Category Archives: God

Problems with doubt

September 11 attacks

Part of terrorism in the United States and the War on Terror

A montage of eight images depicting, from top to bottom, the World Trade Center towers burning, the collapsed section of the Pentagon, the impact explosion in the South Tower, a rescue worker standing in front of rubble of the collapsed towers, an excavator unearthing a smashed jet engine, three frames of video depicting American Airlines Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon

Top row: The Twin Towers of the
World Trade Center burning

By Spencer D Gear PhD

On the “Response Form” to my homepage, I received this reply:

I have been distressed over this all year and have been truly worried that the Holy Spirit may not be with me, and I know that if one does not have the Holy Spirit they are not a child of God. I have had doubt and feelings and moments of unbelief throughout the years but I pray that my confusion and lack of faith was not symptomatic that I am severed from Christ. I realize you do not know me but if you have the time I would appreciate a response. I just want to repent and be sure that I am in Christ.

How should I reply?

Expect some doubts

We don’t live in a world with God’s kind of absolute knowledge. He has not provided us with a sure-safe way of avoiding doubt.

This is where our relationship with God begins and ends: “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Heb 11:6 NLT).

Be an honest doubter

God already knows that we are doubters. Our calling is not to pretend we have no doubts, but to trust Jesus even with our doubts. Do you doubt that God can improve your marriage? Have you become content with your anger or rudeness, suspecting that God cannot help? Do you trust Jesus, but puzzle over why Scripture and sermons don’t move you? Bring these doubts to the Lord and to trusted spiritual friends. Learn to help others be honest with their doubts by receiving your friends’ doubts with Christ-like tenderness (“Helps for Doubting Christians”).

Don’t run on your feelings!

Feelings depend on circumstances and are a very unreliable indicator of how you should live your life. When I feel good I’m likely to make decisions based on that elation. When things go bad in my life, I’ll feel down in the dumps. This is not the way to a godly life.

Throughout my Christian life of 55 years, I’ve had periods of doubt, mainly surrounding:

(a) The existence of so much evil in our world,

(b) My wife of 48.5 years committing adultery with the pastor of the church we attended in 2016, divorcing me, remarrying him, and dying of leukaemia 7 weeks later in June 2020. I had doubts about the authentic faith of my wife and my failing her in marriage.

My wife’s actions were those of a woman who had slipped in her faithful relationship with the Lord and with my failing to be a reliable husband.

I recommend the Focus on the Family article, “Wrestling with doubt and disbelief.”

The John 17:17 answer

John 7:17 (NLT) states: “Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.”

I read the Scriptures and find that their description of my world fits like a hand in a glove. This is called the teaching of truth.

Jesus said in John 14:6 (NLT): ‘Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”’

1.    I am the truth

  • He is not stating that He is the Messiah or Son of God in this instance. Although he is Messiah, that is not His point here.
  • He is not saying this is truth about Me.
  • He is not saying I am one way to truth.

He is saying: I am the truth. It could not be clearer.

2. What is truth?

https://i2.wp.com/www.clker.com/cliparts/Y/i/G/Z/3/R/truth-md.png?w=625This was Pilate’s great question to Jesus Christ (John 18:38).

One dictionary definition is: Truth is “genuineness or veracity”; “that which is true; a fact; a reality; that which conforms to fact or reality; the real or true state of things.”[1] Another dictionary adds that truth is “conformity with fact or reality; verity.”[2]

This is confirmed by my Greek word studies of aletheia which state: “John uses aletheia regularly in the sense of reality in contrast to falsehood or mere appearance … The revealed reality of God.”[3] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says of aletheia: “The word has an absolute force . . . not merely ethical truth, but truth in all its fulness and scope, as embodied in Him.”[4]

When we apply this to Jesus, this is an amazing statement. Jesus is saying, “I am ultimate reality. I am the root of what was, what is, what will come, I am the foundation of all that is genuine, factual and real in the world. Everything flows from Me.”

Jesus is the truth.

God revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex 3:14). To the unbelieving Jews, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58) and they wanted to stone Jesus. No wonder. He was not claiming to be like God, or sent by God, but he was claiming to be Yahweh — the “I AM.”

When I speak out against abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality; make a stand for justice for oppressed people; when I proclaim the atonement and salvation through Jesus Christ alone; when I practise biblical ethics on the job; when I write letters or articles for newspapers or magazines, my aim is never to promote my own opinion.

My sole desire is to proclaim Jesus Christ as the ultimate reality of all that exists and has existed and will exist.

We do the greatest disservice to you, and especially our young people, when we ask them to experience Jesus without an understanding that we are talking about truth.

The world wants to separate faith from knowledge and reason. Christians don’t want to mix faith with reason. “Thou shalt not think” seems to be the 11th commandment. And yet, what did the apostle Paul do when he proclaimed the Gospel? I read through the Book of Acts and this is the kind of language I appears:

  • explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead” (17:3)
  • “he was reasoning in the synagogue. . . trying to persuade Jews and Greeks” (18:4). cf 17:2,4; 18:19; 19:8, 26
  • solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ” (18:5). cf 20:21, 23
  • “This man persuades men to worship God” (18:13).
  • “He powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (18:28).

What drove Paul to be such a defender of the faith? Second Corinthians 5:10-11 (NIV) gives us the key: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men” (NASB).

Yes, Paul was a gifted apostle. Most of us do not have such a gift. But what drove Paul, must drive us:

All Christians will appear before Christ’s magistrate’s court one day to be judged for our rewards. If you know what it is to fear the Lord, you must be involved in persuading people of the God who exists, who they are before Him, and how they can be set free from a life of sin and enter into eternal life by repenting of their sin and trusting Christ as Saviour and Lord — this will mean that your life must be as salt and light in this world.

This is quite in contrast with the scientific world where a Carl Sagan, of the Cosmos TV series, could so arrogantly say: “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”[5] Western civilisation was built on the foundation that there is a God of truth who gives objective truth that is ultimate reality. This is the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Here are two recommended resources for an analysis of the nature of truth:

Conclusion

Doubts will come as a matter of being human and without the absolute knowledge of God. Answers can be found by pursuing them in Scripture and with the help of apologetics’ ministries.

We need to answer: What is truth? We will discover that it is more than the opposite of falsehood. It is that which conforms to reality and Scripture provides such a world view.

See my article, What is truth?

Notes


[1] Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language (unabridged). Collins World, 1977.

[2] Dictionary.com 2021. “truth.”

[3] Colin Brown, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Vol 3). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978, pp. 889, 891.

[4] W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. London: Opliphants, 1940, p. 159.

[5] In Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview (Vol. 5). Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1982, p. 439.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 September 2021.

Holiness: Instant and progressive

Holiness Complex Like A Puzzle - Pictured As Word Holiness On A Puzzle Pieces To Show That Holiness Can Be Difficult And Needs Cooperating Pieces That Fit Together, 3d Illustration

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Many Christians I’ve met don’t like to use the word, holiness, except if a person is from the Wesleyan tradition. See: ‘Renewing Holiness: The Wesleyan Holiness Connection’.

How should a Christian respond to this statement? ‘I don’t see holiness as something to be chased. It is something that is innately in-grafted into our being because we are first created from the source that is Holy’.[1]

This statement was made around a discussion of Hebrews 12:14, ‘Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord’ (NET).[2]

Are Christians to pursue holiness or ‘make every effort’ (NIV), ‘try your best’ (NIRV), or ‘strive for’ (ESV)?

Chase holiness as if hunting

The word used for ‘pursue’ in Heb 12:14 is diwkw and in the Greek it means ‘to put in rapid motion; to pursue; to follow, pursue the direction of’ (Strong’s). Leading NT Greek grammarian from the 20th century, Dr A T Robertson, indicates that diwkw means ‘a chase as if in a hunt’ (Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol 5, p. 437).

So, all Christians are to pursue / chase after peace with Christians and holiness.
What was stated about hagiasmos (holiness) being innate is correct for the Christian because this sanctification, which means separation, commences when believers are justified, born again (
1 Cor 1:2; 2 Thess 2:13-14).

However, it is an action word that indicates a process where we are separated to God initially, but pursuing sanctification is something we do our entire lives with the conduct we demonstrate in being Christians – growing to be more like Jesus. It will be complete when we are in the presence of the Lord at death.
By faith in Christ we are holy but need to pursue it for a lifetime as we become more holy before God.
Progressive sanctification is sound biblical teaching, but it begins at the moment of salvation and then needs to be pursued.

Notes:


[1] Christianforums.net 2018. Are Christians called to be holy and perfect? PrayingMantisRcutiepie#61. Available at: https://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/are-christians-called-to-be-holy-and-perfect.75394/page-4#post-1452691 (Accessed 11 April 2018).

[2] This was my response at OzSpen#67.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 06 September 2021.

God’s election and foreknowledge for salvation

Bible Open To Psalm 118

By Spencer D Gear PhD

How would you respond to these statements on a Christian forum? We were discussing John 12:32.

All that the Father gave Christ shall come to Christ; that is the all that Christ draws to Him.
The all Jesus draws don’t reject Christ, they come to Him, they Willingly come to Him.
[1]

I responded:[2]

The Bible bases election on His foreknowledge (Rom 8:28-30; 1 Pet 1:1-2). We need to differentiate between God’s foreknowledge and His randomly determining all things and the distinction between God’s efficient and permissive decrees.

Why did sin enter the world? James N Anderson wrote, “Why would God permit such a tragic event, such an act of flagrant rebellion, in full knowledge of its horrific consequences? A friend of mine quipped, “I can answer that one in three words: I don’t know!”[3]

Anderson reasoned further:

clip_image002“In His infinite wisdom and goodness, God chose the plan that would bring the greatest good.”

clip_image002[1]“ God allowed the fall.

clip_image002[2] “God has good reasons for everything he does, including what he allows.

clip_image002[3] “Therefore, God had good reasons for allowing the fall, whether or not we can discern them.[4]

God foresaw sin’s entering the world but he did not decree it. God knows how people will respond to the Gospel invitation but he does not deliberately determine that response.

Regarding election we must have regard to God’s justice. Let’s admit it. God is not under any obligation to save anyone even though Jesus has provided salvation that is sufficient for all.

God would not be partial if he did nothing to provide salvation for all. But how can He be other than playing favourites if he selects some from the multitude of people throughout history and does nothing for the remainder who are doomed.

However, that is not how the Bible sees it. The common grace of God has been extended to all people so that everyone has the ability restored to be “willing to do His will” (John 7:17). God’s grace has appeared to all people (Titus 2:11) bringing or offering them salvation. Sadly for many this grace is futile.

Understanding this biblical view of election has the logical and practical ramifications, leading to great missionary and evangelistic actions. If God arbitrarily chooses some and damns the rest, why should the Christian be bothered with preaching or witnessing? When we know salvation is available to everyone, it stimulates resounding evangelistic and missionary activity.

What is God’s plan for permitting evil?

This is the question asked by Dr Norman Geisler.[5]

clip_image004 “In His infinite wisdom and goodness, God chose the plan that would bring the greatest good.”

clip_image004[1]“God deemed that the plan resulting in the greatest good would be to permit evil in order to defeat it, without destroying free will in the process.”

clip_image004[2]“As He is the greatest possible Good, God willed the greatest possible good for free creatures.”

clip_image004[3]“Furthermore, God used the greatest possible means to attain the greatest possible good.”

God is all-good. How can the Best Being possible do less than what is best to do? It would seem that the perfect Being must perform perfect actions, for less than the best does not measure up to the standards of the Best.[6]


[1] Christianforums.net, Theology, “Is man not really capable of seeking God?” brightfame52#550. Available at: https://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/is-man-not-really-capable-of-seeking-god.85385/page-28#post-1611696, accessed 4 March 2021.

[2] Ibid., OzSpen #559.

[3] Anderson, “Why Did God Allow the Fall?” The Gospel Coalition, Available at: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-did-god-allow-the-fall//, accessed 5 September 2021.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Geisler, Systematic Theology: Sin, Salvation (vol 3). Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House, p. 155.

[6] Ibid.

 

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 05 September 2021.

 

Is Allah the same personal God as the Christian Lord God Almighty?

clip_image002 clip_image004

By Spencer D Gear PhD

With the Internet, all kinds of opinions are expressed about whether the Muslim Allah is the same as the Christian God.

1. Allah is the Christian God

Here are examples:

  • Miroslav Volf, professor of theology at Yale Divinity School, said, ‘I think that Muslims and Christians who embrace the normative traditions of their faith refer to the same object, to the same Being, when they pray, when they worship, when they talk about God. The referent is the same’ (in Galli 2011:2).
  • Larycia Hawkins, professor at Wheaton College, had stated on Facebook, ‘I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God’ (Qureshi 2015).
  • In the National Catholic Reporter (online), it was stated: ‘I interviewed a Jewish rabbi, a Muslim imam and scholar, and a Methodist minister about this question: “Do Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” All three said, “yes … basically they do.” (Not all representatives of these three traditions would agree, of course, but these three — all veterans of the interfaith movement — said yes right away) [Fiedler 2016].
  • Catholic News (2006) stated: ‘When Christians hear Muslims being called to prayer, they should be happy, for it is their God who is going to be worshipped and served. When they see good Muslims performing the prayer, fasting in Ramadan, and doing good works like giving to the poor, Christians should praise God for the fact that so many of their Muslim sisters and brothers are doing God’s will’.

1.1 Is Allah equivalent to the Christian God?

See R Albert Mohler Jr’s article, ‘Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?’ (December 18, 2016)

clip_image005The subtitle of his penetrating article is: ‘Hard times come with hard questions, and our cultural context exerts enormous pressure on Christians to affirm common ground at the expense of theological differences. But the cost of getting this question wrong is the loss of the Gospel’.

I urge you to read this article. His conclusion is:

We must also understand that the most basic issue is the one Jesus answered with absolute clarity. One cannot deny the Son and truly worship the Father. There is no question that the Muslim is our neighbor, but there is no way to remain faithful to Scripture and the gospel and then claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

1.2 What is the nature of Allah?

This Muslim website, Alsunna.org – Teachings of Prophet Muhammad – highlights . . . 

1.1.1 The 13 Perfect Attributes of Allah[1]

‘Allah’s attributes are perfect. The scholars of Islam said that it is obligatory upon every mukallaf (Accountable person) to know [the] Attributes of Allah’. The following 13 attributes ‘have been mentioned repeatedly in al-Quran’. They are:

a. Existence: It is obligatory to believe that Allah exists and that there is no doubt in His Existence. He exists without a place. Time does not lapse on Allah.

‘The Messengers asked them, “Could there be any doubt about the existence of God [Allah] who has created the heavens and the earth? He calls you to Himself to forgive your sins. He gives you respite only until the appointed time.” They said, “You are mere mortals like us. What you want is to prevent us from worshipping that which our fathers worshipped. Show us clear proof (if what you say is true)”’ (Quran 14:10, Muhammad Sarwar transl.).

b. Oneness: Allah is One without any partners. He is One in His Self, His Attributes, and His Actions.

‘People of the Book, do not exceed the limits of devotion in your religion or say anything about God which is not the Truth. Jesus, son of Mary, is only a Messenger of God, His Word, and a spirit from Him whom He conveyed to Mary. So have faith in God and His Messengers. Do not say that there are three gods. It is better for you to stop believing in the Trinity. There is only One God. He is too glorious to give birth to a son. To God belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. God alone is a Sufficient Guardian for all’ (Quran 4:171 Muhammad Sarwar transl.).

c. Eternity: Allah is Eternal; there is no beginning to His Existence. He has existed since before the creation.

‘He is the First and the Last, the Ascendant and the Intimate, and He is, of all things, Knowing’ (Quran 57:3).

d. Everlastingness: Allah is Everlasting; His existence does not come to an end. He does not perish.

‘Everyone on earth is destined to die. Only the Supreme Essence of your Glorious and Gracious Lord will remain forever’ (Quran 55:26-27).

e. Non-neediness of others: Allah does not need any of His creations and they are all in need of Him.

‘The unbelievers should know that God is Independent of all creatures’ (Quran 3:97b). ‘It is only God who deserves all praise. He has not begotten a son and has no partner in His Kingdom. He does not need any guardian to help Him in His need. Proclaim His greatness’ (Quran 17:111).

f. Power: Allah has Power over everything.

‘It is God who has created the seven heavens and a like number of earths. His commandments are sent between them, so that you would know that God has power over all things and that His knowledge encompasses all’ (Quran 65:12).

g. Will: Everything that occurs in this world is by the Will of Allah.

Muhammad said, ‘Nothing will happen to us besides what God has decreed for us. He is our Guardian. In God alone do the believers trust’ (Quran 9:51).

h. Knowledge: Allah knows about all things before they occur.

‘Satan would try to tamper with the desires of every Prophet or Messenger whom We sent. Then God would remove Satan’s temptations and strengthen His revelations. God is All-knowing and All-wise’ (Quran 22:52b).

i. Hearing:

Allah hears all that is hearable[2] without an ear or any other organ. ‘There is nothing like unto Him, and He alone is all-hearing, all-seeing’ (Quran 42:11).

j. Sight: Allah sees all that is seeable,[3] without a pupil or any other organ.

‘Nothing in the heavens or the earth is hidden from God’ (Quran 3:5). ‘He is God of the heavens and the earth and He knows whatever you conceal, reveal, or gain’ (Quran 6:3).

k. Life: Allah is alive without a soul, skin, or heart. His Life is not similar to ours. He is alive and does not die.

‘Only the Supreme Essence of your Glorious and Gracious Lord will remain forever’ (Quran 55:27).

There are many Quranic verses that support the living Allah who was the creator of the universe.

l. Speech: Allah’s Speech (Kalam) is without a tongue or lip .His Speech is not in a language, Arabic or anything else. His Speech does not resemble the speech of the humans.

m. Non-resemblance to the creations: Allah does not resemble the creations. 

1.2 What is the nature of Jehovah God?

In 2015 in the USA, this Allah vs Jehovah God issue came to a head when Larycia Hawkings, an associate professor of political science at Wheaton College, Wheaton Illinois – an evangelical Christian institution – wore a headscarf ‘during the Advent season as a gesture of solidarity with Muslims’. In doing this, she quoted Pope Francis who stated that Christians and Muslims ‘worship the same God’ (Gjelton 2015).

This statement was made on Facebook:

“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” she posted Dec. 10 [2015] on Facebook. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God (Pashman & Eltagouri 2015).

As expected, evangelical Christians objected and Wheaton’s response was to put the associate professor on paid administrative leave so the College could review whether her statement was at odds with the faith perspective ‘required of those who work there’ (Gjelton 2015).

The conclusion of this controversy was made in a joint statement by Wheaton College and Dr Larycia Hawkins:

Wheaton College and Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Larycia Hawkins announce they have come together and found a mutual place of resolution and reconciliation. The College and Dr. Hawkins have reached a confidential agreement under which they will part ways (Arise Chicago 2016).

In 2016, after leaving Wheaton College, Hawkins accepted a position as a visiting faculty fellow to ‘conduct research on the relationship between religions and race’ at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville VA (Fox News U.S. 2016).

Dr Albert Mohler Jr, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville KY, an evangelical scholar, has a very different view to that of

Professor Hawkins. Mohler states:

The Christian faith is essentially and irreducibly Trinitarian.  The Bible reveals that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.  Jesus is not merely a prophet; He is God in human flesh.  This is precisely what Islam rejects.  If Allah has no Son, he is not the Father.

This is the most significant theological obstacle in the way of the Christian use of Allah as a name for God.  Jesus taught his disciples to pray to “our Father, who is in heaven” [Matthew 6:9] — thus disallowing any confusion concerning God’s name.  The most important names for God for Christians are “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit.”  In the four New Testament gospels, Jesus uses the word “Father” more than sixty times. No Muslim would refer to Allah in this same way.  This is not what will come to mind when a Muslim hears a Christian pray to Allah . . . .

Jesus commanded his disciples to baptize believers “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” [Matthew 28:19].  When this command is taken seriously and obeyed, the whole issue is greatly clarified — a Christian cannot baptize in the name of Allah.

If Allah has no son, Allah is not the father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Even if the case is made that Allah could be used in a generic sense to refer to God ( and I am not persuaded that it can), the word cannot be used to mean the Father in a Trinitarian affirmation.  This is not mere “discussion and bickering.”  This is where the Gospel stands or falls (Mohler Jr 2007).

1.2.1 Comparison of attributes: Jehovah God’s attributes

How do the above attributes of Allah compare with the attributes of the Judeo-Christian Almighty God revealed in the Bible?

I follow the order of the ’13 Perfect Attributes of Allah’ above in describing some of the Lord God’s attributes. [4]

6pointblue-smalla. Existence: God is self-existent, meaning He ‘has the ground of His

existence in Himself’. Thomas Aquinas said He is ‘the first cause, Himself uncaused’. His self-existence is affirmed in, ‘I am that I am’ (Ex 3:14) and in the name, ‘Jehovah’ (Ex 6:3) [p. 122].

6pointblue-smallb. Oneness: By the unity or oneness of God, I mean ‘there is but one

God and that the divine nature is undivided and indivisible’ (Deut 4:35, 39; Mk 12:29-32). However, in contradistinction with Islam, The oneness of God is a unity in Trinity. That is, ‘by the Trinity we mean there are three eternal distinctions in the one divine essence, known respectively as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’ (p. 135).[5]

6pointblue-smallc. Eternity: ‘By the eternity of God, we mean His infinity in relation to

time; we mean that He is without beginning or end; that He is free from all succession of time; and that He is the cause of time…. Eternity for God is one Now’ (p. 122). This is taught in passages such as Gen 21:33; Ps 90:2; 102:27; and 1 Tim 6:16.

6pointblue-smalld. Everlastingness: ‘Both “eternal” and “everlasting” are translations of the same Greek word, aionios, so whatever their definition in English, their definition in Greek is the same’ (Johnson n. d.). See Ps 90:2. So, in Scripture everlasting = eternal.

6pointblue-smalle. Non-neediness of others: This is covered under God’s self-existence,

meaning He ‘does not need us or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation glorify him and bring him joy’ (Grudem 1999:71). Known as God’s aseity (ie. from himself),it is taught in Acts 17:24-25; Job 41:11; Ps 50:10-12).

6pointblue-smallf. Power: This is referred to as God’s omnipotence, so ‘He is able to do whatever He wills; but since His will is limited by His nature, this means that God can do everything that is in harmony with His perfections’ (p. 126). Thus, ‘Your eyes are too pure to look at what is evil’ (Hab 1:13 NIRV). He ‘cannot deny who he is’ (2 Tim 2:13 NLT), lie (Heb 6:18), or commit sin (James 1:13).

There are direct biblical statements that teach about God’s power:

clip_image007 “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’” (Gen 17:1 NLT).

clip_image007[1] “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you” (Job 42:2 NLT);

clip_image007[2] “Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns” (Rev 19:6 NLT).

clip_image007[3] It also refers to God’s sovereignty, i.e.

6pointblue-smallg. Will

God’s attribute of will refers to what ‘he approves and determines to bring about every action necessary for the existence and activity of himself and all creation’ (Grudem 1999:95).

Psalm 115:3 (ERV) states it clearly: ‘Our God is in heaven, and he does whatever he wants’.

6pointblue-smallh. Knowledge

His knowledge is called omniscience, which means ‘He knows Himself and all other things, whether they be actual or merely possible, whether they are past, present, or future, and that He knows them perfectly and from all eternity. He knows things immediately, simultaneously, exhaustively and truly’ (p. 124). See Prov 15:3; Jer 23:23-25; Matt 10:30, and Heb 4:13.

6pointblue-smalli. Hearing

  • ‘But Moses tried to pacify the Lord his God. “O Lord!” he said. “Why are you so angry with your own people whom you brought from the land of Egypt with such great power and such a strong hand?’ (Ex 32:11-12). Moses speaks to the God who hears.
  • ‘But the Lord heard them [Miriam & Aaron criticized Moses’ (Num 12:2);
  • ‘I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land’ (2 Chron 7:14);
  • Jesus said, ‘You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!’ (John 14:13-14).
  • ·‘You don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it’ (James 4:2). Here it’s inferred God hears those who ask something of Him.
  • ‘The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil’ (1 Pet 3:12).

6pointblue-smallj. Sight

God’s seeing not only involves knowing the exact number of hairs on a person’s head (Lk 12:7). It penetrates to seeing the whole person, including the inner life.clip_image009

One of the attributes of God is ‘El Roi’ which is an OT name for God and means, ‘the God who sees me’. With this nature, God declared in Gen 16:13-14:

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me [El-roi].” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” 14 So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered’. This is the only time El-roi is used in the Bible. However, we know He is the God who sees as He reveals Himself throughout the Bible.

· What God sees is more than outward appearance. His sight penetrates our inner being: ‘But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his [Eliab’s] appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart”’ (1 Sam 16:7).

· See 1 Pet 3:12 above, ‘The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil’.

· ‘God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart’ (Ps 44:21).

6pointblue-smallk. Life

This is stated succinctly in John 5:26 (NIV), ‘For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself’. God is called ‘the living God’ (Josh 3:10; 1 Sam 17:26; Ps 84:2; Matt 16:16; 1 Thess 1:9). God is alive while the heathen idols are made by human hands and are dead (Ps 115:3-9).

‘Life implies feeling, power, activity. God has all these; He also is the source of all life—plant, animal, human, spiritual and eternal life (John 5:26: Ps 36:9).

6pointblue-small l. Speech

  • ‘For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you”’ (Heb 13:5; Deut 31:6, 8).
  • God is a person who speaks (Gen 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26; 8:15; 9:8; Ex 33:9; Ps 50:1; Ezek 12:25; John 9:29). God is a Person with intellect, free will, sight, hearing, the ability to repent and be angry, He is jealous, compassionate, the creator, judge, and sustainer of everything.

6pointblue-smallm. Non-resemblance to the creations

God is spirit (John 4:24 NIV) so does not have flesh and blood.

How do human beings resemble God? Gen 1:27 (NIRV) states, ‘So God created human beings in his own likeness. He created them to be like himself. He created them as male and female’.

This verse was repeated in Gen 5:1-3 and Gen 9:6. What does it mean to be made in the image and likeness of God?

For an explanation, see my article: Does God have a physical body?

2. The following attributes are those of Allah.

1. Existence: It is obligatory to believe that Allah exists and that there is no doubt for the Muslim of His Existence. He exists without a place. Time does not lapse with Allah.

How does that compare with the existence of the Judeo-Christian Almighty God?


2. Oneness of Lordship: Allah is One without any partners. He is One in His Self, His Attributes, and His Actions.

Muslims believe that Allah caused all things to exist. Allah is the only one who created and maintains all things. Allah is not in need of help or assistance over creation. While Muslims greatly respect their prophets, including Mohammad and Jesus, they firmly separate them from Allah. 

On this point, the Quran says:

Say: “Who is it that provides you with sustenance out of heaven and earth, or who is it that has full power over [your] hearing and sight? And who is it that brings forth the living out of that which is dead, and brings forth the dead out of that which is alive? And who is it that governs all that exists?” And they will [surely] answer: “[It is] God.” (Quran 10:31)[6]

3. Eternity: Allah is Eternal; there is no beginning to His Existence. He has existed since before the creation (of the universe).

Allah (Glorious & Exalted) preceded in His Existence everything that exists other than Him. He (Noble & Sublime) is the Everlasting; He remains after every creature that is transient goes away. He (Glorious & Exalted) is the First Who is not preceded in Existence by anything, and He is the One Whose Being and Stature is exalted above all else. He is not in need of anything. He is the Self-Sufficient, Who is not dependent on anything.

     Since Allah (Glorious & Exalted) is Eternal, He must necessarily be Self-Sufficient, Independent of anything else.[7]

4. Everlastingness: ‘Allah is Everlasting; His existence does not come to an end. He does not perish.’ “It is obligatory to believe that Allah exists and that there is no doubt in His Existence. He exists without a place. Time does not lapse on Allah.”[8]

5. Allah does not need any others: Allah does not need any of His creations and they are all in need of Him. “Allah does not need any of His creations and they are all in need of Him.’[9]

6. Power: ‘Allah has Power over everything.’[10]

7. Will: ‘Everything that occurs in this world is by the Will of Allah.’[11]

The meaning of Islam is ‘submission.’ This is a core value of Islam:

To totally submit to the Will of Allah is to succumb to that superior status of Allah’s Lordship and to obey as would an obedient slave his wise master. This obedience, at its highest level, would mean that the obedient obeys in such a way that (s)he does not think about a matter or perform an act but to think of Allah before, during and after the execution of that act, something that necessitates total remembrance of Allah and His commands and the subsequent absence of room for disobedience be it the misuse or abuse of His gifts to humans. This total obedience also means thankfulness in its entirety since it means that the thankful thanks Allah by not misusing the gifts that he was endowed with by remembering Allah and adhering to His commands whenever (s)he employs any of His gifts.[12]

8. Knowledge: ‘Allah knows about all things before they occur.’[13]

9. Hearing: “Allah hears all what (sic) is hearable, without an ear or any other organ.’[14]

10. Sight: ‘Allah sees all that is seeable, without a pupil or any other organ.’

11. Life: ‘Allah is alive without a soul, skin, or heart. His Life is not similar to ours. He is alive and does not die.’[15]

12. Speech: ‘Allah’s Speech (Kalam) is without a tongue or lip .His Speech is not in a language, Arabic or anything else. His Speech does not resemble the speech of the humans.’[16]

13. Non-resemblance to the creations: ‘Allah does not resemble the creations.’[17]

3. Radical Differences in Attributes between Jehovah and Allah

Some scholars like Larycia Hawkins, former professor at Wheaton College, stated on Facebook, ‘I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God’ (Qureshi 2015).

She now is employed as a political science faculty member at the University of Virginia; she steps to the front of the classroom and gives a little speech. ‘It’s not about the syllabus. It’s about her unintended, uncomfortable fame.’[18]

Larycia does not want to differentiate between Jehovah God and Allah. By contrast, I see a great gulf that involves the nature of God as the core of these attributes:

  • ·To say that Allah is One God and Jehovah is One God does not explain the Christian Trinity in God’s unity.

By the unity of God we mean that there is but one God and that the divine nature is undivided and indivisible (Deut. 4:35, 39; 1 Kings 8:60) . . . but the same truth is also frequently taught in the New Testament (Mark 12:29-32; John 17:3). . . . This unity is, however, not inconsistent with the conception of the trinity; for a unity is not the same as a unit. . . . The doctrine of the Trinity is not a truth of natural theology, but of revelation. . . . By the Trinity we mean that there are three eternal distinctions in the divine essence, known objectively as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. . . . The doctrine of the Trinity must thus be distinguished from both Tritheism and Sabellianism. Tritheism denies the unity of the essence of God and holds to three distinct Gods. . . . Sabellianism (third century) held to a Trinity of revelation, but not of nature. God, it held as Father, is the Creator and Lawgiver; as Son, He is the same God incarnate who fulfills the office of Redeemer; and as Holy Spirit, He is the same God in the work of Redeemer; and as Holy Spirit He is the same God in the work of regeneration and sanctification (Thiessen 1949:134-135).

There is another profound difference between Islam and Christianity. Albert Mohler Jr explains:

From its very starting point Islam denies what Christianity takes as its central truth claim — the fact that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father.  If Allah has no Son by definition, Allah is not the God who revealed himself in the Son.  How then can the use of Allah by Christians lead to anything but confusion . . . and worse?[19]

Mohler continues:

According to The Herald Sun [Melbourne, Australia], [Dutch Roman Catholic] Bishop Muskens commented:  “Allah is a very beautiful word for God . . . .  What does God care what we call him?” What does God care what we call him?

Has the bishop read the Bible?  God takes his name with great seriousness indeed.  Moses discovered this when heard God speak from the burning bush [Exodus 3:13-22].  God did not leave himself nameless, nor did He invite Moses to devise a name for him.  Jesus used this name [I AM] to refer to himself.

The Christian faith is essentially and irreducibly Trinitarian.  The Bible reveals that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.  Jesus is not merely a prophet; He is God in human flesh.  This is precisely what Islam rejects.  If Allah has no Son, he is not the Father.[20]

There is a radical difference between Islam and Christianity. They relate to: (1) The nature of God, and (2) The nature of redemption.

Other resources

clip_image011 Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God? (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)

clip_image011[1] What Does God Care What We Call Him? (Albert Mohler Jr.)

Works consulted

Arise Chicago 2016. Joint Statement by Wheaton College and Dr. Larycia Hawkins Announcing a Resolution (online), 7 February. Available at: http://arisechicago.org/joint-statement-by-wheaton-college-and-dr-larycia-hawkins-announcing-a-resolution/ (Accessed 14 February 2018).

Catholic News 2006. Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? (online). Available at: http://catholicnews.sg/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1547:do-christians-and-muslims-worship-the-same-god&catid=119&Itemid=473 (Accessed 15 May 2017).

Fiedler, M 2016. Do Christians, Muslims and Jews Worship the Same God? National Catholic Reporter, 22 January. Available at: https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/do-christians-muslims-and-jews-worship-same-god (Accessed 15 May 2017).

Fox News U.S 2016. Ex-Wheaton College prof who wore hijab resurfaces at University of Virginia (online), 4 March. Available at: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/03/04/ex-wheaton-college-prof-who-wore-hijab-resurfaces-at-university-virginia.html (Accessed 14 February 2018).

Galli, M 2011. Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? Christianity Today (online), 15 April. Available at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/april/muslimschristianssamegod.html?start=1 (Accessed 15 May 2017).

Gjelton, T 2015. Do Christians And Muslims Worship The Same God? npr (online, 20 December), 20 December. Available at: https://www.npr.org/2015/12/20/460480698/do-christians-and-muslims-worship-the-same-god (Accessed 14 February 2018).

Grudem, W 1999. Bible Doctrine: Essential teachings of the Christian faith. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

Johnson, N E n.d. Everlasting versus eternal. Precepts (online). Available at: https://precepts.wordpress.com/2008/03/04/everlasting-versus-eternal/ (Accessed 14 September 2018).

Mohler Jr, A 2007. “What Does God Care What We Call Him?” Albert Mohler (online), 22 August. Available at: https://albertmohler.com/2007/08/22/what-does-god-care-what-we-call-him/ (Accessed 14 February 2018).

Pashman M B & Eltagouri, M 2015. Wheaton College says view of Islam, not hijab, got Christian teacher suspended. Chicago Tribune (online), 16 December. Available at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-wheaton-college-professor-larycia-hawkins-20151216-story.html (Accessed 14 February 2018).

Qureshi, N 2015. Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? RZIM (online), 27 December. Available at: http://rzim.org/global-blog/do-muslims-and-christians-worship-the-same-god/ (Accessed 15 May 2017).

Thiessen, H C 1949. Introductory lectures in systematic theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Also available online at: http://media.sabda.org/alkitab-2/PDF%20Books/00045%20Thiessen%20Lectures%20in%20Systematic%20Theology.pdf.

Notes:


[1] alsunna.org 2003-2016. Available at: http://alsunna.org/the-13-perfect-attributes-of-allah.html#gsc.tab=0 (Accessed 14 February 2018).

[2] Meaning ‘capable of being heard’ (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2018. s.v. hearable).

[3] This is an adjective from ‘see’ (dictionary.com 2018. s.v. see).

[4] For content, I rely on Thiessen (1949:121-136), except where otherwise indicated. Numbers in brackets after the definition refer to the page in Thiessen.

[5] The Athanasian Creed expresses the Trinity in this way: ‘We worship one God in trinity, and trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons, nor separating the substance’ (in Thiessen 1949:135).

[6] Learn Religions, “Tawhid: the Islamic Principle of God’s Oneness,” available at: https://www.learnreligions.com/tawhid-2004294 (accessed 29 July 2021).

[7] Allah Knowing, “The attribute of eternity and infinity,” https://knowingallah.com/en/articles/2-the-attribute-of-eternity-and-infinity (accessed 29 July 2021).

[8] DURULFATWA, The Islamic High Council of Australia, ‘The Attributes of Allah,’ https://www.darulfatwa.org.au/en/the-attributes-of-allah574/ (accessed 29 July 2021).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Islamic Unity Society, ‘Islam: The total submission to the will of Allah,’ accessed 29 July 2021, https://www.ius.org.uk/islam-the-total-submission-to-the-will-of-allah/.

[13] DURULFATWA, The Islamic High Council of Australia, ‘The Attributes of Allah,’ https://www.darulfatwa.org.au/en/the-attributes-of-allah574/

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] The Chicago Tribune, ‘Four years after hijab controversy, former Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins is rebuilding her life — and refusing to back down,’ https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-life-larycia-hawkins-fired-professor-update-tt-1213-20191213-75jrsdu5izcxxatz65iqu4jlsy-story.html (Accessed 29 July 2021).

[19] Dr R Albert Mohler Jr, ‘What does God care what we call him?’ accessed 29 July 2021,

[20] Ibid.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 July 2021.

clip_image012

Why would people need God? Part 2

By Spencer D Gear PhD

1.  Why would anyone need this?

clip_image006 clip_image008

(Image courtesy Wikipedia)[1];                           (Image courtesy Wikipedia)[2]

This is the most venomous snake in the world. Why would anyone need the inland (or western) taipan snake? It’s located in outback Australia. See the red distribution on this Australian map:

“While the inland taipan is regarded as the world’s most venomous snake based on LD50 tests on mice, it is a shy species and rarely strikes, and has not caused any known human fatalities. On the other hand, India’s Big Four (Indian cobra, common krait, Russell’s viper, and saw-scaled viper), while less venomous than the inland taipan, are found in closer proximity to human settlements and are more confrontational, thus leading to more deaths from snakebite”.[3]

Aboriginal Australians named this snake, Dandarabilla. ‘One bite’s worth of venom is enough to kill 100 fully grown men’. What does it eat? In the wild, it eats mammals (females who feed young on milk produced by mammary glands), rats, and house mice. When in captivity, they eat day-old chickens. You can find them in various zoos around Australia.[4]

But, why would anyone NEED inland, western taipans?

Unlike most snakes, the inland taipan is a specialist mammal hunter so its venom is specially adapted to kill warm-blooded species’.[5] Mammals have fur and mammary glands for them to produce milk that is necessary for their newborn babies. Examples of mammals include: rats, bats, human beings, monkeys, whales, dolphins,[6] cats, dogs & seals. In 2005 there were ‘5,416 different species of mammals. However, the exact number of recognized mammal species fluctuates as new species are described.[7]

This taipan also kills rats and mice in the wild in the outback.

But can you see any useful need for this inland western taipan? In the outback where crops are grown, wouldn’t it be good for the farmers to have the rats and mice killed who destroy their crops?

2. There is something other than physical organs we have inside us.

What do we call it or them?

5tn_.jpg 1.1K  Jesus said: ‘And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?’ (Mark 8:36);

5tn_.jpg 1.1K When Jesus died, what did he say to God the Father? ‘Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last’ (Matt 23:46).

So there is an unseen internal part of every human being that is called the soul or spirit. I will concentrate on another invisible part that all of us have. This is how Scripture describes it:

Everyone has a conscience. This makes us alert to what is right and wrong.

The Bible also says that God has revealed Himself people through their consciences. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Those who are not Jews don’t have the law. But when they naturally do what the law commands without even knowing the law, then they are their own law. This is true even though they don’t have the written law.

They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, the same as the law commands, and their consciences agree. Sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done wrong, and this makes them guilty. And sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done right, and this makes them not guilty (Rom 2:14-15 ERV).

Did you get the meaning about the non-Jews, also called Gentiles, when it comes to deciding right from wrong? ‘They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, the same as the law commands, and their consciences agree. Sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done wrong, and this makes them guilty’.

All have consciences. For people who don’t have access to a Bible, whether that is a tribe in Africa, Papua New Guinea, Asia, or South America, thye have consciences. According to Wycliffe Bible Translators:

clip_image012*October 2018 Statistics[8]

to tell them what God says is right and wrong, what do all people have to give them these ethical guidelines?

Our consciences.

According to Wycliffe Bible Translators:

There are an estimated 250 million people without access to any Scripture in the language that speaks to them best and may need some form of Bible translation to begin. At least 1.5 billion people are without the full Bible in their first language….

There is known active translation and/or linguistic development happening in 2,659 languages worldwide.[9]

Now we have 3 pieces of evidence for God’s existence:

clip_image014 Unseen gravity.

clip_image016 Invisible nitrogen and oxygen we breathe.

clip_image018 The conscience.

All of these are invisible things but we know they exist because of what they do. We can know they exist by the way they perform.

Are they good enough reasons for believing in God? If not, why not?

3. A time when everything on earth will be burned up

The Bible teaches that everything in the universe will end – including gravity – and it will happen this way:

But the day when the Lord comes again will surprise everyone like the coming of a thief. The sky will disappear with a loud noise. Everything in the sky will be destroyed with fire. And the earth and everything in it will be burned up. Everything will be destroyed in this way. So what kind of people should you be? Your lives should be holy and devoted to God. You should be looking forward to the day of God, wanting more than anything else for it to come soon. When it comes, the sky will be destroyed with fire, and everything in the sky will melt with heat. But God made a promise to us. And we are waiting for what he promised—a new sky and a new earth. That will be the place where goodness lives.

Dear friends, we are waiting for this to happen. So try as hard as you can to be without sin and without fault. Try to be at peace with God (2 Peter 3:10-14 ERV).

Is this meant to be taken literally – the earth and the heavens being burned up or destroyed? They certainly are. We know this from the verses that come before these:

It is important for you to understand what will happen in the last days. People will laugh at you. They will live following the evil they want to do. 4 They will say, “Jesus promised to come again. Where is he? Our fathers have died, but the world continues the way it has been since it was made.”

5 But these people don’t want to remember what happened long ago. The skies were there, and God made the earth from water and with water. All this happened by God’s word. 6 Then the world was flooded and destroyed with water. 7 And that same word of God is keeping the skies and the earth that we have now. They are being kept to be destroyed by fire. They are kept for the day of judgment and the destruction of all people who are against God (2 Peter 3:3-7 ERV).

This will happen in the last days before Jesus returns:

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon People will laugh and scoff at Christians. Is that happening today? Who’s a scoffer? The scoffer will laugh at or say things to show that the other person or thing ‘is stupid or deserves no respect’.[10] They will poke fun at or ridicule Christians.

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon They will make fun of the fact that Jesus has not returned (and it’s 2,000 years since his crucifixion);

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon The folks in the last days don’t want to acknowledge the truth that God made the skies and the earth.

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon Creation happened by God’s word – He spoke it into existence.

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon That same word keeps the skies and the earth going as they are today.

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon Then the world was flooded and destroyed with water (speaking of God’s flood in Noah’s day).

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon That same word by God is keeping the skies and earth going now.

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon They will be kept going until God destroys them by fire;

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon Then will come God’s judgment day for all people who are against God.

 

Could it be clearer?

clip_image019 The universe will be burned up.
clip_image019[1] This lead’s to God’s judgment of ALL people who do not know and love God. These are those opposed to God.

Since the entire universe will be destroyed, does that mean it is all over red rover for planet earth and the galaxies?

Not at all. But Christians will never ever have to be exposed to the Christchurch massacre, slaughter of Christians in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Sudan, Middle East and elsewhere.

It will be a world of total love, joy, peace and God’s justice. Rape, sexual abuse, terrorist bombers, and DV are gone forever, as are lies, adulteries and stealing.

If you think this will be paradise on earth, it will be for the people of God.

The next verse in 2 Peter 3 gives the answer: ‘But we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth. Godliness will live there. All this is in keeping with God’s promise’ (2 Pet 3:13 NIRV).

clip_image019[2] New heaven & new earth

clip_image019[3] Where godliness dwells

This promise is guaranteed by God’s truthfulness and all that He is in qualities of character.

4. All people need God to create them and to keep them living on earth.

The Apostle Paul and his friends, Silas and Timothy, were in Athens, Greece. Paul told his Good News message in the public square and some philosophers went to argue with him.

They took Paul to a meeting of the Areopagus Council in Athens. It was a legal council that met on a hill in Athens. ‘It was the central governing body of Athens’ but then became a legal court for ‘homicide and other serious crimes’.[11]

The philosophers accused him …

18 Some of the Epicurean and some of the Stoic philosophers argued with him.

Some of them said, “This man doesn’t really know what he is talking about. What is he trying to say?” Paul was telling them the Good News about Jesus and the resurrection. So they said, “He seems to be telling us about some other gods.”

19 They took Paul to a meeting of the Areopagus council. They said, “Please explain to us this new idea that you have been teaching. 20 The things you are saying are new to us. We have never heard this teaching before, and we want to know what it means (Acts 17:18-20 ERV).

What was this strange teaching by Paul? This is what he told the Council:

24 “He is the God who made the whole world and everything in it. He is the Lord of the land and the sky. He does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 He is the one who gives people life, breath, and everything else they need. He does not need any help from them. He has everything he needs. 26 God began by making one man, and from him he made all the different people who live everywhere in the world. He decided exactly when and where they would live.

27 “God wanted people to look for him, and perhaps in searching all around for him, they would find him. But he is not far from any of us. 28 It is through him that we are able to live, to do what we do, and to be who we are. As your own poets have said, ‘We all come from him’ (Acts 17:24-28 ERV).

What is your tongue used for?

1.  It helps you speak better.
2. It helps you taste better.
3. It helps you to eat and drink.
4.  Girls have more taste buds than boys.
5.  It helps you to say nice or nasty things. Which is the better one?

6. “God himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things … in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24-25, 28).

These Bible verses tell us:

5. Who created human beings

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIRV)

13 You created the deepest parts of my being.
You put me together inside my mother’s body.
14 How you made me is amazing and wonderful.
I praise you for that.
What you have done is wonderful.
I know that very well.
15 None of my bones was hidden from you
when you made me inside my mother’s body.
That place was as dark as the deepest parts of the earth.
When you were putting me together there,
16 your eyes saw my body even before it was formed.
You planned how many days I would live.
You wrote down the number of them in your book
before I had lived through even one of them.

That’s why we need God. We wouldn’t be here without his making us inside our mother’s body and keeping us in this world.

6. What makes aeroplanes fly?

Have you seen a very big aeroplane such as the Airbus A380? At the time this curriculum was written, it was the largest passenger plane in the world. It can take 853 passengers but generally takes 525 passengers.

clip_image021 clip_image023
An A380-800 of Emirates, the largest operator of the aircraft (courtesy Wikipedia).[12] Photo: Four forces act on a plane in flight. When the plane flies horizontally at a steady speed, lift from the wings exactly balances the plane’s weight and the thrust exactly balances the drag. However, during takeoff, or when the plane is attempting to climb in the sky (as shown here), the thrust from the engines pushing the plane forward exceeds the drag (air resistance) pulling it back. This creates a lift force, greater than the plane’s weight, which powers the plane higher into the sky. Photo by Nathanael Callon courtesy of US Air Force[13]

What causes the Airbus to fly in the air? It has BIG engines. We can explain how the engines work by science (as in the diagram above), BUT …

coil-gold People have to build the Airbus;

 

coil-goldSomebody has to put fuel into it and start it;

 

coil-gold There have to be pilots trained to fly it and hostesses on board to help people who travel in it;

coil-gold The Airbus could not have been made without using science of engines and aeronautics alone,

coil-gold But to make the engines and planes, it takes people.

Who made people?There would be no Airbus made without people. Jesus said, ‘But “God made them male and female” from the beginning of creation’ (Mark 10:6 NLT).

7. Conclusion: Why would people need God?

The Christian answer is:

  • God made everything, including gravity and our breathing system;
  • God keeps us and the world going. We need him to continue living.
  • Even large planes cannot fly without human beings whom God has made.
  • We need God for so much more:

clip_image014[1]He gives sunlight and sends rain on the just and unjust – Matt 5:45

clip_image016[1]He changes the way we treat other people:

      (a) Love your enemies: Matt 5:43-45a (ERV),

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[14] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven…

What would life be like in this country if we lived like this? That is Plain Sailing Christianity.

(b) Golden rule: ‘Do for others what you would want them to do for you. This is the meaning of the Law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets’ (Matt 7:12 ERV).

(c) Fruit of the Spirit: ‘But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things’ (Galatians 5:24-25 ERV).

These are the fruit that grow in Christians lives. They are qualities of character.

clip_image025(image courtesy Wikipedia)[15]

 

This song by the Beatles, ‘All You Need Is Love’, was released in the UK on 7 July 1967. It became a hit single record, topping the record sales charts in the UK and the USA. It was the featured British song ‘performed by the band during the first live global television show “Our World”. Over 400 million people from 25 countries watched its broadcast on the 25th of June 1967’.[16]

The song ends with, ‘She loves you, yeah yeah yeah (Love is all you need)’.[17]

Is that what Christianity means when it says Christians need to grow the fruit of ‘love’? Not yeah, yeah, yeah but nah, nah, nah.

This agape love is not based on how you treat me. It is unconditional – no strings attached – and it is based on the love that God is when the Bible says, ‘God is love’:

Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child. And so everyone who loves knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8 ERV).

He doesn’t love us because we deserve it. Any human being can do that. God loves those who are sinners, those who have no time for or interest in Him.

That’s the kind of love he wants Christians to have towards one another, towards their enemies and those who do bad things to them. Imagine living in that kind of world where people did good to each other, in politics, your neighbourhood, and in school and university where there is no more bullying, and in families where domestic violence ceases and love controls what happens in families.

Is that fairyland? It’s not when a person pursues God and he changes the person from the inside out.

7.1 Loved to death: He is no fool

You may never have heard of Jim Elliot. Tim Chester tells his story about a man with God’s kind of love:

PPT - Philip James Elliot ( October 8 , 1927 – January 8 , 1956 )  PowerPoint Presentation - ID:5250056
Born: October 8, 1927, Portland, Oregon

Died: January 8, 1956 (aged 28), Curaray River, Ecuador

On Tuesday, January 3, 1956, Jim Elliot and four other missionaries landed on a small strip of land in the jungles of Ecuador.[19] It was a dangerous landing, and they could not all land at once. For years they had been dreaming of and planning for this moment. Their hearts were set on reaching the Auca (pron. au-ka)[20] Indians with the good news of Jesus.

The Aucas were a notoriously dangerous tribe. No one had reached them before. Some had exchanged gifts, but always the Aucas had attacked them. For three months the missionaries had been regularly flying over the area, dropping gifts and shouting greetings. When they landed they built a hut and waited for the Aucas to come and find them.

They knew the dangers. Their wives had discussed the possibility of becoming widows. Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of Jim Elliot, says they went simply because they knew they belonged to God, because he was their creator and their redeemer. They had no choice but to willingly obey him, and that meant obeying his command to take the good news to every nation.

“Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for him, if only I may love him, please him”.

To Die Is Gain

On Friday, January 6, three Aucas—one man and two women—approached them. They exchanged greetings. The missionaries showed them rubber bands, yo-yos, and balloons, and the man was taken up in the plane.

On Sunday, January 8, they were due to radio in at 4:30. There was silence. When no message came, a plane was sent and then a rescue party. Four of their bodies were recovered—all lanced to death. The fifth was never found. It seems they were ambushed.

All five were martyred for the sake of Christ. All were married, and four were fathers. One wife was pregnant. Her three-year-old was heard to tell the new crying baby, “Never you mind, when we get to heaven I’ll show you which one is daddy.”

Jim Elliot once said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot had seen through the lie of consumerism. He had seen the emptiness of all this world offers. He had realized the far greater value of the new creation that God promises (Chester 2018).

What did Jim Elliot mean when he said: ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose’?

File:Rasalama's execution.jpg - Wikimedia Commons How did Jim Elliot die? He was a missionary martyr.

 

 

 File:Rasalama's execution.jpg - Wikimedia CommonsWhere did he go at death? The Scriptures state, ‘If I live, it will be for Christ, and if I die, I will gain even more’ (Phil 1:21 CEV).

Jesus said: ‘And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?’ (Mark 8:36).

Isn’t that what Jim Elliot meant? He is not a fool if he gives up making billions of dollars with mansions and luxury in this life, but does not enjoy eternal life when he dies. That applies to both gals and guys today.

8.  Works consulted

Tim Chester 2018. Crossway (online). ‘Jim Elliot was no fool’, 8 January. Available at: https://www.crossway.org/articles/jim-elliot-was-no-fool/ (Accessed 13 November 2020).

9.  Notes

[1] The world’s most venomous snake, based on LD50, [lethal dose of 50% of animals] is the inland taipan of Australia. In Wikipedia 2019. Venemous snakes (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venomous_snake (Accessed 19 April 2019).

[2] Wikipedia 2019. Inland taipan (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inland_taipan (Accessed 19 April 2019). Brief details of the inland, western taipan are in Encyclopaedia Britannica 2019. 9 of the World’s Deadliest Snakes (online). Available at: https://www.britannica.com/list/9-of-the-worlds-deadliest-snakes (Accessed 20 April 2019).

[3] Ibid., Wikipedia.

[4] Wikipedia 2019. Inland taipan (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inland_taipan#cite_ref-warm-blooded_17-0 (Accessed 19 April 2019).

[5] Ibid.

[6] ‘Whales and dolphins are mammals that are specially adapted to life in the ocean. They have smooth skin that is hydrodynamic, allowing them to swim more efficiently. While they might appear to be hairless, whales and dolphins do in fact have whiskerlike hairs around their chins’ (Natural History Museum: Los Angeles County n.d. Mammalogy FAQs. Available at: https://nhm.org/site/research-collections/mammalogy/faqs. Accessed 20 April 2019).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Wycliffe Bible Translators 2019. Our impact. Available at: https://www.wycliffe.org.uk/about/our-impact/ (Accessed 25 April 2019).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Macmillan Dictionary 2009-2019. s.v. scoff. Available at: https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/scoff (Accessed 20 April 2019).

[11] Blackwell (2003).

[12] Wikipedia 2018. Airbus A380. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_A380 (Accessed 21 September 2018).

[13] Woodford, Chris. (2009/2017) Airplanes. Retrieved from https://www.explainthatstuff.com/howplaneswork.html. (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[14] This is a quote from Leviticus 19:18.

[15] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_You_Need_Is_Love#Final_overdubs (Accessed 9 April 2019).

[16] Beatles Lyrics 2000-2019. All You Need Is Love. AZLyrics (online). Available at: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/allyouneedislove.html (Accessed 9 April 2019).

[17] Ibid.

[18] Wikipedia 2019. Jim Elliot (online), 26 March. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Elliot (Accessed 15 April 2019).

[19] Their story is told in Elisabeth Elliot, Through Gates of Splendour (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1957).

[20] Pronunciation from Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2019. s.v. auca. Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/auca (Accessed 15 April 2019).

 

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 November 2020.

Why would people need God? Part 1

By Spencer D Gear PhD

1. Why would anyone need this?

#pingellybustrip

(Image courtesy Wikipedia)[1]

What is it? It’s a John Deere tractor that would be needed by farmers who are planting and harvesting crops. What if farmers had a job like this to do?

The Case IH Module Express 625 picks cotton and simultaneously builds cotton modules (Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Spring, summer, or winter. Whatever the needs of your operation, John Deere has the application equipment with the features and options you need to get in, get done, and get on to the next paddock quickly.[2]

It’s also used for sugar cane harvesting, hauling a trailer or machinery, combine harvesters for a variety of crops, silage[3] harvester, cotton picker, and to pull implements for field sprayers (watering, pesticides, and fertilizers).[4]

Which products on supermarket shelves depend on the use of tractors? Cabbage, potatoes, onions, sugar, many other fruits and veggies. What else?

Why would anyone need these?

clip_image005

(Image courtesy ABSFreePic)[5]

It should be obvious that this lipstick would be needed by some ladies to look spruced up for a special occasion.

2. Let’s throw a tennis or basket ball into the air.

Why did it come down when I threw it up? Shouldn’t it have gone up, up and away?

Can you see gravity that brings the ball back to earth? Not at all! However, you can see what it does.

It came down because of gravity. We can’t see gravity but if there is no gravity, you would not be seated on your chair and have your feet on the ground. You would be flying in the air.

Gravity makes sure the earth keeps on going around the sun. The space agency, NASA, USA states that,

The Sun’s gravity pulls on the planets, just as Earth’s gravity pulls down anything that is not held up by some other force and keeps you and me on the ground. Heavier objects (really, more massive ones) produce a bigger gravitational pull than lighter ones, so as the heavyweight in our solar system, the Sun exerts the strongest gravitational pull.[6]

clip_image007(Image courtesy Space Place, NASA USA).[7]

The website, ‘Ask an Astronomer’, states,

The basic reason why the planets revolve around, or orbit the Sun, is that the gravity of the Sun keeps them in their orbits. Just as the Moon orbits the Earth because of the pull of Earth’s gravity, the Earth orbits the Sun because of the pull of the Sun’s gravity.[8]

This invisible force also causes the rain to come down instead of going up. It also helps to cause the daily ocean tides. Do we need rain? Why doesn’t it go up instead of coming down?

A scientist and Assistant Professor of Physics at West Texas A&M University,[9] Dr Christopher S Baird, wrote that

The ocean tides on earth are caused by both the moon’s gravity and the sun’s gravity. In general, ocean tides are not generated by the overall strength of gravity, but instead by the differences in gravity from one spot to the next (the gravitational gradient). Even though the sun is much more massive and therefore has stronger overall gravity than the moon, the moon is closer to the earth so that its gravitational gradient is stronger than that of the sun.[10]

We can’t see gravity, like we can’t see God, but we know what gravity does, based on what we see and know. All things travelling through space have a gravitational pull on each other. Gravity ‘is the glue that holds together entire galaxies. It keeps planets in orbit. It makes it possible to use human-made satellites and to go to and return from the Moon…. It can also cause life-destroying asteroids to crash into planets’.[11]

What do you need every moment of every day that you cannot see?

I’m thinking of the air we breathe that contains nitrogen, oxygen and a small amount of other gases.

clip_image009(Image from ‘Atmosphere of Earth’, Wikipedia)

‘By volume, dry air contains 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases’:

3d-red-star-small 21% oxygen,

3d-red-star-small 78% nitrogen,

3d-red-star-small Of the remaining 1%, it contains various gases like carbon dioxide, argon, neon, methane, and helium.[18]

Can you see these gases you breathe?

Do you believe in what you cannot see with gravity and the gases that you breathe? Why?

You can see the absolute need for them. Why, then, do we have so much difficulty in believing in God whom we cannot see? We believe these other unseen things because of what they do.

It is stated in Christian Scripture:

clip_image011 ‘God is spirit. So the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth’ (John 4:24 ERV).

clip_image011[1] ‘No one has ever seen God. But the unique One [Jesus], who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us’ (John 1:18).

clip_image012 ‘All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen’ (1 Timothy 1:17).

clip_image012[1] God reminded the Israelite nation in the Old Testament: ‘But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live’ (Exodus 33:20).

3. What does God, an unseen person, do?

3.1 Who made gravity?

I’m dealing with plain sailing Christianity. C S Lewis called it Mere Christianity. It’s a Christian understanding, based on Scripture. This is what the Apostle John wrote:

God created everything through him [Jesus],
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone (John 1:3-4).

That’s one reason we need God. He made everything, including the physical laws, and we need gravity to keep our feet on the ground every day of our lives.

Did you know that God not only made gravity in the first place, he keeps it going? The Bible makes this clear in these statements: ‘God created EVERYTHING through him (Jesus)’. Everything! No koala, kangaroo, emu, taipan snake or human being was missed.

3.2 What would happen if gravity stopped?

Scientists are confident ‘this could never happen’.[12] Karen Masters, a graduate student at Cornell University, Ithaca NY, USA, wrote for, ‘Ask an Astronomer’.

A third grade class asked her this question: ‘What would happen if the gravity on Earth was suddenly turned off?’

Part of her reply was:

We would like to start our answer by saying that we’re sure you realize that this could never happen. The Earth has mass, just like every other solid object does (including you). It is the Earth’s mass that causes it to have gravity, and so in order to not have gravity the Earth would have to not have mass. But if the Earth didn’t have mass, it wouldn’t be there anymore!

“Switching off” gravity is [like][13] letting go of the string. Things not attached to the Earth in any other way would fly off into space in a straight line that would take them away from the surface of the Earth. In buildings, people would start floating gently upwards until they bumped into the ceiling. Outdoors, however (or in buildings with GIANT ceilings), things would start floating away from the Earth gently but eventually go much faster, as their straight lines took them farther and farther away from the circular path that the spinning Earth takes.[14]

If God decided to quit continuing the physical laws, including gravity, lots of things would happen to make people and the universe fall apart.

Imagine people outside the house and gravity stops. People would fly off into space; kangaroos would be flying through the air. Cars could not be kept on roads; they also would be off into space.

I don’t know if you give this any thought. We take it for granted that the world has always been there and kept going. But will the universe stop one day? Who will stop it?

We need God to keep the world going. As we will learn soon,

“He is the God who made the whole world and everything in it…. He is the one who gives people life, breath, and everything else they need (Acts 17:24-25 ERV).

In part 2 of, ‘Why do people need God?’ I will see that Christianity teaches there will be a time when gravity and all other activity in the universe will stop. That’s for the next article.

3.3 If gravity stopped, what else would happen?

There was a story on BBC News, ‘What would happen to you if gravity stopped working?’[15]

clip_image014(Image courtesy Adrianko/Alamy Stock Photo)[16]

These are a few points from that article. If gravity stopped:

clip_image015 ‘Physics is adamant it could never actually happen’.

clip_image015[1] ‘If we spend time living where gravity is different, such as on board a space station, our bodies change’ (Jay Buckey, former NASA astronaut). It is now an established fact that astronauts lose bone mass and muscle strength during stints in space, and their sense of balance changes’.

clip_image015[2] ‘For reasons not entirely clear, our red blood cell count falls, bringing on a form of “space anaemia”. Wounds take longer to heal and the immune system loses its strength. Even sleep is disturbed if gravity is weak or absent’ (Kevin Fong).

clip_image015[3] ‘”Earth itself would most likely break apart into chunks and float off into space’ (Karen Masters).

clip_image015[4] ‘Without the force of gravity to hold it together, the intense pressures at its core would cause it to burst open in a titanic explosion. The same thing would happen to all the other stars in the Universe’.

clip_image015[5] ‘Oh, and of course we’d all die’ (Jolene Creighton).

clip_image015[6] ‘Gravity is one of four fundamental forces that govern our Universe’.

3.4 What are the other 3

The 4 fundamental forces of the universe are: (1) Gravity, (2) Electromagnetism – it holds atoms together, (3) The strong force – holds nucleus of atom together, (4) The weak force – responsible for radio active decay of atoms. So, the 3rd and 4th forces work at the atomic level.[17]

4. Where does the oxygen you breathe come from?

A simple answer is: ‘Out of the air’. How much of the air is oxygen?

4.1 Who made these gases?

Scientists have tried to give answers. This is one of them:

Take a deep breath. About 78 percent of the air you inhaled is the most abundant pure element found on Earth. Besides its role in the atmosphere, it’s used in all sorts of products: fertilizers, propellants,[20] you name it. It’s also an essential component of DNA and proteins. It’s called nitrogen.

But it’s something of a mystery. The nitrogen found on Earth doesn’t match the nitrogen found in the Sun or in the tails of comets…. One clue is that some very ancient meteorites do match the Earth’s isotopic abundances very closely, implying that the nitrogen may have come from an ancient source that wasn’t so much interplanetary, but existed before the planets formed”.[21]

Notice the language, ‘But it’s something of a mystery’ – the origin of nitrogen. What about the continuing manufacture of oxygen and nitrogen for us to breathe?

More recently, other scientists have concluded: ‘There was another type of nitrogen in the early solar system billions of years ago, and this molecule was probably responsible for making the building blocks of life and bringing the nitrogen of our atmosphere to Earth’.[22]

4.1 There is something missing in the scientific explanation.

What could it be? Here’s a tip: Since this is a Christian website, ‘Truth Challenge’, presented by a Christian who accepts a Judeo-Christian world view, who could be absent from this scientific interpretation?

It is a distortion to miss this essential core of the origin of oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere. We see it through our Christian eyes. This is how God explains it:

But in these last days, he (God) has spoken to us through his Son. He is the one whom God appointed to receive all things. God also made everything through him. The Son is the shining brightness of God’s glory. He is the exact likeness of God’s being. He uses his powerful word to hold all things together….

He also says,

Lord, in the beginning you made the earth secure. You placed it on its foundations.
The heavens are the work of your hands.
They will pass away. But you remain.
They will all wear out like a piece of clothing.
You will roll them up like a robe.
They will be changed as a person changes clothes.
But you remain the same.
Your years will never end (Hebrews 1:2-3a, 10-12 NIRV).

Some scientists call the origin and continuation of nitrogen ‘something of a mystery’. That’s not how God sees it. He stated it clearly in the Book of Scripture that God made everything through Jesus the Son. The Son uses his powerful word to hold the world together and keep it going.

‘For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life’ (Job 33:4 NLT).

Do you see what happens when we leave God out of creation and continuation of the universe?

  • Where does the air you breathe come from?
  • Who made that air?

Our breathing is a good example of how much we need God to keep the universe going. What happens if you hold your breath (don’t do it for the length of time to read this article)? For most of us, we will need to breathe in air within 30 seconds to 2 minutes.[23]

We would die in a few more minutes if we couldn’t breathe in air. So the way God has made our breathing system in us is a vital organ. You need it to live your life, one moment after another.

This is not an anatomy lesson, but one day you might learn how the breathing system works.

It was especially designed by God. You will know it when it’s not working properly. People with asthma know that.

clip_image019

(Milky Way, image courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net)[24]

5.   Notes


[1] Wikipedia 2019. List of John Deere Tractors (online): J John Deere new 8295 R 2017 build tractor, 22 January. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_John_Deere_tractors (Accessed 15 April 2019).

[2] John Deere 2019. Application Equipment (online). Available at: https://www.deere.com.au/en/application-equipment/ (Accessed 20 April 2019).

[3] ‘Silage is grass, corn or other plant that has been chopped into small pieces, and compacted together in a storage silo, silage bunker, or in silage bags. The silage is then fermented to provide feed for livestock’ (Wikipedia 2019. Forage harvester (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forage_harvester (Accessed 19 April 2019).

[4] Wikipedia 2019. John Deere (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Deere (Accessed 19 April 2019).

[5] Available at: http://absfreepic.com/free-photos/download/many-of-lipstick-4304x2869_58243.html (Accessed 16 April 2019).

[6] Space Place (NASA) n.d. Why do the planets go around the Sun? Available at: https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/review/dr-marc-solar-system/planet-orbits.html (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ask an Astronomer 2007-2019. Why do the planets orbit the sun (Beginner)? Cornell University (online). Available at: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/about-us/57-our-solar-system/planets-and-dwarf-planets/orbits/243-why-do-the-planets-orbit-the-sun-beginner (Accessed 20 April 2019).

[9] Available at: http://wtamu.edu/search/directory.aspx (Accessed 20 April 2019).

[10] Christopher S Baird 2013. West Texas A & M University. ‘Why does the moon’s gravity cause tides on earth but the sun’s gravity doesn’t?’ Science Questions with Surprising Answers (online), 9 May. Available at: https://wtamu.edu/~cbaird/sq/2013/05/09/why-does-the-moons-gravity-cause-tides-on-earth-but-the-suns-gravity-doesnt/ (Accessed 13 November 2020).

[11] Northwestern University n d. Qualitative Reasoning Group. How does gravity work in space? (online) Available at: http://www.qrg.northwestern.edu/projects/vss/docs/space-environment/zoom-grav.html (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[12] Karen Masters 2015. What would happen if the gravity on Earth was suddenly turned off? (Beginner). Ask an Astronomer (online), 27 June. Available at: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/about-us/39-our-solar-system/the-earth/other-catastrophes/64-what-would-happen-if-the-gravity-on-earth-was-suddenly-turned-off-beginner (Accessed 6 March 2019). Ask an Astronomer is run by volunteers in the Astronomy Department at Cornell University. Most of them are graduate students at Cornell.

[13] The original said, ‘Analogous to’.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Colin Buras 2016. What would happen to you if gravity stopped working? BBC:Earth (online), 12 February. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160212-what-would-happen-to-you-if-gravity-stopped-working (Accessed 7 March 2019).

[16] In ibid.

[17] Information from Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D. 2009, ‘What are the four fundamental forces of nature?’ 3 March. Science:HowStuffWorks.com (online). Available at: https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geophysics/fundamental-forces-of-nature.htm (Accessed 7 March 2019).

[18] Wikipedia 2019. Atmosphere of earth (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Earth (Accessed 25 April 2019). These percentages are confirmed in other sources such as The APC Microbiome Institute and University College Cork (UK) 2015. Available at: http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/explore_body/air_composition.html (Accessed 25 April 2019).

[19] Ibid.

[20] ScienceDaily (2019. s.v. propellant) provided this brief definition: ‘A propellant is a material that is used to move an object by applying a motive force.

This may or may not involve a chemical reaction. It may be a gas, liquid, plasma, or, before the chemical reaction, a solid. Common chemical propellants consist of a fuel, like [petrol], jet fuel and rocket fuel, and an oxidizer. In aerosol spray cans, the propellant is simply a pressurized vapour in equilibrium with its liquid.

As some gas escapes to expel the payload, more liquid evaporates, maintaining an even pressure’.

It acknowledged this information came from Wikipedia (2018. s.v. propellant). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propellant (Accessed 25 April 2019).

[21] The APC Microbiome Institute and University College Cork (UK) 2015.

[22] Dennis Harries et.al. 2015, in S Gary 2015. How the Earth got its nitrogen. ABC Science (online), 20 January. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/01/20/4164551.htm (Accessed 7 March 2019)

[23] See Healthline at: https://www.healthline.com/health/holding-your-breath (Accessed 13 November 2020).

[24] Available at: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=180438&picture=milky-way (Accessed 20 April 2019).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 November 2020.

Seamless horizontal pattern multi-colored vegetables and fruits separated sloping vertical lines. Seamless horizontal pattern bright multi-colored vegetables and royalty free stock photo

The gift of tongues is ‘jibberish’

(Photo worship service at Dream City Church, affiliated to the Assemblies of God USA, in 2007, in Phoenix, United States, courtesy Wikipedia)

A contemporary worship team leads the congregation in praise and worship

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This is a fairly standard approach by those who believe in the cessation of the gifts of the Spirit:

In 1 Cor 14 the tongues Paul is talking about are known understandable earthly languages…”many kinds of voices in the world”. Your bias does not allow you to see this.


For example:
1 Cor 14:8-9 “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.”
If someone blows random notes on a trumpet (blows jibberish) then no knows what is going on causing mass confusion. Therefore what is blown MUST BE UNDERSTOOD so people know what is going on. Likewise a tongue must be spoken in a language the hearer CAN UNDERSTAND or it is meaningless jibberish to the hearer, the speaker is speaking to the air, no edification takes place.
[1]

How should I respond?[2] These are only a few examples from the early church (after the apostles). A number of others could be cited.

Let the early church fathers speak

I suggest you go searching in the early church fathers to determine if miracles (including the gift of tongues) continued. Here’s a starter:

snowflake-light-green-small Irenaeus (ca. AD 130-202) was a pupil of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John. He wrote in his book “Against Heresies”, Book V, ch 6.1:

“In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God, whom also the apostle terms spiritual, they being spiritual because they partake of the Spirit, and not because their flesh has been stripped off and taken away, and because they have become purely spiritual.”

snowflake-light-green-small Chrysostom (ca. AD 347-407), Archbishop of Constantinople, wrote:

“Whoever was baptized [in apostolic times] he straightway spoke with tongues and not with tongues only, but many also prophesied, and some also performed many other wonderful works. For since on their coming over from idols, without any clear knowledge or training in the ancient Scriptures, they at once on their baptism received the Spirit, yet the Spirit they saw not, for It is invisible; therefore God’s grace bestowed some sensible proof of that energy. And one straightway spoke in the Persian, another in the Roman, another in the Indian, another in some other such tongue: and this made manifest to them that were without that it is the Spirit in the very person speaking”….

For as the Apostles themselves had received this sign first, so also the faithful went on receiving it, I mean, the gift of tongues; yet not this only but also many others: inasmuch as many used even to raise the dead and to cast out devils and to perform many other such wonders: and they had gifts too, some less, and some more. But more abundant than all was the gift of tongues among them: and this became to them a cause of division…. (Chrysostom, 1 Corinthians 12, Homily XXIX).

snowflake-light-green-small In the early writings of St Augustine (AD 354-430), Bishop of Hippo, he wrote:

In the earliest times, the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spoke with tongues, which they had not learned, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4 These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to show that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away (Homily 6.10 on the First Epistle of John).

snowflake-light-green-small However, in his later ministry he had a change of heart with regard to his understanding of Scripture and its manifestation in his time. In The City of God, he had a chapter titled, ‘That All the Miracles Which are Done by Means of the Martyrs in the Name of Christ Testify to that Faith Which the Martyrs Had in Christ‘ (Book XXII, ch 9). Here he documents the miracles happening in his day. In the same Book he stated,

‘For men whom they knew to be acquainted with only one, or at most two languages, they marvelled to hear speaking in the tongues of all nations’ (Book XXII, ch 5)….

For the canon of the sacred writings, which behooved to be closed, causes those to be everywhere recited, and to sink into the memory of all the congregations; but these modern miracles are scarcely known even to the whole population in the midst of which they are wrought, and at the best are confined to one spot. For frequently they are known only to a very few persons, while all the rest are ignorant of them, especially if the state is a large one; and when they are reported to other persons in other localities, there is no sufficient authority to give them prompt and unwavering credence, although they are reported to the faithful by the faithful.

The miracle which was wrought at Milan when I was there, and by which a blind man was restored to sight, could come to the knowledge of many; for not only is the city a large one, but also the emperor was there at the time, and the occurrence was witnessed by an immense concourse of people that had gathered to the bodies of the martyrs Protasius and Gervasius, which had long lain concealed and unknown, but were now made known to the bishop Ambrose in a dream, and discovered by him. By virtue of these remains the darkness of that blind man was scattered, and he saw the light of day (The City of God, Book XXII, ch 8).

Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (northern Africa), one of the four great fathers of the Latin Church and considered the greatest of them all said: “We still do what the apostles did when they laid hands on the Samaritans and called down the Holy Spirit on them in the laying-on of hands. It is expected that converts should speak with new tongues” (Comments on Acts 8:17-19).[3]

Notes


[1] Ernest T Bass#187. Christian Forums.net, ‘Speaking in Tongues’, true vs false (online), 23 August 2020. Available at: https://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/speaking-in-tongues-true-vs-false.79801/page-10 (Accessed 24 August 2020).

[2] Ibid., OzSpen#201.

[3] Cited in Grace Christian Center n.d. Speaking in tongues (online). Available at: http://doorofgrace.org/images/pdf/SITpamphlet.pdf (Accessed 24 August 2020). I have not been able to locate the primary source of this quote in Augustine’s writings.

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 24 August 2020.

Responding as a Christian to opponents

Atheists Want a World Without Christianity. Here's How It Would ...

(Image courtesy ChristianWeek)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

As I was having my devotions today and was working through the Book of Proverbs, the Lord drew to my attention a portion from Proverbs 9. I’m working through Isaiah and Proverbs at this time of the year in my ‘Two-year Bible reading plan‘.

This is what caught my attention.

Should we answer a fool?

After only being online for 12 hours, my article on God, evil and the Coronavirus had attracted real hostility in some of the Comments. Many of the people who comment don’t deal with the content of my articles but dump their presuppositions on the reader and use a Red Herring Logical Fallacy.

This is where the folks don’t deal with my topic but attempt to redirect the conversation to a direction in which they are more comfortable to address. It is similar to the ‘Avoiding the Issue Fallacy’. However, the red herring is an intentional attempt to seek to abandon my argument in the article. Many posters also throw in an Ad Hominem Fallacy. This abuses me or the God I write about.

This message hit me like a ton of bricks. As I was having my devotions, the Lord drew to my attention a portion from Proverbs 9. I’m working through Isaiah and Proverbs at this time of the year in my Two-year Bible reading plan‘.

Should we answer a fool?

After my article had been uploaded to On Line Opinion on 30 April 2020, within 12 hours it had attracted real hostility in some of the Comments.

The relevant Scripture the Lord prompted me with was:

“Criticize a person who is rude and shows no respect, and you will only get insults. Correct the wicked, and you will only get hurt. 8 Don’t correct such people, or they will hate you. But correct those who are wise, and they will love you. 9 Teach the wise, and they will become wiser. Instruct those who live right, and they will gain more knowledge.

“10 Wisdom begins with fear and respect for the Lord. Knowledge of the Holy One leads to understanding. 11 Wisdom will help you live longer; she will add years to your life” (Prov 9:7-11 ERV),

I have wasted so much time on forums over the years trying to answer those who show no respect towards me and will insult my God. Here Wisdom (God) commands me not to correct the wicked, as that will lead to hatred of me. Instead correct the wise; they will love me, and gain more knowledge and wisdom.

Thank you Lord for teaching such a profound lesson after 50 years as a believer.

Some of you may not be familiar with the ERV, the Easy-to-Read Version of the Bible I have used. It originally was a translation for the deaf who were used to sign language.

Version Information

The Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) is an accurate translation of the Bible created by the translation team at Bible League International. New readers sometimes struggle with reading older standardized translations of Bible text because of their unfamiliarity with the Bible. The ERV uses simpler vocabulary and shorter sentences while maintaining the integrity of the original texts.

One of the basic ideas that guided the work was that good translation is good communication. In 2015, a major revision was completed in the English text. It uses broader vocabulary and it is revised to reflect new cultural perspectives. The ERV is now in the process of revision for the other language texts while continuing to stay true to the original Biblical texts. In this process of revision we are committed to keeping the text fresh and applicable to the global community of Bible readers.

The ERV uses the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1984) as its Old Testament text with some readings from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Also, it follows the Septuagint when its readings are considered more accurate. For the New Testament, the ERV uses the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th revised edition, 1993) and Nestle-Aland Novum Testament Graece (27th edition, 1993).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date:30 April 2020.

Free Proverbs Cliparts, Download Free Clip Art, Free Clip Art on ...Free Proverbs Cliparts, Download Free Clip Art, Free Clip Art on ...Free Proverbs Cliparts, Download Free Clip Art, Free Clip Art on ...

Why does the good God allow COVID-19?

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Published in On Line Opinion (30 April 2020)

Thoughtful people can have honest questions about God’s goodness because of COVID-19, the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, Cyclone Tracy (1974), the Nazi Holocaust during World War 2, and the September 11, 2001 disaster in the USA. So …

What makes him a good God?

Everything he does is ‘worthy of approval’. God is the final standard of goodness, holiness and righteousness. It is his very nature – as demonstrated through Scripture and the world around us.

Dr David Jeremiah explained:

God’s goodness conveys His generosity. His goodness means far more than His generosity, but it certainly includes His infinitely generous attitude toward us. By nature, He longs to bring joy and blessing to all His creatures.

The Bible repeatedly presents goodness as a core quality of our Lord.

clip_image002[4](Image courtesy Turning Point: Dr. David Jeremiah)

Jesus said ‘no one is good but God alone’. After he had created everything in the beginning he declared ‘it was very good’. We may find it hard to understand but the truth is that ‘The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made’.

Consider how this is worked out in a Covid situation. We are dependent on God for every breath we breathe. He made plants to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. Human beings mainly breathe in nitrogen and oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. So the God-given cycle continues with God maintaining it.

He created the universe in the beginning and provides light through the planets. The scientific discipline of astronomy has helped us gain a much better understanding of the enormous universe. He sustains the cosmos. Life and death are in his hands. Is this pandemic causing people to consider how short life can be and what lies beyond death? God patiently waits for people to come to him in remorse for their sins against him.

Adam and Eve fouled it up for the whole universe.

When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he gave them the choice to eat from any tree in the garden except ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die’.

They ate from that tree and death and sin entered the human race with disease like we are experiencing. There was increased pain in childbirth, cursing of the ground with thorns and thistles. Its origin is from our first parents who disobeyed God’s command.

What were the consequences of sin-disobedience entering the human race? Romans 8:19-21 explains that creation is waiting for God’s children to be revealed. Until then, creation is subject to God’s curse (including COVID-19, SARS, Ebola, rabies, the plague, and Black Death). ‘Glorious freedom from death and decay’ awaits God’s future kingdom.

Bill Gates, writing in The New England Journal of Medicine, considers ‘Covid-19 has started behaving a lot like the once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about. I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise…. It can kill healthy adults in addition to elderly people with existing health problems…. Covid-19 is transmitted quite efficiently. The average infected person spreads the disease to two or three others — an exponential rate of increase’.

I disagree about the origin. The great harm to creation brought on by Adam and Eve’s sin resulted in the curse of disease for plant and human life. Yes, there may be transmission from animals to human beings but the origin is not with Mother Nature but with the first human beings.

Fadela Chaib, spokesperson for the World Health Organisation, told a news briefing in Geneva: ‘All available evidence suggests the (Covid) virus has an animal origin and is not manipulated or constructed in a lab or somewhere else’.

The media and Mother Nature

Who are the media blaming for the virus?

Common Dreams’ assessment (2 April 2020) had nothing to do with God: The coronavirus may not, in retrospect, prove to be the tipping point that upends human civilization as we know it, but it should serve as a warning that we will experience ever more such events in the future as the world heats up…. In so many ways like these, Mother Nature strikes back when her vital organs suffer harm’.

With the Ebola virus, it is known that villagers became infected when ‘a number who had carried, skinned, chopped or eaten a chimpanzee from the nearby forest.

Channel 9’s ’60 Minutes’ programme reported in March 2020: ‘“This is Mother Nature’s revenge”: Coronavirus expert calls for shut down of Asia’s wildlife markets…. The Coronavirus is believed to have originated at a wildlife market in China’s Wuhan city’ and ‘it is suspected that the virus crossed to humans from the pangolin’.

What is Mother Nature? It is a personification ‘used for referring to nature and natural forces’ (Macmillan Dictionary 2020. s.v. Mother Nature). This is how the meaning of Mother Nature is skewed, with an example from the Macmillan Dictionary: ‘We hope Mother Nature will save the crops by bringing rain’. This is an example of mistaken identity for God the Father who sends the rain (see Matthew 5:45). The invented Mother Nature has not a skerrick of power to create rain or send the sun.

The stupidity of human beings

It started with the defiance of the first human beings. We know God sends judgments on people and nations for disobedience to his commands. We’ve seen it through Noah’s flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. That’s not where it will end. God has set a day when all people will be judged by Jesus: ‘He will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead’.

‘Scientists from multiple countries have published and analysed genomes of the causative agent, SARS-CoV-2, and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens’ (ABC News, Brisbane, Qld, 18 April 2020). Would this virus have originated without contact through ‘wet markets’?

WetmarketHK.jpgA wet market in Hong Kong

This folly is seen in how human beings transmit HIV/AIDS. It is spread through certain body fluids of an infected person. Mostly it is from sexual behaviours and sharing injection needles. However, it can also be proliferated through ‘blood, semen, pre-seminal fluids, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids and breast milk’.

Research by Deo et.al. (2009) confirmed the hypothesis that human beings who cleared the land of native vegetation had a ‘significant effect on climate extremes including the duration and severity of droughts in eastern Australia’. Could we call this an example of raping the land and experiencing the cost?

Don’t expect transparency from a Communist government.

At the beginning of January 2020, the mayor of Wuhan admitted there was a lack of action but when 100 cases had been confirmed by 23 January, ‘city-wide restrictions were enacted’. About that time a whistleblower, Dr Li Wenliang warned colleagues of a Sars-like virus. He was silenced by the authorities and later died of COVID-19.

The Lancet medical journal reported Dr Li’s message was ‘meant to be a private message, he encouraged them to protect themselves from infection. Days later, he was summoned to the Public Security Bureau in Wuhan and made to sign a statement in which he was accused of making false statements that disturbed the public order’.

Wuhan, sub-provincial city, China

File:Montage of wuhan(2017).jpgBBC News reported on 17 April 2020 that the ‘China outbreak city Wuhan raises death toll by 50%’. On 27 March 2020, Radio Free Asia estimates the death toll in Wuhan is much higher than 2,500. ‘The city’s seven crematoriums should have a capacity of around 2,000 bodies a day if they worked around the clock’.

This isn’t the first time the Communists misrepresented the facts. Remember the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989; the persecution of the Muslim Uighurs in western China, and Hong Kong’s core freedoms to continue after the British handing over of the colony in 1997?

China-based media support the deceit of the Chinese regarding the pandemic: (1) According to Chinese authorities, the death toll from COVID-19 in Wuhan (population 11 million) is a little over 2,500. (2) Those figures don’t add up as Caixin investigative journalism discovered ‘one native crematorium within the metropolis was working for 19 hours a day and in simply two days, 5,000 urns [for ashes of the dead] had been delivered to the institution’.

The principles of Marxist atheism are demonstrated in China. COVID-19 has exposed the lie at the heart of Communism. Eminent Soviet dissident and writer, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, put it bluntly in his Nobel Laureate lecture for literature. His Soviet experience demonstrated the root of Communist totalitarianism ‘is invariably intertwined with the lie…. Violence cannot conceal itself behind anything except lies, and lies have nothing to maintain them save violence. Anyone who has once proclaimed violence as his method must inexorably choose the lie as his principle’ (Nobel Lecture 1970)

Tragedy sent to shake our priorities

Before COVID-19, how long has it been since you considered the shortness of life and the possibility of dying? Has this loss of income and job caused you to re-evaluate how dependent you are on God’s mercy and compassion? When did you last thank him for the food in the fresh food market or the supermarket?

Over the last 12 months, Australia has been subjected to horrific drought. Where has been the call from Christian politicians and churches for the Lord to break the drought? He has answered our prayers in many areas but March rainfall was below average across the country. ‘Water storage levels in the northern Murray–Darling Basin remain low despite some inflows’. Drought continues in SE NSW.

Reasons why God allows suffering

Pope Francis spoke to God about the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it was not a time of God’s judgment ‘but of our judgment: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others’.

I’m not as confident as he about God’s justice allowing wickedness to continue worldwide without consequences when Scripture states, ‘God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness’. How can we as a nation live with clear consciences before God when we kill 80,000 unborn children a year, legalise euthanasia, brothels and same-sex marriage?

This is God’s recipe for Australian greatness: ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people’. In Isaiah’s day, king Cyrus the Great, was anointed as leader of a non-Jewish nation by Isaiah who confirmed that the Lord forms the light, creates darkness, brings prosperity and creates disaster. ‘I the Lord do these things’ (Isaiah 45:7). So, we could be in the midst of a pandemic created by God to shake up our values to get us on track with the Lord of the universe.

Conclusion

Evidence provided above indicates evil began with Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden. The diseases among human beings, animal and plant life are related to the effects of disobedience.

No person or thing, no tsunami, September 11, or the Qld floods, can ruin the nature and actions of the sovereign will of God. They may cause people to doubt God but we need to get back to the fundamentals of God Himself. ‘I am God, and there is no other’. Will we scoff at Him, blame disasters on Mother Nature, or will we bow before Him who could be the one sending this debacle?

C S Lewis’s words from 70 years ago ring with a contemporary sound if we replace ‘atomic bomb’ with ‘COVID-19’, which I will do in some places. We think too much of COVID-19. How can we live in a pandemic age? We could have lived through it before with the London plague, the Viking raiders from Scandinavia, the age of cancer, STDs, strokes and paralysis, heart attacks, and terrorism.

‘You and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was discovered…. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty’.

If we are going to be destroyed by the atomic bomb and these other calamities, including COVID-19, we ought to be sensible people – praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about a pandemic. ‘They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds’ (Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays 1948).

For a case study on suffering, read the Book of Job in the Bible. I have gleaned these principles:

gold foward button  Job 1:8-12 (ERV) gives a powerful message that provides the meaning of suffering for Job:

8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him. He is a good, faithful man. He respects God and refuses to do evil.”

9 Satan answered the Lord, “But Job has a good reason to respect you. 10 You always protect him, his family, and everything he has. You have blessed him and made him successful in everything he does. He is so wealthy that his herds and flocks are all over the country. 11 But if you were to destroy everything he has, I promise you that he would curse you to your face.”

12 The Lord said to Satan, “All right, do whatever you want with anything that he has, but don’t hurt Job himself.”

God used Satan to test a good man to determine if Job would continue to serve the Lord while experiencing horrific suffering. Will we go on living the Christian life in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis? Suffering is meant to test the tenacity of our faith in the Lord. For unbelievers, God can use suffering as a ‘rattling of the cage’ to get them to consider God’s call. It also confirms that in God’s world, bad things happen to good and godly people.

gold foward button

According to Job 1:21 (ERV), Job bowed before God and said: ‘“When I was born into this world, I was naked and had nothing. When I die and leave this world, I will be naked and have nothing. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord!” In other words, no matter what happened to Job (and he lost everything), the Lord God was sovereign and he accepted God’s actions in his life.

gold foward button  There are about 25 ‘why?’ questions in the Book of Job. Job wanted to know why God did this to him. No answer came from God, but Job continued to serve Him.

gold foward button  Job stood strong in the middle of this atrocity:

10 But God knows me.
He is testing me and will see that I am as pure as gold.

11 I have always lived the way God wants.
I have never stopped following him.
12 I always obey his commands.
I love the words from his mouth more than I love my food.

13 “But God never changes,
and who can stand against him?
He does anything he wants.
14
He will do to me what he planned,
and he has many other plans for me
(
Job 23:10-14 ERV).

gold foward button  Imagine you were in Job’s shoes: horrific loss and suffering beyond imagination and you got this message: ‘Then he said to humans, “To fear and respect the Lord is wisdom. To turn away from evil is understanding”’ (Job 28:28 ERV). So, COVID-19 suffering is the Lord’s wisdom that we need to respect. It is wise to turn away from evil to bring understanding. This is profound wisdom from the Lord, through Job’s ministry: Suffering sent by God has a purpose to make us wise and bring understanding. That’s a higher knowledge than the esteemed Cambridge Dictionary.

gold foward button  The human race doesn’t have all the answers about suffering. Job gives us a peep into God’s view. However, Job was so angry with what was happening to him that he cursed the day he was born:

I wish the day I was born would be lost forever.
I wish the night they said, ‘It’s a boy!’ had never happened.
4 I wish that day had remained dark.
I wish God above had forgotten that day
and not let any light shine on it (
Job 3:3-4 ERV)

Will COVID-19 cause more people to think about how quickly people have died across the world? Will they seek God and his revelation that happens after death? Is eternal salvation on their minds?

(image courtesy OCHA)

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 April 2020.

Why did God create human beings knowing they would sin?

Image result for clipart omniscience public domain

(image courtesy ya-webdesign.com)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

God knows all things, past and present. This is the attribute of God’s omniscience? What is it? If he knows all things, why did he fashion human beings who would soon defy his command?

1. Theologians define omniscience

These evangelical theologians define omniscience as:

clip_image002

‘Historically, the omniscience of God was a straightforward doctrine: God knows everything—past, present, and future’.

This is confirmed in passages such as Gen 6:5; Job 21:22; 36:4; 37:16; Ps 139:2-4, 17-18; 147:4-5; Isa 40:28; 42:9; 46:10. In the New Testament this teaching is affirmed in Matt 6:8; 10:29-30; Acts 15:17-18; Rom 8:29; 11:33; Eph 1:11 and Heb 4:13.

‘His omniscience can be arrived from a number of his attributes. These include His infinity, His causality, His necessity, His knowledge of reality, His eternality, and His absolute perfection’ (Geisler 2003:180-181).

clip_image002[1]Dr H C Thiessen: ‘He knows Himself and all other things, whether they be actual or merely possible, whether they be past, present, or future, and that He knows them perfectly and from all eternity. He knows things immediately, simultaneously, exhaustively and truly. He also knows the best ways to attain His desired ends’ (Thiessen 1949:124).


clip_image002[3]Louis Berkhof: ‘The knowledge of God may be defined as that perfection of God whereby He, in an entirely unique manner, knows Himself and all things possible and actual in one eternal and most simple act. The Bible testifies to the knowledge of God abundantly, as, for instance, in I Sam. 2:3; Job 12:13; Ps. 94:9; 147:4; Isa. 29:15; 40:27-28’ (Berkhof 1941:66).


clip_image002[3]

Dr Wayne Grudem gives a simple definition: ‘God’s knowledge may be defined as follows: God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and dental act’. He used Job 37:16 and 1 John 3:20 to support this view’ (Grudem 1999:88).

2. God created human beings to sin?

Is that reasonable or is this a sign that He’s a wicked God who creates or endorses evil?

Image result for clipart SIN public domain(Adam & Eve in garden scenery, courtesy publicdomainvectors.org)


These are penetrating questions that any thoughtful person could ask, which is what a person did on a blog. Since God is all-knowing (Ps 139:4, 7-12; Matt 10:30; Heb 4:12-13; 1 John 3:20), he would have known Adam & Eve would sin by making the wrong decision to eat of the tree. Why, then, did God bother to tell them not to do it?

‘If all humans are meant to be sinners, why did He even create us in the first place already knowing that we would be so imperfect?’[1]

This leads to the questions: What place do sinners have in God’s redemptive plans? My human mind would think of another way to do it of making human beings so they could not sin (taking free will away from them) and making the crucifixion of Jesus unnecessary.

That’s my befuddled human thinking and not the mind of God.

Let’s examine a few reasons why a holy God who knows everything would make human beings, knowing they would sin.

2.1 There was fellowship in the Trinity but …

Have you thought about what God was doing before creation? That’s a fair question. St. Augustine cited one person’s provocative answer: ‘He was preparing hell … for those who pry into mysteries’ (Confessions, Book XI, ch 12.14). Don Stewart explains:

Before any finite creatures were created, God existed. Although God is a unity, He is a compound unity made up of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each member of the Trinity was conscious of the other two. Therefore God was never alone. There was love and communication within the members of the Godhead before humanity was created. Consequently there was no need on his part to create the human race. God did not need anything. Therefore the reason for the creation of humankind cannot be found in something lacking in the nature of God (Was God alone before he created the universe?)

The Psalmist hit the mark to help us better understand this dilemma: ‘what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?’ (Ps 8:4 NLT).

3. God doesn’t tell us the reason.

God could have chosen not to create human beings who would not fall into sin. However, they would be robots who had no power to choose anything, including agreeing with God or refusing his offer of salvation.

As to why he still created humankind with the knowledge that humanity would bring sin into the world we are not told. We are only told that he has done it this way. Since God has not explained his motives it would be fruitless for us to speculate. No one knows the answer because God has not revealed it to us (Don Stewart).

Let’s ponder a possibility:

4. Sinful human beings to glorify God!

God has provided an answer to this mystery that He knew people would sin, but he created human beings anyway.[2] The reason for creation of the universe and human beings starts in Genesis 1:27,

‘So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’ (NLT).

What’s the point of an image?

An image is to image. Images are erected to display the original — to point to the original, glorify the original. God made humans in his image so that the world would be filled with reflectors of God — images of God, seven billion statues of God. So that nobody would miss the point of creation. Nobody (unless they were stone blind) could miss the point of humanity, namely, God — knowing, loving, showing God (Why did God create the world? John Piper).?

God created human beings and the universe for his glory. Even sinful human beings still retain the image of God and he wants to use all these people to bring him glory.
Isaiah spoke to the Israelites:

I will say to the north, ‘Let them go!’
And I will say to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from far away.
Bring my daughters from the farthest places on earth.
Bring back everyone who belongs to me.
I created them to bring glory to me.
I formed them and made them” (
Isa 43:6-7 NIRV)?

As far as I can see, that’s why God created human beings who sinned. They were formed from the beginning, sinned from the commencement, but they were created to bring glory to God.

4.1  Meaning of bringing glory to God

I found James N Anderson’s explanation to be powerful:

If God’s primary purpose in creation and redemption is the display of his glory, what does that tell us about why he allowed the fall? Both logically and chronologically, the fall comes between creation and redemption. Without a creation there could be no fallen creation; without a fallen creation there could be no redeemed creation. Salvation presupposes sin; restoration presupposes a fall. Thus it’s reasonable to infer that God’s primary purpose in allowing the fall was to showcase his glory both in the original creation and also in his powerful and merciful restoration of that creation from its rebellion and corruption (The Gospel Coalition 2017).

How can Christians bring God glory? We glorify God by our faith, worship, and humble service.

Image result for clipart Glory to God

5.  Works consulted

Berkhof, L 1941. Systematic theology. London: The Banner of Truth Trust. Also available online at: https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/berkhof/systematic_theology.html#communicable (Accessed 1 March 2020).

Geisler, N 2003. Systematic theology, vol 2: God, Creation. Minneapolis, Minnesota: BethanyHouse.

Grudem, Wayne 1999, Bible doctrine: Essential teachings of the Christian faith. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

Thiessen, H C 1949. Lectures in systematic theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

VanDrunen, D 2019. 3 Ways to Glorify God in Your Life. The Gospel Coalition U.S. Edition (online), 24 June. Available at: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/3-ways-glorify-god-life/ (Accessed 1 March 2020).

6.  Notes


[1] Christian Forums.net 2018. Bible Study: Adam and Eve, 9 January, HeIsRisen2018#1. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/adam-and-eve.73372/ (Accessed 10 January 2018).

[2] This is my response at: ibid., OzSpen#28.

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 01 March 2020.

horizontal line clipart made of many colors