Tag Archives: God

God and Me

EmailFooterLogo

As promised, we are continuing to add more books to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary!

Today’s addition is called “God and Me: Being a Brief Manual of the Principles that Make for a Closer Relationship of the Believer with God,” written by Peter Ainslie back in 1908.  It is a devotional book, encouraging the readers to think of God and walk with Him in every facet of life.

Contents

  1. FOREWORD.
  2. A MORNING PRAYER.
  3. BELIEF.
  4. REPENTANCE.
  5. OBEDIENCE.
  6. FRUIT-BEARING.
  7. BIBLE STUDY.
  8. PRAYER.
  9. THOUGHTS.
  10. TALKING.
  11. TEMPTATION.
  12. AMUSEMENTS.
  13. COMPANIONS.
  14. BOOKS.
  15. DAILY ROUNDS.
  16. FINANCES.
  17. TELLING THE STORY.
  18. MISSIONS.
  19. SORROW.
  20. ANOTHER.
  21. FORGIVENESS.
  22. DEATH.
  23. HEAVEN.
  24. AN EVENING PRAYER.

To read this book online, or to download it for further perusal, just click the link below!  And in case you were wondering, yes, we’ve done our part to try fix all the typos we could find and completely reformat it to make it a more pleasant reading experience for you.

God and Me (Peter Ainslie)

-Bradley S. Cobb

Questioning Jesus’ Sanity and Source (The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit)

The Text: Mark 3:20-30 – The multitude came together again, so that they couldn’t so much as eat bread.  And when those close to Him heard, they went out to restrain Him, for they said, “He is crazy!”

And the scribes which acme down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of demons He cats out demons.”  And He called them, and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan?”

“And if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan rises up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end.”

“No man can enter into a strong man’s house and take his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then he can rob his house.”

Truly I say to you, ‘All sins shall be forgiven to the sons of men, and blasphemies as many as they shall blaspheme; but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.”

[Jesus said this] because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Introduction

In the last half of Mark chapter three, the writer deals with what people thought about Jesus’ mental state and His allegiance; and that’s followed by Jesus’ words regarding who His true family was.  While Mark records actual, 100% true events, they might not be recorded in chronological order.  Luke, who claimed to write his gospel “in consecutive order” (1:3, NASB), records some of these events in chapter 11, and then the last part seen in Mark 3 is recorded in Luke 8.  This doesn’t affect the inspiration of the Scriptures at all, for Mark never made the claim that he was writing chronologically.  Instead, there’s a logical progression to Mark’s unfolding of events.

The Text, part 1 – The View of His Associates (Mark 3:20-21).

In verses 20-21, the focus is on how certain people close to Jesus viewed His mental state because of His actions here.

And the multitude comes together again

This is the great crowd of people who just about crushed Jesus earlier in the chapter.  Jesus requested a small ship be prepared so that He wouldn’t be “thronged” or crushed like a grape.  But now, the same scenario arises again—except that this time there’s no ship, because Jesus is at a house (see verse 19).

So that they couldn’t so much as eat bread.

Whoever the “they” is (whether it’s Jesus and the apostles, or the crowd), the point is that there was so many of them that having the space and taking the time to eat was an impossibility (literally, they did not have the power even to eat).  The crowd wanted Jesus’ time and attention—it’s all they cared about.  It seems as though this is the same kind of thing that happened when Jesus ended up feeding the 4,000:

Jesus called His disciples and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way (Matthew 16:32).

Have you ever been so focused on Jesus and wanting to be close to Him that you forget to eat—or don’t think eating is important enough to stop reading His word and going to the Father in prayer?  Jesus said “blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6); and He told His disciples, “My [food] is to do the will of Him that sent me” (John 4:34).  When our hunger for spiritual things becomes greater than our hunger for physical things, we have grown greatly in Jesus Christ.

Many of those who followed Jesus (including, certainly, many in this multitude) were not interested in His teachings, but in seeing a miracle or being the recipient of His healing power (Mark 3:10).

And when those near Him heard of it…

There’s debate as to who these people are.  The KJV and ASV say “friends,” the NKJV and NASB say “His people,” while the ESV (and many commentators) says “His family.”  Literally, the text says “the ones beside Him.”  Regardless of who it was (I tend to think it is His newly-appointed apostles whom He said would be “with Him”—Mark 3:14), these were people who cared about His well-being.

They went out to grab hold of Him

They wanted to rescue Him, to save Him from the crowds that put His life in danger before by mobbing Him.  Given the size of the crowd, it took some courage for these people to work their way to Jesus and try to take Him away from the mob.

For they said, “He is beside Himself!”

Literally, they said “He is crazy!”  It’s as though they were questioning Jesus’ sanity in going back out to the mob that all wanted to touch Him and crowd Him.  If indeed it is the apostles under consideration, imagine what they’re thinking.  They were selected that morning, and now, to them, it looks like Jesus is trying to commit suicide by letting the mobs come rush Him again.

But Jesus wasn’t crazy.  What His associates didn’t understand is that Jesus had the power to stop the mob in their tracks if He wanted.  He could have simply walked through the crowd like He did in Luke 4:28-30:

And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, so that they might cast Him down headlong.  But He, passing through the midst of them, went His way.

Mark doesn’t tell us what happened next.  He doesn’t say that the associates of Jesus pulled Him into the house, and doesn’t say they Jesus told them not to worry.  It’s simply left with their thought that Jesus was crazy.

The Text, part 2 – The View of the Scribes (Mark 3:22)

And that leads directly into verse 22, which tells us that the scribes held a somewhat similar view—but with a completely different motive.

The scribes which came down from Jerusalem…

These were some of the religious teachers who were supposed to be well-acquainted with the Law of Moses, having copied much of it by hand.  The fact that they were the scribes in Jerusalem meant that they were the most prestigious scribes in the nation.  Their words held a lot of weight with the people.

They came “down” from Jerusalem, because Jerusalem is situated on a mountain.  They weren’t using “down” to mean “south” like we do when looking at a map.  They walked, and so anywhere out of Jerusalem was “down” to them.

[They] said, “He has Beelzebub”

Beelzebub is a name the Jews used for Satan.  Literally, it means “Lord of the flies,” but it’s also been said that this originated with the idea that the flies buzz around piles of poop.  Thus, according to some who have studied the issue, the name Beelzebub is a derogatory name to describe Satan as “poop lord” or “the poo-poo god.” (and yes, that is a direct quote).

So when the scribes from Jerusalem made this accusation, it wasn’t just that they were questioning Jesus’ power and authority (which, if we are really lenient, we might say they did in ignorance), they were also degrading Jesus.  It wasn’t a scared, fearful, “He serves Satan,” but instead a sneering and mocking, “He has the poo-poo god.”

In the Old Testament (1 Kings 16), the Philistines worshiped “Baalzebub,” which is almost definitely the same name.  Ahaziah, one of the kings of Israel, was sick and injured, and instead of enquiring of God as to whether he would recover, he sent messengers to go enquire of Baalzebub.  Elijah stopped them and sent them back with a message: because the king would rather enquire of Baalzebub than of the God of Israel, he was going to die.  Over a hundred men were killed with fire from heaven in the course of the chapter, all going back to the actions of the king.

“By the prince of demons, He casts out demons.”

There’s not a single good motive behind what these scribes said of Jesus.  They said that He has Beelzebub, as though He’s possessed, not just by any demon, but by Satan himself, the ruler of demons!  He who was casting out demons, they claim, is the most possessed man there is!

Now don’t miss what they’re saying.  They are admitting, without a doubt, that Jesus was casting out demons.  Thus, they are admitting that Jesus possesses supernatural power—miracle-working power.  And they are so opposed to Jesus that they take the ridiculous position that He’s actually working for and with Satan!

Now, for the sake of the argument, we should recognize that in casting out demons, there were only two possibilities—either the power of God was behind it, or the power of Satan (the ruler over demons) was behind it.  The scribes tried to convince the people that Jesus was controlled by Satan, or working with him, in an effort to trick people into following Satan, by casting out the demons.  In effect, their accusation was that Satan was trying to pretend to be an angel of light to draw away followers after himself.

His associates thought He was crazy, but His enemies claimed He was Satan-possessed!

The Text, part 3 – A House Divided (Mark 3:23-27).

Jesus’ response is to show the ludicrousness of their accusation.  Mark doesn’t give us everything Jesus used in response, but he gives us enough to make the point pretty clear.

He called them, and said to them in parables, “How is Satan able to cast out Satan?”

Mark wants to make sure that his readers don’t miss the point of these parabolic statements from Jesus.  They each are given as ways of asking the same question, “How is Satan able to cast out Satan?”  The word translated as “can” in the KJV is the word dunamai, the noun form of which is very frequently used to describe miracle-working power.  When it appears here, the question is “How does Satan have the ability [or power] to cast himself out?”

Jesus, who knew what the scribes were thinking and saying, called them and presented a series of arguments to them.

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”

Imagine a king who tries to undermine the very laws that he uses to govern people.  Or a ruler who bombs his own army.  If Satan is casting out Satan, it’s the same as though a king was banishing himself from his own kingdom, or perhaps banishing all his subjects (since Satan is the ruler of the demons).  Once there are no more subjects, there’s no kingdom.

Jesus’ point is that no one with any sense at all would actively seek to destroy his own kingdom, and Satan isn’t stupid—he isn’t going to actively try to destroy his own power, and therefore himself.

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

Jesus goes from the large (the kingdom) to the small (the family) to show that this principle applies all the way around.  A family which does nothing but fight isn’t really a family at all any more, except perhaps in name only, because the people in that family have destroyed it.

“If Satan rises up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end.”

Jesus makes it clear that the demons that have been cast out are loyal to Satan; by casting out the demons, it is an attack on Satan himself.  Thus, if this is being done by Satan’s power, then Satan is attacking himself.  And if Satan is attacking himself, neither he nor his kingdom can stand.  If Satan is attacking himself, he has an end—he is committing suicide.

However, Satan isn’t stupid.  Satan isn’t attacking himself.  Satan isn’t committing suicide.

But something is going on… Satan is being attacked… His soldiers are being defeated…  His kingdom is shaking.

No one can enter into a strong man’s house and steal his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then he can rob his house.

The scribes’ accusation was that Jesus was possessed by Satan.  Jesus’ response is to say, in essence, Are you kidding me?  Satan’s kingdom is falling, and he’s not doing it himself.  I’m the one who is doing it, for Satan—as strong as he is—is no match for me.  I’m taking his kingdom.

It is a statement of Jesus’ amazing power.  He, as God in the flesh, has come and beaten Satan at his own game.  Satan went after Him hard and heavy, tempting Him during those forty days (Mark 1:13), but Jesus came out victorious, and began to announce that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand.  Satan continues to fight back, but his kingdom is losing power every day that Jesus works.  Satan is the “strong man,” but Jesus is even stronger!

The Text, part 4 – The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28-30).

Understanding the context is key to understanding what the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit actually is.  Jesus didn’t just spit out these words are a random moment; He thoughtfully said them in response to an actual event.  And it’s rather important that we notice the progression of what’s happened here in His interaction with the scribes.

  1. They make the accusation that He’s doing miracles by the power of Satan.
  2. He shows the ridiculous nature of their accusation.
  3. He declares His superiority in power over Satan (which is actually a claim to be Deity).

And now, Jesus warns them that eternal damnation (which He has in His power to administer) awaits those who make such accusations.

“Truly I say to you, All sins shall be forgiven to the sons of men”

Murder, robbery, hatred, etc., all of the things we think of as sin will be forgiven by God if we repent.  Of course, this is not saying that God will forgive every sin period.  There is no grace for those who sin willfully (Hebrews 10:26), or for those who don’t know God or who reject the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8).  But Jesus is saying that forgiveness is available for all sins…except for one.

“Even blasphemies, as many as they shall blaspheme”

Blasphemies are speaking evil of someone, speaking against them.  Even blasphemies will be forgiven by God.  Saul of Tarsus blasphemed (1 Timothy 1:13), but was forgiven.  Blasphemy itself does not guarantee eternal damnation.  But one kind does…

“But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.”

Jesus brought this up for a reason, which Mark gives in verse 30.  The scribes had seen first-hand the power of Jesus to cast out demons (see Luke 11:14-15), but were so hard-hearted that they’d rather give the glory for this wonderful miracle to Satan than to Jesus, who did it by the power of the Holy Spirit.  They, the teachers of the law, the supposed experts, were calling good “evil.”

Woe to them who call evil “good,” and good “evil”; that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to them who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! … Therefore as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.  Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against His people…(Isaiah 5:20-21, 24-25).

Miracles, which came from the Holy Spirit, were given as absolute confirmation from God Himself that the things spoken were divinely approved, and that the messenger was from God (Mark 16:20, Mark 2:10).  If someone saw the evidence given by God, and still rejected it, and even worse, claimed that it was Satan that was doing it?  That is a full-on attack on God Himself, His nature, His goodness, His power, and His deity.  The person who is that hard-hearted has destroyed his chance at forgiveness.

Some Greek manuscripts read “guilty of eternal sin,” which gets the same basic idea across.  It is a sin that never dies, that never goes away.

People often wonder (and worry) about possibly committing this same sin today.  First, you need to remember what it is: accepting the miracles of the Holy Spirit, but rejecting the message, the messenger, and attributing those miracles to Satan.  So, the only way you could commit this unpardonable, eternal sin today is if you admitted the miracles of Jesus and the apostles took place, but agreed with the scribes that it was done through the power of Jesus.  Or perhaps if you said that the Bible itself (given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) was a product of Satan, and not of God.

The point to remember is that if you’re trying to be right with God, there is ZERO chance that you could commit this sin.  It isn’t a sin that is committed on accident.  The scribes intentionally spoke against the miracles of Jesus.  It wasn’t that they questioned them, or just weren’t certain; they did it on purpose.  That is what made it unforgiveable.  They knew it was a miracle, and they intentionally gave credit to Satan for it instead of God (via the Holy Spirit).

[He said this] because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Jesus has completely turned the tables on them.  They came with what they probably thought was an ingenious argument, and they left exposed and condemned.  Their condemnation came because they had said Jesus Himself had an unclean spirit—specifically Satan—guiding His movements.  How hard-headed and close-minded do you have to be to claim in one breath to believe in God and His word, and in the next denying God’s power, and by implication praising Satan???

Is it any wonder that they left condemned?

Application

You Might Not Know the Whole Story…

The associates of Jesus (regardless of who they were) wanted to help Him, to essentially save Him from Himself.  But they didn’t understand the whole story.  They didn’t fully grasp what was going on, who Jesus was, and what power He had.  There are times in our lives where we make assumptions about other people, and sometimes those assumptions turn out to be completely wrong.  The ones who went to grab Jesus were acting out of concern for His well-being, and that is absolutely commendable.  It’s an example we should follow.  But at the same time, they were acting on an assumption.

When you start to question the motives of others, stop and ask yourself if you’re assuming they have bad motives, or if you know for certain that such is the case.  It might be that you have misunderstood what is happening.  It might be that their motives are pure and they simply made a mistake.  It might be that they just plain don’t have the same level of understanding that you do in some matters.  In all things, instead of making assumptions, we should go to the person and help them, make sure we know the truth about any given situation so that we can be able to act based on facts and not assumptions.

The Other Unforgiveable Sin

Jesus said that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was not forgivable; but there is another sin that is unforgiveable.  That sin is the one that you know you’ve done, but don’t repent of.  Hebrews 10:26 says “if we sin willfully, after having received a knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins…”  To sin willfully is to know you’re sinning, to do it on purpose.  1 John 1:9 says “if we confess our sins” (and the idea is not just saying “yep, I did this,” but confessing it to God with a repentant heart), “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  That word “if” means that when you don’t repentantly confess your sins to God, you won’t be forgiven.

Brethren, when you know you’ve sinned, repent and ask God for forgiveness for it, and He will forgive you.

Invitation

Those verses were written to Christians who had already taken hold of the blood of Jesus Christ through humble obedience to His word.  The very first sermon delivered after the resurrection of Jesus is found in Acts 2.  In that sermon, Peter’s goal was to help people be saved.  After getting their attention, Peter said, “hear these words,” and proceeded to tell them about the death and resurrection of Jesus.  He appealed to both Scripture and miracles to prove it to them, so that they would believe it.  When the people realized he was telling them the truth, they were cut to the heart and asked, “What shall we do?”  Peter’s response to these people who were not yet Christians, and who wanted to be forgiven, was this: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, for the remission of sins.”

If you have not obeyed the gospel commands, please delay no longer.  Follow those simple God-given directives and enjoy a new life with your old sins all erased!

-Bradley S. Cobb

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of THE God

Another one of our many “in progress” projects is a sermon commentary on the book of Mark.  Each section is broken down into a sermon, complete with introduction, points from the text, application, and invitation.

Starting today, and following each Friday for the foreseeable future, we will be posting a sermon from this collection.  It is ready to preach, so if you think it is worthwhile, preach it! (that’s why it’s being put here).

Sermon 1: The Introduction

Text: Mark 1:1 – The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Introduction

The book of Mark is a biography of Jesus Christ that differs from each of the other Gospel accounts in the Bible (Matthew, Luke, and John) in some significant ways. (1) Its size—Mark is significantly shorter than any of the other accounts. (2) Its speed—Mark pictures Jesus constantly on the move doing the Father’s will, and uses the word euthus (translated “immediately” or “straightway”) over forty times in his short book.  To put this in perspective, this word appears more times in the book of Mark than it does in the rest of the New Testament combined! (3) Its focus on Jesus’ final week—almost 40% of this book is dedicated to Jesus’ passion week. (4) Its starting point—Matthew and Luke both deal with the birth and some of the early life of Jesus; John goes all the way back to creation to show Jesus [the Word] was there; but Mark starts his record with the baptism of Jesus by John.

Mark most likely wrote his account of the gospel to a Roman audience.  He had to interpret certain Aramaic [the spoken language of the Jews] words and phrases so that his readers would understand them (Mark 3:17, 5:41, 7:34, 15:22, 34).  He also used several Latin words instead of their Greek counterparts; and Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire.  “Bushel” (Mark 4:21), “executioner” (Mark 6:27), “tribute” (Mark 12:14), “farthing” (Mark 12:42), “scourged” (Mark 15:15), “Praetorium” (Mark 15:16), “band” (Mark 15:16), “centurion” (Mark 15:39).  The Greek equivalents of each of these words appear elsewhere in the Bible, but God inspired Mark to use the Latin in those places instead, because this was written to a Roman audience.  It is also said that Romans had a penchant for fast-moving reading, and didn’t want to be bogged down with explanations and commentary on a story—Mark definitely fits the bill on that as well.

The book of Mark is controversial among biblical scholars and commentators in two ways: (1) the absence of the last twelve verses of the book in two ancient manuscripts, and (2) the date of its composition.  We will deal with the validity of Mark 16:9-20 when we cover that passage of inspired Scripture.  The date is controversial because some want to make the claim that Mark wrote his first, and that Matthew and Luke simply copied from him and embellished it—in other words, they’re claiming that an apostle of Jesus Christ wasn’t able to tell the story of Jesus’ life without first reading it from someone else and plagiarizing it.  The date of the original composition is truly irrelevant to its truthfulness (except that it obviously must have been written during Mark’s lifetime), but here are some things to consider about it.

  • Mark records the prophecy of the destruction of the temple (Mark 13:1-2), but says nothing about it having been fulfilled, which places the writing of the book prior to AD 70.
  • Biblically speaking, there is no evidence that Mark had any influence with Gentiles until Paul’s first missionary journey—which he abandoned (Acts 12:25, 13:13). Given his retreat to Jerusalem, abandoning the mission to the Gentiles, it would be difficult to believe that Mark’s writings would have been accepted among that same group.
  • It isn’t until at least fifteen years after the conversion of Paul that Mark does any more missionary work (Galatians 2:1, Acts 15, especially verses 33-37). Until that point, he had been in Jerusalem among the Jewish Christians.  This is usually estimated to be around AD 49.
  • It isn’t until AD 60 or afterwards that Mark’s name appears in the Bible in any kind of authoritative way, (a) as a fellow-worker with Peter (1 Peter 5:13) and (b) as a “profitable” minister for Paul (2 Timothy 4:11).

Taking these biblical pieces of evidence into consideration, it would appear the book of Mark was written somewhere between AD 50-65, probably close to the latter half of that timespan.  The book of Matthew, by comparison, was most likely written between AD 40-50; the early Christian writers unanimously stating that his was the first gospel account written.  Mark was not written first.

Mark’s name has always been attached to this book, and no one among the early Christians had any doubt that he was the one who wrote it.  To put it another way, there are no copies of the book of Mark that have another name put in his place as the writer.

The Text (Mark 1:1)

The Beginning

The apostle John starts off his account of the good news of Jesus Christ with the words “In the beginning was the Word.”  Mark uses the same Greek word for “beginning,” but he isn’t speaking of the creation week that starts the whole biblical record.  Mark’s focus is on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, culminating in His victorious death on the cross.  It is when this gospel is believed and obeyed that people can be saved—this is the good news (Mark 16:15-16)!  Mark doesn’t start with “Jesus died,” but with the beginning of Jesus’ work on earth.

It’s also worth noting that Luke uses similar wording to describe his written account of the life of Jesus.  He says in his sequel (the book of Acts) that his gospel account recorded “all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1).  This implies that there was still more to come.  The book of Acts records more of the things that Jesus did and taught—through His servants.  The same idea is apparent in Mark’s use of the word “beginning” as well.  The death of Jesus on the cross was not the end—there was more to come.  That great event still has powerful effects to this day to save souls!

Of the Gospel

The word “gospel” comes from the Greek compound word, euangellion, which is where we get the English word “evangelize.”  It’s made up of two Greek words: eu, which means “good,” and angelia, which means “message” (see 1 John 3:11).

What makes the things contained in the book of Mark “good news”?  The answer to that question can be found by cheating a bit and skipping ahead to see how the book ends.  If you turn to Mark 16:15-16, you’ll see that the “gospel” [good news, same as in 1:1] is to be proclaimed to the whole world.  So, from that, we know that the same subject is under consideration at the end of the book as at the beginning.  But notice what this message has the power to do: he that believes [the gospel] and is baptized [obeying the gospel] shall be saved.  Salvation?  Being able to have all of our sins removed?  That certainly is good news!  Of course, the opposite is also true: he that does not believe [the gospel] shall be damned.

Mark introduces the book with “the beginning of the gospel [good news] of Jesus Christ,” and ends with the gospel being proclaimed to bring about salvation.  So we have seen what the good news does, and why it’s good news.  It’s the information between the beginning and the end of this book that shows what the good news actually is.

The apostle Paul described the gospel as that “which I preached…, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; by which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I have preached [that is, the gospel] to you” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).  He then states that the what he preached [the gospel] was “that Christ died for our sins…and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day,” and that His resurrection is proof that we will be resurrected as well (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 12-28, 51-58).  Is it any wonder, then, that Mark spends close to forty percent of his book describing the events surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus?

Some people have a hard time with the idea of “obeying the gospel,” because they see the gospel as a series of events, and not as any kind of command.  But God’s inspired writers said that vengeance will come on those who “do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).  Thankfully, we are not left in the dark as to what it means to obey the gospel—to somehow obey the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:2-5).

The gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf; it is the good news about salvation that comes through Him; it is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we obey when we are baptized into Christ.

Of Jesus

The phrase “of Jesus” is in the genitive case in Greek, which means that this is the good news that belongs to Jesus Christ.  It is His gospel; He lived it; He revealed it; and He confirmed it.

“Jesus” is the name that was given to the baby born to Mary after she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-25).  It is common to hear people say that “Jesus was at the beginning of creation” and that “Jesus created everything.”  While those statements express truth, the wording could use some fixing up, because He did not have the name “Jesus” until He was born as a human.  The name “Jesus” expresses His humanity.  Prior to His incarnation [coming to earth as a human], He was known as “the Word” (John 1:1), as “Jehovah” (Isaiah 6, compared with John 12:36-41), and as “the Angel of Jehovah” (Exodus 3:1-6, see whose appearance caused the ground to be holy).  But He was not known as “Jesus” until Matthew 1:25.

The name “Jesus” is the same as “Joshua” in the Old Testament.  “Jesus” is from the Greek, “Joshua” is from the Hebrew.  In fact, there are several Bible translations online and in print that use “Yeshua” (the Hebrew form of the name) instead of “Jesus.”  The name itself means “Jehovah is salvation.”  No other name captures the essence of who Jesus is and what His life and death means to the entire world.  It is the perfect name for the Son of God!

Even after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, He is still called “Jesus,” showing that He retains His humanity, even after taking His place at the right hand of the Father.

Christ

The words “Jesus Christ” appear together so frequently in the Bible that a lot of people mistakenly think that “Christ” is part of Jesus’ name.  It is not.  The word “Christ” is a title, and it means “anointed one.”  In the Old Testament, anointing was done to “consecrate,” “sanctify,” and turn men into God’s “minister[s]”—that is, to make someone a priest (Exodus 28:41).  Prophets were also anointed to the position as spokesmen for God (1 Kings 19:16).  And we must not forget also that kings were anointed to make their selection official (1 Samuel 10:1, 16:13; 1 Kings 19:16).  Jesus of Nazareth was given the title “the anointed one” because He is all three: prophet, priest, and king (Acts 3:20-22; Hebrews 9:11; 1 Timothy 6:15).

The Hebrew word “Messiah” (Daniel 9:25-26) is translated “anointed” everywhere in the Old Testament except for the prophecy of Daniel.  In that passage, it is given as a title—the one that the Jews had been waiting for would be known as “the Messiah” or “the Anointed One.”  So when Peter announces by inspiration that Jesus is “the Christ” (Matthew 16:16), he proclaims that Jesus is the “Messiah” or “the Anointed One.”

It’s also interesting to look at Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost and notice that he’s discussing the “Christ” of prophecy, and showing how “Jesus” fits those prophecies.  We tend to think “Jesus” and “Christ” are interchangeable terms when they’re not.  Peter starts his sermon by proclaiming the murder and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God by miracles.  He states that David prophesied this event, and then says “he…spoke of the resurrection of Christ [the Anointed One]” (Acts 2:31).  Then he points out, “This Jesus, God has raised up, we are all witnesses of it” (Acts 2:32).  The conclusion of his sermon is that the Messiah and Jesus are one and the same: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).  Most of the people there believed in Christ, believed in the Messiah, or the Anointed One, but they didn’t know that Jesus was Him!

Son

A thousand years or so before Jesus was born, a king in a relatively tiny country along the Mediterranean Sea wrote these words:

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Jehovah, and against His Anointed [Hebrew Messiah], saying “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”  He that sits in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.  Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure, “Yet I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”  I will declare the decree: “Jehovah has said to me, ‘Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee.  Ask of me, and I shall give you the heathen [Hebrew Gentiles] for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”  Therefore now be wise, O you kings: be instructed you judges of the earth.  Serve Jehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.  Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him (Psalm 2:2-12).

The Old Testament prophesied that the Anointed One would be called “the Son” of Jehovah.  From the very beginning of Mark’s gospel account, he makes that point clear: Jesus Christ [the Anointed One] is the Son of God.

There are some religious groups who maintain that since Jesus is the Son of God, He cannot also be God.  What they seem to miss (some of them intentionally) is that this phrase is referring to the nature of Jesus the Christ.  Jesus frequently refers to Himself as “the Son of man,” but not a one of these groups would dare use their same argument and say that Jesus cannot be human because He was the Son of man (the Greek word means “human”).  The son of a human is human—that is his nature.  Jesus, being the Son of God, is therefore God—that is His nature.

The Son is the heir to all that belongs to the Father.  In the passage quoted from Psalms, the Gentiles are offered as an inheritance to the Son.  When we come to Jesus Christ, obeying His gospel, we become fellow heirs with Him (Romans 8:16-17).  He inherits all things that belongs to the Father, and He is willing to share it with us!

Of the God

Most English translations simply say “the Son of God” at the end of the verse, but the Greek says “Son of the God.”  This is a very important point, especially when you realize that Mark was writing to a Roman audience.  The Romans, like the Greeks, had a plethora of gods that they worshiped.  The legends that sprang up around these mythical deities included having children with humans.  For example, Hercules was the son of Zeus [Jupiter] in these legends; and he was not the only one.  The Romans would have been very familiar with the idea of someone being as son of one of the gods, or the son of a god.  But with the insertion of the word “the,” Mark immediately got his reader’s attention.  With just this one word, he denied the entire worship system of the Roman culture.  With just this one word, Mark said, “All the Roman and Greek gods are fake.”  With this one word, Mark said, “There is only one God.”  This would have grabbed his readers’ attention immediately.

Mark’s gospel account was probably written as an evangelistic tool.  Written to people who believed in many sons of many gods, Mark tells them “Let me tell you about the good news of the one Son of the real God, and why it’s important.”

Application

The Gospel is still good news!

For far too long, most Christians have been afraid to spread the “gospel” because they seem to view it as some theological concept that they would have to explain and defend.  Instead, we need to recognize that “gospel” simply means “good news”!  It’s not hard to spread good news to people—especially to friends and family, but even to strangers.  Do you view what Jesus did for you as good news?  Then share it as good news!  Tell people “I’ve been saved from my sins and it is so wonderful!”  It’s important that we remember that salvation through Jesus Christ really is good news.

The focus of the Gospel is Jesus the Christ!

The good news about salvation is that Jesus Christ—God in the flesh—came to this earth as a King, but lived as a servant; that He overcame temptation; that He lived His entire life without sinning even once; that His apparent defeat in being crucified was actually His triumphant victory over Satan; that though He was buried, He was raised up on the third day to live forevermore.  The good news is about what Jesus did.  Sometimes we focus so much on what our response should be (obeying the gospel) that we forget to focus on why it matters in the first place.  Never forget that the gospel is first and foremost about Jesus Christ and what He accomplished.

The good news of Jesus Christ requires a response!

While Jesus Christ is the focus of the Gospel, He has also given us the opportunity to join with Him in His victory.  It is good news for us as well!  But it requires a response.  Jesus told His disciples that the good news was to be spread to the whole world.  The ones who believed the good news and were baptized would be saved.  But the ones who refused to believe the good news would be damned.  Those are the two choices that Jesus gave—there is no third option.  You either believe the good news, and therefore obey it, or you don’t believe the good news.

Invitation

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, as written by Mark, was designed to show that the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is truly good news.  It is only through the gospel that there is salvation (Mark 16:15-16, Romans 1:16).  But in order for the good news of Jesus Christ to do you any good, you have to believe it.  In fact, before Jesus told His apostles to preach the gospel, He severely criticized them because they hadn’t believed the gospel when it was proclaimed to them (Mark 16:14).  But believing it isn’t enough, you must also act on it.  You must let the good news of Jesus Christ change the way you live—that is, you must repent of your sins.  You must acknowledge that you truly agree that the gospel is good news—that is, confess that you believe the good news of Jesus Christ.  And you must also obey the gospel of Jesus Christ—that is, you must be baptized.

The gospel is truly good news to those who will obey it.  Won’t you?

-Bradley S. Cobb

Atheism and Arithmetic

The apostle Paul informs us that we can know the invisible God exists by looking at the things which do exist, and there’s no excuse for ignoring it.  David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

With those thoughts in mind, we are happy to announce the latest addition to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary: Atheism and Arithmetic, by H.L. Hastings.

Originally written in 1884, this book is filled with evidences of mathematic design in nature, in plants, in the planets, in time, in chemicals, in science, and even in music itself.  There is also a valuable section which debunks some of the atheists’ arguments regarding God and pain and suffering.

Here’s a sample of what you’ll find in this book:

The appetite for religion is as universal as the appetite for bread, and as natural.

It is true that many men make a living out of religion, but so do many men make a living by baking bread; but no one proposes to go without bread because bakers get their own bread by furnishing bread to others. It is equally true that there is much poor religion in the world, but there is also much poor bread; and if Pharaoh’s baker baked no better bread than some men bake in these days, it is not strange that his master hung him. But people will have bread, though it be poor; and if the supply be scanty they still insist that “half a loaf is better than no bread.” And so people will have a religion, though it may be small in quantity and inferior in quality. And this inclination for religion is not an acquired and debasing appetite, like the appetite for opium and tobacco; it is the spontaneous and universal uplifting of the soul to adore something higher and greater than mortal man; and the higher the nations rise in virtue and excellence, the more firmly are they established in their religious convictions. And this appetite for religion is older than the priests, just as the appetite for bread is older than the bakers; the demand existed before the supply was provided. The instinct of worship is a natural instinct, indicating an actual need inwrought in the human constitution, for some wise purpose, by the Creative Hand.

As always, we have taken the time to proofread, update, and completely reformat this book to give you the best possible reading experience.

Just click the link below to read this book online or to download to your device for later enjoyment!

Atheism and Arithmetic (H.L. Hastings)

-Bradley Cobb

Was Lot Really Righteous?

Question: How could Peter call Lot a “righteous man” when Genesis 19 presents him as anything but righteous?

Turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, [God] condemned them with an overthrow, having made an example out of them to those that are about to be living ungodly;  And delivered righteous Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) –2 Peter 2:6-8

Three times in this passage, Peter—by inspiration—calls Lot “righteous.”  This is not the impression one gets when reading Genesis 19.  In that chapter, Lot was willing to give up his two virgin daughters to a crowd of angry men wanting to fulfill their sexual urges.  He did not leave Sodom willingly: the angels of God had to grab him and his family and basically drag them out of the city.  He was commanded to go to the mountains to be safe, but he said that he’d be killed if he went in the mountains, showing an incredible lack of faith.  He got so drunk, he didn’t even realize his daughters had sexual relations with him.

But God calls him “righteous” three times.

Some have said that Lot was only righteous by comparison.  While Lot comes out looking good when you compare the two, I don’t think that is what we are to get out of this passage, because Peter goes on to explain Lot’s righteousness as something that existed before the events of Genesis 19 (from day to day).

Lot’s offering of his daughters is, to the modern reader, inexcusable.  Many have said that it was a cultural thing, where daughters were viewed less as family and more as property.  Some of the same people emphasize the idea of hospitality—that taking someone into your house meant that you would do anything to protect them.  Those may be the case, though I personally cannot wrap my mind around offering up my own daughters to a crowd of men.

But perhaps what we are to learn from God using the word “righteous” three times to describe Lot is that even righteous people stumble and fall sometimes, but God knows the hearts.  How would you react if you were told to hurry up and run out of the city?  Would you hesitate?  How would you react if you were told to run to the mountain—a place perhaps known as being unsafe?  Would you be scared?  How would you react if your wife, your sons, some of your daughters, and your home were all destroyed?  Do you think you might be tempted to drink away your sorrows?

God said Lot was a righteous man, and even righteous men can have their moments of weakness.  I think that is part of the lesson to be learned here.

Lot was called “righteous” because the sins of the people around him troubled him greatly.  He hated seeing the sinfulness, the debauchery, the unbridled wickedness that the city was known for.  For us to be righteous, we must also be troubled by sin.  It’s when we get so used to sin that it doesn’t bother us anymore that we are in trouble.

-Bradley Cobb

 

Why We Believe the Bible

It is Wednesday, which means that saints will be gathering somewhere near you to study the Bible and sing praises to the Lord God.

But some people might wonder, “Why do you believe the Bible?”  George DeHoff wrote a book specifically to answer that question.  It serves as a great brief guide to the inspiration of the Bible.

Table of Contents

  1. Why We Want to Believe the Bible
  2. Why We Believe in God
  3. Genesis 1
  4. The Origin of Religion
  5. The Bible and Scientific Foreknowledge
  6. Archaeology and the Bible
  7. The Influence of the Bible
  8. Prophecy and Its Fulfillment
  9. The Messianic Prophecies
  10. Proof from Secular Writers
  11. The Other Sacred Books
  12. Internal Evidences of Inspiration
  13. The Indestructibility of the Bible

To download it FREE, just click the link below.

DeHoff, George – Why We Believe the Bible

A reminder–we really appreciate each and every one of you for taking the time to read our posts and for sharing them with others!

A Ten-Year-Old’s Poem

Savannah Cobb, co-star of the Cobb Kids Audio Show, wrote a poem back in January, when she was 10 years old.  She’s since had her birthday, so she’s 11 now.  But we wanted to take the time and share this poem with you.

SONY DSC

“Everybody Gets Along in Heaven”
(by Savannah Cobb)

I wish I were where everyone gets along,
Our days have been weary and long,
Up there we shall sing a song,
It will be wonderful–God is never wrong.

Where Did the Moral Conscience Come From?

It has been a couple weeks since we posted the previous installment in our study of Apologetics (a defense of the basic truths for the existence of God, the inspiration of the Bible, and the deity of Jesus), but we’re back.

The Moral Argument (aka the Anthropological Argument)

As we discussed in the last installment, there are logical arguments that can be used to prove the existence of God.  While some of them aren’t as strong and clear-cut as others, when you put them all together, it makes for a massive wall of evidence that cannot be ignored.

There is something that all civilizations have in common: morality–a sense of right and wrong.  Because morality exists, it had to originate somewhere.

II Peter 1:3 – God has given all things pertaining to life and godliness; that includes our own moral conscience!

Man has an inherent moral consciousness.[1]

Regardless of where you go, there are some moral laws that are the same in every culture throughout history.  The unwarranted taking of another’s life is condemned in every culture.  They may differ on what determines “unwarranted,” but they all have this in one form or another.  Selfishness is decried in every culture.[2]  Other activities or attitudes are similarly seen as wrong.

Even children have a sense of right and wrong.[3]  If someone steals their toy, do they not know it is wrong?  If a boy cuts in line, do the other children not get upset because it is wrong to cut?  If a child hits another, the one who was hit knows that it was wrong.

The most devout atheist can claim there is no standard of morals, but to no avail.  After all, if his children were kidnapped, do you not think that he’d declare that a wrong had been perpetrated?[4] Or would he say, “My children have been kidnapped, but there’s nothing wrong with that because there is no real standard of right or wrong”?  If his wife were murdered, do you think he would say “it is fine?”

Almost everyone admits that there is evil in this world; but that means good also exists. Something can only be judged evil when compared with the good.[5] How can you claim that there is evil in the world without having something objectively good to compare it to?  By this very statement, they unwittingly admit that there is an objective standard of right and wrong–that there are universal morals.

There is a moral code inherent in every person.  It can be abused to where the moral consciousness is almost non-existent, but it still exists.  While it may differ in some respects from culture to culture, the similarities are amazing.[6]

Animals do not have this moral consciousness.

There’s a bull who goes by the name of El Torro.  El Torro, one day, stormed at a man who was walking through the pasture and impaled him on one of his horns.  The police were called to the scene and arrested El Torro, taking him to jail.  A few weeks later, El Torro was forced to take the stand in court, and the lawyer began screaming at him “Why did you gore this man?  Tell us all why you committed this horrible crime!  Have you no conscience?”

Surely by now you think there must be a punchline to this story, but there isn’t.  The point is that everyone recognizes that animals don’t have any kind of moral conscience.  They have no ability to distinguish between things which are morally right or wrong.  No one with a functioning brain would think to try to take this bull into a court room and make it defend itself in court.  The bull might be put to death, but that would be only to keep it from being a danger to others, not as a punishment for breaking a moral law.

Do we make Spot go to work to pay child support for all the puppies he’s sired with who knows how many girl dogs across town?  Do we shun and shame him because he’s committing doggie-fornication by fathering these puppies out of wedlock?  Of course not!

Most people recognize that dogs do not have a moral consciousness in them.  Because of that, we would not think to make a dog pay child support.

Why even bring these things up?  Because of this: if evolution were true, there would be other creatures besides man that had a sense of right and wrong.  But there are none–and every rational human being on earth recognizes that fact.

This moral code points to the existence of God.

If there is no God, where did morals come from?  Scientists have examined DNA from top to bottom, but there is no “morality” gene there.  There is nothing physical inside humans to make them differentiate between something that is morally right or wrong.  If there is no physical explanation for the existence of morality, then one must look beyond the physical for the answer.

If evolution is true, at least one other animal must have the same moral code.  Evolution claims that small, minor changes occurred throughout many millennia to produce humans.  Yet they cannot explain morality (except to deny it, which they do in vain).

Evolution states “survival of the fittest.”  Yet morality tends to want to help the weak.  Small children are helped.  Doctors see it as their duty to save the lives of those who are sick and dying; is that not counter-evolutionary?  If evolution be true, our attitude should be to let the sick die.

There is no physical explanation for morals.  There is no evolutionary explanation for morals (in fact it goes against the very center of evolutionist doctrine).

Morals came from God.

They were planted in man since the beginning.  God said that the Gentiles did “by nature” the things contained in the Law (the moral things). (Romans 2:14-15)

Man is unique in that he is the only creature on earth with a moral consciousness.  It is not physical, and it runs completely opposite of the theory of evolutionists, yet it does exist. It was put there by a moral being: God!

-Bradley Cobb

ENDNOTES:

[1] Jackson, Wayne. Fortify Your Faith, “Moral Consciousness.” (Apologetics Press, 1974), pages 20-21.

[2] ibid.

[3] Northrop, Chuck. Class Notes: Apologetics. Bible Institute of Missouri, 2009.

[4] Jackson. Moral Consciousness.

[5] Northrop. Class Notes.

[6] Lewis, C.S. “Mere Christianity” (Quoted in Jackson, “Moral Consciousness”)

Design Demands a Designer

We continue our study of Apologetics this week with the first of four installments on the question: “Does God Exist?”

We have kept this short so that anyone who wants to can print it and use it in a Bible class or expand it.  Feel free to use it to God’s glory!

Design Demands a Designer
(aka The Teleological Argument)

Charles Darwin, and others like him, have tried to undermine the very basis of the entire Bible: that God exists.

Because we can not have a true faith in Christ without hearing the evidences (Romans 10:17), it follows that if we want a true faith in God, we must hear the evidences of His existence. It is no longer a given that people believe in God; for that reason as well, we must know the evidences that prove the existence of God.

 Design does not happen by accident.

Thomas Edison did not knock over a pile of metal and glass and discover it became a light bulb. He worked for years on the design for the incandescent bulb. He failed multiple times with other insufficient designs, but finally found one that worked. Was this design by accident?  Or is the light bulb proof that someone put careful thought into it’s design and creation?

The Wright brothers did not create their airplane by accident.They were meticulous in figuring out weight, wingspan, horsepower, balance, etc…They put massive thought into their design.

Nothing that is designed came about by a mere accident. Design always involves intent. Intent implies someone involved in the designing.

Design does not happen on its own.

A watch did not simply come into existence on its own, let alone the millions of other watches that exist in this world. The fact that it exists shows that it was made by someone. The fact that there is design to it (mechanical, electrical, aesthetic) shows that someone (or more than one person) designed it.

There is design to the earth.[1] If the earth was not tilted on the 23 degree axis, there would either be no change in seasons, or such extreme changes that no plant life could survive.[2]  If the earth was closer to the sun, mankind could not survive the temperature and exposure to the sun; if the earth was further away, we would all freeze to death.  The earth has a perfect spin, not to fast, and not to slow. It is 100% perfect for life to be sustained on it.

There is design to things on the earth.  The human body is more complex than any machine ever created (Psalm 139:14). The nervous system is still not fully understood.[3] DNA is called the human’s blueprint (design).[4] But who in their right mind would claim that a blueprint can create itself?  Yet that’s exactly what so-called “scientists” and evolutionists teach!

That there is design to the earth and to things on the earth proves that there is a designer.  The Darwinist and atheist expect us to believe that the perfect design of the universe, the earth, the human body, and everything else in the world came about by complete accident.[5]

But they readily concede that the existence of design in a watch proves that someone designed it.  How inconsistent!

 Design proves that God exists.

Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God. The fact that the sun and stars exist screams out the existence of God. God created them to be used for “signs and seasons” (Genesis 1:14). The stars were set in the sky to be used as “signposts” for travel. Naval ships still use them to this day along with their GPS equipment.

Romans 1:20 – The invisible things are understood by the visible things. We see order (design) in the natural world; therefore, we know there was something behind it. We see the complexity, yet perfect design, of man; therefore, we know someone created it.

Mankind did not create the universe, the earth, nor man himself. Man is by far the most intelligent creature on this planet. It is admitted by all that man could not ever create the universe, the earth, or even plants or animals. If man, the smartest being on the planet, could not have created the universe, then that means someone more intelligent than anyone on earth had to have created everything.

Who could that be?

Some atheists have caved in and admitted the truth that design demands a designer, but in their incredible effort to deny that God is the Creator of the universe, they say that the earth was created by … (are you ready for this?) … aliens.[6]

Conclusion

Design does not happen by accident, and never has. Anything designed must, be definition, have someone that designed it. The universe, the earth, and everything on earth show design. Therefore, they all must have been designed by someone.

That someone is God.

-Bradley Cobb

[1] Jackson, Wayne. Fortify Your Faith. (Apologetics Press, 1974).

[2] Gish, Duane, Ph. D. “Have You Been Brainwashed?” – (tract, Creation-Life Publishers, 1974).

[3] Harrub, Brad. “The Human Nervous System: Evidence of Intelligent Design [part II].” Reason and Revelation, September 2005.

[4] Evolution/Creation. Unsigned article

[5] Harrub, “Nervous System.”

[6] Richard Dawkins made this statement in the movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” which can be watched for free on YouTube.

The Evolution of Evolution

Some of the most interesting things to read are old articles and papers that were typed up by brethren of the past.  One such article came from the typewriter of James D. Bales.  During his heyday, Bales was a highly-respected figure in the religious world, standing firm against evolution, communism, and other theories of belief that attacked the Bible.

We hope you find this article interesting.

THE EVOLUTION OF EVOLUTION

James D. Bales, Ph.D. (University of California), Searcy, Arkansas

Evolution means development. Thus men sometimes speak of the evolution of the airplane; which development was, of course, the work of intelligence and not of the blind workings of the forces of nature. The hypothesis of evolution which is widely taught today assumes that as a result of the workings of natural forces, life developed from the non-living; and from the first form of life there developed all the different forms of life which exist today, including man. Using the term evolution in the sense of development let us see how the hypothesis of evolution originated and how it develops when it is consistently applied. In other words, we want to notice something of the origin and some of the results of the hypothesis of evolution.

Evolution did not originate in scientific research, but in the bias of certain men against the God of the Bible who created the heavens, the earth, life, and man. It is based on the assumption that all past events must be explained in terms of present-day processes; even if this cannot be scientifically established. By maintaining that all must be explained naturally, the first evolutionists in our period of time put God so far away from the universe and life that He either did not exist; or if He existed He would in no wise interfere with man and the workings of the laws of nature. Thus for all practical purposes they could forget about God without having any fear that they must someday face God in judgment. They could rule their own lives without having to be subjected to the will of God.

The doctrine that all must be explained naturally was popularized in the field of geology by Sir Charles Lyell. He wrote his book on geology in order to establish this principle of uniformity as the basic principle in geology and ultimately in life itself. He accepted the idea of God, but his bias against God as revealed in the Scriptures is indicated in his contention that Moses had brought great mischief and scandal into the science of geology; and he spoke of driving certain men “out of the Mosiac record.”

Charles Darwin was converted to the idea that all must be explained naturally; and, of course, as this belief grew upon him, his disbelief in the Bible grew. Since Darwin had decided that all must be explained naturally, the very truth of evolution itself was taken for granted. The only question was, since evolution must have taken place, what laws in nature are sufficient to account for life’s origin and manifold form. So deep-seated was Darwin’s bias against God that, although he never became an atheist, but was an agnostic, when reason led Darwin to God he savagely turned on reason and discredited reason. As he said in his autobiography written in 1876:

“Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason, and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist. This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the ‘Origin of Species;’ and it is since that time that it has very gradually, with many fluctuations, become weaker. But then arises the doubt, can the mind of man. which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?”[1]

Again he wrote:

“Nevertheless you have expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the Universe is not the result of chance. But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”[2]

Reason led Darwin to God so Darwin killed reason! He trusted his mind when reasoning about evolution, but not when reasoning about God! Why should we trust anything in his writings if the human mind cannot be trusted? How could Darwin say that he fully believed in evolution when his position concerning the origin of mind made it impossible for him, when consistent, to fully believe in anything? How could Darwin continue to cling to evolution, which led him to discredit the mind, and to do so on supposedly scientific grounds? If the mind cannot be trusted at all, science is impossible. Although Darwin admitted that one could still believe in God, even if evolution were true, yet in his own life and the life of countless others faith in evolution has been the means of leading them from God. Although they may not become atheists, they usually put God so far away from man and the universe that He has not spoken and will not interfere with man in any way, including bringing man into judgment.

Darwin’s wife told her daughter, concerning the Descent of Man, that: “I think it will be very interesting, but that I shall dislike it very much as again putting God further off.”[3]

Thomas Henry Huxley, who helped fight many battles for Darwin, admitted that evolution was simply the outcome of applying the hypothesis that all must be explained naturally. He began to be converted to this idea when he was around 12 years of age. This led him to abandon the Bible as the word of God, and finally to accept evolution; because there was nothing else for a man to do once he has rejected the idea of creation by God.

There are numerous other illustrations of the fact that evolution was accepted because men wanted to get away from the idea of the God who creates. As Henry Fairfield Osborn, an evolutionist, put it: “In truth, from the period of the earliest stages of Greek thought man has been eager to discover some natural cause of evolution, and to abandon the idea of supernatural intervention in the order of nature.”[4] This bias has been abundantly documented in the forthcoming book. Why Scientists Accept Evolution.

Evolution is a faith which they accept even though they do not have adequate evidence for this faith. As A. L. Kroeber, at the Darwin Centennial, said: “Overwhelmingly, biologists had been accepting evolution because there was nothing else for them to do; but they had not proved it to their own satisfaction.”[5] He thought that the situation had improved today. Charles Darwin himself admitted that when one descended to details, and of course scientists must descend to details, evolution could not be proved.[6]

William L. Straus, Jr. said: “I wish to emphasize that I am under no illusion that the theory of human ancestry which I favor at the present time, can in any way be regarded as proven. It is at best merely a working hypothesis whose final evaluation must be left to the future.”[7]

The hypothesis of evolution is so far from being scientifically proved that a widely used text book in biology said: “The piecing together of the evolution story is comparable to the reconstruction of an atom-bombed metropolitan telephone exchange by a child who has only seen a few telephone receivers. We know something about living plants and animals, and we have some fossil remnants to go on. Extensive study of the evidence available plus ingenious hypothesis, most of which cannot be adequately tested, have given us a sort of a trial schedule of the possible directions of evolution of living organisms. ”[8]

However, so deep-seated is the bias in favor of evolution that Professor Paul Shorey stated: “An ambitious young professor may safely assail Christianity or the Constitution of the United States or George Washington or female chastity or marriage or private property… But he must not apologize for Bryan… It is not done.”[9] One does not have to accept every interpretation of the Bible made by Bryan in order to realize that thorough-going evolution contradicts the Bible.

Why is it that some scientists, who demand scientific proof in various other areas, are determined at all costs to hold to the hypothesis of evolution as being scientifically proved? They know full well, if they are acquainted with the evidence and the meaning of “scientifically proved”, that evolution has not been scientifically established.

Originating in man’s effort to get away from the God who creates and who has spoken to man in the Bible, it is obvious that the influence of evolution would be to undermine faith in the Bible. There are, of course, some individuals who think that evolution has been scientifically established and that therefore they must try to harmonize the Bible with evolution. They hold to evolution and still want to hold to the Bible. However, any hypothesis of evolution that maintains that all can be explained in terms of the workings of present-day processes must come into conflict with the Bible whether they realize this or not. As a result of the influence of the hypothesis of evolution, as well as some other influences, a great deal of the religious world has reconstructed the Bible so as to conform to evolution. Thus there are those who maintain that there was no first human pair, that there was no real fall of man, that God did not miraculously intervene in human history as recorded in the Bible, and that Jesus Christ is thus the product of evolutionary development. If an individual maintains that God did intervene as the Bible says, and that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, they have admitted divine intervention in redemption so why should they rule out divine intervention in creation?

The hypothesis of evolution has had an adverse impact upon morality. If all must be explained in harmony with natural laws then there is no moral realm different from the natural realm. After evolutionists get through explaining the origin of the conscience and moral sensitivity of man, they have in reality explained away morality. To maintain that animals do certain things, and therefore we see in them the beginning of the development of moral conscience, does not prove that I am obligated to do anything. To jump from a description of something that has happened to the conclusion that we are obligated to do this or that is to draw a conclusion that is not justified by their starting point. If men are but highly evolved animals, what right does anyone have to say that one ought to do or ought not to do a certain thing? In fact, to say that one “ought to do something” is no more speaking morally than to say that someone itches. In both cases you are describing a physical sensation. To say that a certain course of conduct would lead to social progress —however progress may be defined — is not the same thing as saying that I am obligated to follow that course of conduct. Every evolutionist must abandon evolution in order to stand for the reality and the binding nature of morality. William F. Quillian, Jr., in The Moral Theory of Evolutionary Naturalism[10] has shown the inability of the evolutionists to establish morality on a consistent naturalistic evolutionary world view.

Darwin viewed morality, religion, and everything else as traceable to something in animals. As he told a cousin: “I look upon all human feeling as traceable to some germ in the animals.”[11]

Darwin’s antagonism to religion increased as the years went on so that he was more antagonistic to religion after many religious leaders had accepted him than before.[12]

Communists pay high tribute to Darwin. In fact Karl Marx wanted to dedicate to Darwin the English translation of Marx’s book on Capital. Darwin refused because he thought it would give pain to some in his family.[13] Karl Marx on December 19, 1860 wrote to Engels that Darwin’s book “is the book which contains the basis in natural history for our view.”[14] On January 16, 1861 he said: “Darwin’s book is very important and serves me as a basis in natural science for the class struggle in history.”[15]

If man is but an evolved animal, there is no moral grounds on which you can condemn the Communists for wanting to establish animal farms, as it were. If morality is simply the evolved customs of man, the Communists have as much right as anybody else to evolve their own moral customs, and there is no moral law in the light of which we can say that they are wrong and we are right. If the survival of the fittest is the way of progress, then those who survive are the fittest by mere virtue of the fact that they survive. In other words, might makes right.

These, then, are some of the consequences that logically flow from naturalistic evolution. There are those, of course, who try to explain the origin and manifold forms of life naturally while maintaining that God is and that is more than an animal and more than matter. If this is true then God has supernaturally intervened in some way to make man more than matter. Once we grant this supernatural intervention we have destroyed the naturalistic hypothesis of evolution. If we are going to say that God super naturally intervened in some way in the creation of man, why not accept the Biblical account of the supernatural intervention?

That evolution has not been scientifically proved can be illustrated by the fact that it would be a rare scientist indeed who would sign the following proposition: Resolved that the evolutionary origin of life and of man has been scientifically proved. If you know of a scientist who will sign this affirmation, we shall be happy to debate him, the Lord willing.

[1] Francis Darwin, Editor, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1898, Vol. 1, p. 282.

[2] Ibid., Vol. 1. p. 285

[3] As quoted in Gertrude Himmelfarb, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, London: Chatto & Windus, 1959, p. 316.

[4] Henry Fairfield Osborn, The Origin and Evolution of Life, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1918, pp. ix-x.

[5] Sol Tax. Editor, Evolution of Man, p. 2

[6] The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol. II, p. 210.

[7] The Quarterly Review of Biology, September 1949, p. 220.

[8] Relis B. Brown, Biology, Second Edition, Boston: D. C. Heath and Company, 1961, p. 531.

[9] Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 142, Oct. 1928, p. 478.

[10] New Haven: Yale University Press, 1945.

[11] Himmelfarb, op. cit., p. 317.

[12] Ibid., p. 319.

[13] Ibid., p. 316.

[14] Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, 1846-1895, New York: International Publishers, 1936. p. 126. Translated by Dona Torr.

[15] Ibid., p. 125.