Thursday, 27 October 2011

Disciple Jesus Loved: Lazarus - What is the proof?

Lord, the one you love is very sick." (John 11:3).

Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus” (John 11:5).

Although Jesus clearly had a close relationship with Lazarus and refers to him as “our friend Lazarus” when speaking about him to the rest of the disciples (John 11:11), prior to being mentioned in this passage Lazarus has not been mentioned before and after Jesus rides into Jerusalem in the very next chapter, Lazarus is not mentioned by name again.

After Lazarus disappears from the pages of Scripture, we begin to see references to a new character. The inspired author of our fourth gospel referred to himself by the phrases, the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” the “other disciple,” the “other disciple whom Jesus loved,” etc. to conceal his identity [unlike Paul in his letters and John in the Book of Revelation who openly identify themselves by name, this unnamed author hid his identity by using these cryptic terms]. Yet this one “whom Jesus loved” doesn’t show up in Scripture until the last Passover with Jesus -- only after Lazarus disappears.

The last time Lazarus is depicted in the Bible, he was sitting with Jesus at a supper table, just six days before the Passover (John 12:1-2). The one “whom Jesus loved” is seen for the first time in the following chapter (John 13:23), sitting at a table with Jesus, and he remains prominent in the life of Jesus through the end of this gospel. Sheer coincidence? Perhaps, but since Lazarus is the only man named in the gospels who is specifically identified as being “loved” by Jesus, it makes sense to consider what the Bible tells us about the one “whom Jesus loved” to see if his actions would befit a raised from the dead Lazarus.

Consider the night that Jesus was betrayed. First, Peter, James, and John couldn’t even stay awake even for Jesus (Matthew 26:26-45), then all of the disciples fled for their lives (Mark 14:50). Later, Peter and the unnamed disciple enter at “the palace of the high priest” (John 18:15-17), but while Peter leaves after denying Jesus three times, we only see the one “whom Jesus loved” leave after he is given another charge by Jesus -- when he leaves the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mother (John 19:27-29). Unlike the rest of the disciples who forsook or denied Jesus, the behavior of the one “whom Jesus loved” is quite different. What can account for this?

Certainly the one “friend” of Jesus who might exhibit this kind of courage would be the one He had raised from the dead; a very special gift that would have undoubtedly changed him forever. So while the rest of the disciples are seen acting out of fear, it is reasonable to expect Lazarus to behave differently towards Jesus despite the fear of those dark hours, which is precisely how we see the one “whom Jesus loved” acting.

On the morning of the resurrection when he and Peter ran to the tomb of Jesus, the one “whom Jesus loved” got there first yet didn’t go in. Rather, he stopped when he saw the “linen clothes” inside. Subsequently, he followed Peter inside, saw the “the napkin, that was about his head” and the Bible says he “believed,” -- something not said of Peter at that point (John 20:3-8). And since Lazarus had the unforgettable experience of wearing such graveclothes when he walked out of his tomb, these reactions would certainly befit him.

The idea that the one “whom Jesus loved” was Lazarus also fits the other evidence in the biblical record, like the first mistaken rumor about him which taught he would “not die” (John 21:23) and the fact that the other three gospel writers treat them in the same manner -- they never mention the one “whom Jesus loved” and they never refer to Lazarus, though his sisters are mentioned and despite the raising of Lazarus [arguably the greatest public miracle of Jesus’ ministry] being an important factor in the death of Jesus (John 11:46-53).

An examination of all the Bible passages relevant to this issue would exceed the limits of this article. While it is hoped that the foregoing will serve to encourage many to take another look at this issue, it remains for each Bible reader to take advantage of the opportunity to search the Scriptures when it comes to the question, Who was the one “whom Jesus loved

Taken from published by Ministries, M. Houdmann, P. Matthews-Rose, R. Niles, editors, 2002-2011. Used by permission.

Monday, 24 October 2011

A Complex Verse – Romans 8:28

There are a number of specific verses in Scripture, which have enormous theological significance. In other words, those particular verses exert an outsized influence, on our understanding about spiritual matters.

One verse which certainly qualifies as being “theologically profound” is Romans 8:28. In fact, not only does that verse have great theological implications, but it also has the potential to affect people’s entire “worldview”.  

In other words, from my experience, that specific verse has greatly influenced some people’s understanding, about events that are happening to them.

As a result, it certainly appears worthwhile to explore Romans 8:28 in detail.

The translation issue 
Before discussing Romans 8:28 itself, it is necessary to discuss the overall “translation issue”. As we all know, the Bible was not originally written in English – it was written in other languages, and then translated into English.

Of course, accurately translating complex ideas from one language to another is a difficult task – in many cases, the author’s original meaning can get “lost in translation”. In addition, in some cases translators have allowed their own, pre-determined biases to affect their work – and that can cause an even further deviation from the author’s original intent.

As a result, it is very helpful to compare different translations of the Bible – especially when studying “theologically profound” verses. Doing so will hopefully allow one to obtain a more complete understanding of the verses in question.

Different translations of Romans 8:28
Now, let’s take a look at Romans 8:28. As demonstrated above, different translations of the Bible can render the same verse in different ways – and in some cases, those differences can have an enormous impact on the meaning of the verse in question.

As it turns out, Romans 8:28 is rendered in many different ways, among the various translations of the Bible. However, from what I can see, there are two main “categories” of translations of that verse. In other words, the various translations of that verse appear to fall into two basic “groups”.

The following section contains six separate translations of Romans 8:28. The first three translations fall into one basic “category” of translations for that verse; while the other three translations fall into the second “category”. See if you can determine the primary difference between those two categories of translations.

Translations of Romans 8:28:

Category 1:
28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Category 2:
28 We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.
28 We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Implications of those translations
A “summary” of the translations listed above is as follows:
Translation 1: God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.
Translation 2: In all things, God works for the good of those who love him.

“Translation 1″ appears to state the following about Romans 8:28:
“If a person loves God, and is called by God, then every single thing that happens to that person is for his own good.”
In other words, no matter what events happen to that person, all of those events are actually good things for him. This is because God, Himself, is explicitly controlling every single event that happens to that person.

“Translation 2″, on the other hand, has this to say about Romans 8:28:
“If a person loves God, and is called by God, then everything that God does to that person is for his own good.”
In other words, all of the events that God causes to happen to that person are for his own good. However, this does not mean that every single event that happens to that person is necessarily good – because many of those events are not caused by God at all.

So, the overall question that is brought up by Romans 8:28 is as follows: Is God completely “micromanaging” all of the events that happen in the lives of His people?

Which translation has more Scriptural support?
There are certainly some cases in Scripture, in which God (or His agent) explicitly causes events to happen to His people, for their own good. Sometimes those events are obviously for a persons good – such as when God saved Daniel from the lions’ den, in Daniel chapter 6. In other cases, the events cause temporary problems for a person of God – but those events end up working for his own good. An example of this is contained in Acts chapter 9: Jesus temporarily caused Saul (Paul) to become blind – in order to convince Paul that Jesus is actually the Son of God.

However, the question raised from Romans 8:28 is: Is God controlling every event that happens to His people – so that every single thing that happens to them is for their own good? In other words, are there any cases in Scripture, in which God did not control events that happened to His people?
Consider the following three passages – in which events happen to the people of God:
2 Chronicles 24:20-21 (ESV):
20 Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.’” 21But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD.
Mark 6:27-28 (ESV):
27And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother.
Acts 7:59-60 (ESV):
59And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
All three of those passages discuss people who loved God, and were called by God – the prophet Zechariah, John the Baptist, and the apostle Stephen. So, according to “translation 1″ of Romans 8:28, God will cause every single thing that happens to them to be for their own good.

Of course, in all three of the passages above, the people of God were murdered. It is difficult to see how that event was for their own good.

Not only that, but in all three of those passages, the people who murdered God’s people committed sins. So, if God explicitly controlled those events, then that means that God forced those people to sin! If that is the case, then how could God ever hold those people accountable for their actions? In other words, how could God ever blame those people for committing murder – if He, himself, forced them to do it?

As it turns out, at least in the first passage, God did hold the people accountable for murdering Zechariah. 2 Chronicles 24 continues on as follows:
2 Chronicles 24:22-26 (ESV):
22Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!” 23At the end of the year the army of the Syrians came up against Joash. They came to Judah and Jerusalem and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people and sent all their spoil to the king of Damascus. 24Though the army of the Syrians had come with few men, the LORD delivered into their hand a very great army, because Judah had forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers. Thus they executed judgment on Joash.
So, it definitely appears that God did not want the people to murder Zechariah. In fact, in multiple places Jesus refers to the murder of the prophets as a terrible sin against God – which deserves punishment. For example, see Luke 11:47-52, as well as the parable of the “wicked tenants” (Matthew 21:33-45, Mark 12:1-12, and Luke 20:9-19).

As a result, it certainly appears that God is not explicitly controlling every event that happens to His people – because if He were, then that would mean that everything that everyone does to God’s people would actually be obeying God. Since some people disobeyed God when they did things to God’s people, that indicates that God was not controlling those events.

As noted above, “translation 1″ of Romans 8:28 appears to say that God is controlling every single event that happens to His people. If that is actually the case, then that means that God is forcing people to murder, rape and kidnap His people. That translation does not appear valid to me – particularly in light of the Scriptural evidence against it.
Instead, it appears to me that “translation 2″ is closer to the truth. Certainly, everything that God does to His people is for their own good. However, God is not controlling every event that occurs on the Earth. After all, 1 John 5:19 tells us that “the whole world is lying in the power of the evil one”. Also, Jesus told his people to pray that “God’s will be done on the earth, as it is in heaven”. If God’s will were already being done on the earth, then why would they have to pray for it?

In any case, we certainly can be assured that God’s plans will be accomplished – no matter what sins are committed against God’s people.

Original by Brian Keating

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Evolution of the sexes

The following is from In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Dr. Walt Brown (pages 19, 78). 

“If sexual reproduction in plants, animals, and humans is a result of evolutionary sequences, an unbelievable series of chance events must have occurred at each stage: 

1. The amazingly complex, radically different, yet complementary reproductive systems of the male and female must have completely and independently evolved at each stage at about the same time and place. Just a slight incompleteness in only one of the two would make both reproductive systems useless, and the organism would become extinct. 

2. The physical, chemical, intellectual, and emotional systems of the male and female would also need to be compatible. 

3. The millions of complex products of a male reproductive system (pollen or sperm) must have an affinity for and a mechanical, chemical, and electrical compatibility with the eggs of the female reproductive system. 

4. The many intricate processes occurring at the molecular level inside the fertilized egg would have to work with fantastic precision--processes that scientists can describe only in a general sense. 

5 The environment of this fertilized egg, from conception through adulthood and until it also reproduced with another sexually capable adult (who also ‘accidentally’ evolved), would have to be tightly controlled. 

6. This remarkable string of ‘accidents’ must have been repeated for millions of species. In humans and in all mammals, a mother’s immune system, contrary to its normal function, must learn not to attack her unborn baby--half of whom is a ‘foreign body’ from the father.” Evolutionists admit that they don’t know how sexual reproduction evolved. 

Michael Rose writes, “The evolution of sex is one of the major unsolved problems of biology. Even those with enough hubris to publish on the topic often freely admit that they have little idea of how sex originated or is maintained. It is enough to give heart to creationists” (“Slap and Tickle in the Primeval Soup,” New Scientist, Vol. 112, Oct. 30, 1986, p. 55).

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

How Israel should love one another

Greet one another. Romans 16:16
Accept one another. Romans 15:7
Be kind and compassionate to one another. Ephesians 4:32
Forgive each other. Ephesians 4:32
Have concern for each other. 1 Corinthians 12:25
Be at peace with each other. Mark 9:50
Be members of one body. Ephesians 4:25
Speak truthfully to your neighbor. Ephesians 4:25
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Romans 12:10
Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
Live in harmony with one another. Romans 12:16
Instruct one another. Romans 15:14
Wait for each other. 1 Corinthians 11:33
Carry each other's burdens. Galatians 6:2
Bear with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
Submit to one another. Ephesians 5:21
Bear with each other and forgive each other. Colossians 3:13
Teach and admonish one another. Colossians 3:16
Encourage each other. 1 Thessalonians 4:18
Spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other. James 5:16
Offer hospitality to one another. 1 Peter 4:9
Encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Evolutionary Just-So Stories

“There are no detailed Darwinian accounts for the evolution of any fundamental biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations” (James Shapiro, molecular biologist, National Review, Sept. 16, 1996).

One of the most frequently-used evidences for evolution is the “just-so” story that purports to explain how evolution happened but which is actually a theoretical explanation lacking evidence. The term “just-so story” was popularized by Rudyard Kipling’s 1902 book by that title which contained fictional stories for children. Kipling says the camel got his hump as a punishment for refusing to work, the leopard’s spots were painted on him by an Ethiopian, and the kangaroo got its powerful hind legs after being chased all day by a dingo.

Kipling’s just-so stories are as scientific as the Darwinian accounts of how the amoeba became a man.

Lacking real scientific evidence for their theory, evolutionists have used the just-so story to great effect. Backed by impressive scientific credentials, the Darwinian just-so story has the aura of respectability.

Biologist Michael Behe observes:

“Some evolutionary biologists--like Richard Dawkins--have fertile imaginations. Given a starting point, they almost always can spin a story to get to any biological structure you wish” (Darwin’s Black Box).

Consider, for example, the following account of how fish supposedly evolved:

“The corals arrived and began to build reefs, and the segmented animals developed into forms that soon would leave the sea and establish a bridgehead on land. Important changes also took place among the proto-fish. The slits in the sides of their throats, which had originated as filtering mechanisms, were walled with thin blood vessels so that they also served as gills. Now the pillars of flesh between them were stiffened with bony rods and the first pair of these bones, slowly over the millennia, gradually hinged forward. Muscles developed around them so that the front ends of the rods could be moved up and down. The creatures had acquired jaws. The bony scales in the skin which covered them grew larger and sharper and became teeth. No longer were the backboned creatures of the sea lowly sifters of mud and strainers of water. Now they could bite. Flaps of skin grew out of either side of the lower part of the body, helping to guide them through the water. These eventually became fins. Now they could swim. And so, for the first time, vertebrate hunters began to propel themselves with skill and accuracy through the waters of the sea” (David Attenborough, Life on Earth, based on a BBC-TV series, 1979, p. 112).

Evolutionists have never given evidence from the fossil record or from living creatures or microbiology or from any other realm that would prove that such a thing as this happened. It is a mythical just-so story, but it impresses people because it is delivered by the professional scientist and is wrapped in the authority of a high-tech BBC television series.

Honest evolutionists admit that they don’t know how the fish evolved. F. D. Ommaney says,

“How this earliest chordate stock evolved, what stages of development it went through to eventually give rise to truly fishlike creatures, we do not know” (The Fishes, p. 60).

Consider this just-so story about the evolution of the ear:

“How did ears get their start? Any piece of skin can detect vibrations if they come in contact with vibrating objects. This is a natural outgrowth of the sense of touch. Natural selection could easily have enhanced this faculty by gradual degrees until it was sensitive enough to pick up very slight contact vibrations. At this point it would automatically have been sensitive enough to pick up airborne vibrations of sufficient loudness and/or sufficient nearness of origin” (Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, p. 90).

According to Dawkins is is an easy thing for vibrating skin to develop into a hearing ear, but this is children’s story-telling, not science.

Here is a just-so story of how the bird evolved:

“[John] Ostrom’s initial idea was that flight must have developed gradually over time. He envisaged feathers as having initially evolved as some form of insulation for his warm-blooded dinosaurs. As generations of these feathered dinosaurs ran around on the ground, their arms became more developed in order to help them catch their prey. The arms developed further still until wing-like structures evolved which would allow the first running dinosaurs to tentatively take to the air” (Paul Chambers, Bones of Contention, p. 216).

A feathered dinosaur running around flapping his arms and gradually growing wings and learning to fly is a Kipling tale for sure.

Consider this example from the Encyclopedia Britannica of how the insect learned to fly:

“... wings arose as fixed planes extending sideways from the thorax and were used, perhaps in some large leaping insect, for gliding. Later, muscles developed, first to control inclination and then to move the wings in flapping flight” (“Evolution”).

Fixed planes just “arose,” and muscles just “developed” and presto, you have the incredible flying insect. Nothing to it. There is absolutely no scientific evidence for such a thing. 

When it comes to how life evolved from non-life, evolutionists turn again to their just-so stories. Consider this from the Field Museum in Chicago:

“Around 2.5 billion years ago, some cells began engulfing other cells. These cells were able to function together, forming a new type of cell: a eukaryote.”

If challenged to produce the scientific evidence that this actually occurred, they would have to admit that this is merely how they “think” it happened or how it “must have” happened.

That there is zero evidence for these just-so stories seems not to bother most evolutionists in the least. They figure that it had to have happened something like this because their naturalistic religion rejects divine creation and teaches them, therefore, that evolution must be true.

Charles Darwin was king of the just-so story. For example, he imagined a bear evolving into a whale.

“I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale” (On the Origin of Species, first edition).

Darwin saw no difficulty in a bear becoming a whale. It was just-so, you see.

The most recent just-so stories used as icons of evolution are those pertaining to the origin of life. There are many of these, such as the RNA-first story. In replying to the creationist challenge that evolution cannot explain the origin of life, convinced Darwinists trot out these just-so stories with great relish as evidence that evolution can explain this problem. But their stories are not based on proven scientific evidence. Removed the evolutionary assumptions, and there is no evidence.

If evolutionists had real evidence, they would not invent stories.

Source: March 22, 2011 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )