He is Risen, Indeed!

Happy Resurrection Sunday! He is Risen!

A fellow church goer friend of mine wrote, “To my atheist friends:
Atheists spend a lot of time and energy attacking the Bible, complaining about Churches and pointing out the flaws of Christians in an effort to bring an end to Christianity. There is only one thing that needs to be done in order to bring Christianity to its knees. It’s simple, too. Prove that Jesus’ tomb was not empty.”

In instances where Jesus Christ prophecies His demise, He always references that He will again rise from the dead, but of course, those closest to Him were plagued with disbelief, even after seeing Him with their own eyes! They just knew that this type of miracle couldn’t happen, but after many appearances, mending Peter’s broken heart, letting Thomas touch His wounds, eating with them, and ministering and appearing to hundreds of witnesses, His defeat of death itself was realized.

History already knows Jesus was real and historical, and we, through evidences and eye witness accounts know more about Christ’s death than the death of any other one man in the ancient world.

My friend is correct in his challenge, that all it would take is to prove that Jesus Christ the Messiah did not defeat death. There are many articles and books on rebutting the skeptic arguments, but rest assured, the challenge exists, for any and all to seek, to knock, to research so that you can find truth for yourself, for as the word says, it shall set you free. And when faced with the historical truth of a real and physical resurrection, you will be then faced with deciding whether you choose to love Jesus or hate Him.

The Bible even claims if you can do this one thing, prove He never rose on the third day,  it would make all of Christianity empty and worthless.

1 Corinthians 15: 12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Many are already familiar with Lee Strobel, who wrote the case for Christ. An investigative reporter, who was challenged by his wife to actually seek and try to disprove the Resurrection, only to find it was undeniable. This led to his book in 1998, as well as a follow up, The case for Faith.

Two men at Oxford, Gilbert West and Lord Lyttleton, were determined to disprove the bible as well. Lyttleton set out to prove Saul (Paul) was never converted, and Gilbert set out to prove Jesus never rose again.

Sheepishly meeting some time later, they had discovered that each had failed in their attempt. Saul of Tarsus had become a radically new man, and evidence unmistakably pointed to the fact that Christ rose again. The book that emerged from their study was, “Observations on the History and Evidences of the Resurrection. 1747.

One final story, (out of many converts who came from setting out to destroy the bible’s credibility), is from Frank Morison, from England. An unbeliever, Frank promised himself that one day he would write a book disproving the Resurrection. In the early 20th century, he was granted enough downtime to study, and make his case.

His book that emerged, after he accepted Christ as his savior, was the paperback, “Who Moved the Stone, published in 1930.

William Lane Craig points out “Without the belief in the Resurrection, the Christian faith could not have come in to being. The disciples would have remained crushed, and defeated men.”

So in strange and unprecedented times, on a holiday where we are all forced to take a look at our own mortality, and the relationship we have with God, the world, and those closest to us, on this Easter Sunday, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ proclaim triumphant, in love, hope, faith, and truth, He is Risen Indeed!

And my friends who do not believe, all you must do is prove that the Historical Jesus never predicted His own death and Resurrection, and then fulfilled that very thing. I must confess in love though, that I do hope all who take this journey in earnest, reach the same foregone conclusions that these men mentioned in this article did, and that it plants a hope in your heart that will never be taken away. Happy Easter.

In The Beginning: Survey of the Truth of Creation 4

The Torah, the first five books of the bible is written as a historical narrative. Often referred to as The Law, the Pentateuch, it sets the foundation of not only the beginning of the line of Christ, but also the beginnings of mankind, giving us insight into many things we can observe today, such as languages, genetics, geology, and the fossil record. But who wrote it?

Many critics of the bible assert that Genesis was written long after Moses, and Abraham, that it was written by the Jews in the 5th and 6th centuries BC, when The Jews went back after captivity to rebuild the temple. This would discredit the rich history, and mean that the Jews somehow borrowed and fabricated the narrative we see.

Let’s see what the bible has to say?

Luke 24

27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

John 5

46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

John 7

19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?”

Acts 3

22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you

Does the bible clearly indicate who wrote the Law? If not Moses, who would you be disagreeing with?

What does it say within the Torah itself?

Exodus 17

4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

24:4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

34:27 And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”

It would appear that according to the law itself, Moses was asked to write these things down, and as we saw before, these writings were corroborated by Christ Himself. Does the rest of the Old Testament refer to the Law as well? Let’s see:

Joshua 1:8 (1405 BC) This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

1 Kings 2: 1-3 (971 BC) When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn,

2 Kings 14: 1-6 (Amaziah Reigned 796-767 BC) In the second year of Joash the son of Joahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem. 3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not like David his father. He did in all things as Joash his father had done. 4 But the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. 5 And as soon as the royal power was firmly in his hand, he struck down his servants who had struck down the king his father. 6 But he did not put to death the children of the murderers, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, where the Lord commanded, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. But each one shall die for his own sin.”

As we can clearly see from a quick scan of the word, going back to the patriarchs of Jewish history, they had referred to the Law. If the minor prophets made it up later,  how would it makes sense that they were referring back to a Law that they were making up on the fly? Were they inventing a Law, and a history, that they were simultaneously struggling to keep? And what about Joshua, referring to it as far back as 1400 BC.

The minor prophets mention Moses and the Law many times:

Isaiah 12 times
Jeremiah 12 times
Ezekiel 6 times
Daniel 4 times
Malachi 5 times
Hosea 3 times
Amos, Micah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah all mention it once.

The point of this stage of the lesson is this; if we disagree with the authorship of the Genesis account, we might as well disagree with the historicity of the entire collection of God’s word. But to do that, logically, we dismiss it’s many truths, fulfilled prophecies, eye witness details, archaeological supports, and many other facts which point to its veracity. They verify each other. Furthermore, the authorship of all 66 books spans a 1400 year period, so these are not co-conspirators. We presupposed the bible as truth in the first lesson, but obviously this puts firmly in your mind the position all the authors took in regards to the Torah. To dismiss the first five books as fable, or made-up would be folly. Plain and simple.

 

In The Beginning: Survey of the Truth of Creation 3

The scientific credentials that come with the name Stephen Hawking are great indeed. One of the greatest theoretical physicists of our time, cosmologist, a medical miracle in his own right, and accomplished author, and no one would question his intelligence. But does even he succumb to the pitfalls of of presupposition?

We have discussed in these blogs how alien life is assumed by many evolutionists, both as a form of creating life on this planet (panspermia), as well as a form of “just-so” science, because we “know evolution is true, and therefore it must also have happened elsewhere. Hawking had stated before he passed away that he felt mankind should be looking to escape the Earth, to find a way to leave it, and colonize elsewhere. This is caused by a world view quite different then that of a Christian theist.

Furthermore, Stephen Hawking wrote The Grand Design, and in it, agrees Universe appears to be highly fine tuned for life, had a beginning. In this book he states this: “This book is rooted in the concept of scientific determinism which implies… that there are no miracles or exceptions to the laws of nature.” – pg 34, The Grand Design, by Stephen Hawking.

We should listen, yes? Because he is a brilliant scientist? What is the problem here?

This is a philosophical assertion! Not at all a scientific one. You cannot determine this as a fact by way of a scientific experiment. How do we know, then? Because he said it. It is just so. Scientific Determinism is true, there are no miracles, therefore atheism must be true. Because he stated it.

Interestingly, his book also says, ““Free will is just an illusion.” – pg 32. This is reminiscent of his opinion in 1990 when Hawking determined we are not free, we are totally determined. If you are pre-wired to think the way you do,how can you make any truth claim? You don’t have the free will, according to Hawking himself, to make a truth claim, only produce a result caused by how stimulus is processed through a random brain. So based on his own philosophy, how could anyone trust any of his thoughts on truth at all? Is he not simply pre-wired to think the way he does?

The moment you make a truth claim, you violate determinism.

As much as they would like to deny it, materialists are forced to use philosophy, even as they deny using it. Philosophy always buries its undertakers. To deny it IS to use it. Science is Bound to philosophy and cannot be done without it. Assumptions must be made, and those can dramatically affect conclusions.

We must remember as Dr, Frank Turek says, science doesn’t actually say anything; SCIENTISTS DO! All data must be interpreted.

