More Reasons to Believe the Bible

Linguistic Evidence
The oldest written language in the world is Chinese. It dates back 4500 years, just shortly after the biblical account of the Tower of Babel, and consists of thousands of characters. Each of these characters is composed of individual symbols that represent the natural order.

Chinese Create Character.png

Create
The Chinese character for ‘create’ combines the symbols for ‘speak,’ ‘dust,’ ‘life,’ and ‘walk’ to tell the Genesis story of how God fashioned man from the dust of the earth and then gave him speech by blowing the breath of life into his mouth (Gen 2:7)

Chinese Charracter for  Happiness.png

Happiness
The Chinese character for happiness contains the symbol for God on the left side. On the right side are the symbols for one, mouth, and garden. The Chinese symbol for ‘mouth’ often represents a person. One mouth or person alone in the garden with God is the way the Chinese depicted happiness (Gen 2:8).

Chineses Character for Garden.png

Garden
The Chinese character for garden contains the symbols for enclosure, dust, breath, and a person with another person coming out of his side. This is a pictorial representation of the biblical account of the Garden of Eden where God created man from the dust
of the earth, blew the breath of life into his mouth, placed him in the garden, and then created woman from one of his ribs (Gen 2:21-23).

Chinese Character for Forbidden.png

Forbidden
The Chinese character for forbidden is comprised of the symbol for command along with the symbol for two trees, referring to God’s command to Adam and Eve not to take from the fruit of either the Tree of Life or the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the middle of the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:16-17).

Covet.png

Covet
The character for covet tells the story of Eve, Adam’s  wife, succumbing to the temptation to take and eat fruit from one of the two forbidden trees (Gen 3:6-7).

Chinese Character for Boat.png

Boat
Ancient Chinese history contains an account of a universal flood that closely parallels the one in the book of Genesis. The Chinese character for boat depicts eight mouths in a vessel. In the biblical account of the flood, Noah and his family, eight people in all, rode out the deluge in a big boat they built according to God’s instructions (Gen 7:11-13).

Chinese Character for Righteousness.png
Righteousness
The character for righteousness sums up the whole Bible message in just thirteen strokes. The top half of this character is the symbol for sheep. The bottom portion represents me. In the Old Testament, righteousness could only be imparted by covering the sinner with the blood of a sacrificial lamb. As a mere symbol of Christ’s sacrifice, the sheep’s blood was nothing more than an empty ritual and had to be repeated over and over again. In the New Testament, the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, fulfilled that same function. But Jesus’ sacrifice was a perfect sacrifice that took away sins forever (Heb 10:8-12).(1)

Why Is There A Universe?
Evolutionists maintain that all living beings originated from single cell organisms that grew in complexity through a process of natural selection over millions of years. According to them, there was no creator; the world somehow appeared in a big bang. Of course, there are myriads of problems with this theory. It violates some of the most basic laws of science like the law of cause and effect, which says that for every effect there must be a cause. Well, the Big Bang Theory says the universe has no cause and leaves unanswered the question of ‘Why?’ Richard Dawkins, noted proponent of evolution,says, “The essence of life is statistical improbability on a colossal scale.”(2) He nonetheless maintains that the laws of nature simply favor life. Francis Crick, who discovered the structure of DNA, believed that the only explanation for the rapid appearance of life on earth was the deliberate seeding of the planet. But who did the seeding?

The biggest problem for the evolutionist is how to explain the emergence of living organisms from inert matter and the human spirit from a living organism without the involvement of a pre-existent Spirit. John 3:6 says, “What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.

What are the Odds of Evolution?
Steven Hawkings, author of A Brief History of Time,  compared the probability of life evolving to a horde of monkeys producing one of Shakespeare’s sonnets by randomly pecking on typewriter keys. The likelihood of that happening would be minuscule. Even
the odds of simply spelling out the poet’s name would be scant. If the monkeys had one random peck for each of the ten letters in the poet’s name, the chance that the first typed letter would be ‘s’ would be one in twenty-six. The chance that the second letter would be ‘h’ would also be one in twenty-six. The likelihood that the first two letters taken together would be ‘sh’ would be one in 26×26 and so on for the rest of the name. So the probability that a monkey could type just the word ‘Shakespeare’ by randomly pecking on the keys of a typewriter is less than one in a trillion. Would you bet on those odds? (3)

Suppose that, against all odds, a living cell did emerge over time. Without a fully evolved and functioning reproductive system, it would never be able to pass on its attributes. Furthermore, since cellular processes are essentially the same in all organisms, evolution would have to produce the same results over and over again by chance against enormous odds.

Dr. Gerald Schroeder, double Ph.D. in nuclear physics and earth and planetary sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former consultant at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission says, “It is time to lay to rest the misguided, but popularly believed un–truth that in our world, gradual, step by step random mutations could have climbed the mountain of improbability and produced the magnificent abundance of the Earth’s biosphere.” (4)

Simon Conway Morris, professor of evolutionary paleobiology at Cambridge University and Fellow of the Royal Society of England, is one of the world’s leading paleontologists. In his book, Life’s Solutions, Dr. Morris says, “Life is simply too complex to be assembled on any believable time scale,” but then goes on to say, “Evolution has the uncanny ability to find the short cuts across the multidimensional hyperspace of biological reality …” So rather than ascribe the order and intricate balance of life to an all–powerful, all–wise God operating with a plan, he chooses to attribute it to an impersonal, unconscious force acting aimlessly. (5) That would be like stumbling upon a perfectly functioning Rolex watch lying on the beach and assuming the action of wind and waves had assembled it over eons of time.

The following diagram represents the likelihood of life occurring by chance as compared to design:
Creationism vs Evolution Diagram.png
Occam’s Razor
Sir Isaac Newton said, “We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. Therefore, to the same natural effects we must, so far as possible, assign the same causes. ”This principle is known as ‘Occam’s Razor,’ otherwise known as the ‘Law of Parsimony’ or ‘Law of Economy.’ It means that natural phenomena are best explained in terms of the hypothesis that makes the fewest new assumptions.(6)

Ruling out some causes because of a bias against the simplest and most logical explanation is not consistent with this principle. Explaining origins in terms of the acts of a creative and almighty God requires far fewer new assumptions than supposing the universe and all living things emerged spontaneously of their own volition. Where would the volition come from, anyway? Neither is the notion that mutations can cause improvements in a consistent progression borne out by science. Quite the opposite, mutations ordinarily cause a loss of information or sometimes a transfer of information, but they never cause an increase in information. There is no evidence that organisms become more complex over time. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Organisms become weaker, life spans become shorter and species die out, as you would expect in a world that has been cursed by sin because, “By sin death entered into the world” (Rom 5:12).

Evolution or Devolution?
According to the book of Genesis, people lived for almost a thousand years before the flood. The only survivors of the flood were Noah and his sons,  Shem, Ham and Japheth. These three were the progenitors of all the races of modern day mankind. Genesis chapter 11 traces the descendants of Shem because he was the father of the Semite nations from which Abraham and the Jewish nation came. Shem was 100 years old when the flood came. He lived another five hundred years after the flood. Abraham was born 290 years after the flood. At that time, Shem was 390 years old. Abraham lived to the ripe old age of 175, but Shem did not die til the age of 600! He outlived Abraham by 35 years!! They both lived under the same environmental conditions after the flood. They probably ate the same foods. The only difference was their genetic makeup. Shem was born just 1500 years after creation. Abraham was born 390 years later, 290 years after the flood. Over that period of time, the curse of sin had so weakened the human genome that lifespans had decreased by a whopping 70%! (7)

Timeline Noah to Abraham.png

1. Kong, C.H. and Nelson, Ethel. “The Discovery of Genesis“. P. xiii.
2. Richard Dawkins. Brainy Quote. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/richarddaw391955.html.
3. Hawking, S.W. “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.” p:123. Bantam Books. NewYork, 1988.
4. Schroeder, Dr. Gerald. “God According to God.” Harper Collins. 2009.
http://www.creationdefense.org/06.htm.
5. Morris, Simon Conway. “Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe.” Cambridge University Press. 2003.
6. “Occam’s Razor.” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Parsimony.
7.  https://www.understandchristianity.com/timelines/genesis-genealogical-charts/

 

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Another Mega Church Bites the Dust

Targeting Other Churches
I have been reading up on the controversies going on at Harvest Bible Chapel and its affiliates on https://theelephantsdebt.com/author/theelephantsdebt/ and I am not surprised at what I see. I attended the Naperville branch when it was meeting at Glenbard South High School. I can still vividly remember the pastor making the point that HBC was a church for people dissatisfied with their own church. I have since learned about their reputation for cannibalizing other churches in order to build their own congregations.

Unaccountable Leadership
I also remember the pastor making an issue of the fact that the congregation has no input into decision making. Right away I began to wonder about leadership accountability. Then I learned that the founder of the organization has a half million dollar salary in addition to hundreds of thousands in other funds that he has come by questionably. The congregation was young, self-absorbed, and affluent. In fact, one Sunday morning I watched as a member pulled up in his pickup towing what must have been a thirty-five foot yacht. He undoubtedly was headed for an afternoon outing on Lake Michigan after the service. It reminded me of Isaiah 58: 13-14: “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth.

I got the sense that Harvest Bible Chapel was all about kingdom building. Not building the kingdom of Christ, but the kingdom of the pastor and his leadership team and that meant accommodating its members’ pleasures.

Getting Theology Right
Since that time I have discovered reformed theology through the preaching of men like R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Allistair Begg, Albert Mohler, Steve Lawson, Sinclair Ferguson and other godly men. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!! I learned the doctrines of grace including total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and the preservation of the saints. I learned about the sovereignty of God in salvation, that from beginning to end it is entirely His work.

I have found that the preachers who belong to this tradition all have certain things in common. They are keenly aware of their own sins and shortcomings. They are not self-promoters. They preach a gospel of repentance unto faith. And they are all tender, kind-hearted, compassionate shepherds rather than powerful corporate executive types. They honor the sabbath to keep it holy and encourage their members to do the same thing.

The Joy of Christ-Centered Worship
And the greatest blessing of all occurred just over a year and a half ago when my wife and I found Bethel Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Pastor Craig Troxel, just a few short miles up Naperville Boulevard from Highpoint Church where that former Harvest Bible pastor now has his own mega church. Every Sunday is a banquet of feasting on the Word of God and lifting up Christ in worship. There are no big egos on staff. Worship is simple and unadorned by fancy media presentations or strutting pastors. The word of God takes precedence through preaching, music,  prayer and the sacraments. Every element of the service is directed upward, not outward.

I would encourage you to listen to one of our pastor’s sermons. You will find your heart stirred by a greater appreciation of your own sinfulness and a deeper understanding of the grace of God towards us in Jesus Christ.  You won’t hear a single “how to” sermon on dealing with life’s issues, but you will find a deeper devotion for Christ that will cause all other things to fall into place naturally as subservient to salvation (1)

Please give a listen to this message and you will understand what I am talking about. https://youtu.be/2-CZCjGxdI4

(1) Heidelberg Question 1:

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer. That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live.

 

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Where Seeker Friendly Ultimately Leads

Where Seeker Friendly Came From
The Seeker Friendly phenomenon had its genesis with Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral fame. It was first popularized in his book “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Two of his first disciples were Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, creators of the modern Mega Church. Hybels coined the term “Seeker Friendly” to describe an approach to evangelism that was high on self-esteem and low on contrition for sin. He turned the church from a house of worship into an auditorium replete with all the latest media technologies, a coffee shop, bookstore, and even indoor waterfall. In so doing, he drew thousands of people to Sunday services and various programs designed to appeal to their needs and tastes. But many of these people have never come to a realization of their need for forgiveness of their sins.

Mega Churches in Trouble
The founders of both the Crystal Cathedral and Willow Creek Community Church have since run into serious trouble. The Crystal Cathedral amassed over $57 million in debt and was sold to the Catholic Church in 2010.(1) This is sad because Schuller originally based his teaching at least partially on the doctrines of John Calvin, one of the great Protestant reformers.

Bill Hybels has recently been asked to step down over allegations of sexual misconduct. (2) Ironically, a woman will be taking his place as head pastor. Willow Creek’s troubles are clearly not over since it is now taking a new direction that contradicts the clear teaching of scripture. 1 Tim 2:15 says: “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”

Softening the Demands of the Gospel
I once attended a Bible study with some members of Willow Creek Church. One of the women strongly objected to the idea that unbelievers should be confronted with their sins when presented with the gospel. She said she never would have come to Christ had she been faced with her sin before she heard the benefits of the gospel. This false belief is at the very heart of the mega church. It betrays a lack of understanding of the sovereignty of God in salvation. The Bible says that the natural man cannot receive the things of the spirit. (1 Cor 2:14) So of course no one will react positively to the charge that she is a sinner. But Jesus says that at the moment of conversion the Holy Spirit brings new spiritual life and the ability to repent. That is what it means to be born again. That is the whole point of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. (Jn 3:3-8)

At the point of conversion, we are born again. We are raised from death unto life and given the ability to respond to Christ in repentance and faith.  (Gal 2:13; Eph 2:5) God the Father draws us to Christ. (Jn 6:37) We do not choose Him, He chooses us. (Jn 15:16). Therefore, it is not necessary to soften the demands of the gospel in order to encourage faith in Christ. Those whom God chooses will not be offended. They will be irresistibly drawn to Christ.

John the Baptist, Jesus and the apostles all began their appeals with a call to repentance. None of them soft-pedaled the severity of sin. In fact, at Pentecost Peter accused his listeners of killing the Son of God Himself, “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Acts 2:23). When the people realized what they had done, they were so horrified they exclaimed, “Brothers, what shall we do?”  In other words, “Is there any hope for us after the awful thing that we have done?“(Acts 2:37) Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38) And three thousand people were added to the church that day!

Where Disobedience Leads
At a conference I recently attended, Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Convention and astute commentator on contemporary society, made the point that when a church departs from the clear teaching of scripture, certain consequences naturally follow. In the case of Willow Creek Community Church, when a body of believers rejects the teaching of scripture on the role of women in the church, that church ultimately embraces all the modern trends toward gender neutrality – that is gay rights, transgenderism, and gender dysphoria. Why? because it has undermined the basic authority of the Bible on these matters and replaced it with secular relativism.

Having departed from orthodox doctrine on soteriology and now embraced modern sexual mores, let us see where Willow Creek Church ends up next.

1. Crystal Cathedral Founder Robert Schuller Dies, USA Today, April 2, 2015, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/04/02/robert-schuller-obit/70824954/

2. Hybels Steps Down From Willow Creek After Allegations of  Misconduct, Chicago Tribune, Sunday, April 17, 2018, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-hybels-willow-creek-resigns-20180410-story.html

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Reasons to Believe the Bible From History

Historical Evidence
Archaeology confirms scriptural accounts of history over and over again. In fact, archaeologists used to deny the existence of the Hittites, Horites, Edomites, and other peoples and places mentioned in the Old Testament. Evidence of all these groups has since been uncovered. The names of some 40 kings have been found in documents taken from locations associated with their Old Testament references.

Hezekiah’s tunnel described in 2 Chronicles 32 was a viaduct constructed to supply water to the city of Jerusalem while it was under siege by King Sennacherib of Assyria in 701 B.C. This tunnel still cuts an 1800 foot ‘S’ shaped curve under the streets of Jerusalem. In 1880, two boys swimming in the tunnel discovered an inscription that described in detail how the tunnel had been built. That description agrees with the account of the building of the tunnel in 2 Chronicles 32. (1)

Here are some other archaeological finds that corroborate biblical accounts of ancient history:

Exodus
According to the book of Exodus, Pharoah’s army was drowned when they tried to pursue the Israelites into the Red Sea along the path that God had opened up through the water (Ex 14:8-30). Up until just a few years ago, no one had been able to find any evidence of this event. Then in the year 2000, Dr. Lennart Möller, a medical research scientist and marine biologist from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, conducted a search in the Gulf of Aqaba along a delta that matched biblical description of the place where the crossing took place. The sea floor rises thousands of feet at this point to create a broad plateau that extends across the entire width of the gulf. The floor of the ocean along this natural pathway is littered with coral formations shaped like overturned chariots. Metal detectors picked up traces of bronze in these formations. The crew even filmed one perfectly preserved chariot wheel that was coated with an alloy that had prevented it from being encrusted with coral. (2)

Ebla Tablets
The Ebla Tablets are 2500 clay tablets found in the archive at the ancient palace of Ebla. These tablets date from 2400–2300 B.C. They contain a list of places and names from the patriarchal books of the Bible. Prior to their discovery, Bible critics contended that the stories in these books were fiction. An account of creation from these tablets closely parallels the Genesis version written some 800 years later. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and Haran, Abraham’s ancestral home are also mentioned. (3)

Hittites
Confirmed by archaeological digs in Bogazkoy, Turkey. (4)

Saragon’s Palace
Described in the book of Isaiah chapter 20. Discovered in Khorsabad, Iraq. (5)

Capture of Ashdod
Described in the book of Isaiah chapter 20 and recorded on the walls of Saragon’s Palace. (6)

Daniel 5
King Belshazzar offered to make Daniel third highest ruler in Babylon. Recently discovered tablets show that Belshazzar was co-regent with his father, Nabonidus. Daniel would have been third in line after father and son. (7)

Nebo Sarsekim
Accompanied King Nebuchadnezzar at the siege of Jerusalem. His name was found on a 2500 year–old Assyrian cuneiform tablet as the chief eunuch of Nebuchadnezzar. His name is mentioned in Jeremiah chapter 39. (8)

Temech
One of the names on Nehemiah’s list of exiles in Nehemiah chapter 7. It was found engraved on a stone outside the old city walls near the Dung Gate. (9)

Nehemiah’s Wall
Remnants of the wall described in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah were discovered in an archaeological excavation in Jerusalem’s ancient City of David in 2007. (10)

Biblical Flood
Also recorded in the Sumerian King List, Eleventh tablet of Gilgamesh Epic, and folklore from 270 other cultures. (11)

Garden of Eden
Also recorded in the Story of Adapa in Mesopotamian mythology. (12)

Tower of Babel
Described in Genesis 11 and also recorded in Sumerian Tablets. (13)

Taylor Prism
A six–sided clay artifact about fifteen inches tall found at the site of the ancient city of Nineveh in 1830. It has six columns containing over five hundred lines of writing. It details the attack on the fortified cities of Judah by King Sennacherib of Assyria described in 2 Chronicles 32. It makes no mention of booty taken from the capital city in keeping with the biblical account that says God spared Jerusalem in answer to the prayer of Hezekiah, King of Judah. (14)

Assyrian Palace Walls
Assyrian King Sennacherib dedicated an entire wall of his palace in Nineveh to a relief of his victory over Lachish, one of the fortified cities of Judah. Such details as the huge sloping siege ramp south of  the city gate, the double walls of the city, the iron–clad battering rams, the counter ramp inside the city, and huge boulders from the city wall blackened by fire and strewn about the battlefield all confirm the biblical account of that same battle in the book of 2 Kings 18-19. (15)

Bullae
Bullae are clay seals affixed to papyrus scrolls and imprinted with the insignia of the writer. Yigal Shiloh, an Israeli archaeologist, found a cache of fifty-one bullae during his excavation of a building in Jerusalem in 1982. One scroll bore the seal of “Baruch son of Neriah” who was the prophet Jeremiah’s personal scribe (Jer 36:4). Another bore the seal of “Gemaryahu the son of Shaphan” who was King Jehoiakim’s scribe (Jer 36:11). A third scroll bore the name of Elishama. His name is mentioned in Jeremiah 36:20. (16)

The Moabite Stone
This is a black basalt stone measuring about three–and–a–half feet high and two feet in width. It wadiscovered by a missionary named F.A. Klein in1868 and subsequently broken into pieces by the Arabs, but not before a French scholar named Clermont Ganneau was able to make an impression of the inscription. It tells the story of the conquest of Omri, King of Israel, by Mesha, King of Moab, after years of Moabite subjugation by Israel. This version of events is corroborated in 1 Kings 16, and 2 Kings 3. The Moabite stone also makes mention of the “House of David,” King of Israel. (17)

