"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" The Exaltation Of Christ (1:20-23) by Mark Copeland

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS"

                   The Exaltation Of Christ (1:20-23)


1. In expressing his prayer that the Ephesians might know "the exceeding
   greatness of His Power toward us who believe" (Ep 1:19), Paul makes
   reference to the working of God's power in...
   a. Raising Jesus from the dead - Ep 1:20a
   b. Seating Jesus at His right hand in the heavenly places - Ep 1:20b
   -- At this point, Paul digresses slightly to expand upon the idea of
      "The Exaltation of Christ" - Ep 1:21-23

2. This is a theme worthy of Paul's digression and our own careful 
   consideration for several reasons:
   a. Without "The Exaltation of Christ", none of the spiritual 
      blessings already described would be possible!
   b. There are some who say that Jesus...
      1) Has yet to start His "kingly reign" (e.g., some pre- and post-
      2) Or did not start it until 1914 (e.g., "Jehovah's Witnesses")
   c. Some amazing things are said by Paul in this passage, not only 
      about Christ, but about His church!

[Since the Holy Spirit saw fit to lead Paul into this "digression", we
will take the time to consider what is revealed, beginning with the 


      1. "received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of 
         God" - Mk 16:19
      2. "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God" - Ac 2:33
      3. In the book of Hebrews...
         a. "sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" 
             - He 1:3
         b. "seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in 
            the heavens" - He 8:1
         c. "after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat 
            down at the right hand of God" - He 10:12
         d. "endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at
            the right hand of the throne of God" - He 12:2
      4. "where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God" - Col 3:1
      5. As a point of interest, one passage has Jesus "STANDING on the 
         right hand of God" (at the martyrdom of Stephen) - Ac 7:55-56

      1. Fulfillment of prophecy - cf. Ps 110:1-7
      2. As indicated in this prophecy (and compared with 1Co 15:25-
         26) Christ began His "kingly reign" when He sat down at the 
         right hand of God
         a. He shall "rule in the midst of [His] enemies"
         b. At the right hand of God He shall "judge among the nations"
         c. He shall reign  "till He has put all enemies under His feet"
      3. As Peter indicated in his sermon on Pentecost, by Christ's 
         resurrection and exaltation He has been raised to sit on 
         "David's throne", and is therefore truly "Lord" - Ac 2:30-36

[But how extensive is the "reign" or "authority" of Christ?  Does He 
have only "partial" authority?  As we return to our text, we find Paul 
saying that...]


      1. "all principality and power and might and dominion" - a likely 
         reference to angelic beings and evil spirits - cf. Ep 3:10; 
      3. "every name that is named" - this would include authorities 
         here on earth
      4. "not only in this age but also in that which is come" - both in
         the present dispensation, and in the one to be ushered in at 
         the consummation of all things
      -- Sounds like Christ's authority is all inclusive, doesn't it?

      1. As Christ Himself said:  "All authority has been given to Me in
         heaven and on earth" - Mt 28:18
      2. As Paul described Christ:  "the blessed and only Potentate, the
         King of kings and Lord of lords" - 1Ti 6:15; cf. Re 19:16
      3. As Peter wrote:  "angels and authorities and powers having been
         made subject to Him" - 1Pe 3:22
      4. As John wrote:  "the ruler over the kings of the earth" 
         - Re 1:5
      -- Can anyone say that Jesus has NOT begun His "kingly reign" in 
         view of such statements?

[Indeed, Christ was granted all this dominion when He ascended to heaven
to sit down at the right hand of God, as prophesied by Daniel (Dan 7:
13-14), and as revealed by Jesus to the seven churches of Asia (Re 
2:26-27; 3:21).  Clearly, from the viewpoint of Christ and His 
apostles, He was reigning over all when the pages of the New Testament 
were being written.

But there is more amazing truth revealed in Paul's "digression" and that

      1. Christ exercises His authority over all things "in the 
         interest" of the church (Hendriksen); i.e., the rule of Christ 
         is for the benefit of His church!
      2. Because Jesus is Lord, all things work together for our benefit
         - cf. Ro 8:28
         a. This is not to say that Christ will prevent hardship,
            persecution, even death
         b. But through Christ all such things can used to our benefit
            and ultimate glory!
            1) "in all these things we are more than conquerors through
               Him" - Ro 8:35-39
            2) "...the world or life or death...all are yours" 
                - 1Co 3:21-22
            3) Even the sufferings brought on by Satan can be used by
               God to "perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle" us! 
               - 1Pe 5:8-11

