees and gladly embraces the new way of seeing and thinking. This prayer in Jesus Christ.)

Perseverance of the Saints By Louis Rushmore


Perseverance of the Saints

By Louis Rushmore

I read your story and was quite puzzled about your references to Christians going to hell. It seems as though you beleive that our Eternal Salvation has something to do with what we do instead of what we believe. Christ was clear in saying that if you believe on me (Christ) you shall be saved. . . . Please read the parable of the 10 virgins in Mathew and ask yourself why is the the Kingdom of heaven likened to 10 virgins even the foolish ones. and why is outer darkness in Heaven and why would an unbeleiver be on their way to the wedding feast. Could outer darkness be a place where Christians go (5 foolish ones) for a time to receive there punishment for not gaining the oil (yes maybe). Do you REALLY see loss of salvation in this verse or were these people not saved to begin with, if not why are they in heaven already. Non-beleivers are never judged with believers. . . . I just think it is time for Christians to follow the one new commandment that Jesus said, To Love One Another. It is not up to us to stand and judge this Christain or that Christian to HELL. . . . ~ Steve Hazen (emphasis added, ler)
John Calvin (1509-1564) popularized some religious tenets so well that together they are commonly referred to as “Calvinism.”  The five cardinal doctrines of Calvinism are easily remembered by the acrostic, TULIP:  Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints.  Several religious groups adopted Calvin’s theological system.  The querist, a portion of whose question appears above, evidently subscribes to Calvin’s theology, too.  Doubtless the querist is sincere in his religious conviction, though with all due respect, I submit that he is mistaken in that belief.  The Bible does not substantiate the doctrine of Calvinism, and in particular for our purposes, the tenet of “Perseverance of the Saints.” First, “Is it possible for a Christian to sin so as to be eternally lost?”  The querist argues, “No!”  What does the Bible teach?  The following biblical illustration very graphically argues that the child of God can be lost, though he once was saved.
“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:20-22).
Further, in Acts Chapter Eight, Simon became a Christian, after which he sinned and was in danger of being lost.
“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:18-23).
The Calvinist usually retorts that Simon was never really a Christian.  Likewise, in the interest of defending the theological posture of “Perseverance of the Saints,” when a religious person who subscribes to Calvinism commits sins that cannot be overlooked, one of two explanations are offered.  (1) The offender was never really a Christian; the offender may have thought he was a Christian, and his peers may have mistakenly believed he was a Christian, but he really was not.  (2) Despite the aggravated sin of which a Christian may actually be guilty (e.g., adultery, theft, murder, etc.), there is nothing that a child of God can do that will imperil his immortal soul.  Both of these excuses are pitiful apologies for confidence in the Calvinistic tenet of “Perseverance of the Saints.”  In truth, Simon did exactly what the Samaritans did when they became Christians.  Therefore, whatever spiritual attainment those Samaritans enjoyed was also realized by Simon.  Simon, however, sinned after becoming a Christian, which if sin were not repented by Simon and forgiven by God, Simon would be eternally lost.
“But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done” (Acts 8:12-13).
Every warning to a child of God implies that there is a consequence for failure to repent.  “For the wages of sin is death . . .” (Romans 6:23).  There are said to be well over a thousand such warnings to the children of God in the New Testament.  One such warning reads:  “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.  Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).  The preceding verse was penned to Christians. Second, there is a common misconception that “belief” does not involve “obedience.”  Therefore, the querist writes:  “It seems as though you beleive that our Eternal Salvation has something to do with what we do instead of what we believe.”  Contrary to erroneous notions about “belief” or “faith,” these words are synonyms.  Sometimes a translation of the Bible can contribute to such a misunderstanding:  “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36, KJV).  Compare the same verse in the American Standard Version:  “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”  Two different Greek words are used in the verse, though the KJV English translation does not reflect that.  The American Standard Version, though, does correctly reflect this.  The Greek word for “believeth not” in the KJV and “obeyeth not” in the ASV is apeithon.  It is the word for “disobedience.”
Even without Greek resources, the Bible student can easily see the essential nature of obedience to be pleasing to God.  Consider the following passages, just a few that could be cited.  “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).  “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9). “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
Third, the Parable of the Ten Virgins really is a passage, when handled correctly, that teaches the possibility of the children of God being lost.  The thrust of the parable is to teach the necessity for adequate preparation to enter heaven.  If, however, as the querist supposes, the child of God cannot fail to enter heaven, then what would it really matter how well a Christian prepared or practiced Christianity? The illustration Jesus used in Matthew 25:1-13 drew from common scenes in Jewish life relative to a wedding celebration.  The groom would arrive at his bride’s home and receive her from his father-in-law.  From that point and along a course from there to the groom’s house, friends of the bride and groom would join the procession.  The procession would conclude upon arrival at the groom’s home, at which time a celebration would begin.  In the parable, some of the friends of either the bride or the groom waited outside the groom’s home for the unknown arrival of the groom, his bride and the procession of friends who joined them along the way.  Five of the virgins failed to anticipate the delayed arrival of the procession and had to leave to acquire more oil for their lamps.  While they were gone, the groom and bride arrived.  All who were prepared entered the home and the celebration began.  The five virgins who came late were not admitted.
In the parable, all the ten virgins were, as Jews, in a covenant relationship with God.  They were all the children of God.  The period of waiting is comparable to life on earth awaiting the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  The celebration occurring inside the groom’s home is comparable to eternal heaven.  The five unprepared virgins, though children of God, were not admitted.  In order for the querist’s formula for delayed, but eventual eternal redemption to work with this parable, the groom would have to had, after awhile, relented and let the five unprepared virgins enter the celebration, too.
Fourth, I am not sure what to make of the statement:  “Non-beleivers are never judged with believers.”  There will be a universal resurrection followed by a universal judgment.
“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29).
The same biblical standard of righteousness is applied by God to all accountable souls.  Otherwise, Christians could commit the same sins with impunity which when committed by non-Christians would condemn their souls.  The apostle Paul wrote:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2).
It is a horrible doctrine that permits Christians to commit sin with a false sense of safety.  Romans 6:23 still says that “the wages of sin is death,” without distinction either in the type of sin or the persons committing the sin. Fifth, the following statement is grossly misleading and biblically untrue.  “I just think it is time for Christians to follow the one new commandment that Jesus said, To Love One Another. It is not up to us to stand and judge this Christain or that Christian to HELL.”  According to Jesus, love necessitates a predictable activity, namely obedience.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments. . . . He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. . . . Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:15, 21, 23-24).
The American Standard Version renders John 14:15, “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.”  So, love obeys!  Disobedience is evidence of the lack of love. It is true, of course, that Christians do not have the right to consign any soul to hell.  The sentencing at the judgment bar of God belongs to the Godhead.  However, Christians are obligated to judge in the sense of discernment, comparison of their lives and the lives of others to the Word of God.  Following that type of judgment, each soul needs to amend his life where deficient and warn his fellows.  Contrary to popular thought, for instance, Matthew 7:1-5 only condemns unrighteous judgment.  Most people stop with Matthew 7:1 and fail to read and apply the following four verses.  Notice some of the verses that enjoin righteous judgment on the children of God.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20).
Not only are we to be “fruit inspectors,” false teachers are to be publicly marked and avoided (Romans 16:17-18) and immoral persons are to be shunned or disfellowshipped (1 Corinthians 5:1-13).  According to the 1 Corinthians 5 passage, Christians are obligated to “judge.”  Second Thessalonians 3:6 and 14 require Christians to discern the spiritual misbehavior of other Christians and spiritually punish them.  It is not true love that leads one to ignore and otherwise overlook sin in the lives of either non-Christians or Christians.  True love compels one to warn his fellows of their sins, lest they fail the final, no-make-up-test before the judgment bar of God. In summary, even Christians can be lost.  Therefore, it behooves each soul, including Christians, to practice faithfulness.  God will not save any soul in open rebellion to his revealed will.  “. . . Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Paul Returns To Antioch (18:18-23) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                  Paul Returns To Antioch (18:18-23)


1. After a long and successful stay in Corinth, Paul...
   a. Began the last leg of his second missionary journey
   b. From Corinth to Antioch of Syria
   c. By way of Cenchrea, Ephesus, Caesarea, and Jerusalem

2. Luke's description of the last leg of Paul's second journey is brief...
   a. Covered in only six verses - Ac 18:18-23
   b. Immediately followed by the start of his third journey - Ac 18:23

[Though brief, Luke's description contains several things of interest. 
So let's follow along on...]


      1. Paul left Corinth, joined by Aquila and Priscilla - Ac 18:18
         a. With whom Paul had stayed in Corinth - Ac 18:1-3
         b. Mentioned later in several epistles - Ro 16:3; 1Co 16:19; 2Ti 4:19
      2. In nearby Cenchrea, Paul cut his hair - Ac 18:18
         a. Cenchrea - a port city, about nine miles from Corinth
         b. Home of Phoebe, a servant of the church there - Ro 16:1
         c. Paul had taken a vow, perhaps the Nazarite vow - cf. Num 6:1-21
         d. As a Jew, Paul had no problems observing certain elements of
            the Law, understanding it was not necessary to be saved 
            - cf.  Ac 21:20-26; 1Co 9:19-23; Ga 5:4-6
      3. Arriving at Ephesus - Ac 18:19-21
         a. Aquila and Priscilla stayed; they later had a church in their home - cf. 1Co 16:19
         b. Paul reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue - cf. Ac 17:1-3 
         c. The Jews wanted him to stay longer
            1) But he was anxious to get to Jerusalem
            2) Some manuscripts indicate it was to keep the feast (Passover - cf. Ramsay)
         d. He promised to return, God willing; which he did - cf. Ac 19:1

      1. Paul sailed from Ephesus to Caesarea - Ac 18:21-22
         a. Caesarea was Palestine's chief port - ESV Study Bible
         b. Where Paul would visit again later - cf. Ac 21:8
      2. Went "up" (elevation-wise) and visited the church - Ac 18:22
         a. Most likely the church in Jerusalem
         b. "About sixty-five miles inland, the terms 'going up' and
            'going down' are used so frequently of the journey to and 
            from Jerusalem as to establish this usage." - Stott, J.R.W.
            (1994). The Message of Acts: the Spirit, the church & the 
            world. The Bible Speaks Today. Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press.

      1. He went "down" to Antioch - Ac 18:22
         a. Antioch of Syria was actually north of Jerusalem
         b. But it was "downhill" in relation to Jerusalem
      2. He spent "some time" in Antioch of Syria - Ac 18:23
         a. Probably from early summer of AD 52 to early spring of 53 - Stott, ibid.
         b. Thus Paul's second journey that began in Antioch was completed - cf. Ac 15:36-40

[Luke immediately begins his record of Paul's third missionary journey
(Ac 18:23).  But let's use the rest of this study to summarize...]


      1. Paul was able to encourage churches 
         a. In Syria, Cilicia - Ac 15:41
         b. In Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia - Ac 16:1-5
      2. Paul was able to establish churches
         a. In Philippi - Ac 16:11-40
         b. In Thessalonica - Ac 17:1-4
         c. In Berea - Ac 17:10-12
         d. In Athens - Ac 17:34
         e. In Corinth - Ac 18:1-8

      1. Paul began lasting relations with co-workers
         a. Silas - Ac 15:40; 16:19,25,40; 17:4,10,14-15; 18:5; 2Co 1:19; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1
         b. Timothy - Ac 16:1; 17:14-15; 18:5; 19:22; 20:4; Ro 16:21;
            1Co 4:17; 16:10; 2Co 1:1,19; Php 1:1; 2:19; Col 1:1; 1Th 1:1;
            3:2,6; 2Th 1:1; 1Ti 1:2,18; 6:20; 2Ti 1:2; Phm 1; He 13:23
         c. Luke (author of Acts) - Ac 16:10-13,16; 20:6,13-15; 21:1-17;
            27:1-28:16; Col 4:14; 2Ti 4:11; Phm 24
         d. Aquila and Priscilla - Ac 18:1-3,18; Ro 16:3; 1Co 16:19; 2Ti 4:19
      2. Paul began lasting relations with brethren
         a. Brethren at Philippi (Lydia, the jailor, Clement, Euodia,
            Syntche) - Php 1:3-8; 4:1-3,15-18
         b. Brethren at Thessalonica 
             - 1Th 1:2-4; 2:17-20; 3:6-10; 2Th 1:3-4,11-12; 3:1-5
         c. Brethren at Corinth (Gaius, Chole, Crispus, household of
            Stephanas) - Ac 18:8; 1Co 1:11,14-16; 16:15,17; Ro 16:23

      1. Mentioning churches to whom epistles were written
         a. Antioch of Pisidia, Lystra Iconium, Derbe (Galatians)
         b. Philippi (Philippians)
         c. Thessalonica (1st & 2nd Thessalonians)
         d. Corinth (1st & 2nd Corinthians)
      2. Introducing persons whose impact is felt in the books of the New Testament
         a. Luke (author of the gospel of Luke and book of Acts)
         b. Timothy (recipient of 1st & 2nd Timothy) 


1. Paul's second missionary also contained notable examples of conversion...
   a. Lydia of Thyatira - Ac 16:13-15
   b. The Philippian jailer - Ac 16:25-34
   c. The Corinthians - Ac 18:8

2. We also read of worthy examples of character...
   a. Timothy, the dedicated disciple - Ac 16:1-3
   b. Lydia, the hospitable convert - Ac 16:15
   c. The noble (fair-minded) Bereans - Ac 17:11

May such examples of conversion and character inspire us us in our own
devotion to the Lord...!
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2013

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Paul's Ministry At Corinth (18:1-18) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                 Paul's Ministry At Corinth (18:1-18)


1. Following his limited time at Athens, Paul went to nearby Corinth...
   a. An economic center of Greece, also known for its immorality
   b. It became an important focus of Paul's ministry as an apostle
   c. A well-known church was established, recipient of at least two epistles by Paul

2. Paul's ministry at Corinth lasted a year and a half, involving...
   a. His labor as a tentmaker, and teaching in the local synagogue
   b. His conversion of many Corinthians, including the ruler of the synagogue
   c. His providential protection by the Lord
   d. His writing two epistles to the church at Thessalonica

[His ministry at Corinth as recorded by Luke is in Ac 18:1-18.  We begin by observing...]


      1. He found this couple who had been expelled from Rome
         a. A husband and wife who later converted Apollos - Ac 18:24-28
         b. Mentioned in several of Paul's epistles - Ro 16:3; 1Co 16:19; 2Ti 4:19
      2. Of the same trade (tentmakers), Paul stayed with them
         a. He worked to support himself as a matter of principle - 1Co 9:6-15; Ac 20:33-35
         b. He also received support from churches like Philippi - 2Co 11:7-10; Php 4:15

      1. He "reasons" with the people, as with...
         a. Those at Thessalonica, Athens, and Ephesus - Ac 17:2,17; 18:19; 19:8-9
         b. Government officials like Felix, Festus, and Agrippa II - Ac 24:25; 26:25
         -- The gospel is designed to appeal to the mind as well as the
            heart! - cf. Mt 22:37
      2. He "persuaded" both Jews and Greeks...
         a. As he did at Thessalonica and Ephesus - Ac 17:4; 19:8
         b. As he almost did with Herod Agrippa II - Ac 26:28
         -- Again, the gospel appeals to the reasoning processes of the
            mind - cf. Isa 1:18

[Not long after his arrival, Paul is then joined by his two close
companions and co-workers...]


      1. With good news regarding the church at Thessalonica - 1Th 3:1-7
      2.  Prompting Paul to write First Thessalonians (ca. 49-51 A.D.) - 1Th 1:1

      1. He "testified" to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ 
           - cf. Ac 20:21,24; 23:11; 28:23
      2. Such testimony likely involved:
         a. Messianic prophecies of the  Old Testament - Ac 17:2-3
         b. His own eyewitness testimony as an apostle - cf. Ac 26:16

      1. By some Jews who blasphemed, just like those in Antioch of Pisidia - Ac 13:45
      2. He turned to the Gentiles, like he did in Antioch of Pisidia - Ac 13:46
      3. In Corinth, he had only to go next door, to the home of Justus - Ac 18:7

      1. Crispus, ruler of the synagogue
         a. Who believed on the Lord with all his household - Ac 18:8
         b. Who was personally baptized by Paul - cf. 1Co 1:14
      2. Many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized
         a. Just like those in Jerusalem, Samaria - cf. Ac 2:37-41; 8:12
         b. Later problems made Paul thankful he himself had baptized few - cf. 1Co 1:10-17

[In the midst of opposition, Paul and his companions found success in
preaching the gospel!  He then received encouraging confirmation from
the Lord that led to a long stay at Corinth...]


   A. ENCOURAGED BY THE LORD... (Ac 18:9-11)
      1. In a vision, told not to be afraid, nor remain silent, "for I am
         with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have 
         many people in this city." - Ac 18:10
         a. Most understand this to refer to divine foreknowledge for the
            success of the gospel
         b. That the Lord knew there were many souls (people, Gr. laos) 
            who would obey the gospel
         c. But it may refer to why (cf. "for") none would hurt him;
            i.e., because of men like Gallio
      2. So Paul remained a year and six months
      3. During which he wrote Second Thessalonians (ca. 51-52 A.D.) - 2Th 1:1

   B. ENABLED BY THE PROCONSUL... (Ac 18:12-18)
      1. The Jews brought Paul up on charges before Gallio, proconsul of Achaia
      2. Gallio refused to heed them, not willing to be a judge in religious matters
      3. The Greeks beat Sosthenes, ruler of the synagogue, which Gallio ignored
      4. Thus Paul remained in Corinth a good while - Ac 18:18


1. In Paul's ministry at Corinth, we see...
   a. His dedication and methodology as a preacher of the gospel
   b. The response of those who hear the gospel (they believed and were baptized)

2. From such, hopefully there are things we can learn...
   a. Whether we are servants of the Lord like Paul and his companions
   b. Or those seeking to learn the truth on how to be saved

Have you heard the gospel, believed, and been baptized...? - Ac 18:8
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2013

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


Violence and the Quran

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

One would expect an uninspired book to contradict itself or speak ambiguously on various subjects, at times appearing both to endorse and condemn a practice. So it is with physical violence in the Quran. Yet, despite the occasional puzzling remark that may seem to imply the reverse, the Quran is replete with explicit and implicit sanction and promotion of armed conflict, violence, and bloodshed by Muslims. For example, within months of the Hijrah, Muhammad claimed to receive a revelation that clarified the issue:
Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain (Surah 47:4, emp. added).
Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors. And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers. The forbidden month for the forbidden month, and forbidden things in retaliation. And one who attacketh you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is with those who ward off (evil) (Surah 2:190-194, emp. added).
Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not. They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great (transgression), but to turn (men) from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel his people thence, is a greater with Allah; for persecution is worse than killing. And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can (Surah 2:216-217, emp. added).
Muhammad was informed that warfare was prescribed for him! Though he may have hated warfare, it was actually good for him, and what he loved, i.e., non-warfare, was actually bad for him! And though under normal circumstances, fighting is not appropriate during sacred months, killing was warranted against those who sought to prevent Muslims from practicing their religion. Killing is better than being persecuted! A similar injunction states: “Sanction is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged; and Allah is indeed Able to give them victory” (Surah 22:39, emp. added). In fact, “Allah loveth those who battle for His cause in ranks, as if they were a solid structure” (Surah 61:4, emp. added).
In a surah titled “Repentance” that issues stern measures to be taken against idolaters, the requirement to engage in carnal warfare is apparent:
Freedom from obligation (is proclaimed) from Allah and His messenger toward those of the idolaters with whom ye made a treaty: Travel freely in the land four months, and know that ye cannot escape Allah and that Allah will confound the disbelievers (in His guidance). And a proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage that Allah is free from obligation to the idolaters, and (so is) His messenger. So, if ye repent, it will be better for you; but if ye are averse, then know that ye cannot escape Allah. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve. Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfill their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him). Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (Surah 9:1-5, emp. added).
The ancient Muslim histories elaborate on the occasion of these admonitions: “[T]he idolaters were given four months’ respite to come and go as they pleased in safety, but after that God and His Messenger would be free from any obligation towards them. War was declared upon them, and they were to be slain or taken captive wherever they were found” (Lings, 1983, p. 323).
Later in the same surah, “Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the religion of truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low” (Surah 9:29, emp. added). “Those who have been given the Scripture” is a reference to Jews and Christians. The surah advocates coercion against Jews and Christians in order to physically force them to pay the jizyah—a special religious tax imposed on religious minorities (see Nasr, 2002, p. 166). Muslim translator Mohammed Pickthall explains the historical setting of this quranic utterance: “It signified the end of idolatry in Arabia. The Christian Byzantine Empire had begun to move against the growing Muslim power, and this Surah contains mention of a greater war to come, and instructions with regard to it” (p. 145). Indeed, the final verse of Surah 2 calls upon Allah to give Muslims “victory over the disbelieving folk” (vs. 286), rendered by Rodwell: “give us victory therefore over the infidel nations.” That this stance by the Quran was to be expected is evident from the formulation of the Second Pledge of Aqabah, in which the men pledged their loyalty and their commitment to protecting Muhammad from all opponents. This pledge included duties of war, and was taken only by the males. Consequently, the First Aqabah pact, which contained no mention of war, became known as the “pledge of the women” (Lings, p. 112).
Additional allusions to warfare in the Quran are seen in the surah, “The Spoils,” dated in the second year of the Hijrah (A.D. 623), within a month after the Battle of Badr:
And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah.... If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them.... And let not those who disbelieve suppose that they can outstrip (Allah’s purpose). Lo! they cannot escape. Make ready for them all thou canst of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby ye may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others beside them whom ye know not.... O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty stedfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred stedfast they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are a folk without intelligence.... It is not for any Prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. Ye desire the lure of this world and Allah desireth (for you) the Hereafter, and Allah is Mighty, Wise. Had it not been for an ordinance of Allah which had gone before, an awful doom had come upon you on account of what ye took. Now enjoy what ye have won, as lawful and good, and keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (Surah 8:39,57,59-60,65,67-69, emp. added; cf. 33:26).
Muslim scholar Pickthall readily concedes the context of these verses:
vv. 67-69 were revealed when the Prophet had decided to spare the lives of the prisoners taken at Badr and hold them to ransom, against the wish of Omar, who would have executed them for their past crimes. The Prophet took the verses as a reproof, and they are generally understood to mean that no quarter ought to have been given in that first battle (p. 144, emp. added).
So the Quran indicates that at the Battle of Badr, no captives should have been taken. The enemy should have been completely slaughtered, with no quarter given. This very fate awaited the Jewish Bani Qurayzah, when some 700 men were beheaded by the Muslims with Muhammad’s approval (Lings, p. 232). Likewise, members of a clan of the Bani Nadir were executed in Khaybar for concealing their treasure rather than forfeiting it to the Muslims (Lings, p. 267).
Another surah describes how allowances respecting the daily prayers were to be made for Muhammad’s Muslim warriors when engaged in military action:
And when ye go forth in the land, it is no sin for you to curtail (your) worship if ye fear that those who disbelieve may attack you. In truth the disbelievers are an open enemy to you. And when thou (O Muhammad) art among them and arrangest (their) worship for them, let only a party of them stand with thee (to worship) and let them take their arms. Then when they have performed their prostrations let them fall to the rear and let another party come that hath not worshipped and let them worship with thee, and let them take their precaution and their arms. Those who disbelieve long for you to neglect your arms and your baggage that they may attack you once for all. It is no sin for you to lay aside your arms, if rain impedeth you or ye are sick. But take your precaution. Lo! Allah prepareth for the disbelievers shameful punishment. When ye have performed the act of worship, remember Allah, standing, sitting and reclining. And when ye are in safety, observe proper worship. Worship at fixed hours hath been enjoined on the believers. Relent not in pursuit of the enemy (Surah 4:101-104, emp. added; cf. 73:20).
These verses show that the Quran implicitly endorses armed conflict and war to advance Islam.
Muslim historical sources themselves report the background details of those armed conflicts that have characterized Islam from its inception—including Muhammad’s own warring tendencies involving personal participation in and endorsement of military campaigns (cf. Lings, pp. 86,111). Muslim scholar Pickthall’s own summary of Muhammad’s war record is an eye-opener: “The number of the campaigns which he led in person during the last ten years of his life is twenty-seven, in nine of which there was hard fighting. The number of the expeditions which he planned and sent out under other leaders is thirty-eight” (n.d., p. xxvi).
What a contrast with Jesus—Who never once took up the sword or encouraged anyone else to do so! The one time that one of His close followers took it upon himself to do so, the disciple was soundly reprimanded and ordered to put the sword away, with the added warning: “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Indeed, when Pilate quizzed Jesus regarding His intentions, He responded: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36)—the very opposite of the Aqabah pact. And whereas the Quran boldly declares, “And one who attacks you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you” (Surah 2:194; cf. 22:60), Jesus counters, “But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” and “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:39,44). The New Testament record presents a far higher, more noble and godly ethic on the matter of violence and armed conflict. In fact, the following verses demonstrate how irrevocably deep the chasm is between the Quran and the New Testament on this point:
[L]ove your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? (Matthew 5:44-46).
But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:27-36).
What an amazing contrast! The New Testament says to love, bless, do good to, and pray for those who persecute you. The Quran says that “persecution is worse than killing” (Surah 2:217)—i.e., it is better to kill your persecutors than to endure their persecutions!
The standard Muslim attempt to justify the Quran’s endorsement of violence is that such violence was undertaken in self-defense (e.g., Surah 42:41). Consider the following Muslim explanation:
At the time when this surah (Surah 2—DM) was revealed at Al-Madinah, the Prophet’s own tribe, the pagan Qureysh at Mecca, were preparing to attack the Muslims in their place of refuge. Cruel persecution was the lot of Muslims who had stayed in Meccan territory or who journeyed thither, and Muslims were being prevented from performing the pilgrimage. The possible necessity of fighting had been foreseen in the terms of the oath, taken at Al-Aqabah by the Muslims of Yathrib before the Flight, to defend the Prophet as they would their own wives and children, and the first commandment to fight was revealed to the Prophet before his flight from Mecca; but there was no actual fighting by the Muslims until the battle of Badr. Many of them were reluctant, having before been subject to a rule of strict non-violence. It was with difficulty that they could accept the idea of fighting even in self-defence [sic].... (Pickthall, p. 33, emp. added).
Apart from the fact that the claim that Muhammad’s advocacy of fighting was justifiable on the ground of self-defense is contrary to the historical facts (since the wars waged by Muhammad and the territorial expansion of Islam achieved by his subsequent followers cannot all be dismissed as defensive), this explanation fails to come to grips with the propriety of shedding of blood and inflicting violence—regardless of the reason. Muslim scholar Seyyed Nasr seems unconscious of the inherent self-contradiction apparent in his own remark:
The spread of Islam occurred in waves. In less than a century after the establishment of the first Islamic society in Medina by the Prophet, Arab armies had conquered a land stretching from the Indus River to France and brought with them Islam, which, contrary to popular Western conceptions, was not, however, forced on the people by the sword (2003, p. 17, emp. added).
In other words, Muslim armies physically conquered—by military force and bloodshed—various nations, forcing the population to submit to Muslim rule, but did not require them to become Muslims! One suspects that, at the time, the distinction escaped the citizens of those conquered countries, even as it surely does the reader.
The Quran appears to have been somewhat influenced by the Law of Moses in this regard. For example, the Quran states: “If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted” (Surah 16:126). Similarly, “O ye who believe! Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female.... And there is life for you in retaliation, O men of understanding, that ye may ward off (evil)” (Surah 2:178-179). One is reminded of the lex talionis [literally “law as (or of) retaliation”] of the Law of Moses. However, whereas the Quran appears to enjoin retaliation, the lex talionis were not intended to promote retaliation. Enjoining retaliation would be in direct conflict with the nature of God. God is never vindictive. The New Testament law does not differ with the Old Testament in the areas of proper values, ethics, mercy, and justice. The “eye for an eye” injunctions of the Old Testament were designed to be prohibitive in their thrust, i.e., they humanely limited and restricted legal punishment to a degree in keeping with the crime. That is, they prevented dispensers of justice from punishing too harshly or too much. They were intended to inculcate into Israelite society the principle of confining retribution to appropriate parameters.
The fact that the author of the Quran failed to grasp this feature of God’s laws is evident in various quranic injunctions: “As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands. It is the reward of their own deeds, an exemplary punishment from Allah. Allah is Mighty, Wise” (Surah 5:38, emp. added).
The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them (with) a hundred stripes. And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of believers witness their punishment.... And those who accuse honourable women but bring not four witnesses, scourge them (with) eighty stripes and never (afterward) accept their testimony—They indeed are evildoers (Surah 24:2,4, emp. added).
These latter verses conflict with Mosaic injunction on two significant points. First, on the one hand, it doubles the more reasonable and appropriate forty stripes (Deuteronomy 25:3)—a number that the Jews were so concerned not to exceed that they counted thirty-nine and stopped to allow for accidental miscount (2 Corinthians 11:24). On the other hand, this eighty increases to one hundred for adultery. Second, the requirement of four witnesses is an unreasonable number. The two or three witnesses of the Bible (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19) strikes a logical medium between the precariousness of only a single witness on the one hand, and the excessive and unlikely availability of the four witnesses required by the Quran.
It is true that the God of the Bible enjoined violent, armed conflict for the Israelites in the Old Testament. He did so in order to eliminate the morally corrupt Canaanite civilizations that inhabited Palestine prior to the Israelite occupation of the land (Deuteronomy 9:4; 18:9-12; Leviticus 18:24-25,27-28). There simply was no viable solution to their condition except extermination. Their moral depravity was “full” (Genesis 15:16). They had slumped to such an immoral, depraved state, with no hope of recovery, that their existence on this Earth had to be ended—just like in Noah’s day when God waited while Noah preached for years but was unable to turn the world’s population from its wickedness (Genesis 6:3,5-7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:5-9).
Additionally, since the nation of Israel was also a civil entity in its own right, the government was also charged with implementing civil retribution upon lawbreakers. However, with the arrival of New Testament Christianity—an international religion intended for all persons without regard to ethnicity or nationality—God has assigned to civil government (not the church or the individual) the responsibility of regulating secular behavior. God’s people who live posterior to the cross of Christ (i.e., Christians) are not charged by God with the responsibility of inflicting physical punishment on the evildoer. Rather, civil government is charged with the responsibility of maintaining order and punishing lawbreakers (Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-14). Observe Paul’s explanation of this dichotomy:
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he 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. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor (Romans 13:1-7, NKJV, emp. added).
One translation (NIV) renders the boldface type in the above quote “an agent of wrath to bring punishment.” But this assignment of judicial and penal retribution to the government is a contrast in Paul’s discussion with what he wrote in the three verses prior to this quotation:
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:19-21, NKJV, emp. added).
Notice that the very responsibility that is enjoined on the government, i.e., “an avenger to execute wrath” by use of the sword in 13:4, is strictly forbidden to the individual Christian in 12:19, i.e., “do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath.” To “give place to wrath” means to allow God’s wrath to show itself in His own appointed way that, according to the next few verses, is by means of the civil government.
True Christianity (i.e., that which is based strictly on the New Testament) dictates peace and non-retaliatory promotion of itself. The “absolute imperative” (Rahman, 1979, p. 22) of Islam is the submission/conversion of the whole world. In stark contrast, the absolute imperative of New Testament Christianity is the evangelism of the whole world, i.e., the dissemination of the message of salvation—whether people embrace it or not (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47). Absolutely no coercion is admissible from the Christian (i.e., New Testament) viewpoint. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and all other violent activities undertaken in the name of Christ and Christianity have been in complete conflict with the teaching of the New Testament. The perpetrators acted without the authority and sanction of Christ.
Islam seeks to bring the entire world into submission to Allah and the Quran—even using jihad, coercion, and force; Christianity seeks to go into all the world and to announce the “good news” that God loves every individual, that Jesus Christ died for the sins of everyone, and that He offers salvation, forgiveness, and reconciliation. But, each person has free choice to accept or reject without any retaliation by Christians against those who choose to reject. Jesus taught His disciples, when faced with opposition and resistance, simply to walk away: “And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet” (Matthew 10:14). In fact, on one occasion when a Samaritan village was particularly nonreceptive, some of Jesus’ disciples wished to command fire to come down from heaven to consume them! But Jesus rebuked them and said, “ ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’ And they went to another village” (Luke 9:55). Muhammad and the Quran stand in diametrical opposition to Jesus and the New Testament.
If the majority of Muslims were violent, that would not prove that Islam is a religion of violence. The vast majority of those who claim to be “Christian” are practicing a corrupted form of the Christian faith. So the validity of any religion is determined ultimately not by the imperfect, inaccurate practice of the religion by even a majority of its adherents, but by the official authority or standard upon which it is based, i.e., its Scriptures. The present discussion in the world regarding whether or not jihad includes physical force in the advancement of Islam is ultimately irrelevant (cf. Nasr, 2002, pp. 256-266). The Quran unquestionably endorses violence, war, and armed conflict. No wonder a substantial number of Muslims manifest a maniacal, reckless abandon in their willingness to die by sacrificing their lives in order to kill as many “infidels” (especially Israelis and Americans) as possible. They have read the following:
Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks.... And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain. He will guide them and improve their state, and bring them in unto the Garden [Paradise—DM] which He hath made known to them (Surah 47:4-6, emp. added).
O ye who believe! Be not as those who disbelieved and said of their brethren who went abroad in the land or were fighting in the field: If they had been (here) with us they would not have died or been killed.... And what though ye be slain in Allah’s way or die therein? Surely pardon from Allah and mercy are better than all that they amass. What though ye be slain or die, when unto Allah ye are gathered?.... So those who...fought and were slain, verily I shall remit their evil deeds from them and verily I shall bring them into Gardens underneath which rivers flow—a reward from Allah (Surah 3:156-158,195, emp. added).
Even if the vast majority of Muslims in the world reject violence and refrain from terrorist activity (which would appear to be the case), it is still a fact that the Quran (as well as the example of Muhammad himself) endorses the advancement of Islam through physical force. While Muslim apologist Seyyed Hossein Nasr insists that “the traditional norms based on peace and openness to others” characterize true Islam and the majority of Muslims, in contradistinction, he freely admits that at times Islam “has been forced to take recourse to physical action in the form of defense” (Nasr, 2002, pp. 112,110). This concession cannot be successfully denied in view of the Quran’s own declarations. Hence, the Muslim is forced to maintain the self-contradictory position that, yes, there have been times that Islam has been properly violent and, yes, the Quran does endorse violence, but, no, most Muslims are not violent, and then only in self-defense. As reprehensible and cowardly as Islamic terrorists have shown themselves to be in recent years, an honest reading of the Quran leads one to believe that they, at least, are more consistent with, and true to, their own Scriptures—as revolting an idea as that may be.


Lings, Martin (1983), Muhammad (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International).
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2002), The Heart of Islam (New York: HarperCollins).
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2003), Islam (New York: HarperCollins).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
Rahman, Fazlur (1979), Islam (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition.
Rodwell, J.M., trans. (1950 reprint), The Koran (London: J.M. Dent and Sons).

"Of the House of David" by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


"Of the House of David"

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Of all the men in the Old Testament, few are spoken of with such reverence and honor as King David—shepherd, psalmist, soldier, and king. With God’s mighty power behind him, he slew a bear and a lion to save his father’s sheep, toppled a wicked giant with a single stone, slaughtered thousands of godless Philistines, and united the children of Israel under a monarchy of righteousness and justice. The Bible mentions David some 1,048 times. He wrote 73 of the psalms and stands as the major character in approximately 62 chapters of the Old Testament. Anyone who has ever read the Good Book cannot help but know the name of David—a man said to be “after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). And those familiar with the modern-day nation of Israel know that its flag proudly bears a symbol known as the Star of David.
Yet, if the Bible is removed from the discussion, David—King of Israel—vanishes into the shadows of secular history. At least he did for almost 3,000 years. David’s name and story were conspicuously missing from either archaeological evidence or the testimony of history. His name was so absent, in fact, that for many years skeptics had dubbed David’s life as fantasy and his deeds as legendary. After all, every nation needs a hero who slays giants. The Saxons had Beowulf, the Greeks had Hercules, and the Jews had David. David’s daring deeds and courageous conduct were relegated to the fabled heaps of legend and myth.
But a find unearthed in Palestine in 1993 changed David’s status in secular history forever. Professor Avraham Biran, director of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology at Hebrew Union College, was digging at a site in northern Israelite known as Tel Dan. There he unearthed a 3,000-year-old black basalt obelisk inscribed by one of the enemies of the ancient nation of Israel. The obelisk explained that Ben Hadad, King of Damascus, had defeated the Israelites and taken many of them captive. But the most amazing aspect of the obelisk is that it plainly states that the Israelite monarch defeated by Ben Hadad was “of the house of David.” This serves to confirm the biblical usage of this very designation (cf. 1 Kings 12:19; 14:8; Isaiah 7:2; et al.). And, for the first time in secular history, David appears connected to Israel from a historical standpoint. The implications of the stone cannot be ignored. If a king—any king—reigned who belonged to the “house of David,” then there must have been a real, historical David who established such a house and began the dynastic name.
The story of David thus has assumed a new place in the halls of history. No longer can David, King of Israel, be relegated to the status of myth or legend. Instead, he takes his rightful place beside the other documented kings of ancient history. David lived, just as the Bible had stated. And once again, the Bible remains the anvil on which the blows of the skeptic fall in vain.

The Universe—A “Waste of Space”? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Universe—A “Waste of Space”?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

“The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be” (Sagan, 1980, p. 4). So begins Carl Sagan’s immensely popular book and PBS television series, Cosmos. A more atheistic, humanistic, materialistic declaration could not be spoken. Sagan (1934-1996), who was an astronomer at Cornell University who lived his entire life resistant to the possibility of God and an afterlife, maintained his unbelief—in the words of his third wife—“unflinching” to the end (Sagan, 1997, p. 225). She, herself, finds comfort after his passing “without resorting to the supernatural” (p. 228).
When people reject or avoid the implications of the created order—i.e., that it is logically the result of a Supreme Creator—they have inevitably “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). Skeptical of the survival of the Earth at the mercy of Homo sapiens, Sagan turned his attention to an almost obsessive dedication to finding answers and solutions from life forms beyond Earth. In his own words: “In a very real sense this search for extraterrestrial intelligence is a search for a cosmic context for mankind, a search for who we are, where we have come from, and what possibilities there are for our future—in a universe vaster both in extent and duration than our forefathers ever dreamed of ” (Sagan, 1973, pp. ix-x).
Less than a year after his death, Hollywood released a movie (on July 11, 1997) based on Sagan’s novel, Contact (1985). The film’s central character, Dr. Eleanor Arroway (played by Jodie Foster), is surely the embodiment of the formative experiences, philosophical perspectives, and spiritual beliefs of Sagan himself. On three separate occasions in the film, a pseudo-intellectual remark, obviously designed to defend the naturalistic explanation of the existence of the Universe while ridiculing the Christian viewpoint, is offered up to viewers. As a child, “Ellie” asks her father if life exists out in the Universe, to which he responds: “Well, if there wasn’t, it’d be an awful waste of space.” As an adult, she converses with Palmer Joss (played by Matthew McConaughey), and, staring up at the starry Puerto Rican sky, expresses her confidence in the evolution of other life forms elsewhere in the Universe: “If just one in a million of those stars has planets, and if only one in a million of those has life, and if just one in a million of those has intelligent life, then there are millions of civilizations out there” (as cited in Bohlin, 1998). [Of course, the scientific evidence does not support this conclusion—see Bohlin, 2002]. Ellie is pleasantly stunned when Joss repeats the same line that her father uttered to her when she was a child. Near the close of the film, Ellie speaks the line again to a group of school children when asked if life exists in space.
This triple declaration was obviously intended to offer a “logical” proof that, rather than looking to some supernatural Being Who is transcendent of the Universe, humans had best recognize that the only life beyond planet Earth are those life forms that have evolved (like our own) on other planets in far off galaxies. The materialist is forced to follow Sagan’s presupposition: life must exist elsewhere in the Universe since there is no God. If there is a God Who created life only on Earth, then He was guilty of poor teleological design—creating a vast physical realm that serves absolutely no purpose—and thus producing a nearly infinite realm of “wasted space.”
But wait! The Bible long ago anticipated the skepticism of the materialist astronomer. At the creation of the Universe, God said: “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth” (Genesis 1:14-15). The luminaries that God made included the stars: “God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night” (vss. 17-18). One very specific function of the stars that occupy space far beyond our solar system is illumination (cf. Psalm 136:9). They are “light-bearers” (Keil and Delitzsch, 1976, 1:56; Leupold, 1950, p. 71).
Another very specific purpose of the vastness of space is seen in the multiple declarations regarding the infinitude of God and the evidence that points to His existence, His glory, His eternality, and His power. Paul affirmed very confidently that “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). It is absolutely incredible—and, according to Paul, inexcusable—for a rational human being to contemplate the magnitude of the Universe and the vastness of space, and then to reject the only logical, plausible explanation for it all: God. Indeed, atheism, evolution, and humanism are simply more sophisticated forms of the polytheism that has plagued humanity for millennia. Moses warned the Israelites of this very thing: “[T]ake heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage” (Deuteronomy 4:19). Evolutionary astronomy assigns an inflated value to the vastness of space by postulating that it can provide mankind with an alternative explanation for the existence of life—an explanation that absents God. Any such postulation ultimately amounts to idolatry.
David, too, paid homage to the glory of the Creator, as evidenced by the eloquent symphony of the majestic Universe that is played perpetually—twenty-four hours a day:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat (Psalm 19:1-6; cf. 74:16-17; 136:7-8).
Separate and apart from the latest evidence that confirms the movement of the Sun through space (see Thompson, 2001, p. 46), these verses reaffirm the fact that the created Universe loudly announces the existence of the Universe-Maker. David also declared: “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, You have set Your glory above the heavens! …When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:1,3). God “stretched out the heavens like a curtain” (Psalm 104:2). No wonder even a philosopher on the order of Immanuel Kant observed: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me” (as quoted in Geisler, 1983, p. 59).
A third biblical explanation for the creation of the vast Universe was hinted at by God Himself in the attitude-adjusting lecture He delivered to Job: “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you fix their rule over the earth?” (Job 38:31-33). Notice the action terms that are used to refer to the movement of the constellations: bind, loose, lead forth, and guide. Observe also the “laws of the heavens” and their relationship to “ruling over the earth” (see Gaebelein, 1988, 4:1037,1042). These verses imply that the heavenly bodies have been deliberately orchestrated, modulated, and regulated by the Creator to serve a purpose or purposes far beyond our present understanding. The text seems to hint that Earth’s status, with its living beings, is somehow affected by the phenomena of the cosmic bodies. Even as the comprehension of scientists has been lacking through the centuries on many features of the physical realm, only eventually to discover the meaning that lay behind observable phenomenon, even so our present comprehension of space is woefully inadequate to justify passing judgment on the intentionality and teleology that lie behind many astronomical phenomena.
Evolutionists have far better arguments with which to attempt to prop up their atheistic stance (the “problem of evil” being the strongest, though refutable—see Warren, 1972). The “wasted space” argument is anemic, pitiful, and hardly worthy of rebuttal. However, since they brought it to our attention, the Christian is once again reminded of the unfathomable attributes of the great God Who stands above and beyond this vast physical realm. The immensity and vastness of the Universe only spurs the rational mind to marvel at the One whose own metaphysical transcendence surpasses the visible. In the words of the psalmist: “I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness (145:5-6). “He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:4-5). Isaiah agreed: “Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power” (40:26).


Bohlin, Ray (1998), “Contact: A Eulogy to Carl Sagan,” [On-line], URL: http://www.probe.org/docs/contact.html.
Bohlin, Ray (2002), “Are We Alone in the Universe?”, [On-line], URL: http://www.probe.org/docs/lifemars.html.
Gaebelein, Frank E., ed. (1988), The Expositor’s Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Geisler, Norman L. (1983), Cosmos: Carl Sagan’s Religion for the Scientific Mind (Dallas, TX: Quest).
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1976 reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament: The Pentateuch (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Leupold, Herbert C. (1950 reprint), Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Sagan, Carl (1997), Billions and Billions (New York: Random House).
Sagan, Carl (1985), Contact (New York: Simon and Schuster).
Sagan, Carl (1980), Cosmos (New York: Random House).
Sagan, Carl, ed. (1973), “Introduction,” Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence [CETI] (MIT Press).
Thompson, Bert (2001), In Defense of the Bible’s Inspiration (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), second edition.
Warren, Thomas B. (1972), Have Atheists Proved There Is No God (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).