Let us look at an example of how we must interpret data. The Eiffel tower has demonstrable, testable attributes. Some of these are:

1,063 ft tall
Wrought Iron Lattice Tower
Weight is 10,100 tons
Located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France

If one were inclined, one could test and re-test for the accuracy of any of these statements. But what about these facts?

Engineer was Gustave Eiffel
Finished in 1889

How do we know these are correct? We must conclude them from trusted sources, yes? This means that we must find those historic, written sources to be accurate, not tampered with, and found to fit the proper historical context. No one questions these two facts, but it brings about an interesting point. The facts in this case must be believed; they are not testable, and repeatable. They are forensic in nature.

All history is this way, including Biblical history, Cryptology, Archeology, Criminal forensics, Geology, Paleontology, and Cosmology. We must collect data, and interpret it based on our pre-suppositions. Ken Ham, the creationist, pointed this out while teaching.

As a teacher, he found that whenever he taught the students what he thought were the “facts” for creation, then their other teacher would just reinterpret the facts. The students would then come back to him saying, “Well sir, you need to try again.”

Conversely, when he learned to teach his students how we interpret facts, and how interpretations are based on our presuppositions, then when the other teacher tried to reinterpret the facts, the students would challenge the teacher’s basic assumptions.

In The Beginning: Survey of the Truth of Creation 2

in-principio-genesis-15-15-part-15-defending-genesis-the-earth-was-without-form-and-voidGod uses natural causes, to be sure, but can they explain everything? A materialist atheist, and a Christian both believe in natural causes. Of course we can find causality through natural means. But what about things that are forensic in nature, meaning, those things that are not repeatable in a lab, or observable on any level, and more to the point, contradict what we DO observe! Such as the creation of matter? Life from non-life? Creation of new elements?

Things that cannot be explained by science. – aesthetics, ethics, mathematics and logic, metaphysical truths (like there are other minds then my own).

In the 1700’s, David Hume was a Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism. Hume’s assertion was that things were only actually meaningful if, and only if: The truth claim is of abstract reasoning, such as 2+2=4, or all triangles have three sides; and the truth claim can be verified by the 5 senses. Norman Geisler defeated this by simply observing,  “The principle of empirical verifiability states that there are only two kinds of meaningful propositions: 1. those that are true by definition, and 2. those that are empirically verifiable. Since the principle of empirical verifiability is neither true by definition, nor empirically verifiable, it cannot be meaningful.” A slick idea met with the swift and brutal simplicity of logic.
Kant, another skeptic, said that you can’t know the real world. Of course, then how do you know that about the real world?

The theme here is that much of what we use to interpret and understand about life, the universe, creation, is based on our faith, and our presuppositions. An example:

“I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind …. This is a somewhat ridiculous situation …. it is just as irrational to be influenced in one’s beliefs by the hope that God does not exist as by the hope that God does exist” – Nagel, Thomas, The Last Word, pp. 130–131, Oxford University Press, 1997. Dr Nagel (1937– ) is Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University.

I posed this question to the class; does it appear that this person’s conclusions would be influenced by his presuppositions?

Another fantastic example is from Dr. Steven Stanley, (Bioscience, vol. 36 (Dec 1986) p. 725. paleontologist and evolutionary biologist), who specialized in punctuated equilibrium. This is the reaction to lack of evidence within Darwinism. Many scientists proposed that punctuated equilibrium explained things that could not be seen by evidence, namely, that animals mutated quickly into other species, thereby leaving no evidence within the fossil record. He said, “Evolution happens rapidly in small, localized populations, so we’re not likely to see it in the fossil record.” Now, we ask again, is this conclusion based on science? He is literally claiming evolutionary change has occurred between the rock layers, where we find no evidence! Safe to say that Stanley had already made up his mind that evolution was true, and since he “knows” this, has proposed a non-scientific model to explain it.

Lastly, for this portion of the lesson, we will look at a notorious quote from Dr. Richard Charles Lewontin, Columbia University is an American evolutionary biologist, geneticist, academic and social commentator. “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

Posing the same question, do we honestly think an unbiased look at evidence would be likely here? Stated another way, if the truth did rest in the fact that God was a cause, could this type of “science” ever discover the truth?

More on Creation in part 3.

In The Beginning: Survey of the Truth of Creation 1

I am teaching through a series on Genesis at my church, as an 8 week course. After the classes, I will be posting the same lessons in article form on here, so anyone may follow along as we continue forward in our study of Genesis, its authenticity, and the historicity of Creation as recorded in our bibles.

This series will be predicated upon certain presuppositions from the outset. The examination of these presuppositions has been addressed in many previous writings.

The first presupposition for the class is that truth is knowable. This means that we have done away, as far as this series is concerned, with debate from the post-modernist or relativist agenda. A simple refutation lies in the answer to the common assertion: “there is no absolute truth!”

To which  someone should answer, “Is that absolutely true?” We turn the question on itself, and realize the self-defeating nature of relative truth very easily. Most post-modernist authors want to be exempt from their own conclusions.

C.S Lewis said, in regards to the philosophical first principles of truth, “These first principles of practical reason are fundamental to all knowledge and argument, to deny them is to deny knowledge itself.” In other words, if you deny truth exists, you can’t know anything, discover anything, determine anything. All knowledge would be rendered useless.

Secondly, we would stipulate that the Bible is the inspired word of God. There are many reasons for this of course, born out through history, testimony, archaeology. Although some supporting evidence may occur during the series, the focus is not to prove the Bible is God-breathed. We will stipulate that since it has already stood the tests of time and unrelenting scrutiny, the Bible, is

John 17:17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Peter 1:20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly, we would embark on the series looking at the world from a biblical world view.  What we believe determines how we behave. This means that if our presupposition is that atheism, or evolution is true, and the only possible creative mechanism, this determines how we see the world. If God is possible, even probable, making more logical sense in the end anyway, then this allows of the possibility that the bible is true history, miracles are possible, and that determinism cannot and will not explain the existence of time, space and matter.

Need we look at everything then, as religion vs science?

Absolutely not! Science is the search for causes, essentially. Observations in our natural world SHOULD line up with the word. This means that we do not commit the folly of excluding the possibility of God, by adhering to evolutionary presuppositions, and saying things are “just so”.“Just-So Science” example: We know that life arose from non-life because we know that it is so, because evolution is true.

If nature had a beginning, then how can the cause be something natural, since nature didn’t exist. Nature was the effect. Therefore the cause must be beyond nature, or supernatural.

I do not have all the answers, (another stipulation). Yes I have a passion for this material, and the study, but I’m not a scientist or a doctor. But it would be my heart’s desire for you to walk away from the series,  and be able to stand tall and say, I am a bible thumping Christian, I believe the bible from cover to cover, and make no apology for that. Hopefully a tool of discipleship. At the very least, perhaps it helps people think of things they had not considered before.

To be continued in part 2.

New Testament: Internal Evidence of Early Completion

The defense of the Bible, Apologetics, is a complex and fascinating area of study. It can be scientific, or philosophical; it can examine scripture text, or archaeological history. Many books on many facets have been written, none of which are exhaustive. One area of apologetics defends the Bible itself, not only if it has been accurately passed down to us, but if the words passed down to us are in fact true, based on evidence.

Meticulous studies in ancient literature have proven to hold the New Testament in the highest esteem, and beyond reproach in regards to how accurate the translations are. In fact, it stands so far above other historical books from authors such as Homer, Pliny, and Plato, that to question the accuracy of the Bible, would be to throw all ancient writings into utter obscurity. This article is not about that, but instead, about one of the Evidences of its historical accuracy. (for an overview of other common evidences, click here).

One of the main six is “Early Testimony.” This study, like the others can get in depth, and many scholars put much of the New Testament authorship within the first several years after Christ’s death and resurrection. As a contrast, the first writings of Buddha are approximately 400 years after the actual life of Siddhartha, and the Hadith describe the collection of the Koran as having been cobbled together from certain traditions by an Islamist long after Muhammad’s death, who then had all copies not accepted collected and burned for the sake of solidarity.

But there is one particular aspect of early testimony evidence I found fascinating. And that is the destruction of Herod’s temple in 70 AD, 40 years after the Resurrection.

As you may or may not know, after rebellion and years of tension, the Roman Emperor Nero sent Titus into Jerusalem with 30,000 troops, and slaughtered 600,000 Jews, while summarily burning Herod’s revitalized temple to the ground. The fire was so hot, it melted the gold so that it ran down between the cracks of the stone. When looters came to retrieve the gold, they ripped down each stone from the others to get to this gold, thus fulfilling Christ’s prophecy:

Matthew 24:1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Now, picture yourself as a soon to be New Testament writer. You grow up seeing Herod renovate the temple. It is the cornerstone of your faith, and became such a glorious structure that it, rather than God, began to be revered by your neighbors and friends. Your sins were forgiven there. The high priest conducted ceremony there. It was the cornerstone of your faith, the economy, the culture. It’s importance to the Jewish people could not be overstated.

And then, this Jesus comes along, performs miracles, and predicts His own death and resurrection, and prophecies that the venerated Jewish temple adored by your people will soon be so much rubble scattered to the winds of history. When he dies, you and your contemporaries soon see Him appearing alive, and can touch His wounds. You eat with Him, and watch Him ascend into the sky. And inspired to risk your life, elevate Gentiles to the same platform as the Jew, and go against the priests of your day, you spread this new gospel message, and write of all you had seen.

To the crux of the issue; if the temple you worshiped at for decades had been utterly leveled, 600,000 Jews murdered, the city decimated, and its people scattered, thus fulfilling the very prophecy your savior had foretold, punctuating the year Titus destroyed all you ever knew and loved, do you think you would mention it? Do you think one of the authors of the New Testament would have finished their historical narrative by stating the temple had come down?

There are numerous internal evidences in the word that point to the fact that its writers had first hand, eye-witness knowledge of the times. Locations, language, details, key historical figures, all mentioned with the accuracy of someone present. Meticulous history is presented. Is it possible that all 8 of the New Testament writers somehow failed to mention this monumental event which just so happened to corroborate what their messiah said would happen?

We do know it happened; it is a plain matter of history, a mere 40 years after Christ died and rose again.

This is strong evidence that the entire New Testament was finished, before 70 AD. We can be certain that these writers, who included details about who among them was martyred, who went to jail, and who even included embarrassing details in their telling, for example their cowardice at times, would have at least noted this siege, if not dedicate entire chapters to it!

History records this later, and yes, Christ was proven to be right, fulfilling yet another prophecy, and further verifying the truth of the word of God. But this realization also proves to us something else. How soon after Christ these events were recorded. Within less then 40 years, the new Christian church was copying, and circulating the very words you have today. Remarkable!

Our Walk in the Nation of Israel

At the end of Luke, it says that Christ “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45)

This great “Ah-ha!” moment for the apostles indicates a revealing of the secrets of scriptures. How Christ Himself was prevalent in all of church history.  Seeing real recorded history with not only so many prophecies fulfilled, but also so many parallels and perfectly recorded cross-references to our salvation journey is mind-boggling.

I have mentioned in several of  these articles, but today, we will highlight the Christian journey as it parallels the journey of the Israeli nation. You will see that this nation’s actual history reflects our lives in some very interesting ways, and that this journey therefore was no accident, but was painting a picture of the journey of each individual in the church.

Think about it. Conception, an ordained promise that God makes with Abraham, calling him out to grow a nation, conceiving it. These few parts of what will be the whole nation, move down into the protection of Egypt. Egypt, the safest place in world to grow, to be protected, just like a womb if you will, a civilization powerful enough to ensconce a budding nation and offer if the protections it needs to thrive. Remember, Abraham was respected by Egypt, as shown by how they honored him in death.

This nation grows from 75 people (a few cells) to approximately 2 million, a full nation, (full body) over a period of 430 years (pregnancy). Then birth, into their own country, but of course, as we follow the living metaphor, you cannot have birth without labor pains. Suddenly it seems even the pain of childbirth points to a profound and awesome plan.

Childbirth of course was the exodus, labor was slavery, pain-filled time, heartache, trouble, tumult. Fear as to whether or not they would survive, if things would be okay.

A quick aside, there are many verses about water in the bible. Part of creation of course, well of salvation, out of the side of Christ upon His death. But in our salvation story, there is also two births, being born, and as Christ says, you must also be born again. Birth into the world is accompanied by the water breaking. And our second birth, being born into God’s kingdom, accompanied by baptism.

Success in the birthing of a nation, a miracle (much like a birth today is a beautiful miracle), was as we know accompanied by water, the crossing of the Red Sea. Safely on the other side we have a new creature, a new nation. What God calls a stubborn, stiff-necked people, just like us, prone to complaining, idolatry, etc.

Then, next we have our 40 years in the wilderness. Consider, after you are born, there is a period of time you are not saved, learning, building faith, learning to trust God. You are not saved, you are convicted by laws, figuring out how to get to the promised land. 40 is part of biblical numerology, suggesting a time of trial, patience, storm.

Then, at long last, they are saved, as Joshua, a Christ-figure, leads them to the promises of God, and yet again, through a river, this time the Jordan, the baptism and second birth of the nation.

Like our own salvation and relationship with God, this is not paradise. There is war here in this promised land. There are enemies. But there is a relationship with God. This is our sanctification period. This does not remove you from the troubles of the world, as the prosperity gospel preachers would suggest. But the nation, the Christian is armed and is part of a nation, a family, a history, a body of Christ.

We have walked to the promises of God, to salvation, from birth, with Israel, and it is so like our own journey, an undeniable parallel, that the church’s salvation journey is literally prophesied and lived out by the nation of Israel for all to see in their history.

Such an amazing wonder, and testament to the plans of God.

Christian Despondency

If you have followed along on my Facebook page you have no doubt noticed that I celebrate the comfort and truth of God’s word, the hope we have in Christ, and the invigorating exploration of apologetics, as well as the beauty of literature and poetry, and the power that resides in the written word. It is said that in America, we have lost some 60% of the words that scholars used to utilize at the zenith of our language. How I envy the ability to write as Shakespeare did, or Jane Austin, or Cervantes.

But within these posts, you may have noticed an underline addressing of despondency; an analysis of heartache, tragedy, and melancholy; a searching for some future hope, or purpose, a loss of life’s magic, and even a celebration of beautiful literature surrounding these feelings.

The Greeks did honor to both masks, remember, the joyful laughter, as well as the tragedy of sorrow. We sometimes presume that the families who file into church Sunday mornings are balanced, happy, stable, even perfect. Pastors preach about sins, and tribulations faced, in a general way. But it often doesn’t appear to land on the well-dressed, well-behaved, perfect people in the pews.

But these same people fight within their marriages, have trust issues, have broken hearts, cry in Sunday school classes, face anxieties.

Charles Spurgeon once said in a sermon, “I wonder every day that there are not more suicides, considering the troubles of this life.”

We can end up rejecting, or not walking with God, due to our despondency. Prayer and rest become empty. Friends who “comfort” you with scripture feels like bright lights during a migraine. And when it doesn’t appear that Christ is “enough” and you aren’t exemplifying the fruits of the spirit such as joy and peace in your walk, those friends can become accusatory. Perhaps you don’t have Christ in your life? Perhaps you don’t have faith? Why can’t you just cheer up?

Zack Eswine, who wrote about Spurgeon’s sufferings said this:

“Conscious only of our miseries, we become like those who love a person without that love being returned. To carry out the metaphor, what is worse, we must listen in as the one we love marries another and goes on with life happily without us… the toasts and cheers from their family and friends only magnifies the absence, anxiety, and rejection with which we must live. This is what it is like with God.”

As we cling to God when all our evidences are clouded, and joys are fled, our grip on the cross becomes a desperate grasp.

The Psalmist said, “When I remember God, I moan: when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah.” (Psalms 77:3)

These feelings are real, and I dare say, prevalent within the church. Addressing it, and talking about it is the only way to deal with it. Of course continue to take it to the Bible, and to God, but finding a peer group that is committed to each other, and to exploring ways to grow in their walk is vital. To grow in faith together, so that even as emotions ebb and flow, the faith on the promises of God do not.

We do not shy away from the fact that there is a precedence in the Bible for addressing depression. There was suffering and longing in the desert. David was broken by his sin, and the repercussions that unfolded because of it. Solomon had all worldly pleasures, and delivered us the book of Ecclesiastes, which spells out the vanity of our lives. Even our savior Himself, according to Isaiah 53, was prophesied to be the “Man of Sorrows.” And indeed, He was, taking on the rejection of the people He came to save.

I am starting a group within my church, a place to encourage each other, and to identify a means of support for those who can no longer pretend to have it all together. I feel called to this particular type of ministry, as I have noticed the common, anonymous, social media versions of this are riddled with unhelpful distractions. Often the classes available in church will never address some of these truths in our lives. College class, parents with children class, young adults, singles, married couples class, a place to study the word to be sure, but upon leaving, those issues will be waiting within your week to smother the spirit.

Charles Spurgeon was a tremendous warrior for the Lord, and his sermons are studied and quoted to this day. He fought as a soldier bought by the blood of Christ, and is widely respected by pastors the world over. But he testified once, “I could readily enough have laid violent hands upon myself, to escape from my misery.” Referring to his own death, he said, “I know one who, in the bitterness of his soul, has often prayed it.”

If you start by knowing that you not only aren’t alone, but that you are in fact in the best of company, well then it is a step. My hope is that the encouraging of one another will follow. God bless.

 

 

 

2nd Law of Thermodynamics

I posted this pic on my Facebook author page, https://www.facebook.com/cooper.author/;

31913695_588273344874387_7039792427137236992_nand as you can plainly see, one of the assertions in this meme is that the theory of evolution violates the law of entropy, or the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Disregarding for a moment all the other assertions, I had a friend who has an interest in the creation vs evolution debate single out this law, and ask me how specifically the law is violated by the evolutionary theory. Evolutionists claim that the theory does not violate any known laws of physics, including the second law.

What is the second law? Thermodynamics refers to the relationship between energy, heat, and matter. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that as energy is transferred or transformed, more and more of it is wasted. The Second Law also states that there is a natural tendency of a system to degenerate into a more disordered state, or experience entropy (disorder). This means on a long enough timeline, these systems will experience a heat death, or an energy death, where potential energy will cease to be available. People like to say, ‘everything tends towards chaos.’

Now, the main caveat that evolutionists will include is that this applies only to isolated systems, and not to open systems, or systems that exchange matter and energy with the systems around it. They will say that the universe, the Earth, these are open systems, and therefore materials and energy can be added to them, which of course, is correct. The sun, for example, adds energy to the Earth constantly. So does it all depend on whether the system is open or not?

First, lets define the three systems; isolated, closed, and open.

An isolated system shares zero matter and energy with the systems around it. Without intelligent interference, these systems will wind down.

Then there are closed, which only share energy, not matter, and open, which share both energy and matter with its surrounding systems, such as Earth, receiving materials from space (debris, meteors, maybe comets, etc), as well as energy and heat.

But, the interesting thing is, the 2nd law applies to these open systems as well, despite the evolutionist’s claim to the contrary. Dr John Ross of Harvard University states:
“… there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems. … There is somehow associated with the field of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics the notion that the second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems. It is important to make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself.”

Open systems still move towards disorder. There are some instances, in an open system, where order is increased, at the expense of a net loss of order in the surrounding systems, such as in crystals. But it is important to note, as Dr Jonathan D. Sarfati B.Sc. (Hons.), Ph.D., F.M. points out, there is a huge difference between order, and complexity. A crystal is not increasing information, just aligning and repeating. If one breaks open a crystal, the same repeated alignment is still present, but in smaller chunks. Whereas, if one breaks a cell, or a frog, one destroys the complexity, and thereby destroys the system completely.

Plus, and this is key, you cannot pump raw energy into a system and expect order and increased complexity. It destroys. Stand in the desert sun for awhile and see if your body can utilize the energy of the sun. One anti-creationist states that ice cubes prove adding energy can create order. However, that is through an intelligently designed device, a freezer. Adding raw energy would heat water, and increase disorder, creating steam and air. Plants have a built in mechanism, and language (DNA), and components that enable it to harness the sunlight. We have the intelligence to harness it with devices such as solar panels. We can utilize our designed intelligence to create things from food, to structures, and thereby can create order with intelligence, which is the only way order can be actually created.

This is why entropy rails so hard against the theory of evolution. It is only with an intelligent designer that order has appeared, and through observing how nature utilizes energy to create function and order, whether an open closed system or not, we see once again that “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.” – Romans 1:20.

It took intelligence to make the universe, and life, a sensible deduction because as we observe every time, it takes a directed harness and intelligence to use it. So again, we see that observable, repeatable, demonstrable science supports a designer, rather than random chance.

All sides of the debate agree that the universe as a whole is winding down, that it had a beginning, and will one day, on a long enough timeline, experience a heat death. We see entropy in everything from the non-beneficial mutations of the human genome, to the aging of our bodies, to lunar regression, to even the sun itself having a finite amount of fuel to burn. Evolutionists must continually rail against good science to prop up their theory so as to “not let a divine foot in the door,” by inventing ways the universe could have randomly ordered itself, sustained itself, and perpetuated itself. Stars must explode to make more stars, proteins must increase in complexity to become life, the magnetic field of Earth must self-sustain for billions of years (even though we observe it losing magnetism [called the dynamo theory – insert eye-roll here]), and proponents of the theory must assert loudly that their side is the only one that practices good science.

Without intelligence to harness and utilize available energy, regardless of the type of system, we see the universal 2nd law of thermodynamics is very much on the side of creation. The fall back for evolutionists is of course to invoke great amounts of time to solve the problem; the “anything possibly can happen if given enough time” faith. But time only increases entropy. Ask yourself if it is good science to believe that if a cat walks on a keyboard long enough, he will write a book. Now realize that in the simplest  organism, there are 1000 pages worth of specific genetic coding. Knowing the 2nd law is true, how do you arrive there without intelligence?

Trust

God has seen fit to grant me great faith. I say this, without boasting, for even at my worst, when all my lights faded, I knew the word to be true. I believed in the reality of God, an awesome creator, and author of real love and salvation. Belief became obvious for me. Yet, trusting Him, and trusting Christ through the day to day, through the broken plans, and the if-onlys, and the dreams of how I saw things going, this is where I falter, this is part of being sanctified, part of our endurance, part of our refinement, as I understand it. A lesson that despite my faith, I fail over and over. Trusting God, trusting in His plan, His laws, His instruction, His goals, His kingdom over my own wishes; for my wishes seem right to me, seem possible, seem magical, and seem more important.

Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It says so in 1 Corinthians 12:

8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in various tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues…

I have been on the precipice of despair, I have felt the hopelessness of all my remaining years, I have wrestled with the imminent death of those I have loved, and I have walked through many a failing dream, and at my lowest low, this faith that God was ultimately above all things never left me, and at times was most likely the only thing that saved me.

But still… as these trials linger, and my search for purpose rolls onward, I find once more I have screamed into the wind, that I have built secular temples and trappings, that I have compared myself to all those who are what I am not, because I fail to walk with trust. And so enduring each trial becomes a stubborn reminder that I have not learned.

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Psalms 56:3 says, “when I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

Not in myself, or my plans, but in Him. Psalms 20:7, some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord.

We are told not to lean on our own understanding, which seems counter-intuitive as a young Christian. But as I have gotten older, and have seen the failures of my own understanding, this instruction begins to slip past the pride of my heart, and starts making sense. Trust.

So as we look to the future, we trust. We pray and trust. Even when we do not see a hope. We make decisions each day, we try to be ready for whatever purpose, whatever end; but we trust.

We plan our tomorrows with such pride and tenacity, don’t we? The dreaming, building up around us all that we deem pleasing. The reality of these hopes never remain, it is the way of a thousand small deaths.

James 4:13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

So on this day, May 5th, 2018, I consider the question, what will I be doing in 5 years; what has God ordained that I cannot yet see? What successes, or what hopelessness, or what cynicism, or what love. It will be interesting to see the reality of May 5th, 2023, in comparison with my mind’s wishes, or fears. All my useless what-ifs. So I pray again for trust, and say again, if it is the Lord’s will…

Perhaps it is time to have trust in our faith. Not just faith in Him. Not just trust in self.  “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” – Revelations 21:5

Perhaps trust in God is the key to curing the bitter heart.