Sunday, 28 August 2016

Historical Accuracy

“God that made the world and all things therein . . . hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” (Acts 17:24,26)

The biblical record is full of testable historical and archaeological data, unlike the sacred texts of other religions. Wherever such historical information is cited, the data have proven to be precise and trustworthy. It has been subjected to the minutest scientific textual analysis possible to humanity and has been proven to be authentic in every way.

The Bible has been a significant source book for secular archaeology, helping to identify such ancient figures as Sargon (Isaiah 20:1), Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:37), Horam of Gezer (Joshua 10:33), Hazar (Joshua 15:27), and the nation of the Hittites (Genesis 15:20). The biblical record, unlike other “scriptures,” is historically set, opening itself up for testing and verification. Nineteenth-century critics used to deny the historicity of the Hittites, the Horites, the Edomites, and various other peoples, nations, and cities mentioned in the Bible. Few critics question the geographical and ethnological reliability of the Bible today.

The names of over 40 kings of various countries mentioned in the Bible have all been found in contemporary documents and inscriptions outside of the Old Testament, and are consistent with the times and places associated with them in the Bible. Nothing exists in ancient literature that has been even remotely as well confirmed in historical accuracy as has the Bible.

“Every word of God is pure. . . . Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6).

Saturday, 27 August 2016

The Unique Earth

“The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” (Psalm 115:16)
Secularists like to consider Earth as just one among many millions of planets, occupying an obscure place in an insignificant galaxy in a sea of nothingness. The Bible teaches, however, that Earth is very special to the Creator, performing a crucial role in the universe today and playing an unending role in the cosmic saga.
Earth is the only planet circling our sun on which life as we know it could (and does) exist. Other known planets are either “gas balls” or are covered with lifeless soil or frozen chemicals. From the apex of the atmosphere to the bottom of the oceans, from the coldest part of the poles to the warmest part of the equator, life thrives here. To this day, no evidence of life has been found on any other planet.
If the earth traveled much faster in its 584-million-mile journey around the sun, its orbit would become larger and it would move farther away from the sun. If it moved too far from this narrow habitable zone, all life would cease to exist. If it traveled slightly slower, the earth would move closer to the sun, and if it moved too close, all life would likewise perish.
The chances of a planet being just the right size, the proper distance away from the right star, etc., are extremely minute. The mathematical odds that all of these and other essential conditions happened by chance are astronomical—something like billions to one!
“I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me” (Jeremiah 27:5). 

Friday, 26 August 2016

Our Rock: The Creator

“Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.” (Deuteronomy 32:18)
Just before his death, Moses predicted the coming apostasy of Israel in a prophetic “history” of Israel. Not only did his prophecy come true for the nation of Israel, but the same could be said for much of Western Christianity today.
Moses recounted the fact that Israel had been blessed greatly of the Lord, but instead of drawing closer to Him, they grew “fat, and . . . Forsook God which made [them], and lightly esteemed the Rock of [their] salvation” (Deuteronomy 32:15). The use of the term “rock” refers to the rock that Moses struck, yielding water to sustain them in the parched desert region. The rock followed the people on their journeys and provided an ever-present reminder of God’s marvelous provision. (If one should further doubt as to the identity of the Rock, “that Rock was Christ,” 1 Corinthians 10:4.) They totally forgot, however, the God of their creation and salvation, and sacrificed to demons, old gods, and to any new gods around (Deuteronomy 32:17).
God has given us life, and without His daily sustenance all life would cease. How foolish it is to attempt to live life without the One “that begat” us—who gave us life and even now maintains it. All too often the Creator God is excluded from our churches, our government, and our schools. Even many Christians live their lives as practical atheists, making decisions and living their lives just as if no God exists. Let us recommit ourselves to giving the rightful place in our lives and in our sphere of influence to “the Rock that begat” us.
“I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deuteronomy 32:3-4). 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Preaching the Resurrection

“And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33)
There are multitudes today who believe that Christ’s resurrection was a “spiritual” resurrection, insisting that the idea of a dead body returning to life after three days in the grave is completely unscientific and impossible.
This was not what the apostles preached with great grace and great power, however. They would hardly have been excited about any kind of spiritual resurrection, since everyone—both Jews and the pagan Gentiles—believed in life after death. If that was their message, no one would have doubted, and no one would have cared. Even when the disciples saw the resurrected Christ, they first “supposed that they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:37). Christ even had to urge them to “handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).
When the disciples finally became convinced of His bodily resurrection, they were quickly transformed into courageous evangelists, willing even to die in support of their glorious message of salvation. The resurrection was, indeed, contrary to scientific law and all human experience, and this very fact proved to them that their Lord was Himself the divine lawgiver and author of all human experience. All other founders and leaders of human religions, ancient or modern, are themselves subject to death, but He alone has triumphed over death. Only the Creator of life can conquer death, and the resurrection proves that Jesus Christ is Creator as well as Savior.
Therefore, when we today, like the apostles of old, proclaim the resurrection of Christ, we know that His name is above every name, and this enables us also to witness with great power, in great grace. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Our Rock of Salvation

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)
Here in the song of Moses, which God instructed him to write for the children of Israel as they were about to enter the Promised Land (note Deuteronomy 31:19), is the first of at least 40 references in the Bible to God as the Rock. There are four others just in this song. In verse 15, He is the “Rock of [Israel’s] salvation.” In verse 18, He is “the Rock that begat thee.” See also verses 30 and 31.
Note some of the other wonderful metaphors picturing God as our great foundation stone. He is “my strong rock” in Psalm 31:2 and “the rock that is higher than I” in Psalm 61:2. In Psalm 62:7, He is “the rock of my strength” and “the rock of my refuge” in Psalm 94:22. Isaiah calls Him “a great rock in a weary land” and “the rock whence ye are hewn” (Isaiah 32:2;51:1).
During the wilderness wanderings, the Israelites were supplied continually with water from the rock, and the apostle Paul tells us “that spiritual Rock that followed them . . . was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). And, of course, Christ told His disciples that Peter’s confession of Himself as the “Son of the living God” was the Rock upon which He would build His church (Matthew 16:16,18).
But to unbelievers He is “the stone which the builders rejected” (Matthew 21:42), “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word” (1 Peter 2:8). “Therefore,” said Jesus, “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Offering Willingly

“Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.” (1 Chronicles 29:9)
As the people brought gifts for the construction of the temple in Jerusalem, it is mentioned no less than six times in this chapter that their offerings were willing offerings (once in verses 6 and 14, twice each in verses 9 and 17). In fact, they were not only willing but also joyful in their giving.
Joyful giving is not the usual response to a fundraising effort for a religious cause. The great proliferation of causes today—not only for churches but for multi-church or para-church projects, usually associated with high-pressure solicitations by professional money-raisers—has developed a growing cynicism in Christians toward all such appeals.
That is not the way it should be, “for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). The churches of Macedonia, though going through “a great trial of affliction” and in “deep poverty,” nevertheless “abounded unto the riches of their liberality,” and they did so in “the abundance of their joy” (2 Corinthians 8:2). What made the difference was that they “first gave their own selves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5).
No doubt another vital factor leading to the joyful offerings of the people for the building of the temple was the example set by David’s great personal joyful generosity, followed by that of all the other leaders of Israel (1 Chronicles 29:3-8). This encouraged the people also to give “with perfect heart” (today’s verse). They had evidently, like the Philippians of Macedonia, also first given themselves to the Lord. David had led them by example, not coercion, reminding himself and his people as he prayed a prayer of thanksgiving that “all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee” (1 Chronicles 29:14).

Monday, 22 August 2016

The Face of Jesus Christ

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
The light that shines in the soul of a lost sinner when he first comes to know Jesus Christ can only be compared to the light that Christ called forth on Day One of the creation week. We met this God of glory spiritually when we first beheld in our hearts the face of Jesus Christ.
But the face of Jesus Christ was not always deemed so glorious. We read of a time when ungodly men “did . . . spit in his face” (Matthew 26:67), then took a blindfold “to cover his face” (Mark 14:65), and finally with a rain of terrible blows “struck him on the face” (Luke 22:64). Once His “countenance [was] as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars” (Song of Solomon 5:15), but when they finished their assault, “his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14).
“The face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:12), however, and the time is coming very soon when all those who have turned their faces from Him will call “to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16). When finally they will have seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in all its consuming strength, not even the world itself could stand, “from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away” (Revelation 20:11).
For those who have looked on Him in faith, however, this will not be a time of judgment but blessing, for “they shall see his face” (Revelation 22:4). The face of Jesus Christ, fierce as devouring fire to those He must judge, is glorious in beauty and love to those who believe.