"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Obtaining The Prize (9:24-27) by Mark Copeland

Obtaining The Prize (9:24-27)
1. In our text (1Co 9:24-27), Paul alludes to the ancient Grecian games...
a. Running in a race
c. Competing for a prize
b. Fighting as a boxer
2. He observes that there are principles common to both athletes and
a. The need for motivation
b. The need for self-control
c. The need for exercise
3. These are necessary to "obtain" the prize...
a. The Greek word translated "obtain" is katalambano
b. It means "to apprehend, attain, obtain, find"
- Complete WordStudy Dictionary
c. "In allusion to the public games, to obtain the prize with the
idea of eager and strenuous exertion, to grasp, seize upon"- ibid.
[Whether one is an athlete or a Christian, there are three things
necessary to "Obtaining The Prize"...]
1. The proper motivation is necessary to win
2. Different motives make a difference in a race
a. Some run to win
c. The latter really don't care if they win or not
b. Others run for their health
3. The successful athlete is motivated by the gold medal or wreath
a. A perishable crown, to be sure
b. But one representing fame and glory, that motivates the
athlete to excel
1. The proper motivation is likewise necessary to win
2. Different motives can make a big difference
a. Some are Christians to please their conscience, or to please
others b. Some are Christians because of the present blessings (peace of mind, fellowship)
3. But the successful Christian is motivated by what lies at the
c. Such motives may have their place in the life of the Christian
end of the race
a. An imperishable crown - 1Co 9:25c
b. The crown of righteousness, which motivated Paul - 2Ti 4:
c. The incorruptible inheritance that awaits us - 1Pe 1:3-4;
d. Just as Jesus endured the cross "for the joy that was set
before Him" - He 12:1-2
[What motivates you as a Christian, running the race of faith? Is it
"Obtaining The Prize" at the end? If so, then you should also take note of...]
1. Successful athletes are 'temperate' in all things - 1Co 9:25a
2. They exercise 'self-control' in such things as:
a. Their diet b. The amount of sleep
d. Often foregoing many social activities
c. Following their training schedules
"When it's pouring rain and you have to go and ride six hours
3. Self-control means doing it even when one doesn't feel like it:
in the mountains, there's no fun in doing that." - Lance Armstrong
1. Self-control is just as necessary - 1Co 9:27
2. It is necessary to overcoming "the works of the flesh"
- Ga 5:19-24
3. The indwelling Spirit is given to the Christian to aid us

4. But the aid of the Spirit does not remove any sense of struggle
- cf. 1Pe 2:11
a. We must still do things that seem difficult
b. We must still do things even when we don't "feel like it"
[Self-control is a necessary complement to proper motivation. Without
it, motivation alone will not succeed. Along with motivation and
self-control is...]
1. The exercise performed by athletes is impressive
a. Long distance runners train 10-20 miles a day
b. Swimmers swim 10 miles a day to be competitive
c. Gymnasts work out 8-9 hours a day 2. Such exercise is essential a. To be competitive
b. To endure the hardships of the competition c. To gain the victory!
1. There is the need for godly exercise - 1Ti 4:8
a. Offering benefits for the life which now is
b. With promise for the life to come
a. Diligence in rightly handling the word of truth - 2Ti 2:15
2. Examples of good spiritual exercise
b. Communing with the Lord in prayer - Php 4:6-7
c. Meditating on things worthy of virtue and praise - Php 4:8
d. Loving the brethren with sincerity - Ro 12:9-10
e. Offering diligent, fervent service to the Lord and brethren
1. Certainly one engaged in such 'exercises' is a true spiritual athlete...
a. Running the race of faith with certainty - 1Co 9:26
b. Fighting the good fight with purpose - ibid.
2. Such efforts will not be in vain...
a. When accompanied by the right motivation
b. When joined with self-control
Are you "Obtaining The Prize"? Make sure that you heed Paul's words to
"run in such a way that you may obtain it" (1Co 9:24b). Also take
heart from his words found later in this same epistle:
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always
abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not
in vain in the Lord." - 1Co 15:58

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Camels and the Composition of Genesis by Eric Lyons, M.Min. A.P. Staff


Camels and the Composition of Genesis

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
A.P. Staff

Arguably, the most widely alleged anachronisms used in support of the idea that Moses could not have written the first five books of the Bible (a theory known as the Documentary Hypothesis) are the accounts of the early patriarchs possessing camels. The word “camel(s)” appears 23 times in 21 verses in the book of Genesis. The first book of the Bible declares that camels existed in Egypt during the time of Abraham (12:14-17), in Palestine in the days Isaac (24:63), in Padan Aram while Jacob was working for Laban (30:43), and were owned by the Midianites during the time Joseph was sold into Egyptian slavery (37:25,36). Make no mistake about it, the book of beginnings clearly teaches that camels were domesticated since at least the time of Abraham.
According to skeptics (and a growing number of liberal scholars), however, the idea that camels were domesticated in the time of Abraham directly contradicts archaeological evidence. Over one hundred years ago, T.K. Cheyne wrote: “The assertion that the ancient Egyptians knew of the camel is unfounded” (1899, 1:634). In his oft’-quoted book on the various animals of the Bible, George Cansdale stated:
The Bible first mentions the camel in Gen. 12:16, where the presents are listed which the pharaoh gave to Abram. This is generally reckoned to be a later scribe’s addition, for it seems unlikely that there were any camels in Egypt then (1970, p. 66, emp. added).
More recently, Finkelstein and Silberman confidently asserted:
We now know through archaeological research that camels were not domesticated as beasts of burden earlier than the late second millennium and were not widely used in that capacity in the ancient Near East until well after 1000 BCE (2001, p. 37, emp. added).
By way of summary, what the Bible believer has been told is: “[T]ame camels were simply unknown during Abraham’s time” (Tobin, 2000).
While these claims have been made repeatedly over the last century, the truth of the matter is that skeptics and liberal theologians are unable to cite a single piece of solid archaeological evidence in support of their claims. As Randall Younker of Andrews University stated in March 2000 while delivering a speech in the Dominican Republic: “Clearly, scholars who have denied the presence of domesticated camels in the 2nd millennium B.C. have been committing the fallacy of arguing from silence. This approach should not be allowed to cast doubt upon the veracity of any historical document, let alone Scripture” (2000). The burden of proof actually should be upon skeptics to show that camels were not domesticated until after the time of the patriarchs. Instead, they assure their listeners of the camel’s absence in Abraham’s day—without one shred of archaeological evidence. [Remember, for many years they also argued that writing was unknown during the time of Moses—a conclusion based entirely on “silence.” Now, however, they have recanted that idea, because evidence has been found to the contrary. One might think that such “scholars” would learn not to speak with such assurance when arguing from silence.]
What makes their claims even more disturbing is that several pieces of evidence do exist (and have existed for some time) that prove camels were domesticated during (and even before) the time of Abraham (roughly 2,000 B.C.). In an article that appeared in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies a half-century ago, professor Joseph Free listed several instances of Egyptian archaeological finds supporting the domestication of camels [NOTE: The dates given for the Egyptian dynasties are from Clayton, 2001, pp.14-68]. The earliest evidence comes from a pottery camel’s head and a terra cotta tablet with men riding on and leading camels. According to Free, these are both from predynastic Egypt (1944, pp. 189-190), which according to Clayton is roughly before 3150 B.C. Free also listed three clay camel heads and a limestone vessel in the form of camel lying down—all dated at the First Dynasty of Egypt (3050-2890 B.C.). He then mentioned several models of camels from the Fourth Dynasty (2613-2498 B.C.), and a petroglyph depicting a camel and a man dated at the Sixth Dynasty (2345-2184 B.C.). Such evidence has led one respected Egyptologist to conclude that “the extant evidence clearly indicates that the domestic camel was known [in Egypt—EL] by 3,000 B.C.”—long before Abraham’s time (Kitchen, 1980, 1:228).
Perhaps the most convincing find in support of the early domestication of camels in Egypt is a rope made of camel’s hair found in the Fayum (an oasis area southwest of modern-day Cairo). The two-strand twist of hair, measuring a little over three feet long, was found in the late 1920s, and was sent to the Natural History Museum where it was analyzed and compared to the hair of several different animals. After considerable testing, it was determined to be camel hair, dated (by analyzing the layer in which it was found) to the Third or Fourth Egyptian Dynasty (2686-2498 B.C.). In his article, Free also listed several other discoveries from around 2,000 B.C.and later, which showed camels as domestic animals (pp. 189-190).
While prolific in Egypt, finds relating to the domestication of camels are not isolated to the African continent. In his book, Ancient Orient and the Old Testament, professor Kenneth Kitchen (retired) of the University of Liverpool reported several discoveries made outside of Egyptproving ancient camel domestication around 2,000 B.C. Lexical lists from Mesopotamia have been uncovered that show a knowledge of domesticated camels as far back as this time. Camel bones have been found in household ruins at Mari in present-day Syria that fossilologists believe are also at least 4,000 years old. Furthermore, a Sumerian text from the time of Abraham has been discovered in the ancient city of Nippur (located in what is now southeastern Iraq) that clearly implies the domestication of camels by its allusions to camels’ milk (Kitchen, 1966, p. 79).
All of these documented finds support the domestication of camels in Egypt many years before the time of Abraham. Yet, as Younker rightly observed, skeptics refuse to acknowledge any of this evidence.
It is interesting to note how, once an idea gets into the literature, it can become entrenched in conventional scholarly thinking. I remember doing research on the ancient site of Hama in Syria. As I was reading through the excavation reports (published in French), I came across a reference to a figurine from the 2nd millennium which the excavator thought must be a horse, but the strange hump in the middle of its back made one think of a camel. I looked at the photograph and the figurine was obviously that of a camel! The scholar was so influenced by the idea that camels were not used until the 1st millennium, that when he found a figurine of one in the second millennium, he felt compelled to call it a horse! This is a classic example of circular reasoning (2000, parenthetical comment in orig.).
Finds relating to the domestication of camels are not as prevalent in the second millennium B.C.as they are in the first millennium. This does not make the skeptics’ case any stronger, however. Just because camels were not as widely used during Abraham’s time as they were later, does not mean that they were entirely undomesticated. As Free commented:
Many who have rejected this reference to Abraham’s camels seem to have assumed something which the text does not state. It should be carefully noted that the biblical reference does not necessarily indicate that the camel was common in Egypt at that time, nor does it evidence that the Egyptians had made any great progress in the breeding and domestication of camels. It merely says that Abraham had camels (1944, p. 191, emp. added).
Similarly, Younker noted:
This is not to say that domesticated camels were abundant and widely used everywhere in the ancient Near East in the early second millennium. However, the patriarchal narratives do not necessarily require large numbers of camels…. The smaller amount of evidence for domestic camels in the late third and early second millennium B.C., especially in Palestine, is in accordance with this more restricted use (1997, 42:52).
Even without the above-mentioned archaeological finds (which to the unbiased examiner prove that camels were domesticated in the time of Abraham), it only seems reasonable to conclude that since wild camels have been known since the Creation, “there is no credible reason why such an indispensable animal in desert and semi-arid lands should not have been sporadically domesticated in patriarchal times and even earlier” (“Animal Kingdom,” 1988). The truth is, all of the available evidence points to one conclusion—the limited use of domesticated camels during and before the time of Abraham did occur. The supposed “anachronism” of domesticated camels during the time of the patriarchs is, in fact, an actual historical reference to the use of these animals at that time. Those who reject this conclusion cannot give one piece of solid archaeological evidence on their behalf. They simply argue from the “silence” of archaeology…which is silent no more!


“Animal Kingdom” (1988), The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Cansdale, George (1970), All the Animals of the Bible Lands (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Cheyne, T.K. (1899), Encyclopedia Biblica (London: A. & C. Black).
Clayton, Peter A. (2001), Chronicle of the Pharaohs (London: Thames & Hudson).
Finkelstein, Israel and Neil Asher Silberman (2001), The Bible Unearthed (New York: Free Press).
Free, Joseph P. (1944), “Abraham’s Camels,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 3:187-193, July.
Kitchen, K.A. (1966), Ancient Orient and Old Testament (Chicago, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Kitchen, K.A. (1980), The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale).
Tobin, Paul N. (2000), “Mythological Element in the Story of Abraham and the Patriachal Narratives,” The Refection of Pascal’s Wager [On-line], URL: http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/abraham.html.
Younker, Randall W. (1997), “Late Bronze Age Camel Petroglyphs in the Wadi Nasib, Sinai,” Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin, 42:47-54.
Younker, Randall W. (2000), “The Bible and Archaeology,” The Symposium on the Bible and Adventist Scholarship [On-line], URL: http://www.aiias.edu/ict/vol_26B/26Bcc_457-477.htm.

Atheist Finally “Sobers Up” by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Atheist Finally “Sobers Up”

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Nearly 30 years ago, a debate of significant proportions took place. It was September 20-23, 1976. The place was the campus of North Texas State University in Denton, Texas. The disputants were two longtime professors of philosophy—Thomas B. Warren (whose Ph.D. in philosophy was from Vanderbilt) and Antony G.N. Flew (who was teaching in the University of Reading near London, England). The propositions they debated juxtaposed succinctly the real issue between thorough-going (positive) atheism and thorough-going (biblical) theism. Dr. Flew affirmed, “I know that God does not exist,” and Dr. Warren affirmed, “I know that God doesexist.”
Dr. Warren once explained why he selected Antony Flew as his opponent in the debate. His rationale was simple: if those who are on the cutting edge of philosophical thought and who are considered to be the leaders in their chosen area of expertise—the “best of the best” if you will—are unable to defend their position when confronted by a fair and accurate defense of the truth, their error will be exposed. Those who were influenced by these leading men would be forced (like the “domino effect”) to recognize the sterility of the viewpoint they had embraced. Antony Flew had been a leading champion of atheism for decades. His writings dominated philosophical journals, and he was a prolific author [his books included Hume’s Philosophy of Belief (1961), God and Philosophy (1966), Evolutionary Ethics (1967), An Introduction to Western Philosophy (1971), and even a book on logic—Thinking Straight (1975)]. Having taught at Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele, and Reading universities in Britain, Flew also served as a visiting professor in many American universities, and conducted numerous debates in the process of defending his atheism.
For the first two nights of the Warren-Flew debate, Flew assumed the affirmative position in an attempt to prove that God does not exist. However, Warren’s kind-but-relentless assault in the negative position seemed to leave Flew battered, bewildered, and disoriented—so much so that when Dr. Warren assumed the affirmative position on the third night of the debate, he spent a few minutes attempting to ascertain the reason for Dr. Flew’s failure, while in the affirmative, to present a sound argument for his atheistic contention in a precise logical way:
It has been suggested that his failure is due to the fact that he is in a foreign country, but such could have little or nothing to do with this proposition. That he is out of his own country has nothing to do with how he handles intellectual material. Neither is his failure due to his not being accustomed to this style of debating. I have heard him in discussion before, and he seemed not to be bothered at all by the kind of format that was involved. Perhaps he did not know the responsibility of an affirmative speaker? But that cannot be so because, in his writings, he constantly chides a man who does not recognize his responsibility as an affirmant. Perhaps because he does not know the arguments? I deny that emphatically. In reading the works of Dr. Flew, I am convinced that he knows the arguments that are involved as well as anybody in the world. Perhaps because he does not understand or accept the law of rationality? The truth of the matter is: he has written very strongly and frequently in defense of it! But he has not acted in harmony with it in this discussion. Ordinarily, when he is writing in the affirmative, and he writes almost constantly of matters that are concerned with God or very closely related to God—at least subjects that are peripheral to the subject of God. In fact, it is the case that he is almost God-intoxicatedHe constantly emphasizes in his books that the onus of proof is on the affirmative writer or speaker! But I am afraid that he has not recognized that truth in this discussion (1977, pp. 131-132, emp. in orig.).
In the very next speech—the first negative—Dr. Flew responded to Dr. Warren’s comments in the following words: “Dr. Warren may be assured that I am sobering up from God intoxication. I shall be writing considerably less, if anything, in this area in the future” (p. 143, emp. added). Now, 28 years later, Dr. Flew appears, indeed, to finally have sobered up. At the age of 81, he has announced to the world that, based upon the scientific evidence, he now believes in some type of God (“Famous Atheist…,” 2004). However, do not jump to any premature conclusions. One interviewer spoke with Dr. Flew about his recent adjustments in his thinking, and concluded:
The fact of the matter is: Flew hasn’t really decided what to believe. He affirms that he is not a Christian—he is still quite certain that the Gods of Christianity or Islam do not exist, that there is no revealed religion, and definitely no afterlife of any kind. But he is increasingly persuaded that some sort of Deity brought about this universe, though it does not intervene in human affairs, nor does it provide any postmortem salvation. He says he has in mind something like the God of Aristotle, a distant, impersonal “prime mover.” It might not even be conscious, but a mere force. In formal terms, he regards the existence of this minimal God as a hypothesis that, at present, is perhaps the best explanation for why a universe exists that can produce complex life. But he is still unsure. In fact, he asked that I not directly quote him yet, until he finally composes his new introduction to a final edition of his book God and Philosophy, due out next year. He hasn’t completed it yet, precisely because he is still examining the evidence and thinking things over. Anything he says now, could change tomorrow (Carrier, 2004).
Here is what Flew has stated about whether he believes in God in the biblical sense:
I do not think I will ever make that assertion, precisely because any assertion which I am prepared to make about God would not be about a God in that sense ... I think we need here a fundamental distinction between the God of Aristotle or Spinoza and the Gods of the Christian and the Islamic Revelations…. My one and only piece of relevant evidence [for an Aristotelian God] is the apparent impossibility of providing a naturalistic theory of the origin from DNA of the first reproducing species... [In fact] the only reason which I have for beginning to think of believing in a First Cause god is the impossibility of providing a naturalistic account of the origin of the first reproducing organisms (as quoted in Carrier, italics in orig., emp. added).
It’s a step. But Dr. Flew has a long way to go to arrive at the truth concerning God’s existence. Observe that even when an atheist is forced to recognize that the evidence demands that a purposive, intelligent Being lies behind the Creation, he still endeavors to relegate this intelligence to an impersonal force that does not “provide a postmortem salvation.” Why? Because the same Being also would provide a “postmortem condemnation” in which humans will rightly and justly receive punishment for their sinful behavior on Earth. Can’t have that, can we?! It would mean adjusting one’s daily life choices and relegating one’s stubborn pride beneath the will of God.
Flew also stated: “My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato’s Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads” (“Famous Atheist…,” emp. added). If that were true, he would have already been led to the truth that the God of the Bible exists (just read the Warren-Flew debate!). Indeed, all the available evidence leads to that singular conclusion. The very evidence that Flew now believes indicates the existence of some sort of God, is the same evidence that he once insisted supported atheism! It took him 66 years to arrive at this most recent conclusion (Flew has been a self-avowed atheist since he was 15). But given the current human lifespan, he does not have another 66 years to follow the evidence to where it leads.


Carrier, Richard (2004), “Antony Flew Considers God—Sort Of,” [On-line], URL: http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=369.
“Famous Atheist Now Believes in God” (2004), The Associated Press, December 9, [On-line], URL: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=315976.
Flew, Antony G.N. and Thomas B. Warren (1977), Warren-Flew Debate (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).

The Beginning and the End by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Beginning and the End

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

If God does not exist and the Bible is not His inspired Word, human life is meaningless. We are merely the result of a cosmic accident. We ultimately are nothing more than evolved matter that will merely return to dust.
In a 1994 debate at Stanford University on Darwinism, atheistic evolutionist William Provine summarized his views on modern evolutionary biology and its “loud and clear” implications. According to Dr. Provine, “There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life…” (Provine and Johnson, 1994).
Whereas atheistic evolution implies that human life is rather pointless, the biblical explanation for man’s God-given purpose is deeply rooted in his origins, as well as his afterlife. After having already acknowledged that from a purely naturalistic perspective life is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 12:8), the wise man concluded that the ultimate purpose of human life is to “fear God and keep His commandments” (12:13). Of particular interest is the fact that this all-important conclusion is grounded in (1) where we came from and (2) where we are going (12:1,7,14).


The inspired penman of Ecclesiastes concluded that “man’s all” is to “fear God and keep His commandments” because “God will bring every work into judgment” (12:13,14). Though most agree with the obvious truth that “it is appointed for men to die once,” many reject the fact that when this earthly life has ended judgment awaits (Hebrews 9:27). God has “appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man Whom He has ordained” (Acts 17:31)—the Son of God, to Whom the Father “has committed all judgment” (John 5:22).
One of the main themes of the New Testament is that Jesus, the Judge, will return. The first recorded message after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven was: “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Though Jesus will “be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8), Christians can rejoice in the fact that “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven…. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Faithful Christians can (and should) look forward to the end of time and the promise of Jesus’ return. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).


The same Word of God that Christians trust regarding our bright future, is the same Divine Word that details our beautiful beginning. Peter recognized that “long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water…. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men…. Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:5,7,13, NIV, emp. added).
The same Lord Who “made the heavens…shall judgethe world” (Psalm 96:5,13, emp. added). The Christ Who created “all things…that are in heaven and that are on earth” (Colossians 1:16), is the same Jesus Who will return “in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him” (Matthew 25:31). Our beginning and ending are inextricably linked by God and His Word.
How is it that some put so much trust in what God has revealed about the end of time, yet care so little about the details He gave regarding the beginning? God certainly could have created the Universe in any way He desired, in whatever order He wanted, and in whatever time frame He chose. He could have created the world and everything in it in six seconds or six billion years. But the pertinent question is not what could God have done; it is whatHe said He did. And He said that He created everything in six days (Genesis 1). When God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments, He stated: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work…. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:9,11).
What has the all-authoritative, eternal Creator revealed to us about His Creation in His all-authoritative Word? In contradiction to what theistic evolutionists teach about, for example, humanity finally evolving 13-14 billion years after the commencement of Creation, Jesus indicated that “from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6).
Furthermore, “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” (Romans 1:20, emp. added). How long has man been aware of God and His invisible attributes? “Since the creation of the world.” How, then, could man logically have been “perceiving” or “understanding” God “since the creation of the world,” if he is separated from the creation of the heavens and the earth by billions of years of evolution? Such a scenario completely contradicts Scripture.
Sadly, some individuals choose to believe in man-made, convoluted, imaginative theories, rather than fully embrace God-revealed, inerrant, biblical truth. Faithful servants of God, however, put complete confidence in the Creator’s all-authoritative Word, respectfully and consistently relying on His guidance about both the beginning and the end. “Remember now your Creator,” for “the dust will return to the earth as it was,” but “the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:1,7).


Provine, W.B. and Phillip E. Johnson (1994), “Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy?” Origins Research, 16[1], Fall/Winter, www.arn.org/docs/orpages/or161/161main.htm.

*Originally published in Gospel Advocate, November 2015, 157[11]:18-19.

Genealogies and the Virgin Birth of Christ by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Genealogies and the Virgin Birth of Christ

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Rarely (if ever) have I read the words “genealogy” and “exciting” in the same sentence. It seems most people consider the genealogies of Christ as some of the Bible’s dullest reading. They frequently are described as boring, dry, and monotonous—full of “begets” that many would just as soon “forget.” In reality, however, exciting pearls of truth often are overlooked. One of these truths that escapes the reader who simply skims (or skips) the genealogies is the virgin birth of Christ.
In Matthew’s genealogy of Christ, it may be that one fails to see how the verb “begot” is used 39 times between Abraham and Joseph (verses 2-16a). And yet, instead of claiming that Joseph begot Jesus, Matthew wrote: “…and Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ” (1:16, emp. added). This wording stands in stark contrast to the format in the preceding verses (“Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, etc.”). Joseph did not beget Jesus; rather, he is referred to as “the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus.” The Holy Spirit was emphasizing the fact that Jesus was not conceived as the result of anything Joseph did. Rather, Mary “was found with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18, emp. added). An angel even informed Joseph that he was not the father of Jesus, rather that which was conceived [literally, “begotten”] in her was “of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20).
Matthew gave us a second “hint” of the virgin birth of Christ when he wrote: “…and Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ” (1:16, emp. added). One might assume that the “whom” in this verse refers to Joseph as Jesus’ father. Others may think it is talking about both Joseph and Mary as His parents. An English teacher likely would point out that we cannot tell to whom the word “whom” belongs in this verse, because when the English word “whom” is used in a sentence it can refer to either men or women; or, it can refer to both. Though usually we can tell the meaning by the context in which the word is found, such is not the case in Matthew 1:16. Our English translations simply do not reveal the marvelous truth concealed in this verse. In order to unveil this “Gospel gem,” one must consult the language in which the New Testament was written originally—Greek. The English phrase “of whom was born Jesus” is translated from the Greek relative feminine pronoun (hes). In this verse, the feminine gender can refer only to Mary. Biblical genealogies regularly emphasize the fathers who sire a child, but here Matthew indicates that Jesus received His humanity only from His mother. Thus, Joseph is excluded from any involvement in the birth of Christ, the Son of God.
While Matthew’s genealogy clearly establishes Christ as the legal heir to the throne by tracing His ancestry down through the royal line of the kings of Israel all the way to Joseph the carpenter (and to Jesus), he still emphasizes Mary as the biological parent “of whom” Jesus was born. What accuracy! What precision! What a wonderful truth found within a genealogy so often overlooked.

“Scientists Don’t Have a Clue How Life Began” by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


“Scientists Don’t Have a Clue How Life Began”

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Twenty years ago, John Horgan, staff writer for Scientific American, wanted to write an article titled, “Pssst! Don’t Tell the Creationists, but Scientists Don’t Have a Clue How Life Began.” His editor at the time did not like the title and changed it. Horgan has waited 20 years, however, and the original editor is gone who did not like his title, so he simply re-used it for an article he wrote in February of 2011, two decades later (Horgan, 2011). The fact that Horgan could accurately say that the scientific community did not have a clue 20 years ago about the origin of life, and the situation has not changed in two decades of intense research, speaks volumes about the false theory of evolution and its explanation of the origin of life.
The reason that “scientists don’t have a clue how life began” is because those whom Horgan is labeling as “scientists” have prejudicially eliminated the only viable option for the origin of life. What Horgan means is that scientists who believe in evolution cannot give any plausible, naturalistic scenario that would make life possible. Horgan mistakenly equates “scientists” with “evolutionary scientists.” The fact of the matter is, thousands of scientists across the country know exactly how life began—God created life during the six-day Creation week. In fact, we at Apologetics Press have several highly qualified staff and auxiliary scientists who have studied the evidence and know how life began.
The quandary that Horgan and evolutionary scientists are in arises from the fact that, according to evolution, life had to spontaneously generate from non-living chemicals—and there is no plausible naturalistic accounting for this. To defend his position that “scientists” do not have a clue, Horgan explained that the idea of DNA molecules forming spontaneously has major problems: “DNA can make neither proteins nor copies of itself without the help of catalytic proteins called enzymes. This fact turned the origin of life into a classic chicken-or-egg puzzle: Which came first, proteins or DNA?” (2011). Horgan then noted that origin-of-life scientists have postulated that RNA might be the answer to the beginning of life. But he concluded: “The RNA world is so dissatisfying that some frustrated scientists are resorting to much more far out—literally—speculation” (2011). The far out ideas to which Horgan eluded are notions that life was dropped off by aliens, or that microbes from outer space “seeded” our planet. Horgan correctly observed that such outlandish suggestions only “push the problem of life’s origin into outer space. If life didn’t begin here, how did it begin out there?”
In his concluding paragraph, Horgan wrote: “Creationists are no doubt thrilled that origin-of-life research has reached such an impasse…but they shouldn’t be. Their explanations suffer from the same flaw: What created the divine Creator? And at least scientists are making an honest effort to solve life’s mystery instead of blaming it all on God” (2011). Horgan is exactly right when he says that scientists (read that “evolutionary scientists”) do not have a clue how life began. He is wrong, however, to insist that the evolutionary scenario of life’s origin rests on the same footing as the concept of creation. The origin-of-life research has not shown that a naturalistic origin for life is merely improbable; instead, it has shown that it is impossible—life does not and cannot spontaneously generate from non-living chemicals. That being the case, the only truly “scientific” idea left would be to follow the evidence where it leads—to an intelligent, supernatural creator. Antony Flew, at one time the world’s foremost atheistic philosopher, came to just such a conclusion when he wrote: “The only satisfactory explanation for the origin of such ‘end-directed, self-replicating’ life as we see on earth is an infinitely intelligent Mind” (2007, p. 132).


Flew, Antony and Roy Varghese (2007), There Is No God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (New York: HarperOne).
Horgan, John (2011), “Pssst! Don’t Tell the Creationists, but Scientists Don’t Have a Clue How Life Began,” Scientific American, http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=pssst-dont-tell-the-creationists-bu-2011-02-28.

America’s Famine by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


America’s Famine

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Unlike many nations in human history, America has never really known want. Even the Great Depression of the 1930s does not begin to compare with the famines of antiquity that devastated entire civilizations and resulted in the starvation of millions of people. With such extreme prosperity dominating the United States, the average American cannot even begin to imagine the kind of hunger that has characterized large segments of humanity throughout history. Who can even conceptualize eating one’s own children? Yet such has not been uncommon in world history (cf. 2 Kings 6:28-29). In an article that appeared in National Geographic magazine in 1917, Ralph Graves surveyed historical occurrences of famine all the way back to the Egyptian pharaohs. The portrait is horrifying. For example, Graves observed:
Probably in no other country in the world has a people been brought to such a low ebb of morality or become so completely lost to all semblance of rational humanity as in the series of famines which swept over Egypt during the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries, under Mohammedan rule (p. 75).
Cats, dogs, and horses were extremely expensive, women abandoned their jewels as worthless, and desperate people resorted to cannibalism—even selling human flesh in the market place. Babies were kidnapped for food, if not eaten by their own parents. Even the graves were ransacked for food (p. 79). Savagery and moral degradation were the order of the day. A famine in 1069 in England was so severe that peasants, no longer able to find dogs and horses to eat, sold themselves into slavery in hopes of being fed by the master (p. 81). In 1314, a famine in England brought such misery and suffering that bodies lined the roadsides, everything imaginable was eaten (including dogs, cats, horses, and babies), and when new felons were cast into prison, starving inmates would tear them to pieces for food (p. 82). France was plagued with devastating famines from the Middle Ages to the Revolution resulting in the death of millions. Staple fare included grass, roots, white clay, and exhumed bodies. The potato famines of Ireland in 1822 and again in 1845 resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

“The pages of India’s history are black with the blotches of famine” (p. 86). From 1770 to 1900, 22 famines resulted in the death of 15 million. Likewise, China has been particularly susceptible to famine, with 45 million dying during four famines from 1810 to 1849. Russian peasants died by the thousands in famines of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (p. 89). During the 20th century, some 70 million people died from famines worldwide, including 30 million dying in China in the 1958 famine. Several famines afflicted the Soviet Union, including the Holodomor, a famine inflicted on Ukraine in 1932–33 by Stalin. Famine disaster struck both China and Bengal during World War II, while more recent famines include the Biafran famine in the 1960s, the disaster in Cambodia in the 1970s, the Ethiopian famine of 1984, and the North Korean famine of the 1990s.

Americans can hardly even contemplate the possibility that America could ever be subjected to such circumstances. Yet, the Bible teaches that when people reject God and His Word, they set themselves up for disaster. In contrast to these shocking accounts of a lack of minimal sustenance to maintain human life, consider the far more catastrophic effect of a famine of spiritual sustenance: the Word of God. When any civilization lacks access and attachment to God’s thinking and God’s directives, a truly severe famine will ensue. This dearth will, in turn, merit a corresponding physical famine. As God declared to the population of Amos’ day:
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12, emp. added).
This description bears a striking similarity to the conditions now plaguing America. While Americans wallow in their plenty, a vast plague of spiritual starvation has swept across the land. Hear the words of God through Jeremiah warning another nation 2,700 years ago:
The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it…. “Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good’” (Jeremiah 18:7-12, emp. added).
And hear the words of God through Moses to another nation 3,500 years ago: “I will heap disasters on them; I will spend My arrows upon them. They shall be wasted with hunger, devoured by pestilence and bitter destruction” (Deuteronomy 32:23-24). We must ask this sobering question: Will America’s spiritual famine facilitate national disaster?


“Famine,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Famine#cite_note-44.

Graves, Ralph (1917), “Fearful Famines of the Past,” National Geographic, 32[1]:69-90, July, http://books.google.com/books?id= dqt-AAAAMAAJ&pg=PA69&dq=fearful+famines+of+the+past&hl= en&ei=1oqTTJmPAcaAlAfM9YCrCg&sa=X&oi= book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved= 0CC4Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=fearful%20famines%20of% 20the%20past&f=false.

Did Eljiah Send a Letter to King Jehoram Years After the Prophet Was Already Dead? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Did Eljiah Send a Letter to King Jehoram Years After the Prophet Was Already Dead?
by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

According to 2 Chronicles 21, during the reign of King Jehoram, the fifth king of Judah, “a letter came to him from Elijah” in which the prophet rebuked the wicked king and predicted his painful disease and death (2 Chronicles 21:12-15). This account, however, has drawn criticism from some1 since 2 Kings records Elijah being taken up into heaven in chapter 2—six chapters before Jehoram is mentioned as beginning his eight-year reign over Judah (2 Kings 8:16-24). Thus, inquiring minds want to know how Elijah could have penned a letter to a king if the prophet was no longer on Earth?
There are at least two possible, reasonable answers to this question. First, as with many other recorded biblical events,2 it may be that the account of Elijah’s miraculous translation into the spirit realm recorded in 2 Kings 2 was not placed in that particular section of Kings for strict chronological purposes. If the apostle John could place the account of Jesus cleansing the Temple at the beginning of His ministry (John 2:13-22),3 and do so, as some contend, for thematic or theological purposes, rather than chronological reasons, could the inspired penman of Kings not have done something similar? We agree with Keil and Delitzsch, who concluded:
It is impossible to fix the year of Elijah’s ascension. Neither the fact that it is mentioned after the death of Ahaziah of Israel, which he himself had personally foretold to that ungodly king, nor the circumstance that in the war which Jehoshaphat and Joram of Israel waged with the Moabites prophet Elisha was consulted (ch. 3), warrants the conclusion that Elijah was taken from the earth in the interval between these two events. It is very obvious from ch. 3:11 that the two kings applied to Elisha simply because he was in the neighborhood, and not because Elijah was no longer alive.4
Elisha had entered upon this relationship to Elijah long before Elijah’s departure from the earth (1 Kings 19:19ff.). Elijah may therefore have still been alive under Joram of Judah.5
Interestingly, King Jehoram of Judah is actually mentioned in 1 Kings 1:17—before Elijah is translated into heaven. This verse certainly establishes the fact that Jehoram was alive during the time of Elijah and likely hints at the co-regency of Jehoram and his father King Jehoshaphat (cf. 2 Kings 8:16-24),6 which admittedly may cause some confusion when attempting to make precise chronological judgments regarding certain events in Kings and Chronicles.
Even if the events in 2 Kings 1-8 are recorded in a more strict chronological order, however, and Elijah had actually left Earth prior to Jehoram’s independent reign as king began, there still is no proven contradiction between these passages and what the chronicler recorded about Elijah’s letter to Jehoram. Second Chronicles 21:12 does state that “a letter came to” Jehoram “from Elijah the prophet,” but notice that the text does not say that Elijah personally delivered the letter. One simply cannot prove that the text is implying that Elijah was still alive. It could very well be that the prophet Elijah wrote a prophetic letter about King Jehoram’s future sickness and death, which was delivered to the king (perhaps by Elisha) years after Elijah left the Earth. If uninspired people who pass from this life can leave letters and other forms of communication for family members to read (or watch) after their deaths, could a divinely inspired prophet not have arranged for a letter, which he wrote long before, to be delivered at a particular time after his death? To ask is to answer.
Although some may become disturbed upon initially comparing 2 Kings 2 with 2 Chronicles 21, a fair and sober assessment of the text reveals logical explanations for the differences found therein. Perhaps the differences are the result of the events of 2 Kings 2 not being placed in a strict sequential order in the text. Or, it could very well be that Elijah wrote the letter of 2 Chronicles 21 as a prophetic letter before his departure from Earth and long before Jehoram became the sole King of Judah. One thing is certain: no justifiable contradiction has been proven.


1 Steve Wells (2016), “The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible,” www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/2chr/21.html.
2 See Eric Lyons (2005), “Alleged Chronological Contradictions,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1582.
3 As opposed to the end of it, which is where Matthew, Mark, and Luke place the event.
4 C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch (1996), Commentary on the Old Testament: 1 & 2 Kings; 1 & 2 Chronicles (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson), 3:209-210.
5 Ibid., 3:643.
6 See R.D. Patterson and Hermann J. Austel (1988), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Kings, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 4:173.