The Kingdom of Heaven

The Kingdom of Heaven

Introduction

            The book of Matthew is the introduction of the entire New Testament. Matthew’s original audience would have been Jews who were very familiar with the Old Testament. While it certainly applies to all people today, it is certainly beneficial to keep the original audience in mind. Matthew is writing to these Jews to prove that Jesus Christ is the King that the Old Testament foretold.

Matthew can be broken down into seven sections discussing the Kingship of Jesus and His Kingdom. The following sections outlined came from the book, Illustrated Bible Survey an Introduction: Person of the King (Matthew 1:1-4:25), Proclamation of the King (Matthew 5:1-7:29), Power of the King (Matthew 8:1-12:50), Parables of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:1-13:53), Presentation of the King (Matthew 13:54-23:39), Prophecies of the King (24:1-25:46), and the Passion and Triumph of the King (Matthew 26:1-28:20).

The Person of the King

            Matthew begins his account by showing that Jesus’ Jewish heritage can be traced all the way back to Abraham. He also shows that Jesus is a direct descendant of Jewish royalty, calling Him “the Son of David (Matthew 1:1). Long before Jesus was born, Isaiah prophesied that a virgin would have a son, and His name would be Emmanuel; meaning God with us (Isaiah 7:14). Matthew wrote about the virgin birth in Matthew 1:18-25. They called His name Jesus “for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

After the birth of Jesus, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem searching for Him. They came asking, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” in Matthew 2:2. Herod was king in Jerusalem at this time, and he was very concerned about this statement from the wise men. Being a king himself, he was threatened by the idea of another king of the Jews. When the wise men did not return to him with the location of Jesus, he became very angry, and put to death all the children in Bethlehem under two years of age. Jesus was safely in Egypt however; his family had escaped there after they were warned by the angel of the Lord to flee.

Moving forward into the adult life of Jesus, Matthew brings attention to the forerunner of the King, John the Baptist. Matthew quotes from Isaiah, referring to John the Baptist, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Matthew 3:3). John not only prepared the way for Jesus by alerting the Jews to his coming, but also prepared the people for the kingdom that would soon be arriving by saying, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). He was letting the people know that the coming kingdom would be a spiritual one, not an earthly kingdom as many of the Jews were anticipating.

Jesus after being baptized by John the Baptist, went into the wilderness to be tempted by the arch-enemy of His kingdom, the devil. One of the main components of the coming kingdom, would be “to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). For Jesus to be the King of this spiritual kingdom, He would have to prove Himself fit to lead. One of the ways He would prove his qualifications would be by never committing a sin, even though He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

After being tempted, Jesus began to go about preaching the same message as John the Baptist, saying “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Jesus calls to Himself several fishermen, who will later become known as members of the twelve apostles. These men would follow the King throughout His life here on earth. He went about “healing all manner of sickness” (Matthew 4:23), and when great crowds gathered around Him, He took that moment to make His first great proclamation as King.

The Proclamation of the King

            Matthew 5-7 is referred to today as “The Sermon on the Mount.” In this section of Scripture, Jesus makes His first great proclamation as King. Some will believe that what the King says on this occasion is impossible to live up to today. Others will look at His teachings as a challenge to live by throughout their lives. Matthew arranged the Sermon on the Mount in a way so that the reader could better follow and understand what Jesus had to say regarding specific subjects.

The King begins His speech by painting a portrait of the ideal disciple, or ideal citizen of His coming Kingdom. He says of the people who display these “Beatitudes” in their lives, that “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3,10). Jesus wanted the multitude to know that at the core of His kingdom, was the attitude of the heart. While He the citizens of His kingdom must obey His commands, their heart and their attitudes would be most important to the King. As Jesus will say later in Matthew, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). Israel had become focused on the outward actions of the law, but they were neglecting the essence of the matter, their heart. The King desires not just the outward actions of obedience, but obedience from the heart as well.

After mentioning to the multitude that they need to be a light to the dark world and the salt of the earth, Jesus tells them that He did not come to destroy the Old Law, but that He was the fulfilment of the Old Law. Jesus is telling the crowd that He is the King for which they have been waiting! Remember, the Jews thought that the coming King, or Messiah, would establish an earthly kingdom and bring their nation back into power. If the crowd was listening to the words of Jesus, they should have started to realize that He was speaking of a spiritual reformation and revolution in Israel, not a physical one.

The King then makes a statement that must have been shocking to His audience, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). The scribes and Pharisees were considered the “Religious Elite” of the day. The crowds would have likely been shocked at this statement. In their minds, the scribes and Pharisees were their religious leaders and their teachers. Jesus points out that they are “blind leaders of the blind” (Matthew 15:14). Jesus is contrasting the righteousness of His coming Kingdom and the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. The King points out that followers of Him must not only avoid murder, adultery and other sins, but to avoid the causes of these problems, which generate in the heart (Matthew 5:21-26, 28-30, 33-37).

In summary of the Sermon on the Mount, the Proclamation of Jesus, “True righteousness is not merely a matter of external deeds but the attitudes and intentions of the heart.” (Hindson and Towns 355)

After Jesus makes His first proclamation as King, He then demonstrates the Power He has as King.

The Power of the King

            The proclamation of Jesus would have been less effective if He was unable to display the power He had as King. Jesus preached many things to the multitudes that would have been very shocking for them to hear, going against many things the scribes and Pharisees had taught them. The King showed His power by working many miracles, thus proving that He has been sent by God.

Jesus demonstrates He has power over the physical ailments of the people. He had power over leprosy (Matthew 8:1-4), palsy (Matthew 8:5-13), fever (Matthew 8:14-17), blindness (Matthew 9:27-34), and withered limbs (Matthew 12:1-14). The King shows that His power is greater than sickness and physical disabilities.

Second, Jesus shows that He has power over the elements. While the King and his disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee, there arose a storm that produced great fear in His disciples. The disciples feared for their lives and awoke Jesus saying, “Lord, save us: we perish” (Matthew 8:25). It is interesting to note that they believed Jesus had the power to save them, that is evident in their statement. Jesus responds, however, by saying, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26). Why would Jesus respond to their plea in this manner? Two thoughts: 1) If they truly believed Jesus could save them from the storm, then why were they afraid of the storm? 2) If they were confident in the King’s ability to deliver them, why did they wake Him? They should have known that He didn’t have to be awake to save them from the storm.

Third, Jesus demonstrate His power over the demons. In Matthew 8:28-34, Jesus comes into contact with two men who are demon possessed. Mark tells us that the demons were called Legion, because they were many. It is interesting to note that as soon as the demons realized it was Jesus, they referred to Him as “Thou Son of God” (Matthew 8:29). Christ’s power as king has already begun to encroach on Satan’s domain. Jesus sends the demons out of the men and into a herd of swine. A few chapters later in Matthew 12:22-37, Jesus once again heals a man possessed by a demon. This time the people observing what takes place say, “Is this not the Son of David?” (Matthew 12:23) They recognized that the Messiah – the coming King, would have such power. The Pharisees said, “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils” (Matthew 12:24) Jesus then makes the obvious point that if a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand. He also asks them in whose name their disciples cast out demons. Jesus points out the hardness of their hearts in refusing to accept Him as their King. The Pharisees were too concerned with keeping their own power, and this attitude of corruption blinded them to seeing and believing the truth about the Kingship of Jesus.

Fourth, Jesus demonstrates that He has power over death itself. Matthew tells us about a ruler’s daughter who had fallen ill. The ruler came to Jesus pleading with Him to come and heal his daughter. While they are on the way, word reaches them that the ruler’s daughter has died. When Jesus arrives at the house, He says, “The maid is not dead, but sleepeth” (Matthew 9:24) The people who were at the house began laughing, they didn’t realize that this King had power even over death! Jesus reaches out, takes the girl by the hand, and she got up. Those who serve this King, will never have to fear death, He has conquered death!

Finally, Jesus shows He has power over man’s worst enemy, sin. A man with palsy was brought to Jesus to be healed. Jesus noticed the faith of the men who brought the man, and told the man, “Son, be a good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee” (Matthew 9:2). The scribes began to think that Jesus was blaspheming. After all, only God could forgive sins. Jesus knows the hearts of men however, and asked them if it was easier to say they sins are forgiven, or arise take up your bed and walk? Well, clearly it’s easier to say your sins are forgiven, the results cannot be seen! So, to prove that He could forgive sins, Jesus told the man to get up, take his bed, and walk; and the man did! Don’t miss the point of this passage: Jesus is sent from God; He proves that by working miracles. Now, if God did not approve of His claim to be able to forgive sins, we would not have been able to work this miracle. But Jesus shows that God approves of what He teaches by healing the man. The scribes knew these things, but sadly, many of them hardened their hearts and refused to believe what should have been so plain to them. Truly, Jesus is a king with great power who must be followed!

The Parables of the King

            Jesus then begins to dial down the miracles, to make sure He remains on God’s timeline for the coming kingdom. He shifts to telling parables – many of them about His kingdom. His parables were an earthly story to which His audience could relate, that had a heavenly or spiritual meaning.

Jesus told parables to help his audience understand important principles about Him and His coming kingdom. Sometimes, the true meaning of the parable was difficult to understand. Hindson and Towns wrote,

“The Sower teaches that certain differences between people will produce different responses when the gospel is preached (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). Wheat and Tares and the Net show that some people will be included and some rejected when the kingdom comes. The Hidden Treasure and the Pearl show that the kingdom is more valuable than all other possessions (Matthew 13:44-46).” (Hindson and Towns 357)

After Jesus goes through this period of telling the parables, He begins to increase the pressure on the religious leaders and being even more open in presenting Himself as the Messiah, the King that the Jews were anticipating.

The Presentation of the King

            Jesus goes back to His home country and teaches in the synagogue. The crowd reacts by saying, “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Whence hath this man all these things?” And they were offended in Him (Matthew 13:55-57a). While Jesus continues to do miracles, the tension between Him and the religious leaders continue to escalate. They were envious of all the attention He was getting from the multitudes, and refused to accept the evidence that He was the King for which they had been waiting.

During this time, Jesus asked His disciples, “Whom say ye that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Peter then makes the great confession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Jesus then promises that He would build His church on the rock; which is the confession of Peter. He said that Peter would be given “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19). This came to pass in Acts 2 when Peter preaches the first Gospel sermon on the Day of Pentecost.

Jesus told his apostles on several occasions that he would be killed and be raised from the dead. He said, “The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again” (Matthew 17:22-23). Jesus has already demonstrated His power over death, He is now telling them that He has power over His own life.

In Matthew 21:1-11, we read of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. They were coming to keep the Passover as the Old Law stated. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the multitude gave Him a welcome fit for a king. They spread their garments and tree leaves in the road for the donkey He was riding to walk upon. The crowd began to shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9). The Scriptures say in Matthew 21:10 that all the city was moved and wondered, “Who is this?” Some of the people believed and knew exactly who Jesus claimed to be – the Son of God, the Messiah for whom they’d been waiting. Others still believed He had come to set up and earthly kingdom and restore Israel to its former glory.

The Prophecies of the King

            Matthew then records two main prophecies of the King in Matthew 24:1-51. Jesus tells his apostles that the temple would be destroyed, to the extent where there would not even be one stone left on top of another. This is such a catastrophic event in their minds, that they assume Jesus must be referring to the end of the world.  Take note, they ask Him two separate questions, “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming; and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). The remainder of this chapter is Jesus answering the two separate questions asked by His apostles.

Many people confuse what Jesus is talking about in this chapter so for the sake of brevity, Jesus answer can be summed up in the following 2 points: 1) Jesus is discussing in Matthew 24:4-35 the coming destruction of Jerusalem, 2) Jesus answers the second part of His apostles’ question about the end of the world in Matthew 24:36-51.

The Passion and Triumph of the King

            The final section that Matthew discusses is the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of the King. The religious leaders of the Jews had been plotting of how they could get rid of Jesus; they were burning alive in their envy of Christ. See, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, enjoyed great power and prominence among the Jewish people. They were viewed as great Holy men of God, and they were drunk on the power and attention that the people gave them. When Jesus came to earth and began teaching, not only did crowds follow him, but He called out the Pharisees for their sinful behavior of self-righteousness. They hated Jesus so much, that they came by night, arrested Him, had a mock trial, threatened the Roman governor by gathering a mob and threatening to riot, and finally, they got what they wanted when Jesus was crucified on a cross like a common criminal.

What the religious should have known, being the “Bible Scholars”, was that the death of Jesus was the plan of God all along. They were so blinded by their traditions and their false interpretations of the Old Law, that they couldn’t see the truth. After Jesus arose from the dead, three days after He died, the Jewish religious leaders continued to fight the growth of the Kingdom, but would ultimately fail.

 

 

Conclusion

            Matthew concludes the book about the King and the Kingdom of Heaven by sharing to all readers of the Scriptures, what is simply known as The Great Commission. Before Jesus ascends back into heaven, Matthew records these words He spoke, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:18-20).

The conclusion is that the King has been given all power and authority and that His kingdom will never fall. Earthly kingdoms will rise and fall throughout time, but the church – the kingdom of heaven – will never fall until the return of our Lord, our King. And in that day, He will bring His church, His kingdom, to the home which He has prepared for them in heaven. And there, the faithful servants in His kingdom, will live with their King, for all eternity.

 

 

Works Cited

Hindson, Ed and Elmer L Towns. Illustrated Bible Survey, An Introduction . Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2013.

The Holy Bible KJV. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1999.

Daily Prompt: Transformation

via Daily Prompt: Transformation

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

Paul writes that we as Christians are to be a living sacrifice to God. We are not to conform (fit it, fashion ourselves according to) the world. Why? “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4).

Instead of conforming to the world, we are to transform (change) ourselves by renewing (renovating) our minds, so that we can know what is the perfect will of God.

Why should we transform ourselves and our minds? We serve an awesome God! “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).

 

Genesis: The Book of Beginnings

Genesis: The Book of Beginnings

Introduction

The book of Genesis is known as being a book of beginnings. It tells how God created the world in six days. It explains how man arrived on this Earth. Many people today ask the question, “How did we get here?” Genesis answers that question. God in His infinite wisdom, revealed to mankind exactly how He made man, and even on what day He made man.

Genesis traces the beginnings of the Israelite nation, from which, Christ would eventually come to this world. Genesis ends with Jacob and his sons going down to Egypt to live. From here, the nation of Israel will eventually leave, which we read about in Exodus. Genesis tells the life story of some of the Bible’s most well-known characters: Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, to name a few. God’s power is constantly on display throughout the book of Genesis.

 

Author

The book of Genesis is the first book of the five books in the Pentateuch. The Bible refers to the Pentateuch as the law of Moses in passages such as Ezra 7:6, Nehemiah 8:1, and 2 Chronicles 25:4. There are three evidences that assist in proving Moses was the author of Genesis.

First, the Jews observed the law of Moses from antiquity. All throughout Scripture, they refer to the Old Law, as the law of Moses. Second, a host of passages refer to Moses as the author of the Pentateuch. Passages such as Exodus 17:14, “And the LORD said unto Moses…”, Leviticus 1:1, “And the LORD called unto Moses…”, and Deuteronomy 1:1, “These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness…” Finally, Jesus said Moses was the author in Matthew 8:4, “…the gift that Moses commanded…”, Mark 1:44, “…which Moses commanded…”, and Luke 16:29, “…They have Moses and the prophets…”

Eric Lyons wrote:

“Indeed, believing Moses wrote the Pentateuch is very important. It is not a trivial subject we should treat frivolously while suggesting that ‘it doesn’t really matter.’ It matters because the deity of Christ and the integrity of the Bible writers are at stake!” (Lyons 63)

 

If one believes the Bible’s claim that it is the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), and believes that Jesus is deity (John 1:1-18), then the conclusion must be reached that Moses is the author of the Pentateuch, which would include the book of Genesis. Some books of the Bible, the author is uncertain. God does not always reveal who the author is of each book. Genesis is not one of those books. We can know that Moses wrote Genesis, due to the vast amount of evidence that exists to prove such. Moses wrote the book of Genesis likely between the years of 1450-1500 B.C. This would have been during the years of the wilderness wanderings.

 

Purpose

The book of Genesis literally means “beginning.” The purpose of Genesis deals with the beginning of many things. According to Bob Winton in an Outlined Commentary on Genesis, the purpose of Genesis is four-fold. (1) It gives a brief survey of divine history from the beginning until Israel enters Egypt; (2) It gives a record of the origin of the universe and the things and beings which inhabit it; (3) It begins to reveal the nature of God as Creator, Preserver, and Lawgiver; (4) It is primarily a book of religious history while dealing with human affairs. (Winton 1)

The immediate purpose of Genesis is to record the origin of man and the world, and then to follow the development of the nation of Israel, as the nation that God chose to separate. The ultimate purpose of Genesis is to show the unfolding of God’s plan to redeem mankind from their sins. God begins to reveal His nature throughout Genesis.

The beginning of Genesis tells of God creating the world in six days. The creation account culminates on day six with God creating man from the dust of the ground. God’s power is constantly being demonstrated throughout the book of Genesis.  As we examine several theories that attempt to explain away the power of God, keep in mind that since God is all-powerful, He can do anything in any way He desires. He has, through His Word, told us how He did some things.

There are individuals who attempt to discredit the Holy Scriptures in regards to the creation account found in Genesis. They reason that since the earth appears older than the Biblical account communicates, then there must be some gap of time in Genesis, or the days were much longer during the creation. Bert Thompson observed:

“One of the most important questions, then, in the controversy over the age of the Earth is this: If the Earth is ancient, where in the biblical record will the time be placed to guarantee that antiquity? There are but three options. The time needed to ensure an old Earth might be placed: (a) during the creation week; (b) before the creation week; or (c) after the creation week. If the time needed to account for an old Earth cannot be placed successfully into one of these three places, then it quickly becomes obvious that an old Earth view is unscriptural.” (Bert Thompson 127)

 

 

Gap Theory

The Gap Theory, while different from the Day Age Theory, attempts to discredit the Holy Scriptures when it comes to the Genesis creation account. Men today are unwilling to accept the Bible as truth when it comes to creation, so they try to skirt around what God teaches in His word.

So, what is the Gap Theory? Bert Thompson explains:

“The widely-held view among Gap theorists today is that the original creation of the world by God, as recorded in Genesis 1:1, took place billions of years ago. The creation was then despoiled because of Satan’s disobedience, resulting in his being cast from heaven with his followers. A cataclysm occurred at the time of Satan’s rebellion, and is said by proponents of the Gap Theory to have left Earth in darkness (“waste and void”) as a divine judgement because of the sin of Satan in rebelling against God. The world as God had created it, with all its inhabitants, was destroyed and left ‘waste and void,’ which, it is claimed, accounts for the myriad fossils present in the Earth. Then, God ‘re-created’ (or “restored”) the Earth in six literal, 24-hour days. Genesis 1, therefore, is the story of an original, perfect creation, a judgement and ruination, and a re-creation. While there are other minor details that could be included, this represents the essence of the Gap Theory.” (Bert Thompson 159)

The Gap Theorists make the assumption that the phrase, “without form and void” can only apply to the Earth becoming void. They make the assumption that God created the Earth and then it became without form and void. The problem with this approach is that, the word “became” is not found in Genesis 1:2. They insert this word into the verse and then take it completely out of its context. As noted earlier, the Scriptures must always be kept in their proper context.

The Gap Theory is false because there is no evidence that the rebellion of Satan took place on the Earth. Also, the idea that it caused a great cataclysm and destroyed the initial Earth is completely unsupported by Scripture.

Finally, the Gap Theory cannot account for God calling His creation “very good” at the end of day six. If the Earth had been destroyed at one point, how could it then be referred to by God as “very good?” This theory does not fit with what Scripture teaches. If a theory does not match up with Scripture, then it must be discarded.

Day Age Theory

Those who wish to hold on with one hand to the Scriptures and the other to the Theory of Evolution, must come up with a way of showing that time in the beginning was much longer than supposed. Sadly, there are even some who do not believe in the Theory of Evolution who believe in the Day Age Theory. These are generally referred to as, “Old-Earth Creationists.” The Day Age Theory simply states that each day in the Genesis account of creation, was much longer than twenty-four hours. Many times those who hold this view, will say that the days represent thousands upon thousands of years.

There are several flaws with the Day Age Theory. First, Exodus asserts that the days of creation were literal 24-hour days. Chad Ramsey, in speaking of the Day Age Theory, wrote:

“Such an assertion, however, fails to recognize that Exodus 20:11 ties the length of the days of creation to that of the Sabbath – certainly a literal 24-hour day. In that passage Moses wrote: ‘For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.’ So with that theory cast aside, how can an individual who takes the Bible literally account for the alleged time discrepancies?” (Ramsey 94)

 

Second, if the assumption is made that the creation days in Genesis are eons of time, then what would years mean in Genesis 1:14? Moses writes, “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:” Would the years be even longer periods of time? If so, when would they have become the standard length of time our years are now? Scripture gives no inclination that the periods of time mentioned in Genesis 1 are anything other than what is understood to be days and years today.

Third, we should consider the days of creation to be literal 24-hour days because the context demands this to be true. The Hebrew word, yom, doesn’t always refer to a 24-hour day. The context must be considered to determine exactly what it means. As already considered above, the context points towards the days of creation being literal 24-hour days. Keeping the Scriptures in their context is vitally important to understanding their meaning, and keeps individuals from making errors when interpreting it.

Fourth, the phrase “evening and morning” was the Hebrew way of saying a 24-hour day. Thinking about this from a practical standpoint, if there is one evening, and one morning consecutively, there will have been one day, or 24 hours, pass. In studying the Word of God, one must always strive to keep passages in their proper context and let the Scriptures speak for themselves.

God is the creator of this world and everything in it. Since God is all powerful, is it possible that He created this world to appear older than it really is? Take the example of Adam. When God created Adam, did he create him full-grown, or was he a one-minute old baby? Adam must have been created full-grown, because he was able to name the animals, tend the Garden of Eden, and be married. These are not things an infant would be capable of doing. Therefore, God is able to create things to appear older than they really are. If He could do this with man, surely He could do the same with Earth.

Archaeology and Genesis

Genesis and Archaeology are always in agreement with each other. While the Bible is not meant to be a book of science, it does not disagree with science. David Smith said:

“For our purpose in this chapter, we may define ‘Biblical archaeology’ to be the scientific investigation of historical remains pertaining to such matters as are recorded in the Bible. Archaeology comes from two Greek words – archaeios, meaning ‘ancient’ and logos, meaning ‘study of.’ In Josephus’ work, The Antiquities Of The Jews, the word ‘Antiquities’ translates ‘archaeology.’ (Brown 154)

Archaeology shows evidence of a massive global flood. Evidence shows that around 2800 B.C. the Tigris and Euphrates rivers flooded and covered all human settlements beneath thick mud. Ancient civilizations have stories of a great global flood, not all in accordance with the Genesis account. But, they all have stories that have been passed down about a great global flood.

The Theory of Evolution

When the beginning of the world comes to mind in our culture today, the Theory of Evolution is very prominent. One of the most popular ideas of evolution is that man evolved over millions of years from apes. This theory must be considered, because it goes completely against what Scripture teaches regarding the creation.

First, it must be noted that evolution assumes that at some point, one species gave birth to an entirely different species. This does not refer to changes within a species. What is under consideration, is if a cat for example, could give birth to a lizard. In looking back through the fossil records, this change has never been observed in nature. In fact, Scripture explicitly teaches against it. God said in Genesis 1:24, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.” (Emphasis mine) God created the animals to reproduce after their own kind. This also applies to plants, birds, fish, and man. Secondly, evolution would need the fossil record to show “missing links.” If evolution is true, then at some point, a half-monkey and half-man would need to be found. While evolutionists claim to have found the supposed “missing link,” they have yet to find an actual skeleton. Many times all they have to base their assumptions on, is a single tooth. And later it is proven that the tooth is not from a “missing link,” but from a monkey or a pig.

There is a theory of evolution that exists that is referred to as “Theistic Evolution.” Basically, this theory tries to say that both the creation account and evolution, are true. There are quite a few arguments that can be made against Theistic Evolution, but one of the more powerful arguments is as follows: If man evolved over time, where and at what point did he acquire his soul? Eric Lyons explains:

“Theistic evolution is wrong because it cannot explain where man acquired his soul. The Bible plainly states that God created man (not an ape or ape-like creature) in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and gave that man an immortal soul (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Did that soul evolve along with all the other parts of man? How will the theistic evolutionist get a soul into man? [Without a soul, man is nothing more than a “naked ape.” And when we teach children they are nothing but animals, they will live like animals! (And some wonder why we have kids killing kids in our schools.)]” (Eric Lyons ;Web)

Without a soul, as accurately pointed out in the quote above, man is nothing more than an animal. If man does not have a soul, then why not live according to the Scriptures? If man has no soul, then each man when he reaches death, will just be dead; there will be nothing more. Why is this viewpoint so dangerous? Dave Miller expounds on this thought:

“After creating the animals, God created the first human beings, setting them apart from the animal kingdom by creating humans in His own image (Genesis 1:27). Humans possess a soul—a spirit—that lives on after the death of the body (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Zechariah 12:1; Luke 16:22-31; Hebrews 12:9; James 2:26). Animals do not share this spiritual dimension in common with humans. Animals are not human, and are not to be regarded as such. The Bible speaks directly to the question of the relationship between humans and fish. Humans are to “have dominion (i.e., rule) over the fish of the sea” (Genesis 1:26,28; cf. Psalm 8:6-8). In fact, the Bible declares specifically that, among other things, “all the fish of the sea…are given into your hand…[and] shall be food for you” (Genesis 9:2-3, emp. added). Atheism and evolution inevitably demean humanity and deify animals. The Bible and Christianity lift humans up and call upon them to measure up to the “image” (Genesis 1:26-27) and dignity bestowed upon them by the Creator. The words of Jesus apply to fish as much as they apply to birds: ‘Are you not of more value than they?’ (Matthew 6:26)” (Dave Miller ;Web)

Conclusion

Genesis is a tremendously rewarding book to study. It is God’s starting point for mankind and for the ultimate salvation of man through His Only Son, Jesus Christ. Reading this book, will help each Bible student have a proper understanding of the foundation of Scripture. As always, let each Bible student keep the Scriptures in their proper context. In doing this, God’s word will speak for itself and the reader will have the most accurate understanding of the word of God.

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

Bert Thompson, PH.D. Creation Compromises. Montgomery: Apologetics Press, Inc., 1995.

“Bland, Billy. Genesis Class Notes.” 2016.

Brown, David. Because of the Earth Beneath. Ed. B.J. Clarke. Southaven: POWER Publications, 2005.

Dave Miller, Ph.D. Where Godless Evolution Leads. Apologetics Press, Inc., n.d.

Eric Lyons, M.Min., Bert Thompson, Ph.D. Theistic Evolution. Apologetics Press, Inc., n.d.

Lyons, Eric. The Anvil Rings – Answers to Alleged Bible Discrepancies. Vol. 1. Montgomery: Apologetics Press. Inc., 2003.

Ramsey, Chad. Reasons to Believe – A Survey of Christian Evidences. Nashville: Gospel Advocate Co., 2008.

The Holy Bible KJV. Holman Bible Publishers, 2015.

Winton, Bob. Outlined Commentary on Genesis. Manchester: Bob Winton, 1987.

Can I Know God Exists?

Can I Know God Exists?

Can I Know God Exists? – Part 1

              A reflection made by men, women, scholars, philosophers, and religious persons down through the ages, could simply be summed up into the question, “Does God exist?” Is it possible to know that there is a God? Or, are we all just products of an explosion of matter which become over billions of years everything we see around us today? If you are seeking the truth on if there is a God, I commend you for seeking out the truth.

Make no mistake, this is a question of the upmost importance.  If there is no God, then we are all just products of the evolutionary process. There is nothing special about man, we are just another one of the animals. If there is no God, then there can be no life after we die. Heaven does not exist and Hell does not exist. Spending time worshipping God is simply a waste of time, if He doesn’t exist.

But if there is a God, then we can know that what He says is truth. Man is not just another animal; the Bible says man is created in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27). If God exists, then the Bible’s claims about Heaven and Hell are to be believed. If God exists, He is then worthy of our worship and praise. I hope it will be very clear to you that there is a God; He does exist; and we have evidence of His existence. Below, we will briefly examine several different arguments to help prove the existence of God.

The Cosmological Argument

Simply stated, the Cosmological Argument is based upon the relationship between cause and effect. Interestingly enough, this argument is actually present in Scripture: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalms 19:1).

Chad Ramsey wrote the following regarding this argument in Reasons to Believe: A Survey of Christian Evidences:

“If the world is the effect, then it must owe its origin to something other than itself. Therefore, the adequate cause of the world must be God. In argument form, it might look something like this:

1)      There are things that come into existence.

2)      These things owe their origin to other things (they are contingent beings).

3)      Contingent beings are finite by virtue of their nature.

4)      A finite being cannot have infinite existence.

5)      Therefore, because there are things that exist, there must be an ultimate, no-contingent cause for their existence.

6)      The cause of all things must be God” (Ramsey)

 

Let me offer you a final passage of Scripture for your consideration regarding this argument. Consider if you will Hebrews 3:4, “For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.”

 

The Teleological Argument

We can look at the world around us and see that our world shows great design. And where we see design, there must be a designer. Let’s think about this from a practical standpoint: We’ve all seen beautiful houses. We can admire the trim work, the landscaping of the yard, and the character that exists in a beautiful house. Have you ever looked at a house such as this and doubted that someone designed it? Of course not, we know that every house must have a designer and a builder.

Since we can see the design in a house, could we not also see the design that exists in our own bodies? Consider the words of Psalm 139:14, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” The human body is so complex. Once again, where design is seen, it is necessary for there to be a designer.

Chad Ramsey sums up this argument well:

“The thesis of the teleological argument is actually quite simple: the existence of intelligent design necessitates the existence of an intelligent designer. The argument could be constructed in this manner:

1)      If the world exhibits intelligent design, there must be an intelligent designer.

2)      The world does show signs of intelligent design.

3)      Therefore, an intelligent designer – God – exists.” (Ramsey)

 

 Conclusion

The Cosmological and Teleological Arguments have been considered only very briefly. In part two of this section, we will consider two other strong arguments for the existence of God: The Ontological Argument and the Moral Argument. I do hope that your faith in God has been strengthened or that you are beginning to see how that there is a God.

 

Additional Passages to Consider

Proverbs 20:12

Genesis 1:1-2:7

 

Works Cited

Ramsey, Chad. Reasons to Believe – A Survey of Christian Evidences. Nashville: Gospel Advocate Co., 2008.

The Holy Bible KJV. Holman Bible Publishers, 2015.