      1. It is "His body", i.e., the body of Christ - Ep 1:23
         a. Those who have been "called out" into the "assembly" of 
            God's people are like a "body" to Jesus - cf. Ep 5:28-30
         b. As such, Christ loves it and gave Himself for it 
            - cf. Ep 5:25-27
         c. Thus, He is not only the "head" of the body, but the 
            "savior" of it as well - Ep 5:23
      2. The church is also called "the fullness of Him who fills all in
         all" - Ep 1:23
         a. Hendriksen suggests that this means "the church is Christ's 
            complement...filling or completing Him who fills all in all"
         b. Hendriksen continues:  "As to his divine essence Christ is 
            in no sense whatever dependent on or capable of being 
            completed by the church.  But..."
            1) "as a bridegroom he is incomplete without the bride"
            2) "as a vine he cannot be thought of without the branches"
            3) "as shepherd he is not seen without his sheep"
            4) "and so also as head he finds his full expression in his 
               body, the church" (New Testament Commentary, Exposition
               of Ephesians, William Hendriksen, p. 104)


1. With this "digression" of Paul we have seen...
   a. The exalted position that Christ now holds, as "head over all 
   b. The exalted position of His Church, which is viewed by Christ as:
      1) His "body" (which He loves, nourishes, and cherishes - Ep 5:
      2) His "fullness" (the perfect complement to His being)

2. How can anyone say...
   a. That Christ is not yet "ruler over the kings of the earth"?
   b. That the church is not important, a non-essential concern for 
      those following Christ?

3. In view of such truths concerning Christ and His Church...
   a. Are we freely submitting today to His authority? - cf. Ps 110:3
   b. If you have not done so yet, will you allow Him who is "head over
      all things" ADD you to His church? - cf. Ac 2:47

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Does It Really Matter Who Wrote the Pentateuch? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Does It Really Matter Who Wrote the Pentateuch?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Since the “period of Enlightenment,” liberal scholars have been extremely critical of those who teach that Moses was the inspired human author of the first five books of the Bible. These critics teach that the Pentateuch was compiled from four original source documents—designated as J, E, D, and P—which supposedly were written at different times by a different author (or authors), and eventually were compiled as the Pentateuch by a redactor (editor) around 200 B.C. This theory, which wears various names (Graf-Wellhausen Theory, Documentary Hypothesis, JEDPTheory, etc.), has becoming increasingly popular through the years. Numerous commentaries, religious journals, and Web sites promote it. And many professors who teach religious courses espouse it. Undoubtedly, it is the champion among topics discussed in classes on a critical introduction to the Bible. In most “scholarly” circles, if one does not hold to the Documentary Hypothesis (or at least some form of it), he is considered fanatical and uneducated. In fact, we at Apologetics Press received an e-mail some time ago inquiring as to why we do not hold to this theory, since “it is accepted by almost all scholarly interpreters.” In his book The Darwin Wars, Andrew Brown mentioned an interview he had with the rabbi Jonathan Sacks, in which Dr. Sacks defended the proposition that Moses wrote or dictated the first five books of the Bible. Brown’s response was: “That is the most shocking thing I have ever heard an intellectual say” (1999, p. 167).
Since the theory that Moses did not write the Pentateuch has become so widely accepted by “intellectuals,” many Christians are “caving in” under pressure and declaring that “it doesn’t really matter who wrote the first five books of the Bible as long as we believe they are inspired.” This certainly is true of other books of the Bible, so why not the first five? We do not consider it a necessity to know whom God inspired to write the book of Job or the epistle of Hebrews. We do not draw lines of fellowship over who wrote 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles. Why, then, should the discussion of who penned the first five books of the Bible be any different? The difference is that the Bible is replete with references attributing these books to Moses.
Within the Pentateuch itself, one can read numerous times how Moses wrote the law of God.
“And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord” (Exodus 24:4).
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write these words…’ ” (Exodus 34:27).
“Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the Lord” (Numbers 33:2).
“So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests…” (Deuteronomy 31:9).
Bible writers throughout the Old Testament credited Moses with writing the Pentateuch (also known as the Torah or “the Law”). A plain statement of this commonly held conviction is expressed in Joshua 8:32: “There in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua copied on stones the law of Moses, which he [Moses—EL] had written” (NIV, emp. added). Notice also that 2 Chronicles 34:14 states: “...Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses” (emp. added; cf. Ezra 3:2; 6:18; Nehemiah 13:1; Malachi 4:4). As Josh McDowell noted in his book, More Evidence that Demands a Verdict, these verses “refer to an actual written ‘law of Moses,’ not simply an oral tradition” (1975, pp. 93-94).
The New Testament writers also showed no hesitation in affirming that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. John wrote: “The law was given through Moses” (John 1:17). Luke recorded of the resurrected Jesus: “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them [His disciples—EL] in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself ” (Luke 24:27). Referring to the Jewish practice of publicly reading the Law, James affirmed Mosaic authorship: “For Moses from generations of old hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath” (Acts 15:21). With this Paul concurred saying, “For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, ‘The man who does those things shall live by them’ ” (Romans 10:5, emp. added; cf. Leviticus 18:5). In 2 Corinthians 3:15 Paul also wrote: “Moses is read.” The phrase “Moses is read” is a clear example of the figure of speech known as metonymy (when authors are put for the works which they have produced). Today, we may ask someone if he has read Homer, Virgil, or Shakespeare, by which we mean to ask if he has read the writings of these men. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, one can read where Abraham spoke to the rich man concerning his five brothers saying, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:29). Were Moses and the Old Testament prophets still on Earth in the first century? No. The meaning is that the rich man’s brothers had the writings of Moses and the prophets.
Furthermore both Jesus’ disciples and His enemies recognized and accepted the books of Moses. After Philip was called to follow Jesus, he found his brother Nathanael and said, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45, emp. added). Notice also that New Testament Sadducees considered Moses as the author, saying: “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, and leaves his wife behind, and leaves no children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother” (Mark 12:19, emp. added; cf. Deuteronomy 25:5).
A final reason that one must defend the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, instead of idly sitting by and claiming that “it doesn’t really matter who wrote it,” is because Jesus Himself claimed “the Law” came from Moses. In Mark 7:10 Jesus quoted from both Exodus 20 and 21, attributing the words to Moses. Later in the gospel of Mark, we read where Jesus asked the Sadducees, “Have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ ” (12:26, emp. added). But, perhaps the most convincing passage of all is found in John 5:46-47 where Jesus said: “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (emp. added; cf. Deuteronomy 18:15-18). The truth is, by claiming that Moses did not write the books of the Pentateuch, one essentially is claiming that Jesus is not God. As M.R. DeHaan explained in his book, Genesis and Evolution:
Prove that Moses did not write the books of the Pentateuch and you prove that Jesus was totally mistaken and not the infallible Son of God he claimed to be. Upon your faith in Moses as the writer of the five books attributed to him rests also your faith in Jesus as the Son of God. You cannot believe in Jesus Christ without believing what Moses wrote. You see, there is much more involved in denying the books of Moses than most people suppose (1982, p. 41).
Indeed, believing that Moses wrote the Torah is very important. It is not a trivial matter that we should discuss frivolously while suggesting that “it really doesn’t matter.” It matters because the deity of Christ and the integrity of the Bible writers are at stake!


Brown, Andrew (1999), The Darwin Wars (New York: Simon and Schuster).
DeHaan, M.R. (1982), Genesis and Evolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
McDowell, Josh (1975), More Evidence that Demands a Verdict (San Bernardino, CA: Campus Crusade for Christ).

God’s Original Superhydrophobic Material by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


God’s Original Superhydrophobic Material
by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

One cannot help but be amazed at ever-increasing technology that continues to offer better, more efficient products and services. Hardly a week goes by that a new discovery does not find its way into the headlines. Interestingly, many of the most advanced, beneficial discoveries are occurring in the field of study known as biomimicry—the copying or mimicking of the natural, biological world.
For instance, on February 23, 2006, the on-line version of Technology Review featured an article titled “Super-Repellent Plastic.” Admittedly, the title of the article itself does not indicate that biomimicry is involved. Yet, knowing that many new discoveries derive from mimicking nature, I could not help but think that this new plastic might be the result of some phenomenon that God had already designed. As I suspected, about three-fourths of the way through the article, the reader is informed that the scientists who are working on this new plastic “took their inspiration from the leaves of the lotus plant, which is naturally superhydrophobic.... GE set out to mimic this pattern on the surface of its polycarbonate materials” (Talbot, 2006).
This amazing new superhydrophobic (“extremely repellent of water”) plastic will “shed” liquids at a much more efficient rate than many current materials, and it will be more inexpensive to manufacture than current substances—like Teflon. Multiple uses for this plastic have been suggested, including ketchup bottles in which the ketchup will not adhere to the sides of the container, and building panels that would be virtually self-cleaning because rain would wash away dirt (Talbot, 2006).
The technology is not supposed to be on the consumer market for another five years, but its potential is excitedly anticipated. In the midst of the excitement, do not lose sight of an important aspect of this technological wonder. Very intelligent, well-educated scientists have spent hundreds (or thousands) of hours on this advancement. And yet, the prototype for it, the lotus plant, has contained the superhydrophobic capacity for the entirety of its existence. What Intelligent Designer is responsible for endowing this amazing plant with such efficient water-shedding abilities? Those who believe in evolution would say that it acquired this ability over millions of years due to random, chance processes at work in nature. But with the same breath they would laud the creative abilities of the GE scientists. Why is it that evolutionists miss the implication that to recognize design in human invention, while attributing the more efficient design in nature to non-intelligent processes, is logically irrational. It is high time that the Creator of nature’s design be given the plaudits He deserves as the Ultimate Engineer.


Talbot, David (2006), “Super-Repellent Plastic,” Technology Review, [On-line], URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/BizTech/wtr_16415,295,p1.html.

Where Are You From? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Where Are You From?
by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Although it sounds like an easy question, for a growing number of people it is becoming more and more difficult to answer: Where are you from? Ask the eighteen-year-old college freshmen who grew up in a military family where she is from, and you likely will hear her rattle off five or six different states (and perhaps even a few countries!). Ask the son of a Major League baseball player (who has played for eight different teams in his twenty-year career) where he is from, and you might hear him respond by saying, “I was reared in a lot of places.” Ask a preacher’s kid where he was reared, and you likely will hear the same response.
It seems like the longer I live, the more problems I have telling people “where I’m from.” I was born in Macon, Georgia, then lived in Tennessee for five years, back to Georgia for two, in Oklahoma for the next twelve, and then back to Tennessee (in three different cities) for the next six years. I now live in Alabama. Today, when someone asks me, “Where are you from?,” I must confess that I sometimes do not know what to say. “The last move I made was from Tennessee. I spent most of my “growing-up years” in Oklahoma. I was born in Georgia….” Where am I from? Take your pick.
Some critics actually think they have a legitimate Bible contradiction on their hands by pointing out that different passages sometimes speak of the same person being from two (or more) different places. For example, in Mark 1:21-29 Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew are said to have lived in (or very near) Capernaum. The apostle John, on the other hand, recorded that “the city of Andrew and Peter” was Bethsaida (1:44). Are these two accounts contradictory? No. Peter and Andrew were living in Capernaum at the beginning of Jesus ministry, however, they were known as being “of” Bethsaida, which is probably where they first learned a trade, got married, and made a name for themselves. The writers are simply referring to two different times in the lives of Peter and Andrew.
A similar “controversy” surrounds whence Jesus came. Well-known skeptic Dennis McKinsey had the audacity to ask, “Why would Jesus be called ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ when He was born in Bethlehem of Judea” (2000, p. 133). Obviously, Mr. McKinsey is not willing to give the Bible writers the same freedom we have today when we talk about our “ hometown” and our “birthplace.” The fact is, Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1), but grew up in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23; cf. Acts 22:8).
Remember, for something to be a legitimate contradiction, the same person, place, or thingmust be under consideration at the same time in the same sense. If not, then it is impossible to know that two things are contradictory.


McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).

Did Jesus Christ Exist in the Form of God While on Earth? by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Did Jesus Christ Exist in the Form of God While on Earth?

by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

Some conservative writers have attempted to defend the idea that the second Person of the Godhead, at the time of the “incarnation” (i.e., when “the Word became flesh”—John 1:14), laid aside “the form of God.” They contend that the concept of an infinite God being clothed within a human body is illogical. Though these authors undoubtedly mean well, their position is quite erroneous as to the nature of the incarnate Christ.
Several arguments have been employed in attempting to buttress this position. For example, it has been argued: (a) God cannot be tempted (James 1:13); but (b) Jesus was tempted (Hebrews 2:18). The conclusion is thus supposed to be: Jesus did not exist in the form of God.
The logical consequence of this position is that Jesus Christ was not deity in the flesh. Advocates of this view usually do not mean to affirm explicitly that conclusion, but that is where such reasoning leads. What these writers have failed to realize, with reference to James 1:13, is that God the Father—not Christ the Son—is in view in that context. James was not discussing the nature and/or role of Christ. Thus, it is improper to generalize regarding the nature of the Lord from this brief reference.
The text commonly appealed to as proof that Jesus did not exist on Earth in “the form of God” is Philippians 2:6. Here is the full context of what Paul wrote:
Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8, ASV).
But the position advocated is incorrect for the following reasons.
In Philippians 2:6, Paul spoke of Christ as “existing in the form of God.” The term “existing” is not a past tense form. It translates the Greek term huparchon, a present tense participle. The present tense reveals that the Savior’s existence, in the “form of God,” is a sustained mode of being, not one that was interrupted by the incarnation. A.T. Robertson called attention to the difference between the present tense, huparchon (denoting “eternal existence in the morphe[form] of God”), and the Lord’s “becoming” (aorist tense) in the likeness of man (1931, 4:445). There was a time when the second Person of the Godhead did not exist as man; there never has been a time when He was not in “the form of God.”
W.E. Vine commented that this grammatical form denotes “an existence or condition both previous to the circumstances mentioned and continuing after it” (1991, p. 279). Another scholar noted that the word expresses “continuance of an antecedent state or condition” (Abbott-Smith, 1923, p. 457). Hendriksen was quite correct when he asked: “[O]f what did Christ empty himself? Surely not of his existence ‘in the form of God’ ” (1962, p. 106). Wuest amplified the present tense form of the participle by suggesting that Jesus “has always been and at present continues to subsist” in the form of God (1961, p. 462). It is unnecessary to multiply additional examples.
Contrary to the evidence, however, it has been alleged that whereas Christ existed in the form of God prior to the incarnation, He divested himself of that status while on Earth. Finally, according to the theory under review, Jesus resumed the form-of-God nature when He returned to heaven. There is no biblical support for this concept, which violates the explicit testimony of Scripture.
The Greek word for “form” is morphe. This term denotes that which is “indicative of the interior nature” of a thing (Green, 1907, p. 384), or as Kennedy observed, morphe “always signifies a form which truly and fully expresses the being which underlies it” (1956, 3:436). Trench commented that “none could be en morphe theou [in form of God] who was not God” (1890, p. 263). All of this simply means that if Jesus gave up the “form of God” when He became incarnate, then He ceased being God at that time. This is equivalent to the doctrine advocated by Jehovah’s Witnesses, namely, that Christ was “nothing more than a perfect man.” I must say, in the kindest way possible, that the position under review is unrepresentative of the teaching of the New Testament.
But it is alleged that Jesus could not have existed in “the form of God” because the New Testament speaks of the Lord being led of the Spirit, protected by angels, etc. Obviously, therefore, Christ was not “infinite God.”
The thing that seems to be at the root of this misunderstanding is a failure to recognize that the Lord’s earthly limitations were not the consequence of a less-than-God nature; rather, they were the result of a self-imposed submission reflecting the exercise of His sovereign will. Of what did Christ “empty” Himself when He became flesh?
A.H. Strong expressed it well when he noted that, by means of the incarnation, Jesus “resigned not the possession, nor yet entirely the use, but rather the independent exercise, of the divine attributes” (1907, p. 703). To say the same thing in another way, the Lord’s incarnate status involved, not a divestiture of divine form/essence or attributes, but rather a subordination of those attributes to the Father in terms of role function. When Jesus affirmed, “[T]he father is greater than I” (John 14:28), He was not disclaiming divine nature; rather, He was asserting that He had subjected Himself voluntarily to the Father’s will.
Think about this for a moment: How could Christ be void of the divine attributes, and still be divine? A thing is the sum of its attributes. This is an insurmountable difficulty for those who argue that the incarnate Christ was not in the “form of God.”
If Christ was not fully God, i.e., existing in the “form of God,” exactly what was He? Quasi-God? Half-God? Merely appearing to be God (as certain Gnostics held)? Only perfect Man? What?
Moreover, if Jesus did not exist in the “form of God” while He lived on Earth, how could He claim to be “one” (neuter gender, suggesting unity of nature) with the Father (John 10:30)? Why did the Lord allow Thomas to call him “God” (John 20:30)? Why did Jesus accept worship (Matthew 8:2), when He plainly taught that only God is worthy of worship (Matthew 4:10)?
Finally, if it is to be argued that Christ laid aside His status of being in “the form of God” by virtue of His humanness and His subordination to the Father, then one must contend, to be consistent, that Jesus does not possess the “form of God” now, because as our Mediator He is “the man, Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5), and He still is in subjection to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:27).
Some may feel that this is simply a matter of inconsequential semantics. However, sometimes semantics is quite important. Gospel truth is a message of words, and the Christian teacher needs to be accurate in the language he employs. May the Lord help us to be precise in the expression of biblical truth.


Abbott-Smith, G. (1923), A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark).
Green, Samuel (1907), Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament (London: Religious Tract Society).
Hendriksen, William (1962), Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Kennedy, H.A.A. (1956), “Philippians,” The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W.R. Nicoll (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Robertson, A.T. (1931), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman).
Strong, A.H. (1907), Systematic Theology (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell).
Trench, R.C. (1890), Synonyms of the New Testament (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner, & Co.).
Vine, W.E. (1991), Amplified Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers).
Wuest, Kenneth (1961), The New Testament—An Expanded Translation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Cause and Effect—Scientific Proof that God Exists by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Cause and Effect—Scientific Proof that God Exists

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

The Universe exists and is real. Every rational person must admit this point. If it did not exist, we would not be here to talk about it. So the question arises, “How did the Universe get here?” Did it create itself? If it did not create itself, it must have had a cause.
Let’s look at the law of cause and effect. As far as science knows, natural laws have no exceptions. This is definitely true of the law of cause and effect, which is the most universal and most certain of all laws. Simply put, the law of cause and effect states that every material effect must have an adequate cause that existed before the effect.
Material effects without adequate causes do not exist. Also, causes never occur after the effect. In addition, the effect never is greater than the cause. That is why scientists say that every material effect must have an adequate cause. The river did not turn muddy because the frog jumped in; the book did not fall off the table because the fly landed on it. These are not adequate causes. For whatever effects we see, we must present adequate causes.
Five-year-olds are wonderful at using the law of cause and effect. We can picture a small child asking: “Mommy, where do peaches come from?” His mother says that they come from peach trees. Then the child asks where the trees come from, and his mother explains that they come from peaches. You can see the cycle. Eventually the child wants to know how the first peach tree got here. He can see very well that it must have had a cause, and he wants to know what that cause was.
One thing is for sure: the Universe did not create itself! We know this for a scientific fact, because matter cannot create matter. If we take a rock that weighs 1 pound and do 50,000 experiments on it, we never will be able to produce more than 1 pound of rock. So, whatever caused the Universe could not have been material.
I know that it is insulting to your intelligence to have to include this paragraph, but some people today are saying that the Universe evolved from nothing. However, if there ever had been a time when absolutely nothing existed, then there would be nothing now, because it always is true that nothing produces nothing. If something exists now, then something always has existed.
The Bible certainly is not silent about what caused the Universe. In the very first verse of the first chapter of the first book it says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.” Acts 17:24 records: “God, who made the world and everything in it…He is Lord of heaven and earth.” Exodus 20:11 notes: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.”
  • God is undoubtedly an adequate cause, since He is all-powerful. In Genesis 17:1, God told Abraham “I am Almighty God.”
  • He came before this material world, fulfilling the criteria that the cause must come before the effect. The psalmist wrote: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:2).
  • And He definitely would instill within mankind the concept of morality, since He is a God of morals. Titus 1:2 says that He cannot lie.
Only God fits the criteria of an adequate cause that came before the Universe.
Hold on just a minute! If we contend that every material effect must have a cause, and we say that only God could have caused the Universe, then the obvious question is: “What caused God?” Doesn’t the law of cause and effect apply to God, too?
There is a single word in the law of cause and effect that helps provide the answer to this question—the word material. Every material effect must have a cause that existed before it. Scientists formulated the law of cause and effect based upon what they have observed while studying this Universe, which is made out of matter. No science experiment in the world can be performed on God, because He is an eternal spirit, not matter (John 4:24). Science is far from learning everything about this material world, and it is even farther from understanding the eternal nature of God. There had to be a First Cause, and God was (and is) the only One suitable for the job.
The law of cause and effect is a well-established law that does not have any known exceptions. It was not conjured up from the creationists’ magic hat to prove the existence of God (although it does that quite well). The evidence is sufficient to show that this material Universe needs a non-material cause. That non-material Cause is God. If natural forces created the Universe, randomly selecting themselves, then morality in humans never could be explained. Why is this Universe here? Because “in the beginning, God….”

Gambling, the Military, and Christian Ethics by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Gambling, the Military, and Christian Ethics

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Aaron Walsh had a bright and promising future. A Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army and a decorated Apache helicopter pilot, he had a lovely wife and two young children. When he joined the Army, however, he developed an addiction to gambling due to the presence of slot machines on overseas military posts. (The Department of Defense uses slot machine revenues to fund military recreation programs). In 2005, he went AWOL, only to be found sitting in front of a video slot machine on a military post in Seoul, South Korea. Unable to break his addiction, young Walsh lost his family and his career in the Army, and spent time homeless on the streets of Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2006, he returned to Maine in hopes of reconnecting with his wife and children, but his gambling addiction only continued. Sadly, on September 26, 2006, at the age of 34, Walsh went to Baxter State Park and killed himself with a gunshot to the head (Griffin, 2007). “[T]he way of the transgressor is hard” (Proverbs 13:15, ASV).
American civilization has declined to such an extent that most citizens today would be surprised to learn that, from the very beginning of our nation until about 50 years ago, the majority of Americans viewed gambling as immoral. In fact, the Founding Fathers forthrightly addressed the issue of gambling. The Continental Congress passed a resolution on October 12, 1778, declaring their condemnation of gambling:
Whereas true religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness: Resolved, That it be, and it is hereby earnestly recommended to the several states, to take the most effectual measures for the encouragement thereof, and for the suppressing theatrical entertainments, horse racing, gaming, and such other diversions as are productive of idleness, dissipation, and a general depravity of principles and manners (Journals..., 1823, 3:85, emp. added).
The laws of Connecticut included a prohibition against gambling:
Gaming is an amusement, the propensity of which is deeply implanted in human nature. Mankind in the most unpolished state of barbarism and in the most refined periods of luxury and dissipation, are attached to this practice with an unaccountable ardor and fondness. To describe the pernicious consequences of it, the ruin and desolation of private families, and the promotion of idleness and dissipation, belong to a treatise on ethics (as quoted in Swift, 1796, 2:351).
In a letter to Martha Jefferson in 1787, Thomas Jefferson commented on the degrading influence of gambling:
In a world which furnishes so many employments which are useful, so many which are amusing, it is our own fault if we ever know what ennui is, or if we are ever driven to the miserable resources of gaming, which corrupts our dispositions, and teaches us a habit of hostility against all mankind (as quoted in Forman, 1900, p. 266).
In his proposal for a revision of the laws in his home state of Virginia, Jefferson offered the following “Bill to Prevent Gaming,” which restricted the holding of public office to non-gamblers:
Any person who shall bet or play for money, or other goods, or who shall bet on the hands or sides of those who play at any game in a tavern, racefield, or other place of public resort, shall be deemed an infamous gambler, and shall not be eligible to any office of trust or honor within this state (1950, 2:306).
Ironically, as Commander-in-Chief of all U.S. military forces, George Washington frequently addressed the deleterious effect of gambling on the soldiers of the Continental Army he commanded. In General Orders issued on February 26, 1776, Washington admonished:
All officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers are positively forbid [sic] playing at cards, and other games of chance. At this time of public distress, men may find enough to do in the service of their God, and their Country, without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality (1931, 4:347, emp. added).
Courtesy Library of Congress: www.loc.gov
The majority view of America and its Founders from day one has been that gambling in its various forms is a vice that is destructive of the moral fabric of society—a view they gleaned from the Bible (see Miller and Butt, 2003). With uncanny anticipation, George Washington declared to his troops on May 8, 1777: “As few vices are attended with more pernicious consequences, in civil life; so there are none more fatal in a military one, than that of Gaming; which often brings disgrace and ruin upon officers, and injury and punishment upon the Soldiery” (8:28, emp. added). The death of Aaron Walsh is a tragic testimony to the truth of Washington’s declaration. If the military’s morality protocol from the beginning of our nation was still in effect, Aaron Walsh likely still would be alive, and his family would still have a father and husband. Even more tragically, if the Continental Congress was correct in its claim that “true religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness,” then America is moving swiftly down a road that will result in “a general depravity of principles and manners” and the dissolution of “public liberty and happiness.”


Forman, S.E. (1900), The Life and Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Indianapolis, IN: Bowen-Merrill).
Griffin, Drew (2007), “Bill Would Ban Military Slot Machines,” CNN News, [On-line], URL:http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/15/military.gambling/index.html.
Jefferson, Thomas (1950), The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Journals of the American Congress: From 1774 to 1788 (1823), (Washington, D.C.: Way and Gideon).
Miller, Dave and Kyle Butt (2003), “Christians, Gambling, and the Lottery,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2301.
Swift, Zephaniah (1796), A System of Laws of the State of Connecticut (Windham, CT: John Byrne).
Washington, George (1931), The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources1745-1799 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office).

Mustard Seed Mistake or Misunderstanding? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Mustard Seed Mistake or Misunderstanding?
by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In Matthew 13:31-32, the apostle recorded a brief parable that Jesus taught regarding His heavenly kingdom. “The kingdom of heaven,” Jesus said, “is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” The central truth of Jesus’ lesson was that the kingdom of heaven (i.e., the church; Matthew 16:18-19; Colossians 1:13), would be very small in the beginning (Acts 2), but in time would become very large. Rather than be a movement that died with its leader (cf. Acts 5:33-39), history shows that Jesus was exactly right in His prophecy: since His death and resurrection 2,000 years ago, multiplied millions of people have become citizens of this heavenly kingdom of which Jesus foretold.

Rather than acknowledge Jesus’ impressively fulfilled prophecy, His critics allege that He blundered in His reference to the mustard seed being “the least of all the seeds” (or as Mark words it, “smaller than all the seeds on earth”—4:31). Since other plant seeds technically are smaller than mustard seeds (e.g., epiphytic orchid seeds found in tropical rainforests), critics claim that Jesus made a scientific mistake (Wells, 2011; McKinsey, 2000, p. 263).

Although the Bible has shown itself to be historically and scientifically accurate time and again over the last 2,000 years (see Butt, 2007), the reader must bear in mind that, just as we often do in modern times, Jesus and the Bible writers frequently used figures of speech. They sometimes used numbers as names instead of literal numbers (e.g., calling the apostles “the twelve” after Judas had died—1 Corinthians 15:5; see Lyons, 2002). They oftentimes referred to things as they appearedinstead of as they actually were (e.g., Christians who had died were said to have “fallen asleep”—1 Corinthians 15:6). They used Hebrew idioms, even when writing in the Greek language (e.g., “three days and three nights”—Matthew 12:40; see Lyons, 2004). And, just as we communicate truths in the 21st century through easily interpreted exaggeration (e.g., “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse”), Jesus and the Bible writers also made use of hyperbolic expressions. For example, when Paul noted in his letter to the church in Colosse that the Gospel “was preached to every creature under heaven” (1:23), readers understand that Paul is not technically saying that every living thing on Earth heard the Gospel. He’s not even saying that every person, including every infant, invalid, and mentally-ill person, heard the Gospel. Paul was obviously using a figure of speech to communicate an astounding truth: the then-known world (of both Jews and Gentiles) had been exposed to the Good News of Jesus Christ.