The Cyrus Cylinder
This is a small clay cylinder about nine inches long inscribed with the account of the victory of King Cyrus of the Medo–Persian Empire over Babylon in 539 B.C. It makes references to his humanitarian resettlement policies. This description coincides with biblical accounts of the return of the Babylonian captives from Jerusalem to their homeland and King Cyrus’ provision for the rebuilding of the walls under Nehemiah (Neh 2:1-8). (18)

The Weld Blundell Prism
A list of Sumerian kings who ruled between 3200 and 1800 B.C. inscribed on a baked clay prism. This would have dated from slightly before the time of Abraham to about 700 years before the flood. Ten of these kings ruled before the flood and lived for hundreds of years like Adam’s descendants (Gen 5:1-32). Herbert Weld Blundell, an English archaeologist, discovered it in Larsa, Iraq in 1922. (19)

Roman Records of Jesus
Several Roman historians make mention of the life and times of Jesus dating back as far as just two decades after his crucifixion. In 64 A.D. Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman historian and governor of Asia, confirmed that Jesus was executed as a criminal under Pontius Pilate in his Annals. He made reference to the rapid growth of Christ’s followers  and the threat they posed to emperor worship. (20)

Caius Suetonius was the official historian of Rome during the reign of the emperors Trajan and Adrian. He chronicled the lives of the first twelve Caesars. In the section on Claudius, who ruled from 41 to 54 AD, he mentions how the followers of Christ were banished from Rome for refusing to acknowledge the emperor’s deity. He also describes how Nero blamed the burning of Rome on the Christians. (21)

The historian Pliny the Younger, a contemporary of Suetonius, recorded how the deep
devotion of Christians for Jesus Christ forbade them from worshipping the emperor at the cost of their very lives. (22)

In the century following Christ’s death, a government official named Lucian wrote an
account of the travels of Proteus, a well-known Greek fugitive. Proteus encountered some
followers of one Jesus Christ who was crucified in Palestine. This man, according to Proteus, was a lawgiver whom they worshiped as God. (23) There is a letter in the British Museum listed as Syriac Manuscript 14,658. It was written by a Syrian prisoner named Mara Bar-Serapion in the first century. In this letter he urges his son to follow the instruction of various great teachers. One of them he calls the King of the Jews, a religious leader who was executed by the Romans under pressure from his own people. He tells his son that the teachings of this wise king lived on after his people were exiled for killing him, a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. (24)

Finally, Julius Africanus, a North African Christian teacher, explained an unusual event
reported by a pagan historian named Thallus in 52A.D. Thallus describes a three-hour period of darkness that enveloped Judaea in 32 A.D. in the middle of the day. He attributed this darkness to a solar eclipse. But according to his account, the sky was so dark that the stars appeared as though it were the middle of the night. Africanus makes the point that this event, a reference to the biblical account of Christ’s crucifixion, occurred during the Jewish Passover which always coincided with a full moon. Solar eclipses never occur during this phase of the moon. Therefore it had to be a supernatural act of judgment as God poured out his wrath on his own son for the sins of the world. (25).

END NOTES

1. Butt, Kyle M.A. “Archaeology and the Old Testament.”
Apologetics Press.
http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2502
2. “The Exodus Revealed: Search for the Red Sea
Crossing.” Discovery Media Productions.
3. “The Old Testament Has Been Archaeologically
Verified.” Please Convince Me. July 2011.
http://www.pleaseconvinceme.com/index/The_Old_Te
stament_Is_Verified_Archeologically.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid.
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid.
18. Ibid.
19. Wood, Dr. Bryant, “Ancient Replicas-Weld Prism.”
1995.http://www.ancientreplicas.com/weld-prism.html.
20. Jeffrey, Grant R. “Historical Evidence About Jesus.”Prophecy On Line. http://www.grantjeffrey.com/article/historicalev.htm.
21. Ibid.
22. Ibid.
23. Ibid
24. Ibid.
26. Ibid.

 

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Love Grown Cold

The Death of Romance
Some time ago a young lady from North Korea made her escape from that tyrannical regime. I recently watched her on Youtube talking about the oppressive conditions under which she was raised. The most intriguing thing she said was that never once in all her life had she ever heard a love story. That more than anything else showed how inhumane North Korean society really is. It is a society devoid of  natural affections.

Romance is definitely on the wane in our society too. It is difficult to find romantic movies such as “Youv’e Got Mail,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “While You Were Sleeping,” and “Princess Bride” anymore. Dark themes like crime and terror and apocalypse dominate the contemporary film industry. Many of the actors and actresses who starred in the more wholesome movies of years past cannot even get a role today.

Alienation of the Sexes
The latest trend arising from the movie industry is the “Me Too” Movement. It was spawned by multiple sexual allegations against one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. In the wake of this scandal, charges of sexual misconduct against other powerful and influential men have become widespread. This movement has begun to generate a basic distrust between men and women. Women suspect the motives of men with ability to influence their careers and men have become wary of women whose allure may hide ulterior motives.

It seems that the path of sexual liberation has led us all the way from the free love of the sixties to the beginnings of a collapse of the natural affections between the sexes in the 21st century.

Increase in Lawlessness
I was born in 1951. In my lifetime I have seen the beginning of the sexual revolution, the legalization of abortion, and the rise of the LGBT Movement. Pedophilia has become widespread, even among churches and mission societies. My own son was a victim of a missionary pedophile.

The Bible describes our times this way, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” (Mt 24:12).

Stagnating Populations
This trend has potentially dire consequences for the future of society. According to Forbes Magazine, “In 1995 only one country, Italy, had more people over 65 than under 15; today there are 30 and by 2020 that number will hit 35. Demographers estimate that global population growth will end this century.”1 Every married couple has to have at least 2.1 children on average to maintain a stable population. Germany has only 1.4. The rest of the European Union is following suit. America is barely maintaining its own.

This problem is exacerbated by the collapse of marriage. For thousands of years marriage was restricted to the biological family – one man and one woman with their natural offspring. But in recent years the definition of marriage has been widened to include homosexual and transgendered couples, people who cannot naturally produce a child on their own. These couples are depleting the pool of productive parents and adopting other people’s children to create their own ‘families.’ This trend only contributes to population stagnation.

A Worsening Trend
Just last week, the state of Alabama voted to completely do away with marriage licenses and marriage ceremonies rather than continue to fight an ever losing battle against homosexual marriage. Now to be officially recognized as a married couple in that state, all that is needed is a form signed before a probate judge. This will open the door to all kinds of marriage arrangements.

For instance, most people still oppose polygamy, incest, bestiality, and pedophilia, but there is now nothing to stop marriages based on these kinds of relationships (at least in Alabama). The result will be the normalization of such sexual perversion as we have never seen before. Families who want to preserve traditional values will come under increasing pressure to recognize and accommodate the sexual perversions officially recognized by their governments.  Children will be exposed to all manner of sexually deviant behavior in the media and in their school curricula. Resentment will grow among their parents. In fact, these trends have already been in place for years and tensions are growing. Even greater social unrest will be the inevitable outcome.

Final Judgment
Jesus said, From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.  So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.” Immorality is increasing at an ever accelerating pace in our day. The Bible says that God will not tolerate evil forever. One day Christ will return to earth to judge sin and restore righteousness. One day we will all give an account to God for the lives we have lived here on earth. On that day the Bible says the Lord Jesus will be, “revealed from heaven with his mighty angels  in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” (2 Thess 1:7-9) Do you know God? Do you obey the gospel of Jesus Christ? If not, now would be a good time to start.  

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What to Trust – The Bible or Science?

Are Science and Faith Really Incompatible?
In 2002 the Council for Secular Humanism produced a manifesto that declared, in part, “”We deplore supernatural terms to explain the universe.”1 They maintained that the realms of science and faith are mutually exclusive and that no physical phenomena can be explained by the activity of a Creator God.

According to this belief, the universe is the product of random chance, — a great cosmic accident. Such a universe would be completely unpredictable. Yet scientists’ observations of the universe depend on a very high degree of predictability.

For instance, we could not launch a satellite into space with any expectation of success if it weren’t for the laws of physics. If it weren’t for math, we could not build highways or erect buildings or manufacture trains, planes, or automobiles.  Musicians couldn’t produce any great musical masterpieces. Modern communications and entertainment and navigation and everything else that depends on computers would be impossible.

So what these people are saying, in effect, is that a universe filled with order and symmetry and a great degree of complexity and interdependence occurred by mindless chance.

A Creation Filled With Purpose
But the Bible says the universe was Created by God with a very specific purpose in mind. It was to show Himself to mankind in all His limitless perfections and to reveal man’s duty toward Him as  his Creator and the source of every good gift. Psalm 19 says:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
 Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.” (Ps 19:1-4)

The entire universe is a silent witness to the creative work of an all-wise, all-powerful  God. The Apostle Paul reiterates this thought when writing to the Romans in the New Testament, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Rm 1:19-20)

The Supremacy of Revelation Over Discovery
The Bible  tells us many things about nature that science has not been able to explain. One of the most interesting things was revealed over 4000 years ago but was unknown to scientists until only very recently. It has to do with one of the ancient patriarchs of the Jewish people named Jacob and his uncle Laban. Both were shepherds.

Jacob had agreed to work seven years for Laban in exchange for his younger daughter’s hand in marriage. But Laban tricked him by secretly substituting his elder daughter on Jacob’s wedding night and then requiring another seven years of labor for the privilege of marrying his younger daughter. Not only did Laban cheat Jacob in this regard, but he also kept changing the terms of his employment to his own advantage, despite the fact that Laban’s flocks had multiplied greatly under Jacob’s management. So Jacob devised a  plan to get the upper hand. He convinced his uncle to keep the best of the flock while he  would take only those sheep that were discolored.  Laban agreed, but then once again deceived Jacob by separating out the speckled sheep before Jacob could claim them.

 The book of Genesis describes how Jacob got even:

 “Then Jacob took fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks.  He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink,  the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted.  And Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban. He put his own droves apart and did not put them with Laban’s flock.” (Genesis 30: 37-40 ESV)

This episode sounded foreign to our modern ears until just a few years ago when scientists discovered the phenomenon of “epigenetics.”  It was first observed back in 1944 when the Nazis cut off the food supply to the Netherlands. As a result of starvation, many babies were born with health problems like diabetes and heart disease. The odd thing was that these children passed the same characteristics on to their own children a generation later, despite the fact that they weren’t malnourished. Somehow these traits had become imprinted on their DNA.

Not until 2008 did molecular geneticists figure how such alien characteristics could be passed from one generation to the next. Apparently, starvation released certain chemicals that turn portions of the DNA on or off, causing permanent genetic changes that could be inherited. These chemicals are the free amino acids methionine and choline.

To test this hypothesis, scientists experimented with a certain breed of mouse. They discovered that these chemicals caused the fur of their offspring to appear speckled. The same effect could be observed in other animals with similar fur. Interestingly, these chemicals grow under the bark of poplar, almond, and plane trees, the very same trees from which Jacob took the branches that he peeled and put into the watering troughs.2 So either Jacob had somehow stumbled upon this phenomenon on his own, an unlikely prospect, or God had revealed it to him in some way.

Some So-Called Bible Myths
Before the discovery of epigenetics, many people discounted this Bible story as a myth just like the accounts of people living nearly 1000 years before a flood destroyed the entire earth. But there again a scientist who re-created conditions based on the biblical account of the pre-flood world was able to grow cotton plants that were 2 to 3.5 times larger than normal plants after just 35 days of growth. His model was based on the Hebrew description of creation in the Old Testament. Computer modeling suggested that the “waters above the earth” described in Genesis1:6-8 were actually  encapsulated by an ultra-thin crystalline film that was supported and sustained by the earth’s magnetic field. This film would not only have filtered out harmful radiation, but increased atmospheric pressure and CO2 to optimum levels that would have yielded much longer lifespans and enormous growth. The higher pressure would also have yielded optimal saturation rates of oxygen in the blood, promoting total retention of fetal brain cells and greatly enhancing intelligence. It also would have produced a magenta hue in the sky and an electromagnetic field that further enhanced growth.  This thin layer would have acted as a prism that revealed the full spectrum of starlight, causing a panoply of color at night and acting as a radio transmitter that picked up sound waves emitted by stars. This ‘star music’ would explain the Bible passage in Job that says:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
when the morning stars sang together
    and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4,7)1

Given these near optimum conditions for life on earth, human beings would have lived longer, and been much stronger and more intelligent. This likely explains the very advanced level of knowledge of ancient peoples that modern science has attributed to alien visits from outer space.

A Different World
Clearly the world as God first created it must have been dramatically different from the one we live in today. According to the book of Genesis, that world was drastically altered by a global flood. Creationists tell us that the waters that “burst forth” from beneath the earth to precipitate that flood as described in Genesis 7:11 would have been under so much pressure that they would have created geysers that were 10 to 70 miles high.3 These geysers would have destroyed the film that encapsulated the earth, causing torrential downpours. The water that poured down upon the earth would have been subject to enormous lunar tides occurring twice daily,  piling up the huge sedimentary layers that now cover the globe and contain fossils of all the creatures destroyed by the deluge. Thermonuclear radiation created by super heated underground water would have melted the earth’s crust in some places while cracking it in others, creating the great Tectonic plates that cause today’s earthquakes. The result would have been the formation of giant mountain ranges and deep ocean basins that ultimately absorbed the water that had inundated the globe. Scientists tell us that there is enough water in the oceans to cover a flat world such as the pre-flood world to a depth of over 1.5 miles.

False Assumptions Lead to Wrong Conclusions
Scientists base all of their conclusions about origins on the assumption that the world they observe today has been undergoing slow but uniform change since the very beginning. They do not factor in the cataclysmic effects of a world wide flood. If they did, their conclusions about origins would be very different. This view of science is called uniformitarianism and it is described this way in the Bible, “scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “…ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation. For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished” (2 Peter 3:5-6).

Today we are faced with a constant barrage of contradictory information presented as scientific fact by evolutionists and their allies in the media and academia. To hold a different point of view can be very intimidating. Yet actual scientific findings continue to corroborate the Bible. Scientists’ try to explain away the inconsistencies in their theories rather than acknowledge the obvious truth of the Bible. We must always be aware that there are things God knows that scientists have yet to discover or may never know.

 

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Millennials – A Lost Generation

The Greatest Generation
Tom Brokaw, host of NBC Nightly News for many years, wrote a book extolling the virtues of the generation of Americans who survived the Great Depression and went on to fight in World War II. The Book, “The Greatest Generation” went on to become a best seller. It describes the selfless sacrifices of a generation of Americans who arguably suffered the greatest hardships of any generation of Americans and  went on to build America into the global power that it has become today.

Most of these great Americans have passed away, but there are a few who are still living. Some of them reside in the retirement community where I live. These are some of the most gracious people I have ever known. They all fly American flags outside their homes. They are unassuming, generous, and hospitable. They raised the Baby Boomer generation who benefited greatly from all the sacrifices they made.

The Me Generation
The Baby Boomer generation, unlike their parents, never had to experience the same kind of hardship, deprivation and daily struggle to survive. Not only did they live in a time of comparative peace and prosperity, but advances in modern medicine eradicated a host of infectious diseases. During their years, fast food became ubiquitous. Shopping centers sprang up across the country. Vast distribution networks made fresh fruits, vegetables and even seafood available from coast to coast year round. Radio gave way to TV and commercials began to raise peoples’ expectations with a deluge of enticing ads. This generation has come to be known as the “Me Generation.”

Having been exposed to a constant barrage of marketing year after year, Baby Boomers were not content to sacrifice and save up for major purchases like their parents did. The arrival of the credit card resolved that issue. Before the credit card, stores had what were called ‘lay away’ plans. If you didn’t have the money to pay for the item you wanted, you could save up and they would hold it until you had made payment in full. Credit cards, on the other hand, could be used to make purchases for just about anything without having to wait.

With more purchasing power than their parents’ ever knew, young Baby Boomers soon began to acquire things their parents never had. My folks did not buy a new car the entire time we were growing up. When I first got married, my new wife and I went out and bought one immediately (to my parents’ consternation).

By now America was a dominant superpower that faced no imminent threat.  So there was nothing that made it necessary for people to unite for the common defense. The universal draft was eliminated. People were free to pursue their own desires without having to think about the common defense or the needs of anyone else.

The Millennials
Having experienced an ever rising standard of living throughout their childhood years, Baby Boomers expected the same for their children. They indulged them in ways previous generations never could. On the contrary, the greatest generation needed the children’s contributions for the family to thrive. But Baby Boomers’ children grew up in cities and suburbs surrounded by comfort and convenience. And for the first time, children became a liability rather than an asset as parents provided every opportunity for them get ahead, spending hours chauffeuring them from one activity to another.

The parents of the Baby Boomers considered hardships and hazards an inevitable part of life. Their children never had bike helmets or car seats.  Most of them earned their own spending money. Many paid their own way through college. By the time the Millennial Generation rolled around, parents saw their role as protecting children from the hard parts of life. They paid for their children’s college, weddings, and maybe even grad school, a car, or a first home.

What were considered privileges for the Baby Boomer generation  soon became entitlements for their children.  This group of young people had never experienced any significant deprivation. Most had never missed a meal and had the luxury of being picky about what they ate. Many became obese from overeating or eating too much fast food. Most of them had never even been been exposed to measles or mumps as a child. Most had never met a  person crippled by polio. Many had never been told “No” by a parent or been corrected for misbehaving. Many parents tried to use reason to coax good behavior, allowing little ones to tie them into knots with their objections and frustrate them with public temper tantrums. Many parents even let little ones participate in family decision making, even though they did not have the maturity to make wise choices.

Cultural Complicity
Most Millennials were raised in the public schools by teachers who carefully protected their fragile sense of self esteem from any kind of negative feedback.

Other adults didn’t help either, encouraging over-familiarity by insisting that young people call them by their first name. Nor would they ever scold or reprimand other children for misbehavior lest they risk the wrath of an over-protective parent.

Now these Millennials have become young adults and Baby Boomers are reaping the consequences of their over-indulgence. They are discovering that their obsession with self esteem has led to a generation of young adults who will not tolerate disagreement. When they are offended, which doesn’t take much, they take to the streets in protest. They destroy property, slander their opponents on social media, and demand safe spaces where they don’t have to listen to contrary points of view.

Baby Boomers failure to demand a modicum of respect from their children has bred contempt for past generations as well, as shown by their zeal for  destroying monuments to national heroes whose politics or lifestyles they disapprove of. Many have completely rejected the values upon which our nation was built as indicated by a recent poll that shows almost half of millennials would rather live in a socialist society.

Insufferable Arrogance
Despite their contempt for capitalism, these same children expect their purchases to be delivered to their homes, and their meals to be prepared hot and ready to eat by their favorite take-out spot or grocery store. Many cannot cook and wouldn’t consider doing so even if they could. They have lost the the social graces that typified previous generations – hospitality, generosity and thankfulness. If they don’t like their in-laws, and many don’t, they cut them off and don’t let them ever visit their grand children. If a parent has the audacity to stand up to them, they may take them to court in an attempt to silence them.

They are also filled with a sense of insufferable arrogance. This is especially evident in the names they choose for their own children, names like “Valour,”  “Justice,” and “Honor,” and “Destiny”. Naming children in honor of a family patriarch is no longer fashionable. Every name has to be unique and make a statement. A friend recently overheard one delivery nurse say to another, “Doesn’t anyone ever just name their child “Jim”” anymore?

An Irreversible Trend
The Bible describes people in the last days like this, “But understand this, that in the last days… people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,” (2 Tim 3:1-4). This is an apt description of Millennials. It is a generation that has been given more than any previous generation and appreciates it less. It is dedicated first and foremost to self-gratification. It looks down upon its elders and their values.

Perhaps the Baby Boomer generation may one day realize that protecting their children from the hardships of life may also have prevented them from developing such character strengths as kindness, sympathy, compassion, generosity and the other graces that the greatest generation had in such abundant supply. Unfortunately, it is too late to reverse the trend now.

 

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