"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" The Greatest Of These Is Love (13:13) by Mark Copeland


                 The Greatest Of These Is Love (13:13)


1. In his discourse on spiritual gifts, Paul praised the value of love...
   a. Introducing it as "a more excellent way" - 1Co 12:31
   b. Emphasizing its necessity along with any ability or service we
      might have - 1Co 13:1-3
   c. Explaining its abiding superiority over spiritual gifts 
      - 1Co 13:8

2. He even praised its value over faith and hope...
   a. Abiding virtues in of themselves - 1Co 13:13a
   b. Yet love is "the greatest of these" virtues - 1Co 13:13b

[Why is love so highly valued by Paul?  And if it is such a great
virtue, how should we manifest in our lives?  These questions I wish to
address in this study, first by summarizing...]


      1. Out of love for the world, God gave His Son 
         - Jn 3:16-17; 1Jn 4:9-10
      2. The magnitude of God's love is seen when we consider that it
         was expressed while we were yet sinners - Ro 5:6-8

      1. The Father's love toward the Son motivated the Son to love us
         - Jn 15:9
      2. Such love then motivated Christ to die for us 
         - Jn 15:13; Ep 5:2

      1. The love of Christ compelled Paul to live for Him - 2Co 5:14-15
      2. Paul's life of faith was thus influenced by Christ's love for
         him - Ga 2:20

      1. The love of Christ should inspire us to love one another 
         - Jn 13:34
      2. The love of God should likewise move us to love one another
         - 1Jn 4:11

[Love can and should be a very powerful, motivating force in our lives.
We have seen how it prompted God and Christ to express their love for
us.  The greatness of love can also be seen in how we should express it
in our lives...]


      1. By keeping the commandments of God and Christ 
         - Jn 14:15,21,23-24; 15:10,14
      2. By loving our brethren in Christ - Jn 15:12; 1Jn 4:20-21
      -- Great is God's love toward us; shall we not love God with great
         zeal in return?

      1. By helping them when they are in physical need - 1Jn 3:16-18
         a. Providing as we have ability and opportunity
         b. Loving them in deed and in truth
      2. By helping them when they are in spiritual need - 1Pe 4:8; Ja
         a. Bringing them back to the Lord
         b. Loving them with a truly fervent love
      3. By setting the example in loving God and keeping His
         commandments - 1Jn 5:2
         a. If we truly love one another, we will encourage them by
            providing a good example
         b. Only then can we really know that we love the children of
      -- Does our example express a proper measure of love toward our

      1. Remember that God loved us while we were still "enemies" 
         - Ro 5:6-10
         a. While we were "ungodly"
         b. While we were "sinners"
      2. As children of God, we are to be like our Heavenly Father 
          - Mt 5:44-48
         a. Loving our enemies
         b. Blessing those who curse us
         c. Doing good to those who hate us
         d. Praying for those who spitefully use us and persecute us
      3. Just as Jesus and Stephen did toward their persecutors 
         - Lk 23:34; Ac 7:60
      -- Loving the unlovable and ungrateful is the highest expression
         of love!


1. The apostle Paul had experienced the greatness of God's love...
   a. In his own conversion, for which he was thankful - 1Ti 1:12-16
   b. In enduring persecution, which gave him great hope - Ro 8:35-39

2. We too have experienced the greatness of God's love...
   a. In our own conversion...are we thankful?
   b. In our daily living...presuming that we are walking in love!

Love is indeed the greatest of virtues.  When properly understood and
manifested in our lives, it serves as the basis for our faith and hope!

   "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of
   these is love." - 1Co 13:13

Have your responded to the love of God by obeying the gospel of Christ?
Are you walking in love, as Christ has loved us and given Himself for us
(Ep 5:2)...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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“Christianity Could Not Possibly Be True” by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


“Christianity Could Not Possibly Be True”

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

What did atheistic author Mike Davis allege was the “smoking gun” that proved to him once and for all that “Christianity could not possibly be true”? What “sealed the issue” and led him to believe “Jesus was wrong...and no more deserving of our belief than any other guy”? When did the case against the Bible and Christianity become “closed”? In chapter one of his book, The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament: How the Bible Undermines the Basic Teachings of Christianity, Davis explained that Matthew 24:34 was the deciding factor.
In Matthew 24:34, Jesus stated: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” According to Davis, since “Jesus tells his listeners that the judgment day will come before the generation he’s speaking to passes away,” and since that generation passed away 1,900 years ago, Jesus “could not have been divine” and the Bible is “untrustworthy” (2008, pp. 1-2). In actuality, what Davis confesses ultimately “proved” to him that the Bible and Jesus are unreliable is nothing more than a misinterpretation of Scripture. Jesus was not mistaken in His comments in Matthew 24:34—Jesus’ generation did not pass away prior to witnessing the things Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:4-34. But, Jesus did not foretell in those verses what Davis assumes He foretold. Davis and many others believe that, prior to verse 34, Jesus was describing events that would take place shortly before Judgment Day at the end of time. The fact of the matter is, however, Jesus was prophesying about the coming destruction upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and not the final Judgment.
When the disciples went to show Jesus the temple buildings (Matthew 24:1), Jesus said, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (24:2). Later, when Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, the disciples asked Him three questions, beginning with “when will these things be?” (24:3). In verses 4-34, Jesus revealed several signs that would indicate Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem, including the temple, was near. [NOTE: “The fall of the Hebrew system is set forth in the sort of apocalyptic nomenclature that is characteristic of Old Testament literature, e.g., when the prophets pictorially portray the overthrow of Jehovah’s enemies (cf. Isaiah 13:10-11; 34:2ff; Ezekiel 32:7-8)” (Jackson, n.d.); cf. Matthew 24:29-31; see Miller, 2003.] In verses 35-51 (and all of chapter 25), Jesus answered the disciples’ last two questions: “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). To summarize, in Matthew 24:4-34 Jesus foretold of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, while in 24:35-25:46 He commented on His future return and final Judgment of the world.
How sad it is that so many atheists and skeptics believe they have disproven the Bible and Christianity, when, in reality, they have simply twisted the biblical text to mean something God never intended (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). The fact that Mike Davis highlights Matthew 24:34 as the verse that once and for all proved to him the Bible is unreliable should tell us something about the extreme weakness of the skeptic’s case against Christianity.


Davis, Mike (2008), The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament (Outskirts Press: Denver, CO).
Jackson, Wayne (no date), “A Study of Matthew 24,” http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/19-a-study-of-matthew-24.
Miller, Dave (2003), “There Will Be No Signs!” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1838.

Biomimicry, Butterflies, and Bank Fraud by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Biomimicry, Butterflies, and Bank Fraud

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

From cocklebur-inspired Velcro® to robotic lobsters, scientists are increasingly looking to imitate the wonders of life. In the field of biomimicry (derived from the Greek words bios, meaning “life,” and mimesis, meaning “to imitate”) scientists, researchers, and engineers worldwide turn their attention to God’s creation to inspire new, intricately designed, man-made products to improve human life and solve various dilemmas.
Recently, professors Mathias Kolle and Ullrich Baumberg of the University of Cambridge studied the microscopic structures in the wing scales of the Swallowtail butterfly in hopes of mimicking its magnificent colors (see “Vivid...,” 2010). The colors of these tropical butterflies are strikingly bright because of the shape of the microscopic structures and because “they are made up of alternate layers of cuticle and air” (“Vivid...”). Amazingly, Kolle and Baumberg have been successful at making “structurally identical copies of the butterfly scales,” purportedly even with “the same vivid colours as the butterflies’ wings.” How exactly do Kolle and Baumberg believe these “color copies” could be used for the benefit of mankind? They believe the artificial structures “could be used to encrypt information in optical signatures on bank notes or other valuable items to protect them against forgery.... [W]e could see structures based on butterflies’ wings shining from a...note or even our passports.”
It is entirely appropriate for scientists to look to nature for the inspiration of their inventions. After all, “the whole Earth is full of His [God’s] glory” (Isaiah 6:3, emp. added). The infinite, omniscient Creator made marvelous, living creatures, including butterflies, for man to use, study, and learn from in this life (Genesis 1:28). Sadly, many scientists today refuse to consider the most important thing to be learned from all of the animals and plants they study and seek to imitate: they all declare the glory of God. Nature did not assemble itself (as Kolle proposed in his discussion of the Swallowtail butterfly). Mindless matter and the random, chance processes of evolution fail on every account to explain the intricate design of even the smallest of living creatures. The designs in nature that intelligent human beings seek to copy demand an adequate explanation; they demand a grand Designer.
For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God (Hebrews 3:4).
For 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).


“Vivid Colours of Butterflies Could Help Cut Bank Fraud” (2010), The Economic Times, May 31, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/Vivid-colours-of-butterflies-could-help-cut-bank-fraud/articleshow/5993979.cms.

The Killings of Numbers 31 by A.P. Staff


The Killings of Numbers 31

by A.P. Staff

The first five books of the Bible are full of stories of the conquest of Caanan. But one story that sometimes stands out in the minds of skeptics is the one found in Numbers 31, where God seemingly gives no reason for killing defenseless women and male children. In addition, it has been suggested that the young girls mentioned in the account were spared so that the Israelite men could rape them. Such accusations are baseless, however, as is evident when they are viewed in light of other related passages.
The most widely questioned section of Numbers 31 is verses 17-18: “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women-children, that have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” To understand this passage, one must realize that Numbers 25 is the “prequel” to the events recorded in Numbers 31. Numbers 25 tells how the Midianites, specifically the women, led the Israelites astray into worshiping the Baal or Peor. The Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and He struck them with a plague. The plague ended when Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, killed an Israelite man and the Midianite woman he brought into his family (Numbers 25:6-9). The relations with Midianite women were in direct violation of God’s commands in Deuteronomy 7:3-4: “[N]either shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For he will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of Jehovah be kindled against you, and he will destroy thee quickly.”
As a result of these events, God instructed the Israelites to “Vex the Midianites, and smite them; for they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of the prince of Midian, their sister, who was slain on the day of the plague in the matter of Peor” (Numbers 25:17-18). When, in Numbers 31, the army brought back the women, it was in direct violation to God’s order in Numbers 25 to destroy the Midianites, who would lead the Israelites into apostasy.
But how can we explain the destruction of the young boys? Why were they not spared along with the young girls? Skeptics read of events such as the conquest of Canaan, and contend that no God could be so cruel as to call for the destruction of an entire nation. The mere idea of the God of heaven ordering the death of women and innocent children so outraged infidel Thomas Paine that he said such a scenario was sufficient evidence in and of itself to cause him to reject the divine origin of the Bible (1795, p. 90). In fact, he condemned the Bible for its alleged moral atrocities, and even went so far as to blame the Bible for virtually every moral injustice ever committed. He wrote:
Whence arose the horrid assassinations of whole nations of men, women, and infants, with which the Bible is filled; and the bloody persecutions, and tortures unto death and religious wars, that since that time have laid Europe in blood and ashes; whence arose they, but from this impious thing called revealed religion, and this monstrous belief that God has spoken to man? (p. 185).
However, to allege that the God of the Bible is some sort of “monster” for ordering Israel to destroy the inhabitants of Canaan exhibits an ignorance of biblical teaching. Those inhabitants were destroyed because of their wickedness (Deuteronomy 9:4; 18:9-14). They were so evil that their Creator no longer could abide their corruption. That they had numerous opportunities to repent is evident from the prophetic books (Nineveh did repent, for example, and for a time stayed the day of destruction). Complaining about Jehovah’s order to destroy innocent children is a vain gesture when one realizes that the children were spared an even worse fate of being reared as slaves under the domination of sin. Instead of having to endure the scourge of a life of immorality and wickedness, these innocents were ushered early into the bliss of Paradise. If the male children had been allowed to mature, they most likely would have followed the pagan ways of their forefathers, and eventually would have taken vengeance on the Israelites. Killing the males not only prevented them from falling into the same abominable sins as their parents, but also kept Israel from having to battle them later.
Man hardly can blame God and His Word for the awful consequences of sin; rather, he has only himself to blame (Romans 3:23; 5:12). A parent who warns a child of the consequences of disobedience, threatens an appropriate punishment, and then is true to his word at the event of infraction, generally is considered to be a firm-but-loving parent by clear-thinking people. Yet, critics ask us to view God as some type of ogre for following the same course of action. The discrepancy is not with the Almighty, but with His cowering critics.
The allegation that the Israelite men spared the young girls in order to rape them is nothing but baseless supposition predicated upon a lack of biblical knowledge. In the custom of the time, marriages were conducted at a young age. Therefore, the reference to the young girls who had not “known man by lying with him” would indicate that they were very young, likely under the age of twelve. These girls were too young to be able to lead the men of Israel away from Jehovah; therefore, these girls were allowed to live. As to raping them, it is more logical to assume that they wanted these girls for servants. This would be similar to Joshua 9, where Joshua allowed the Gibeonites to live in compelled servitude to the Israelites. Moreover, it would have been sinful for the Israelite men to rape the Midianite girls because rape was (and still is) abhorrent to God (Deuteronomy 22:23-28, esp. 25).
The simple answer to the questions surrounding Numbers 31 is that God ordered the Midianites to be killed in Numbers 25:17-18. When the army did not carry out this order at the time of the Midianite defeat, it was carried out in a delayed fashion when the army returned with the captives. As to Moses allowing the young girls to remain alive, that was a judgment call from the man with God’s authority over the Israelites.
God is the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and all-righteous “I Am” Who is over all things—so He may do whatever He wishes, so long as it is not in violation of His character. However, God does everything for a reason. Sometimes that reason may be unclear to us. In the case of the destruction of people like the Canaanites, God’s reasoning had to do with His justice. Deuteronomy 32:3-4 records: “For I will proclaim the name of Jehovah: Ascribe ye greatness unto our God. The Rock, his work is perfect; For all his ways are justice: A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, Just and right is he” (emp. added). Men may not always understand God’s justice, or His reasons for exercising it as He does. As Job 4:17 asked: “ Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker?” (emp. added). The fact is, God does condone killing—in the name of justice (whether it be justice in regard to one person, or a whole nation). Even in modern times, the death penalty is an acceptable means of administering justice (Romans 13:1-7; cf. Genesis 9:6). While God is all loving, He also is a God of justice, and He will execute that justice in the most propitious manner—including by means of death.


Paine, Thomas (1795), Age of Reason (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1924 reprint).

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


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

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


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

17-Year-Olds, Evolution, and Atheism by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


17-Year-Olds, Evolution, and Atheism

by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

“[I had] great fervor and interest in the fundamentalist religion; I left at seventeen when I got to the University of Alabama and heard about evolutionary theory” (E.O. Wilson, Harvard professor and the “father of sociobiology,” 1982, p. 40).
Some time ago, I received a telephone call from a distraught Christian mother. Her teenage son came home from school that very day and sat down at the kitchen table to have a snack and began to talk to his mom—as he did practically every day after school. Then, in the midst of their conversation, he announced in a very matter-of-fact tone, “Mom, I think I need to tell you—I don’t believe in God any more.”
It was—literally—every parent’s nightmare. This woman’s precious heritage—the child who was the fruit of her womb and the light of her life—was in danger of losing both his faith and his soul. The mother, as you might expect, was shaken, distressed, and forlorn. With tears flowing down her face, she managed to recover from the initial shock just enough to speak a single word: “Why?”
Her son’s answer? It was essentially the same as another one-time 17-year-old by the name of Edward O. Wilson—except her son didn’t even make it to college before beginning to lose his faith. “My biology teacher,” explained the youngster, “has been telling us all about evolution, and has shown us scientifically that it is true. If evolution’s true, you don’t need God. I’ve seen the proof for evolution—which is why I don’t believe in God any more.”
He’s right, you know—about there being no need for God if evolution is true. E.O. Wilson himself weighed in on this same theme in his book, On Human Nature, when he commented on the very first page: “If humankind evolved by Darwinian natural selection, genetic chance and environmental necessity, not God, made the species” (1978, p. 1, emp. added). The late evolutionist of Harvard, George Gaylord Simpson emphatically stated: “Evolution is a fully natural process, inherent in the physical properties of the universe, by which life arose in the first place and by which all living things, past or present, have since developed, divergently and progressively” (1960, 131:969, emp. added). British atheist Sir Julian Huxley once boasted:
Darwin pointed out that no supernatural designer was needed; since natural selection could account for any known form of life, there was no room for a supernatural agency in its evolution…. The earth was not created; it evolved. So did all the animals and plants that inhabit it, including our human selves, mind and soul as well as brain and body. So did religion…. Darwinism removed the whole idea of God as the creator of organisms from the sphere of rational discussion (1960, pp. 46,252-253,45, emp. added).
Huxley even went so far as to compare God to the disappearing act performed by the Cheshire cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when he wrote: “The supernatural is being swept out of the universe.... God is beginning to resemble not a ruler, but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat” (1957, p. 59). Or, as Brown University evolutionist Kenneth Miller put it in his 1999 volume, Finding Darwin’s God:
My particular religious beliefs or yours notwithstanding, it is a fact that in the scientific world of the late twentieth century, the displacement of God by Darwinian forces is almost complete. This view is not always articulated openly, perhaps for fear of offending the faithful, but the literature of science is not a good place to keep secrets. Scientific writing, especially on evolution, shows this displacement clearly (p. 15, emp. added).
Yes, the “scientific writing on evolution” does show this “displacement” clearly! The 17-year-old young man had no trouble understanding that point, did he? To Huxley, Simpson, Wilson, and thousands of others like them, “the God argument” has been effectively routed. And along with it, has gone the faith of many a 17-year-old!
The sad thing is, this young man’s name is “legion.” If you could see the correspondence (coming in the form of both regular mail and e-mail) that arrives in my office on practically a daily basis, you would understand just how serious this problem really is. Several years ago, I received an especially well-written letter from a young Christian who was in a graduate program in the physical sciences at a state university, which had led him to study under a man he termed “a giant in his field...rocket-scientist intelligent...and a devout evolutionist.” In his letter, the student said:
...working this closely with one who thinks as he does is beginning to cause not a small amount of cognitive dissonance in my own mind with regard to evolution v. special creation. I really need your help, both as a Christian and a scientist, to clearly see what it is. Hundreds of thousands of scientists can’t be wrong, can they? Consensual validation cannot be pushed aside in science. How can that many people be following a flag with no carrier, and someone not find out? The number of creation scientists pales in comparison.... I do not want to be a fool.”
This young writer expressed what many young people experience, yet are unable to enunciate so eloquently. It is not uncommon to encounter those who once knew what they believed and why they believed it, yet who now are terribly confused. “Cognitive dissonance” is the internal struggle one experiences when presented with new information that contradicts what he believes to be true. As he struggles for consistency, he must change what he believes—or disregard the new information. This young Christian who once knew what he believed, and why he believed it, no longer knew either. He stated: “I am a confused young man with some serious questions about my mind, my faith, and my God. Please help me sort through these questions.”
He’s not alone! Just last month (March 2003), I received an e-mail from a mother, begging for help with her 17-year-old son, who was experiencing similar (but even worse) problems. She lamented: “But what really concerns me most is how he’s drifting so far away from God. I’m fearful of him dying in a lost state. I’m in a tug of war with the devil for his life.”
Yes ma’am, you certainly are! And you are not alone. If the volume and content of the correspondence (and phone calls) that my staff and I are receiving are good indicators (and I have every right to believe that they are), there are many other parents “out there” who are experiencing, to a greater or lesser degree, problems similar to those experienced by these two mothers. It was that e-mail (as you probably have guessed by now) that prompted me to write this article for our Web site.
The young Christian graduate student who had written some time earlier, admitted to being “a confused young man with some serious questions about my mind, my faith, and my God.” While he may indeed have been “confused,” there were two things he did know. First, he recognized that the beliefs he once held were inconsistent with those he was being taught (which is why he was experiencing “cognitive dissonance”). Second, he recognized that if he accepted these new teachings, then not only his beliefs, but also his actions would be inconsistent with his Christianity. His plea—“help me sort through these questions”—has been echoed countless times through the centuries by those who have languished in the “cognitive dissonance” that results from replacing the wisdom of God with the wisdom of man.
The mother (mentioned above) who e-mailed me, cried plaintively: “I’m not sure what the answer is and how you could help. I just felt like reaching out. Can you help me jolt [my son] back into some sense of reality? Thanks again for your time and concern.” The other mother who called me some time ago pleaded with me to meet personally with her son, in a last-ditch effort to help restore his belief in God. A day or so later, in mid-week, I boarded a jet (at no cost to her or her family) on a mission of mercy to a faraway city to do just that. Who among us could refuse such a plea? Who among us—if our child were in the same situation—would dare hesitate to cry out for help in a similar fashion? “Time and concern” may be two of our most valuable weapons! [I also offered to fly to meet with the second mother’s son—an offer she is considering, even as I write these words.]
During His earthly ministry, Jesus taught His disciples an important lesson regarding the precious nature of a child’s soul. Matthew (19:13-15), Mark (10:13ff.), and Luke (18:15-17) all record a conversation between Christ and His disciples on the subject of children. He rebuked those disciples who wanted to prevent the children from coming to Him (Mark 10:13), and warned: “See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I tell you, that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). Jesus wanted children near Him. That has not changed. R.W. Lawrence said of this instance: “And so the invitation of Jesus stands clear: ‘Parents, relatives, loved ones, friends of the little children: bring them to me!’ The invitation never has been modified or rescinded” (1976, pp. 22-23, emp. in orig.). It is the task of parents and grandparents to bring these children to Christ. If we fail in this task, we will lose our children, and our children will lose their souls.
The psalmist wrote: “Children are a heritage of Jehovah; and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (127:3). Our children are, quite literally, gifts from the Lord. As God’s heritage, they are sent to us for safekeeping, which is why we are commanded to rear them “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The spiritual instruction of a child is not an option. It is not something we do “if we have the time” or “if we find it convenient.” God has given us, as parents, the awesome responsibility of introducing our children to His covenant, and of teaching our children His Word.
But what is the ultimate goal of this daunting task? Is it not safe to say that the object is to see the soul of a child safely returned to the God of heaven from Whom it was sent originally? Is this not why the psalmist stated that children “are as arrows in the hand of a mighty man” (127:4)? Children, just like arrows, are to be launched toward a singular goal. That goal, in the case of an arrow, is a bull’s-eye. That goal, in the case of a child, is heaven—and we are God’s archers. Without our careful sighting of the goal, and without our purposeful aim, our children most likely will not return to the God Who created them.
Is this responsibility sobering and weighty? Yes. Is it sometimes burdensome or difficult? Yes. But is it impossible to accomplish? No! God never gave a command that we, with His aid and assistance, cannot carry out successfully. Christ, in speaking to the people of His generation, stated that “with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). He was not suggesting that the illogical could become logical. He did not mean that God could make such things as a round square, or an acceptable sin. In the context, He was making the point that with God’s help, obstacles that at first glance appear to us to be insurmountable can, in fact, be overcome. Tasks that seem too arduous can, in fact, be completed.
And so it is with the successful rearing of a child. God has given us, as parents, the responsibility of ensuring the safety of our children’s souls. Fortunately, He also has given us tools equal to the task, and the instruction booklet we are to employ as we go about completing our assignment. The tools include such things as love, parental authority, wisdom, and experience. The instruction booklet is His Word, the Bible. Granted, there may be times when parents use both the tools and the instruction booklet to the best of their ability, and yet still fail because a child employs his or her God-given free will to rebel against heaven’s admonition. Samuel and Eli provide just such an example. Both of these men had ungodly children. God chastised Eli (cf. 1 Samuel 2:12,27-36; 3:13), but within the Scriptures there is found no condemnation for Samuel. Why the difference? Both sets of children possessed free will, and both used that free will to rebel. Apparently, however, Samuel attempted, to the best of his ability, to restrain his children, while Eli did not (1 Samuel 3:13). We should not condemn dedicated, godly parents who attempt to turn their children unto the paths of righteousness, but who fail through no fault of their own. At the same time, however, we should not attempt to defend parents who neglect their children, and who thus contribute to their spiritual delinquency.
As the father of two precious sons, I sympathize with the plight of the two mothers whom I described earlier—mothers who stood to possibly lose their sons, even as their sons stood to lose their souls. I, as the friend in whom they had placed their hope for their boys’ souls, trembled at the prospect of failure. In the ninth chapter of Mark’s gospel, the story is told of a father who came to request help from Jesus on behalf of his demon-possessed son. The youngster, who had endured this situation “from childhood” (vs. 21), was in desperate need of a cure, as is evident from the symptoms described early on in the account (vss. 18,22). Jesus—having compassion on both father and son—said to the man, “All things are possible to him that believeth” (vs. 23). With an abiding love for his son in his heart, and a cry of desperation on his lips, the father pleaded, “I believe; help thou mine unbelief ” (vs. 24).
How many people throughout the millennia since then have echoed that same refrain? How many people today—with the same cry of desperation—are pleading for help with unbelief? How many “out there” are groping in intellectual and spiritual darkness for answers to questions that hinder their belief? How many of our friends, relatives, neighbors, loved ones, acquaintances, or children are experiencing the same mental anguish that the father of that son experienced twenty centuries ago? As you read this, are you not thinking of someone—young, old, male, female, former friend, current friend—who is struggling in their own personal battle against unbelief? And would you not like to be able to help them fight that battle—and win?!
At Apologetics Press, we deal with various aspects of unbelief on a daily basis. One of our main goals always has been, and still is, to be able to assist those who cry out, as that father did in earnest almost two thousand years ago, “Help thou mine unbelief.” Those of us associated with this work want you to know that we are committed—unreservedly and wholeheartedly—to the protection of the precious heritage that is our children.
Surely none among us professes to have all the answers. At the same time, however, surely none among us is willing to throw up our arms in defeat, nestle our heads in our hands in quiet surrender, and simply give up. While it is not my prerogative to speak for others, speaking for myself I wish to say: No! I will not accept defeat. I will not walk away in quiet surrender. I will not give up! The costs—a child’s soul and a parent’s grief—are far too high. The consequences—an eternity away from the presence of God—are far too grave.
Christians always have served God in an anti-Christian environment. That was true in the first century, and it is true in the twenty-first. Similarly, parents always have had to rear children in such an environment. While parents taught one thing, the world taught another. The key to success was, and is, helping children understand that while Christians exist and function in the world, they are not of the world (Romans 12:2; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15). Blurring that distinction in the mind of a child has disastrous results. We can be, however, “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37)—if we will not give up. And so, let us make up our minds, here and now, to do everything within our power to protect our children. Let us teach them diligently the evidences for God’s existence, the deity of Christ, the uniqueness of His church, and their special place in His creation.
Somewhere along the way, it appears that we forgot one important point—it is not a matter of ifour children are going to be taught; it is only a matter of what they are going to be taught, and who is going to do the teaching. The question is: Who will we allow to do the teaching, and what will they be allowed to teach? The late Rita Rhodes Ward, a public school teacher with more than fifty years’ worth of classroom experience, knew this firsthand. She once observed: “When a Christian mother leads her 6-year-old to the first grade room or her 5-year-old to kindergarten, she leads him from the sheltered environment of the home into the cold, pagan environment of secular humanism. From that day on, the child will be taught two contradictory religions...” (1986, p. 520).
Certainly it is not the case that all public school teachers are humanists. There are those who approach their job from a Christian perspective. [My own late mother, Mary Ruth Thompson, was among that number.] Nevertheless, the public school environment often creates an atmosphere of hostility toward the belief system that Christian parents attempt to instill in their children. In their volume, The Evolution Conspiracy, Matrisciana and Oakland authored a chapter titled “Children at Risk,” in which they suggested: “Traditionally, the schoolroom has been an open forum of learning. Today it has become a pulpit for the aggressive conversion of impressionable minds. It is the battlefield where war is being waged against the Judeo-Christian God, His principles, His morality, and the Bible” (1991, p. 125).
There is ample evidence that this assessment is correct, and that it has been for quite some time. Dr. C.F. Potter was an honorary president of the National Education Association. As long ago as 1930, he authored the book, Humanism: A New Religion, in which he offered the following assessment:
Education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can a theistic Sunday school’s meeting, for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of the five-day program of humanistic teaching? (p. 128, emp. added).
At a seminar on childhood education some years ago, Dr. Chester Pierce, professor of education and psychiatry at Harvard University, told those in attendance:
Every child in America entering school at the age of five is mentally ill, because he comes to school with certain allegiances toward our founding fathers, toward our elected officials, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural Being, toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity. It’s up to you teachers to make all of these sick children well by creating the international children of the future (1973, p. 24, emp. added).
The truth is, some school teachers have a “hidden agenda,” their objective being to destroy our children’s faith. This situation represents a real and present danger to a child’s spiritual well-being. If we allow evolutionists to influence our children—and if they do their job better than, and before, we do ours—our children will lose their faith, and we will lose our children.
Surely, one of the most important causes of unbelief in the world today relates to the kind of education a person receives. [Please notice that I did not say unbelief “relates to the education” a person receives; rather, I said unbelief “relates to the kind of education” a person receives. I do not mean to “throw the baby out with the bath water” by suggesting that all education results in unbelief, for that most certainly is not the case and is not representative of my position.] Generally speaking, the educational system in America is the end product of John Dewey’s “progressive education movement.” Renowned humanistic philosopher and historian, Will Durant, wrote that “there is hardly a school in America that has not felt his influence” (1961, p. 390). But it was not just American schools that Dewey influenced. In his book, The Long War Against God, Henry Morris discussed how the progressive education movement “profoundly changed education not only in America but also in many other countries” as well (1989, p. 38).
Dewey, who was a socialist and materialistic pantheist, was one of the founders (and the first president) of the American Humanist Association, formed in 1933. I have discussed Dewey’s atheistic views elsewhere (see Thompson, 1994, 1999). At this juncture, I simply would like to make the point that as a result of Dewey’s efforts through the educational establishment, the kind of education now being offered in many public schools has the potential to discourage or destroy faith in God, while at the same time encouraging and promoting unbelief. One of the most important tools employed by Dewey and his intellectual offspring to cripple belief was, and is, organic evolution. As Samuel Blumenfeld stated in his classic text, NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education:
An absolute faith in science became the driving force behind the progressives.... The most important idea that would influence the educators was that of evolution—the notion that man, through a process of natural selection, had evolved to his present state from a common animal ancestry. Evolution was as sharp a break with the Biblical view of creation as anyone could make, and it was quickly picked up by those anxious to disprove the validity of orthodox religion (1984, p. 43, emp. added).
Morris quite correctly assessed the post-Dewey situation when he wrote:
The underlying assumption of progressive education was that the child is simply an evolved animal and must be trained as such—not as an individual created in God’s image with tremendous potential as an individual. A child was considered but one member in a group and therefore must be trained collectively to fit into his or her appropriate place in society (1989, p. 48).
The child’s “appropriate place in society”—specifically the humanistic society that Dewey and his cohorts envisioned—neither included nor allowed for belief in the God of the Bible. Thus, every effort was made to use the educational system to gain new recruits. Alfred Rehwinkel discussed just such a situation.
The shock received by the inexperienced young student is therefore overwhelming when he enters the classroom of such teachers and suddenly discovers to his great bewilderment that these men and women of acclaimed learning do not believe the views taught him in his early childhood days; and since the student sits at their feet day after day, it usually does not require a great deal of time until the foundation of his faith begins to crumble as stone upon stone is being removed from it by these unbelieving teachers. Only too often the results are disastrous. The young Christian becomes disturbed, confused, and bewildered. Social pressure and the weight of authority add to his difficulties. First he begins to doubt the infallibility of the Bible in matters of geology, but he will not stop there. Other difficulties arise, and before long skepticism and unbelief have taken the place of his childhood faith, and the saddest of all tragedies has happened. Once more a pious Christian youth has gained a glittering world of pseudo-learning but has lost his own immortal soul (1951, p. xvii, emp. added).
Such a scenario is not merely theoretical, but practical. Henry Morris, former professor and department head at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, observed that he “spent over twenty-eight years teaching in secular universities and saw this sad tale repeated in many lives” (1984, p. 113).
Chet Raymo serves as an excellent example of a person who once cherished his belief in God, but who ultimately lost his faith as a result of the kind of education he received. Raymo is a professor of physics and astronomy at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, has written a weekly column on science for the Boston Globe for more than a dozen years, and was reared as a Roman Catholic. In his book, Skeptics and True Believers, he wrote:
I learned something else in my study of science, something that had an even greater effect upon my religious faith. None of the miracles I had been offered in my religious training were as impressively revealing of God’s power as the facts that I was learning in science (1998, p. 20, emp. added).
Little wonder, then, that the thesis of Raymo’s book is that there is an unavoidable dichotomy between educated people of science who empirically “know” things, and those in religion who spiritually “believe” things—with the educated, scientifically oriented folks obviously being on the more desirable end of the spectrum (and winning out in the end).
There can be little doubt that many today believe in evolution because it is what they have been taught. For the past century, evolution has been in the limelight. And for the past quarter of a century or more, it has been taught as scientific fact in many elementary, junior high, and senior high schools, as well as in most colleges and universities. In their book, The Truth: God or Evolution?, Marshall and Sandra Hall offered this summary.
In the first place, evolution is what is taught in the schools. At least two, and in some cases three and four generations, have used textbooks that presented it as proven fact. The teachers, who for the most part learned it as truth, pass it on as truth. Students are as thoroughly and surely indoctrinated with the concept of evolution as students have ever been indoctrinated with any unproven belief (1974, p. 10).
In their book, Why Scientists Accept Evolution, Bales and Clark confirmed such an observation.
Evolution is taken for granted today and thus it is uncritically accepted by scientists as well as laymen. It is accepted by them today because it was already accepted by others who went before them and under whose direction they obtained their education (1966, p. 106).
Further exacerbating the problem is the fact that evolution has been given the “stamp of approval” by important spokespersons from practically every field of human endeavor. While there have been men and women from politics, the humanities, the arts, and other fields who openly have defended evolution as factual, in no other area has this defense been as pronounced as in the sciences. Because science has produced so many successes in so many different areas, and because these successes have been so visible and so well publicized, scientists have been granted an aura of respectability that only can be envied by non-scientists.
As a result, when scientists champion a cause, people generally sit up and take notice. After all, it is their workings through the scientific method that have eradicated smallpox, put men on the Moon, prevented polio, and lengthened human life spans. We have grown used to seeing “experts” from various scientific disciplines ply their trade in an endless stream of amazing feats. Heart surgery has become commonplace; organ transplants have become routine; space stations are being built in the heavens.
Thus, when the atheistic concept of organic evolution is presented as something that “all reputable scientists believe,” there are many people who accept such an assessment at face value, and who therefore fall in line with what they believe is a well-proven dictum that has been enshrouded with the cloak of scientific respectability. As atheistic philosopher Paul Ricci has written: “The reliability of evolution not only as a theory but as a principle of understanding is not contested by the vast majority of biologists, geologists, astronomers, and other scientists” (1986, p. 172). Or, as the late paleontologist of Harvard, Stephen Jay Gould, put it: “The fact of evolution is as well established as anything in science (as secure as the revolution of the earth around the sun), though absolute certainty has no place in our [the scientist’s—BT] lexicon (1987, 8[1]:64; parenthetical comment in orig.). [Dr. Gould reiterated this point in a guest editorial in the August 23, 1999 issue of Time magazine when he wrote that “evolution is as well documented as any phenomenon in science, as strongly as the earth’s revolution around the sun rather than vice versa. In this sense, we can call evolution a ‘fact’ ” (1999, p. 59).]
Such comments are intended to leave the impression that well-informed, intelligent people dare not doubt the truthfulness of organic evolution. The message is: “All scientists believe it; so should you.” As Marshall and Sandra Hall inquired: “How, then, are people with little or no special knowledge of the various sciences and related subjects to challenge the authorities? It is natural to accept what ‘experts’ say, and most people do” (1974, p. 10). Henry Morris observed: “...the main reason most educated people believe in evolution is simply because they have been told that most educated people believe in evolution” (1963, p. 26). Huston Smith, a leading philosopher and professor of religion at Syracuse University commented on this phenomenon as follows:
One reason education undoes belief is its teaching of evolution; Darwin’s own drift from orthodoxy to agnosticism was symptomatic. Martin Lings is probably right in saying that “more cases of loss of religious faith are to be traced to the theory of evolution...than to anything else” (1982, p. 755; Lings’ quote is from Studies in Comparative Religion, 1970, Winter).
The truthfulness of that last statement—that “more cases of loss of religious faith are to be traced to the theory of evolution than anything else”—haunts the mothers of the two young men I mentioned earlier. These mothers (and their sons!) can tell you, from firsthand experience, just how accurate such an assessment really is!
We must impress upon our children, however, that truth is not determined by popular opinion or majority vote. A thing may be, and often is, true, even when accepted only by the minority. Furthermore, a thing may be, and often is, false, even though accepted by the majority. Believing something just because “everyone else” believes it, often can lead to disastrous results. As the late Guy N. Woods remarked: “It is dangerous to follow the multitude because the majority is almost always on the wrong side in this world” (1982, 124[1]:2). Or, as Moses warned the children of Israel: “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” (Exodus 23:2).
Will Durant, was an avowed atheist, yet he wrote: “The greatest question of our time is not communism vs. individualism, not Europe vs. America, not even the East vs. the West; it is whether men can bear to live without God” (1932, p. 23, emp. added). Dr. Durant was absolutely correct. Beliefs have consequences! Prominent humanist Martin Gardner devoted an entire chapter in one of his books to “The Relevance of Belief Systems,” in an attempt to explain that what a person believes profoundly influences how a person acts (1988, pp. 57-64). The question is: If our children are taught, and then ultimately come to believe in, evolution, what will be the end result? Perhaps we should allow Charles Darwin himself to answer. In speaking of his abandoned belief in God, Darwin admitted:
I had gradually come, by this time, to see that the Old Testament, from its manifestly false history of the world and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos [sic], or the beliefs of any barbarian (see Barlow, 1959, pp. 85-86).
I found it more and more difficult, with free scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to convince me. Thus disbelief crept over me at such a slow rate, but at last was complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress (as quoted in Francis Darwin, 1898, 1:277-278; cf. also Greene, 1963, pp. 16-17, emp. added).
The 17-year-old boys discussed in this article did not simply awake one day, get up, take a shower, dress for school, eat breakfast, and decide to no longer believe in God. Their change in heart was a slow, calm, day-by-day process—during which, they “felt no distress.” A teacher taught them that evolution “is a fact that nobody with any sense denies.” A school textbook presented handy, easy-to-remember arguments (such as how humans and chimpanzees share 95% of their DNA—which “proves” they must have come from a common ancestor). National Geographic displayed for them full-color pictures of their alleged hominid ancestors (as it did on the front cover of its August 2002 issue when it presented “Dmanisi Man” from the Republic of Georgia in the former Soviet Union). The Discover channel on television “wowed” them with a professionally produced extravaganza that explained how life got started on Earth via naturalistic processes, and how, once it did, it evolved into a one-celled amoeba which, over billions of years, evolved into—17-year-old boys! Etc. Etc. Etc. Finally, the process was complete—and yet another mother’s son had become an unbeliever as a result of having been taught evolution.
The prophet Hosea, speaking on behalf of God, observed: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (4:6). The truthfulness of that statement has not dimmed across the centuries. Where knowledge is lacking, wisdom always will be in short supply. A generation ago, we taught diligently on such topics as the existence of God, the inspiration of the Bible, the importance of the creation account, the uniqueness and singularity of the church, etc. But, ultimately, we taught less and less on these matters and, as a result, our children’s faith began to rest on sand instead of rock. When the winds of trial and tribulation came, that faith collapsed, and we lost our children to evolution, atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, infidelity, and similar false concepts.
And at what cost? If you have never heard the uncontrollable sobbing of a mother whose 17-year-old son has just said to her, “Mom, I don’t believe in God any more,” I doubt that you can fully understand that cost. I, on the other hand, do understand. And as a result, I have vowed to do everything in my power—as long as there is a breath in my feeble body—to stanch the loss of our children at the hands of evolutionists and those sympathetic with them. I urge you to join hands with me in this never-ending, extremely crucial battle. We cannot afford to fail, for if we do, our children will lose their souls, and we will lose our children. We can be—we must be—“more than conquerors.”
As always, if there is anything that those of us at Apologetics Press can do to help you in the midst of this warfare, please call on us. That is why we are here, and it is the reason our work exists.


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