So what about Jesus’ comment regarding the mustard seed being “the least of all the seeds” (Matthew 13:32)? Was Jesus scientifically inaccurate? Only in the same sense that people are today when they refer to it “raining cats and dogs” during heavy precipitation, or “burning up” during a heat wave. The fact is, Jesus was speaking proverbially in this parable. In Palestine, mustard seeds were used comparatively when talking of very small things. For example, when Jesus taught about how the smallest amount of faith could bring about great results, He referred to this “faith as a mustard seed” (Matthew 17:20). Since the Jews were very familiar with the mustard seed, Jesus referred to what they could understand and appreciate. In their world, where they lived, planted, and harvested, they understood that the mustard seed was the smallest of the seeds they normally planted. And still, it could germinate, take root, and flourish, eventually becoming an eight- to 10-foot tall shrub (Lane, 1974, p. 171).

Similar to how we might say to someone, “everyone knows that two plus two is four,” Jesus told His Palestinian peers that the mustard seed is “the least of all the seeds.” Do most people on Earth likely know that two plus two is four? Yes. But millions of infants are ignorant of this mathematical fact, as are many mentally-ill individuals. Thus, the term “everyone” would be used in a limited sense. Likewise, when Jesus spoke of the mustard seed, He was speaking hyperbolically in a limited sense. The mustard seed “was the smallest usually sown in Jewish fields” (McGarvey, 1875, p. 121, emp. added).


Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Lane, William (1974), The Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Lyons, Eric (2002), “The Twelve,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/148.

Lyons, Eric (2004), “Three Days and Three Nights,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/570.

McGarvey, J.W. (1875), Commentary on Matthew and Mark (Delight AR: Gospel Light).

McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).

Wells, Steve (2011), The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/mt/sci_list.html.

What does God want me to do? by Roy Davison


What does God want me to do?
People who heard the gospel on Pentecost cried out: “What should we do?” (Acts 2:37).
This is a good question -- also for Christians. Instead of doing what we want to do, we should continually ask ourselves: “What does God want me to do?”
How can we know what God wants us to do? Only through the holy Scriptures. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
As we study the Scriptures we should ask ourselves, “What does God want me to do?”
The Scriptures are full of instructions for daily living. Jesus tells us to follow Him, to repent, to bear fruit, to be meek, to hunger for righteousness, to be merciful, to be pure in heart, to be peacemakers, to do good, not to call anyone a fool, not to commit adultery, not to look at a woman lustfully, not to divorce our spouses without a valid reason, not to swear, not to resist one who is evil, to go the second mile, to love our enemies, to be perfect like our Father, not to be religious for show, to forgive, not to lay up treasures on earth but in heaven, not to serve money, not to be anxious about physical needs, to seek God's kingdom and righteousness first, not to judge, to do to others as we want them to do to us, to do what He says and not just listen, to be wise as serpents and harmless of doves, to endure to the end, to be like Him, to preach the gospel, to mention just a few items from the first ten chapters of Matthew.
Let us examine just three of these points.

God wants me to follow Christ.

“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men'” (Matthew 4:18, 19).
“Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, 'Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.' And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.' Then another of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead'” (Matthew 8:19- 22).
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me'” (Matthew 16:24). “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38).
“Jesus said to him, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me'” (Matthew 19:21).

God wants me to be meek.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
To be meek is to be mild tempered, soft, gentle, humble, lowly, unpretentious, yielding, not easily provoked or irritated, enduring injury with patience and without resentment.
Is this the way we tend to be? Is this the way the world thinks people should be? The world tells us that we should be self-assertive, stand up for our rights, not allow others to get the best of us. But God wants me to be meek.
This is part of following Christ, for He said: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Meek is the best way to be. If we are self-assertive and aggressive, others will resist us and try to beat us down.
Meekness must be genuine. Some people appear meek as a lamb when all is going their way, but if something irritates them they begin to snarl and snap and growl like a vicious wolf.
Meekness can be learned. It is not how we tend to be. To have peace for our souls we must follow Christ and learn to be gentle and lowly in heart. Our glorious King came to us lowly, riding on a donkey (Matthew 21:5).

God wants me to be merciful.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
To be merciful is to have a kind, compassionate and forgiving attitude that overlooks injuries and does not give deserved punishment.
“But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:13).
Jesus refers to Hosea 6:4-6.
“O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? 
O Judah, what shall I do to you?
For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud,
And like the early dew it goes away.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets,
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And your judgments are like light that goes forth.
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

A similar thought is found in Micah 6:6-8.
“With what shall I come before the Lord,
And bow myself before the High God?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?”

Jesus also referred to this principle when His disciples were condemned by the Pharisees for plucking grain on the Sabbath: “But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7).
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:23,24).
God wants me to be merciful. “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).
What does God want me to do? I must continually study the Scriptures to find out. We have examined three things from the book of Matthew. Although sermons and group Bible studies are helpful, we must all spend time studying the Scriptures ourselves to learn all that God wants us to do.
God wants me to follow Christ, to be meek and to be merciful.
Roy Davison
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive