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Genesis 1- 3

The Creation of the World

Genesis 1:1     In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

In the creation of man we find a general consultation (Gen. 1:26), without those distinct labors and offices of each person, and without those raised expressions and marks of joy and triumph as at man’s restoration. In this there are distinct functions;  the grace of the Father, the merit of the Son, and the efficacy of the Spirit.  The Father makes the promise of redemption, the Son seals it with his blood, and the Spirit applies it. The Father adopts us to be his children, the Son redeems us to be his members, and the Spirit renews us to be his temples. In this the Father testifies himself well-pleased in a voice; the Son proclaims his own delight to do the will of God, and the Spirit hastens, with the wing of a dove, to fit him for his work, and afterwards, in his apparition in the likeness of fiery tongues, manifests his zeal for the propagation of the redeeming gospel.   The Existence and Attributes of God

27  So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 2

The Seventh Day, God Rests

Genesis 2:1     Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

The Creation of Man and Woman

4  These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.

5 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— 7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Genesis 3

The Fall

Genesis 3 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The LORD God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15  I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
but he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18  thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19  By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Did Christianity Borrow from the Mystery Religions?

By Pat Zukeran 05/24/15

     Pat Zukeran examines the myths from mystery religions which are sometimes argued to be the source of our Gospel accounts of Jesus. He finds that any such connection is extremely weak and does not detract from the reliability of the gospel message.

     One of the popular ideas being promoted today especially on the internet is the idea that the miracle stories of Jesus were borrowed from ancient pagan myths. Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy write in their book The Laughing Jesus, “Each mystery religion taught its own version of the myth of the dying and resurrecting Godman, who was known by different names in different places. In Egypt, where the mysteries began, he was Osiris. In Greece he became Dionysus, in Asia Minor he is known as Attis, in Syria he is Adonis, in Persia he is Mithras, in Alexandria he is Serapis, to name a few.”{1}

     Proponents of this idea point out that there are several parallels between these pagan myths and the story of Jesus Christ. Parallels including a virgin birth, a divine Son of God, the god dying for mankind, resurrection from the dead, and others are cited. Skeptics allege that Christianity did not present any unique teaching, but borrowed the majority of its tenets from the mystery religions.

     Indeed, some of the alleged parallels appear to be quite striking. One example is the god Mithras. This myth teaches that Mithras was born of a virgin in a cave, that he was a traveling teacher with twelve disciples, promised his disciples eternal life, and sacrificed himself for the world. The god Dionysius miraculously turns water into wine. The Egyptian god Osiris is killed and then resurrects from the dead.

     This position was taught in the nineteenth century by the History of Religions School, but by the mid-twentieth century this view was shown to be false and it was abandoned even by those who believed Christianity was purely a natural religion.{2} Ron Nash wrote, “During a period of time running roughly from about 1890 to 1940, scholars often alleged that primitive Christianity had been heavily influenced by Platonism, Stoicism, the pagan religions, or other movements in the Hellenistic world. Largely as a result of a series of scholarly books and articles written in rebuttal, allegations of early Christianity’s dependence on its Hellenistic environment began to appear much less frequently in the publications of Bible scholars and classical scholars. Today most Bible scholars regard the question as a dead issue.”{3}

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Dr. Patrick Zukeran is one of the world’s premiere apologists today. He is an author, speaker, world traveler. He is on staff with Probe Ministries and hosts a nationally syndicated radio show Evidence and Answers. He was raised in Hawaii. There is a Chinese Proverb which says, “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.” The ministry of apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith…giving answers to skeptics, or those who challenge the validity of Christian beliefs and foundations) is no small task. But when done with skill and precision, it is beautiful.

Guidelines for Interpretation of Prophecy

By John F. Walvoord

     The interpretation of prophecy has its own peculiar problems of interpretation when prophecy reveals some future event or is couched in figurative or apocalyptic form. In some instances it is difficult to determine the precise meaning of the text because there is no corroborative comparison with history. In general, however, prophecy is factual. Because so many prophecies have already been literally fulfilled, the nature of this fulfillment provides guidelines for the interpretation of prophecy which is yet unfulfilled. In addition to the general rules of interpreting the Bible, certain additional guidelines assist the interpretation of prophecy.

     1. As is true in the interpretation of all Scripture, it is most important to determine the meaning of significant words in the interpretation of prophecy. Often these words have a historical background that will help in understanding the reference.

     2. One of the important decisions necessary in the interpretation of prophecy is the determination of whether the prophecy concerns the present or the future, that is, whether it refers to a situation now past or present or is prophetic of future events. A biblical prophet, especially in the Old Testament, often delivered contemporary messages that dealt with current problems which were not necessarily futuristic in their revelation. This problem is compounded by the fact that many times prophecy was given in the past tense, where the writer of Scripture took a position of looking back on the prophecy as if it were already fulfilled. Normally, however, it is possible to determine quickly whether the prophecy deals with the past, present, or the future.

     3. Many prophecies of Scripture were fulfilled shortly after their revelation.  At least half of the prophecies of the Bible have already been fulfilled literally.  Such fulfillment confirms the fact that unfulfilled prophecy will also be literally fulfilled. Fulfilled prophecy is an important guide in interpreting unfulfilled prophecy and generally confirms the concept of literal interpretation of a prophecy.

     4. Prophecies may be conditional or unconditional. This becomes an important aspect of the conclusion that may be reached from the revelation of the prophecy. If a prophecy is conditional, it is possible it will never be fulfilled. If it is unconditional, then it is certain to be fulfilled, regardless of human response. This is an area of confusion in the interpretation of prophecy, as some have assumed that prophecy is conditional when there is no supporting data that indicates this.

     5. Prophecies sometimes have more than one fulfillment. This is referred to as the law of double reference. It is not unusual in Scripture for a prophecy to be partially fulfilled early and then later have a complete fulfillment. Accordingly, what seems to be a partial fulfillment of a prophecy should not be assumed to be the final answer as the future may record a more complete fulfillment.

     6. One of the most important questions in the interpretation of prophecy is whether a prophecy is literal or figurative. As discussed earlier, early in the history of the church, especially in the third century, a school of prophetic interpretation arose in Alexandria that attempted to interpret all the Bible in an allegorical or a nonliteral sense. The influence of this school was one of the major reasons why premillennialism in the early church faded and a form of amillennialism became dominant.

      Though the Alexandrian school of theology is labeled by all theologians as heretical, the effect of nonliteral interpretation on prophecy was rendered acceptable by the theological writings of Augustine who applied allegorical interpretation only to prophecy and not to other forms of Scripture revelation. This influence continued through the Protestant Reformation to the present day.

     Among conservative interpreters of the Bible, the issue of literal versus figurative or allegorical interpretation is a major issue because on it hangs the question as to whether the Bible teaches a future millennial kingdom following the second advent, or whether it does not. Because the church is divided on this issue, full attention should be given to the interpretation of prophecy as this unfolds in the Bible to see what the Scriptures themselves indicate concerning literal versus nonliteral interpretation.

     Confusion also reigns in terminology that sometimes contrasts the literal to the spiritual or the literal to the typical. The nonliteral interpretation of the Bible is not necessarily more spiritual than the literal. The consideration of types in this connection is another confusing aspect. Types, however, depend on the historical fact which is then used as an illustration of a later truth, but it is not prophetic in the ordinary sense. Though it may be demonstrated that most prophecy should be interpreted literally, this does not rule out figurative revelation, allegories, apocalyptic Scriptures, or other forms of nonliteral prophecy. Though it is difficult to deal with these things in the abstract, when studying a particular Scripture, it is not too difficult to determine to what extent it is literal.

     7. Apocalyptic literature is in a place all by itself because all agree that this is not, strictly speaking, literal in its revelation. Outstanding examples, of course, are the books of  Daniel, Ezekiel, and  Revelation. The fact that such revelation is not literal, however, does not deny it reveals specific facts. Here, skill in interpretation is most necessary, and careful comparison of Scripture with Scripture is essential in determining the actual meaning. This will be illustrated as prophecies of Scripture are interpreted.

     As in reading all other types of literature, it may be presumed in studying prophecy that a statement predicting a future event is factual and literal unless there are good reasons for taking it in another sense. Here, the good judgment of the interpreter and avoidance of prejudice and preconceived concepts are most important to let the passage speak for itself.

Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times

Head Knowledge vs Heart Knowledge

By Mike Mobley

     “Self-salvation through good works may produce a great deal of moral behaviour in your life, but inside you are miserable. You are always comparing yourself to other people, and you are never sure you are being good enough. You cannot therefore, deal with your hideousness and self-absorption through the moral law, by trying to be a good person through an act of the will. You need a complete transformation of the very motives of your heart.” – Tim Keller, The Reason for God

     When you hear about Jesus, what comes to mind? Who is Jesus to you? Depending on where you live, chances are you might have heard the Gospel before. Even now as you read this you might be saying to yourself “bla bla bla, yes I know the Gospel…move on to the next topic.” When it comes to Jesus, do you know Him in your head or in your heart?

(Pr 3:5–6) 5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6  In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

     Would you say you know Jesus in your head or in your heart?

     We can fill up our heads with knowledge all day long. From reading the internet, studying books, watching TV, listening to music, and having conversations with others, it’s amazing to think how much goes into our heads each day. What would it mean though for us to apply these things to our hearts? When we apply something to our heart, it becomes very real for us at that point. It drives our minds, emotions, and affections towards whatever that thing or someone is.

     Heart Knowledge | Jonathan Edwards from his sermon Divine and Supernatural Light has a great illustration to make this point using honey. He says, “your mind can know honey is sweet, people can tell you it’s sweet, you’ve read books about it, etc. but if you haven’t actually tasted it, you know with your head, but not with your heart. When you actually taste it, you experience it for yourself, you know it in a full way, and you can know it in your heart.”

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     Saved by Grace through Faith. In love with Jesus, His Glory, and obviously my beautiful wife Joelle, daughter Peyton, and son Matthew! Seeking Him in everything to glorify Him and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pastor at Austin Life Church.

Evidence for the Unique Inspiration of the Bible

By Gleason Archer Jr.

     BEFORE COMMENCING a higher critical study of the Old Testament, it is appropriate for us to come to terms with the basic question of what kind of book it is. If it is merely a product of human genius, like many other documents upon which religions have been founded, then the data which it presents must be handled in one specific way. That is, these holy writings must be dealt with in purely literary terms, and naturalistic explanations must be found for every feature which appears to be supernatural (such as fulfilled prophecy). If, on the other hand, the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament are inspired by God, employing human instruments to record the truth He revealed to man, then the data must be handled in a quite different fashion. That is to say, everything which might appear to be inconsistent with that standard of accuracy and truth which divine inspiration presupposes  (1)  must be carefully investigated in order to arrive at a satisfactory reconciliation of apparent discrepancies.  Thus the whole line of investigation is profoundly influenced by the premise with which we start.

     This is not the place to enter into a thorough treatment of Christian evidences; that is the province of textbooks on apologetics. But it is appropriate to suggest here, at least in a cursory way, why it is reasonable and proper to start with the premise that the Old Testament is a collection of books inspired by God.

     In the first place, there is significant unity which underlies the entire collection of thirty-nine books in the Old Testament, betraying an organic interconnection which carries through the many centuries during which it was being composed. These books exhibit a remarkable singleness of purpose and program, most reasonably explained as the operation of a single mind, the mind of the divine Author Himself. (2)  (A classic discussion of this aspect of Scripture is found in chap. 2 of James Orr’s Problem of the Old Testament I am adding that 1906 book, James Orr’s Problem of the Old Testament, to Lean-Into-God It begins directly below this.. Though he published this work in 1906,  Orr’s line of argument has never been successfully refuted and is still valid today. 

     Second, of all world religions, only the Hebrew-Christian offers a logically defensible epistemology (science of religious knowledge). The end result of four thousand years of human investigation and philosophic inquiry has, apart from the Bible itself, been hopeless disagreement and confusion in the whole area of religion. Some theorists have urged the manufacturing of a system of ethics and vague theism which they call a world religion. But the fact remains that the tensions between Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam are just as sharp today as they ever have been, even though milder methods of propagation or protection are usually employed today than in earlier ages. They still give entirely different answers to the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

     Contrast the situation which prevails in the realms of medicine and science. The many centuries of experimentation and research have resulted in general agreement among all civilized nations as to the basic laws of chemistry and physics. To be sure, the emergence of new data makes necessary the constant revision of the theories and conclusions which scientists publish from year to year; but by and large, the scientific world remains in substantial agreement the world over.

     In the case of religion, however, which deals with questions of the greatest importance for mankind, there has appeared no consensus whatsoever. It often happens that two men who have been reared as brothers in the same home, have enjoyed the same educational advantages, and possess the same degree of intelligence, may hold views of religion which diametrically oppose each other. If it were possible for the tools of human reason and scientific research to lead to valid results in the realm of metaphysics, men of equal education and enlightenment would surely come to some measure of agreement (just as they do in philology or science). Nothing, however, could be further from the case so far as religion is concerned. We are scarcely any nearer to agreement today than our ancestors were four thousand years ago; perhaps even less so, for they had not yet invented atheistic naturalism at that early period. It logically follows that human investigation, even with the most careful and scientific methodology, can lead to nothing more p 23 solid than mere conjecture when it comes to the destiny of the soul and the meaning of life. Man by his own searching cannot find out God; at best he can only conjecture. A guilty defendant before the court can hardly be objective about himself.

     How then can we know God or His will for our lives?  Only if He reveals Himself to us!  Unless He Himself tells us, we can never know for sure the answers to those questions which matter most to us as human beings. At this point it is important to observe that the Bible presents itself to us as the written revelation of God. This purports to be a book in which God gives us the answers to the great questions which concern our soul, and which all the wisdom and science of man are powerless to solve with any degree of certainty. The Bible asserts of itself that it is the special revelation from God; it must therefore be acknowledged as claiming to be the right kind of source from which to derive a trustworthy knowledge of religious truth.  (3)  It comes to us with the claim that the words are from God Himself: “Thus saith the Lord.” If there be a God, and if He is concerned for our salvation, this is the only way (apart from direct revelation from God to each individual of each successive generation) that He could reliably impart this knowledge to us. It must be through a reliable written record such as the Bible purports to be.  (4) 

 (1) There remains, of course, a third possibility: that God chose to reveal His truth through an imperfect revelation in which truth was mingled with error. But this would be a quite useless or unusable type of revelation, inasmuch as it would require infallible human judgment to discern the truth from the error. See the section under “Inerrancy of the Original Autographs” in this chapter.

 (2) Of course it is possible to handle the Old Testament writings in an artificially dissectionist way, in the interests of a theory of diverse sources and conglomerate authorship. One who has espoused such theories is not obliged to interpret texts in the light of their overall context and setting, but he may always, by ingenious twists of interpretation, find disagreements and discrepancies between the sources. He may uncover divergent viewpoints and inconsistencies in any given work which would never occur as such to the mind of the unbiased reader who is simply reading the book to grasp its message. But even the doctrinaire dissectionist must finally acknowledge that in the form in which the Hebrew Scriptures have been preserved to us, there is very little difference, if any, between the concept of God and the covenant which appears in the latest portion of the Old Testament and that which is found in its earliest written sections. Nor can there be any doubt that from the standpoint of Christ and the New Testament apostles, the entire Old Testament represented a single unity that spoke as with a single voice—“the Holy Scripture.”

 (3) To be sure, there are a few other religious scriptures which make the same claim for themselves, such as the Koran and the Book of Mormon. It must be conceded, however, that these two documents lack the credentials which authenticate the Bible as the true record of God’s revelation. Most notably they lack the validation of prior prophecy and subsequent fulfillment, and the all-pervading presence of the divine-human Redeemer. The Book of Mormon is vitiated by many historical inconsistencies and inaccuracies, and the Koran (which is claimed to have been dictated from a heavenly archetype coeternal with Allah) exhibits not only the most startling historical inaccuracies but also the changing viewpoints of a human author (Muhammed) in the light of the current events of his own day. Nor is there any comparison between the Bible and these other books when it comes to the grandeur and sublimity of thought it conveys, or the power with which it penetrates the human soul with life-changing consequences. (For specific details, see Appendixes 2 and 3.)   (4) What about oral tradition? May not the inerrant truth of God be handed down from mouth to mouth through successive generations? Yes, indeed, it may be, and undoubtedly portions of the Bible were preserved in this way for a good many years before finding their authoritative, written form. But oral tradition is necessarily fluid in character and in constant danger of corruption because of the subjective factor—the uncertain memory of the custodian of that tradition. The legacy of faith was handed down through the millennia from Adam to Moses in oral form, for the most part, but the final written form into which Moses cast it must have been especially superintended by the Holy Spirit in order to insure its divine trustworthiness. The Scriptures themselves lay the greatest emphasis upon their written state, and scarcely ever impute divine trustworthiness to mere oral tradition. While it was of course true that the words which Moses, the prophets, Jesus of Nazareth, and the apostles spoke were divinely authoritative from the moment they were uttered, yet there was no other way of accurately preserving them except by inscripturation (i.e., recording them in writing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit).

     A Survey of Old Testament Introduction

31 questions to ask for a more Christ-centered 2018

By Don Whitney 1/2018

     Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

     Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

     The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

     1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

     2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

     3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

     4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

     5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

     6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

     7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

     8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

     9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

     10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

     In addition to these ten questions, here are twenty-one more to help you “Consider your ways.” Think on the entire list at one sitting, or answer one question each day for a month.

     11. What’s the most important decision you need to make this year?

     12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what’s one way you could simplify in that area?

     13. What’s the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?

     14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?

     15. Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?

     16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?

     17. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?

     18. What’s one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?

     19. What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?

     20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?

     21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?

     22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?

     23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?

     24. What’s the most important trip you want to take this year?

     25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?

     26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?

     27. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?

     28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?

     29. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?

     30. What’s the most important new item you want to buy this year?

     31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?

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     Don Whitney has been Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Associate Dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY since 2005. Biography

Donald S. Whitney Books:

The Synoptic Gospels Explain John

By Lydia McGrew

     1. “He was before me” | The prologue to the Gospel of John is a part of the heritage of the Christian church. Read every Sunday as the “last Gospel” in Catholic and Anglican churches, John 1.1– 14 shows the author of the fourth Gospel at his theologically most profound.

     The prologue is studded with references to John the Baptist, with whom the narrative of the Gospel begins in verse 19. As early as verse 6, the evangelist breaks off his theological discourse to mention a man sent from God whose name was John, who came to bear witness of the light. He then returns in verse 9 to teaching about the true light who lightens all men. John the Baptist comes up again parenthetically in verse 15, immediately after the famous declaration, “The Word was made flesh.”

(Jn 1:14–18) 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. ESV

     The words of John the Baptist, emphasized here in an aside, are repeated in due course in the narrative at verse 30.

     Why does the evangelist pause and emphasize those particular words at that point in his discourse? 2 Evidently he takes it that those words of John the Baptist support the points he is making. Why those words, rather than, say, John the Baptist’s statement that Jesus is the Lamb of God or that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost?

     Theologically, the answer does not seem hard to find: John the evangelist seems to be taking John the Baptist’s words “he was before me” to be an assertion of, or at least an allusion to, Jesus’ pre-existence, which he has been teaching in the prologue. But if one looks at the Gospel of John alone, it is not clear why those words should mean that. Could they not mean that Jesus was literally older than John the Baptist? John’s Gospel says nothing to the contrary.

     When one looks at the Gospel of Luke, the significance and the almost pun-like nature of John the Baptist’s words are made clear. Luke 1.26ff is explicit that John the Baptist, the son of Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, was conceived six months before the angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin Mary to announce that she would conceive and bear the child Jesus. Hence, Jesus came after John the Baptist both in the sense that his ministry began later and also in the human sense that he was six months younger. But he “was before” John the Baptist, if one accepts the doctrine of the Incarnation, in the sense that his existence did not begin with his human conception.

(Lk 1:26–28) 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” ESV

     Could the author of John have counted on his audience’s familiarity with the point about the ages of Jesus and John the Baptist? What if some members of his audience had not read the Gospel of Luke? There are two relevant points here, one of which confirms Luke and one of which confirms John: First, John’s pointed insertion of those words of John the Baptist at that place in his theological argument supports the conclusion that John knew as a fact that Jesus was biologically younger than John the Baptist. This provides confirmation to Luke. A skeptical scholar might conjecture that Luke made up the respective ages of Jesus and John the Baptist in his narrative, or that it was a legendary addition that he copied down, and that it became accepted on that basis, but that is to add an unnecessary layer of explanation. There is no particular theological reason in Luke for making John the Baptist six months older. It simply comes out in the course of the story. The simplest explanation for John’s pointed, theological use of the words of John the Baptist that Jesus “was before him” is that the Gospel author knew that Jesus was biologically younger than John the Baptist and hence that these words could not have referred to biological age.

     On the other side, the fact that John could not be sure that all of his readers would know that John the Baptist was humanly older than Jesus supports at least to some degree the accuracy of his own account of John the Baptist’s words. Suppose, instead, that he made up those words, “He was before me,” and put them into the mouth of John the Baptist for his own theological purposes. His use of them in the prologue makes it clear that he thinks that they do serve his theological ends. But in that case, why would he leave it to chance as to whether his intended audience would get the point? Why be subtle about it? If one considers only John’s Gospel, the point of John the Baptist’s words is theologically unclear and leaves the reader wondering why this is being emphasized just here in this way. It is implausible that an author would go to the trouble to invent words that John the Baptist never said while leaving their point obscure, requiring for their understanding an historical data point that the inventing author does not even mention in his own account. But if John was recounting what John the Baptist actually said, happening to remember it, noting its significance to himself, and mentioning it as a brief aside before getting back to his own theological argument, he may well not have stopped to think about whether all of the relevant background had been fleshed out for his readers.

Hidden in Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts

     Lydia McGrew

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 1

The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

ESV Study Bible

Between Two Gardens

By Michael Andres 10/18/2016

     The Bible begins and ends with a garden. In the biblical narrative, God’s story, the garden is a holistic, sacred space of communion and cultivation.

     “In the beginning God created…” (Gen. 1:1). God speaks the world into existence. Everything is made out of nothing. First there is silence, stillness, nothing. Then the divine creative word is uttered, the curtain is opened, and a chorus of comets and quasars, seas and volcanoes, and oaks and toads comes forth. He makes a wonderfully diverse biological community. God is a community – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and we, too, are communal by nature, built to live together in harmony. Eden is a community garden.

     God calls creation “good” (Gen. 1:31). Material creation is affirmed. The Creator cares about our physical well-being, as well as our spiritual state. He is the God of soil and skin, as well as souls. The creation is characterized by shalom and justice, well-being and harmony; things are the way they are supposed to be. There is no scarcity, only abundance for everyone. With no lack, no conflict, and no pain, Eden is a peaceful garden.

     In this garden, there is perfect communion between male and female, humans and other creatures, God and all his creation. God walks in the cool of the garden. He relocates from heaven to walk with his people and creation. But there is a unique communion between God and humanity. A relationship has begun, humanity is made in God’s image, demonstrated by God’s communication to the first pair: “Do not eat…” The garden models this communion between human and divine. Eden is a lover’s garden.

     Since the Creator weaves human creatures in his own image, they, too, are designed for creative work. This is a garden, not a wilderness. God is the first gardener, cultivating it to make it blossom. Cultivate means “tillage; improvement; increase of fertility; the bestowing of labor and care upon a plant, so as to develop and improve its qualities.” God develops his creational community. God may be the first gardener, but then humanity is called to cultivate the earth and “to work the ground” (Gen. 2:5). Fruitful labor is part of God’s plan, welfare is not. Eden is a cultivated garden.

     “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1). In the new creation, God remains committed to his creation and garden. Fulfilling the eschatological vision of a “beloved community,” in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2, 10-21), God will dwell with His zillions of people, as promised to Abram, in the heavenly Jerusalem, as promised to David. Heaven will be communal, not individualistic. Cities embody culture — town squares, gardens, music, and the arts. The new earth will be a community garden.

     Inhabitants will corporately be the bride at the sumptuous wedding feast of the Lamb (21:2, 9), fulfilling the promise of communion with Immanuel (21:3). We will live in the intimate presence of our covenant God, and sweet, perfect communion is restored. We will be his people, and he will be our God. The new earth will be a lover’s garden.

     For all those who have suffered much oppression and injustice, God will wipe away all their tears. There will be no more death, no more mourning, no more pain (21:4). No pettiness, no abuse, no more lies. No cemeteries or hospitals or psych wards. There will be no disease, no dementia. No more predatory lenders or shotgun houses. For the old order has passed away, the new has come. The new earth will be a peaceable garden.

     Finally, we will return to the garden with its tree of life and where there is no more curse (Rev. 22:1-5). The cursed wildernesses of the sharecropper’s fields are gone. We will once again enjoy the sweet fragrance of the Edenic flowers and trees, taste of its succulent fruits, and lie down in its grassy meadows. The new earth will be a cultivated, restored garden.

     The Bible begins and ends with a garden. But between two gardens lies a fallow field; it is a cursed garden, a cornfield full of pesticides, disputed land between immigrant neighbors, between family farm and corporate agribusiness. It is a sharecropper’s field, a plantation. Between Eden and the new earth, there is the cursed land of thorns, thistles, flooded fields, meth, racial tension, and produce prices and wages too low to live on, marked by the pain, toil and sweat of those afflicted with injustice. This is the ravaged garden we dwell in at present in our lands and towns.

     But in between these two gardens lies a tree, the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus connects the Garden of Eden with the Garden of Gethsemane and the garden tomb, and, finally, with the restored Garden of the New Earth. By his death and resurrection, reconciliation with God and people is possible, thus restored rural communities. By his death and resurrection, peace and love are possible, as reconciled and reconciling gardeners furrow the ground of their rural spaces and small towns.

     This is Christian community development: cultivators between the two gardens who labor, pray, and bleed alongside those dwelling in the land, our rural and urban communities, know that by the grace of Christ we are cultivating and developing God’s garden. We know what the original plan was, and dare to believe the promise that the garden will flourish once again. We are not there yet. But we are called to cast a compelling vision of creation and new creation, by word and deed, for all God’s people to see. A vision for our churches and communities, and all the weak and vulnerable in our midst, that right now God is cultivating a new garden and new people, and that we can participate as his faithful gardeners.

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     Michael Andres is Professor of Religion at Northwestern College.

The Inspired Order of the Bible 1

By Dr. Judd W. Patton

     The Bible contains 66 books, thirty-nine in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New Testament. While there is no doubt or question that the Bible is complete, the entire Word of God, nevertheless there is a question about the actual number of books and their arrangement or order.

     Would God design His Word with the mark of man on it? That is, man was created on the sixth day of creation week. Six is the mark of man. This theomatic design is seen throughout the Bible. Six and especially sixty-six, which amplifies the element of man, seems, therefore, an unlikely number of books for God to include in His Word.

     Sixty-six books, however, is just a hint of a possible problem. The evidence from the Bible itself is that there are in fact forty-nine books of the Bible arranged in seven divisions. No scripture is lost, or added, by counting them as God does, so don’t get shook up!

     The most dramatic concern is that many of the books of the Bible have been “scrambled,” so to speak, from the order or arrangement as originally canonized and seen in the earliest manuscripts.

     These truths may seem shocking, but they are easily proven. God has, for His own purposes and reasons, permitted this re-arrangement to occur. Nevertheless, the historical evidence and most importantly, the internal evidence of the Bible itself, irrefutably demonstrate the actual number of Bible books and the God-ordained order or sequence of those forty-nine books.

     Again, to state our conclusion up front, there are forty-nine books in seven divisions in a God inspired order. God has put each book in a special position. He did not flip a coin, for example, to decide which book was to be the final one in the Old Testament or which book was to be the first in the New Testament! God could not have designed His Word in a haphazard manner!

     That is because God is not the author of confusion ( 1 Corinthians 14:33 ). The traditional arrangement of the books of the Bible, when contrasted to the Inspired Order, as the author likes to phrase it, will be seen as just that – confusing. The Bible is indeed fitly joined together, God breathed and ordered.

     Throughout this paper the author will refer to the contemporary arrangement of the Bible that all of us are familiar with as the Traditional Order and the original God-ordained order as the Inspired Order.

     This paper seeks to demonstrate and prove this Inspired Order by letting the Bible itself speak about its own order and principles for arrangement. When the correct book order is restored, we’ll discover a marvelous and eye-opening series of insights and a series of connected subjects and organizational logic from Genesis to Revelation. All of the teachings in the Bible become clearer and plainer.

The Influence of Jerome

     The man most responsible for what became our traditional Bible of sixty-six books was the Catholic theologian, Jerome. His Latin Vulgate translation, written between A.D. 382 and 405, with his “new” arrangement of the books for both the Old and New Testaments, became the standard for Protestant scholars and translators. Of a truth once a tradition becomes established, it is difficult to change. Yet Jerome knew better. He had a rationale, a wrong rationale, for making these changes! Regardless, the Tradition lives on today.

     In A.D. 391 Jerome said the following, “As, then, there are twenty-two elementary characters by means of which we write in Hebrew … so we reckon twenty-two books, by which, as by the alphabet of the doctrine of God, a righteous man is instructed…” (1) Yes, Jerome understood that the Hebrew Old Testament contained 22 books coinciding with the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, not 39. And to this day the Jewish translations contain 22 Old Testament books. The books and arrangement or order of the books has never been lost. Even Josephus, in Book 1, Section 8 of his famous work, Antiquities of the Jews, recognized “only 22 books.”

     Concerning the New Testament, E.W. Bullinger in his Companion Bible made this bold statement: “Our English Bibles follow the order as given in the Latin Vulgate. This order, therefore, depends on the arbitrary judgment of one man, Jerome. All theories based on this order rest on human authority, and are thus without any true foundation.” 2 Dr. Bullinger has hit the nail on the head!

     The scholar, now deceased, who has done the most research, in the author’s assessment, on the issue of Bible book order, is Earnest Martin. His 1994 book entitled, Restoring the Original Bible, is the most systemic, documented, referenced and scholarly work on the Inspired Order of the Bible. It used to be available for $24 from his Web site: http://www.askelm.com.

The Continual Burnt Offering (Exodus 29:42)

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

     In Exodus 29:42 we read of a “continual burnt offering” which was ever to be ascending to God from the brazen altar, where the people drew near to meet with the Lord as worshipers, to offer their praises and thanksgiving. Morning by morning and evening by evening a new burnt offering was placed on the altar that there might be no interruption in that which was intended to set forth the adoration of Israel to Him who had redeemed them.

Exodus 29:42 It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. 43 There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory.   ESV

     There is no longer any material altar, nor need of any repetition of the sacrifice of the cross toward which all the oblations of old pointed, but we are exhorted to offer the sacrifice of praise continually. This book of daily meditations has been prepared with that goal in view.

     It is not intended to take the place of daily Bible reading, but rather to offer suggestive helps by focusing the attention on particular passages and offering simple comments designed to move the heart to a deeper sense of responsibility to God and devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ. The notes are mine, some new and others selected from my own books. The poems have been gathered from many sources. --- H.A. Ironside - 1941

January 1
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.   ESV

     What a sublime introduction to the inspired Scriptures! We do not know when this universe came into existence. Scientists differ by millions, and even billions, of years when they attempt to fix the age of the world. But go back as far as the human mind can think and we come right up against God. The universe is not the result of blind chance or of certain unexplained laws of nature. It is the product of a master mind. A personal God brought it into existence. “He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:9). And this God has been revealed in Christ Jesus, and is the Father of all who believe in His Son. His power is unlimited, His wisdom is infinite, and all His resources are at the disposal of His saints as they cry to Him in faith.

The Maker of the universe
As Man, for man was made a curse.
The claims of Law which He had made,
Unto the uttermost He paid.

His holy fingers made the bough
Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow.
The nails that pierced His hands were mined
In secret places He designed.

He made the forest whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung.
He died upon a cross of wood,
Yet made the hill on which it stood.

The sky that darkened o’er His head
By Him above the earth was spread.
The sun that hid from Him its face
By His decree was poised in space.

The spear which spilled His precious blood
Was tempered in the fires of God.
The grave in which His form was laid,
Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.

The throne on which He now appears
Was His from everlasting years,
But a new glory crowns His brow,
And every knee to Him shall bow.
--- F. W. Pitt

The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God

God Gave Humanity Dominion Over The Animals

By Got Questions.org

     The word dominion means “rule or power over.” God has sovereign power over His creation and has delegated the authority to mankind to have dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:26). David reinforces this truth: “You made [mankind] rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet” (Psalm 8:6). Humanity was to "subdue" the earth (Genesis 1:28) — we were to hold a position of command over it; we were placed in a superior role and were to exercise control over the earth and its flora and fauna. Mankind was set up as the ruler of this world. All else was subjugated to him.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Psalm 8:6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

     God’s command to subdue the earth and the animal life in it is a command to have the mastery over all of it. A true mastery (of anything) cannot be accomplished without an understanding of the thing mastered. In order for a musician to master the violin, he or she must truly understand the instrument. In order for mankind to attain mastery over the animal kingdom, we must understand the animals.

     With the authority to rule comes the responsibility to rule well. There is an inherent accountability in the command to subdue the earth. Man has a duty to exercise his dominion under the authority of the One who delegated it. All authority is of God (Romans 13:1-5), and He delegates it to whomever He will (Daniel 4:17). The word subdue doesn’t have to imply violence or mistreatment. It can mean “to bring under cultivation.”

Romans 13:1–5 1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

Daniel 4:17 The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’

     Man is to be the steward of the earth; he is to bring the material world and all of its varied elements into the service of God and the good of mankind. The command to subdue the earth is actually part of God’s blessing on mankind. Created in the image of God, Adam and Eve were to use the earth’s vast resources in the service of both God and themselves. It would only make sense for God to decree this, since only humans were created in God’s image.

     When God gave humanity dominion over the animals, it was in order to care for, tend to, and use those animals to their fullest potential in a just manner. At the time that God gave mankind dominion over the animals, humans did not eat meat (Genesis 1:29). Eating meat did not begin until after the Flood (Genesis 9:1–3), and it was at that time that animals started to fear humans. However, although God changed the way we interact with animals, in that they are now “meat,” we still bear a responsibility to treat animals humanely. Human rule over animals does not mean we have the right to mistreat or misuse those animals.

Genesis 1:29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.

Genesis 9:1–3 1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

     Having dominion over the animals should entail a humane management of them as the resource God has ordained them to be. We should consider that mankind was given the task (and blessing) of representing God in this world. We are the caretakers. We hold sway over all the earth, and we (bearing God’s image) bear a responsibility to act as God would. Does God misuse His creation? No. Is God unwise in His management of resources? No. Is God ever cruel or selfish or wasteful? No. Then neither should we be. Any misuse or mistreatment of God’s creation is the result of sin, not the result of following God’s original command. We must fulfill our duty to manage the earth wisely until that time when the wolf shall lie down with the lamb in the kingdom of Christ (Isaiah 11:6).

Isaiah 11:6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.

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     S. Michael Houdmann is the Founder, President, and CEO of Got Questions Ministries, the parent ministry for GotQuestions.org. We rarely receive questions about S. Michael Houdmann, and that is a good thing. He does not want GotQuestions.org to be about him. He does not want people to accept or reject the answers given at GotQuestions.org because of name recognition. Rather, his hope is that people will accept or reject GotQuestions.org answers because they have read them, compared them with the Word of God, and prayed about them – and determined them to be true and biblical.

The Problem Of The Old Testament

By James Orr 1907

IN 1879, the late William Bross of Chicago, lieutenant-governor of Illinois in 1866–1870, desiring to make some memorial of his son, Nathaniel Bross, who had died in 1856, entered into an agreement with the “Trustees of Lake Forest University,” whereby there was finally transferred to the said Trustees the sum of Forty Thousand Dollars, the income of which was to accumulate in perpetuity for successive periods of ten years, at compound interest, the accumulations of one decade to be spent in the following decade, for the purpose of stimulating the production of the best books or treatises “on the connection, relation, and mutual bearing of any practical science, or history of our race, or the facts in any department of knowledge, with and upon the Christian Religion."

In his deed of gift the founder had in view “the religion of the Bible, composed of the Old and New Testaments of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, as commonly received in the Presbyterian and other evangelical churches.” His object was “to call out the best efforts of the highest talent and the ripest scholarship of the world, to illustrate from science, or any department of knowledge, and to demonstrate, the divine origin and authority of the Christian Scriptures; and, further, to show how both Science and Revelation coincide, and to prove the existence, the providence, or any or all of the attributes of the one living and true God, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.”

At the close of the Trust Agreement, the donor expressed the hope that, by means of this fund, the various authors might, “every ten years, post up the science of the world and show how it illustrates the truth of the Bible, and the existence of God,” and that thereby “the gospel of our blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ, and the glories of His sacrifice and plan of salvation,” might be preached “to the end of time.”

The books or treatises procured by either of the methods described below are to be published as volumes of what is to be known as “The Bross Library.”

The gift thus contemplated in the original agreement of 1879 was finally consummated in 1890. The first decade of the accumulations of interest having closed in 1900, the Trustees of the Bross Fund began at that time the administration of this important trust.

The Trust Agreement prescribes two methods by which the production of books of the above-mentioned character is to be stimulated:—

A. The Trustees of the Bross Fund are empowered to select able scholars, from time to time, to prepare books, upon some theme within the terms of the Trust Agreement, that would “illustrate” or “demonstrate” the Christian Religion, or any phase of it, to the times in which we live.

Ordinarily, the authors of these books are requested to deliver the substance of such books in the form of lectures before Lake Forest College, and any of the general public who may desire to attend them, such courses to be known as The Bross Lectures.

In pursuance of the first method, two writers have already been specially appointed:—

(1) The Reverend President Francis Landey Patton, D.D., LL.D., of the Princeton Theological Seminary, whose lectures on “Obligatory Morality,” delivered in Lake Forest in May, 1903, are being revised and enlarged by the author and will be published in due time by the Trustees of the Bross Fund;

(2) The Reverend Professor Marcus Dods, D.D., of New College, Edinburgh, whose lectures on “The Bible: Its Origin and Nature,” delivered in May, 1904, have already been published as a volume of the Bross Library.

B. The second method for securing books for the Bross Library is as follows:—

One or more premiums or prizes are to be offered during each decade, the competition for which was to be thrown open to “the scientific men, the Christian philosophers and historians of all nations.”

Accordingly, in 1902, a prize of Six Thousand Dollars ($6,000) was offered for the best book fulfilling any of the purposes described in the foregoing extracts from the Trust Agreement, the manuscripts to be presented on or before June 1, 1905.

The following were appointed a Committee of Judges to make the award: the Reverend George Trumbull Ladd, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Moral Philosophy, Yale University; Alexander Thomas Ormond, Ph.D., LL.D., Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University, and the Reverend George Frederick Wright, D.D., LL.D., Professor of the Harmony of Science and Revelation, Oberlin College.

The authorship of the various essays was not known to the judges until after the award was made, the undersigned having been the custodian of the sealed envelopes containing the names of the writers of the respective manuscripts.

The Committee of Judges has unanimously awarded the Bross Prize of 1905 to the essay entitled “The Problem of the Old Testament,” which is now issued as Volume III of the Bross Library.

The next Bross prize will be offered about 1915, and will be announced in due time by the Trustees of the Bross Fund.

The Trust Agreement requires that once in every thirty or fifty years (according as the Trustees of the fund may decide at the time) the entire sum of simple interest accumulated during the previous decade is to be offered as a single premium or prize for a competition similar to the one which has just been completed.

President of Lake Forest College.


     The Problem of the Old Testament

Origin Of All The Basic Entities Of The Universe And Of Life

By Henry M. Morris March 1976

(1) Origin of the universe
The Book of Genesis stands alone in accounting for the actual creation of the basic space-mass-time continuum which constitutes our physical universe. Genesis 1:1 is unique in all literature, science, and philosophy. Every other system of cosmogony, whether in ancient religious myths or modern scientific models, starts with eternal matter or energy in some form, from which other entities were supposedly gradually derived by some process.

Only the Book of Genesis even attempts to account for the ultimate origin of matter, space, and time; and it does so uniquely in terms of special creation.

(2) Origin of order and complexity
Man’s universal observation, both in his personal experience and in his formal study of physical and biological systems, is that orderly and complex things tend naturally to decay into disorder and simplicity. Order and complexity never arise spontaneously—they are always generated by a prior cause programmed to produce such order. The Primeval Programmer and His programmed purposes are found only in Genesis.

(3) Origin of the solar system
The earth, as well as the sun and moon, and even the planets and all the stars of heaven, were likewise brought into existence by the Creator, as told in Genesis. It is small wonder that modern scientific cosmogonists have been so notably unsuccessful in attempting to devise naturalistic theories of the origin of the universe and the solar system.

(4) Origin of the atmosphere and hydrosphere
The earth is uniquely equipped with a great body of liquid water and an extensive blanket of an oxygen-nitrogen gaseous mixture, both of which are necessary for life. These have never “developed” on other planets, and are accounted for only by special creation.

(5) Origin of life
How living systems could have come into being from nonliving chemicals is, and will undoubtedly continue to be, a total mystery to materialistic philosophers. The marvels of the reproductive process, and the almost-infinite complexity programmed into the genetic systems of plants and animals, are inexplicable except by special creation, at least if the laws of thermodynamics and probability mean anything at all. The account of the creation of “living creatures” in Genesis is the only rational explanation.

(6) Origin of man
Man is the most highly organized and complex entity in the universe, so far as we know, possessing not only innumerable intricate physico-chemical structures, and the marvelous capacities of life and reproduction, but also a nature which contemplates the abstract entities of beauty and love and worship, and which is capable of philosophizing about its own meaning. Man’s imaginary evolutionary descent from animal ancestors is altogether illusory. The true record of his origin is given only in Genesis.

(7) Origin of marriage
The remarkably universal and stable institution of marriage and the home, in a monogamous, patriarchal social culture, is likewise described in Genesis as having been ordained by the Creator. Polygamy, infanticide, matriarchy, promiscuity, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and other corruptions all developed later.

(8) Origin of evil
Cause-and-effect reasoning accounts for the origin of the concepts of goodness, truth, beauty, love, and such things as fundamental attributes of the Creator Himself. The origin of physical and moral evils in the universe is explained in Genesis as a temporary intrusion into God’s perfect world, allowed by Him as a concession to the principle of human freedom and responsibility, and also to manifest Himself as Redeemer as well as Creator.

(9) Origin of language
The gulf between the chatterings of animals and the intelligent, abstract, symbolic communication systems of man is completely unbridgeable by any evolutionary process. The Book of Genesis not only accounts for the origin of language in general, but also for the various national languages in particular.

(10) Origin of government
The development of organized systems of human government is described in Genesis, with man responsible not only for his own actions, but also for the maintenance of orderly social structures through systems of laws and punishments.

(11) Origin of culture
The Book of Genesis also describes the beginning of the main entities which we now associate with civilized cultures—such things as urbanization, metallurgy, music, agriculture, animal husbandry, writing, education, navigation, textiles, and ceramics.

(12) Origin of nations
All scholars today accept the essential unity of the human race. The problem, then, is how distinct nations and races could develop if all men originally were of one race and one language. Only the Book of Genesis gives an adequate answer.

(13) Origin of religion
There are many different religions among men, but all share the consciousness that there must be some ultimate truth and meaning toward which men should strive. Many religions take the form of an organized system of worship and conduct. The origin of this unique characteristic of man’s consciousness, as well as the origin of true worship of the true God, is given in Genesis.

(14) Origin of the chosen people
The enigma of the Israelites—the unique nation that was without a homeland for nineteen hundred years, which gave to the world the Bible and the knowledge of the true God, through which came Christianity and which yet rejects Christianity, a nation which has contributed signally to the world’s art, music, science, finance, and other products of the human mind, and which is nevertheless despised by great numbers of people—is answered only in terms of the unique origin of Israel as set forth in the Book of Genesis.

The Book of Genesis thus is in reality the foundation of all true history, as well as of true science and true philosophy. It is above all else the foundation of God’s revelation, as given in the Bible. No other book of the Bible is quoted as copiously or referred to so frequently, in other books of the Bible, as is Genesis.

     The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge


[149] See Calvin Adv. Theolog. Parisienses, Art. 2. These two rocks are adverted to by Augustine, Ep. 47, et in Joannem, cap. 12.

[150] The French is, "Laquelle toutefois nous cognoistrons etre très-utile et qui plue est, etre un des fondemens de la religion;"--which, however, we shall know to be very useful, and what is more, to be one of the fundamentals of religion.

[151] The French adds, "pour en dire franchement ce qu en est;"--to speak of them frankly as they deserve.

[152] The French adds the explanation, "Assavoir ceux qui concernoyent la vie celeste;"that is to say, those which concern the heavenly life.

[153] Orig. De Principiis, Lib. 3. It is given by Lombard, Lib. 2 Dist 24 Bernard. de Grat. et Liber Arbit Anselm, Dialog. de Liber. Arbit. cap. 12, 13 Lombard, Lib. 2 Dist. 24 sec. 5.

[154] The French adds ("qu'en attribue ? St Ambroise");--which is attributed St. Ambrose.

[155] August. Lib. 1 cont. Julian. For the subsequent quotations, see Homil. 53, in Joannem; Ad Anast. Epist. 144; De Perf. Just; Eucher. ad Laur. c. 30; Idem ad Bonifac. Lib. 3 c. 8; Ibid. c. 7; Idem ad Bonifac. Lib 1 c. 3; Ibid. Lib. 3 cap. 7; Idem. Lib. de Verbis Apost. Serm. 3; Lib. de Spiritu et Litera. cap. 30.

[156] See August. de Corrept. et Grat. cap. 13. Adv. Lib. Arbit. See also August. Epist. 107. Also the first and last parts of Bernard's Treatise De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio.

[157] August. de Prædest. Sanct. Idem ad Bonifacum, Lib. 4 et alibi. Eucher. Lib in Genesin. Chrysost. Homil. in Adventu.

[158] The French adds, "Ancien evesque de Lion;" ancient bishop of Lyons.

[159] The French has, "Au commencement de ce traité;" at the commencment of this treatise.

[160] The French adds, "Si c'est parole diabolique celle qui exalte homme en soy'mesme, il ne nous lui faut donner lieu, sinon que nous veuillins prendre conseli de nostre ennemi;"--if words which exalt man in himself are devilish, we must not give place to them unless we would take counsel of our enemy.

[161] Chrysost. Homil. de Perf. Evang. August. Epist. 56 ad Discur. As to true humility, see infra, chap. 7 sec. 4, and lib. 3 c 12, sec. 6, 7.

[162] The French is, "Demosthene orateur Grec;"--the Greek orator Demosthenes.

[163] August. Homil. in Joann. 49, lib. de Natura et Gratia, cap. 52.; and in Psalms 45. set 70

[164] The French adds, "de ce que l'ame savoit avant qu'etre mis dedlans le corps;"--of what the soul knew before it was placed within the body.

[165] The French adds, "Or l'entendement humaiu a eté tel en cest endroit. Nous appercevons donques qu'il est du tout stupide;" now, the understanding has proved so in this matter. We see, therefore, that it is quitestupid.

[166] Calvin, in his Commentary on the passage, says, "Lost in part or appearance, or deserved to lose."


     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain      Institutes of the Christian Religion

  • Reminders 2
  • Suffering for the Gospel
  • Salvation

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     This year get out of your comfort zone (1)
     1/1/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.’

(Is 41:10) 10 fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

     Two of our biggest fears are – failure and criticism. And they never completely go away. You can overcome them, but they’ll show up when you face your next challenge. It’s in accepting fear as part of life’s journey instead of running from it, that you learn to conquer it. Indeed, as you look back at what you’ve already overcome, you realise that most times failure doesn’t do permanent damage – you actually grow stronger through it. If you’re anxious today, God is saying to you, ‘Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.’ So trust Him, and get out of your comfort zone! An unknown poet wrote: ‘I used to have a comfort zone where I knew I couldn’t fail; the same four walls of busywork were really more like jail. I longed so much to do the things I’d never done before, but stayed inside my comfort zone and paced the same old floor. I said it didn’t matter that I wasn’t doing much; I said I didn’t care for things like dreams and goals and such. I claimed to be so busy with the things inside my zone, but deep inside I longed for something special of my own. I couldn’t let my life go by just watching others win; I held my breath and stepped outside and let the change begin. I took a step, and with new strength I’d never felt before, I kissed my comfort zone goodbye, then closed and locked the door. If you are in a comfort zone, afraid to venture out, remember that all winners were at one time filled with doubt.’ The word for you today is: this year, get out of your comfort zone.

Gen 1-3
Matt 1

UCB The Word For Today

Bible Introduction
     ESV MacArthur Study Bible
     John MacArthur

     The Bible is a collection of 66 documents inspired by God. These documents are gathered into two testaments, the Old (39) and the New (27). Prophets, priests, kings, and leaders from the nation of Israel wrote the OT books in Hebrew (with two passages in Aramaic). The apostles and their associates wrote the NT books in Greek.

     The OT record starts with the creation of the universe and closes about 400 years before the first coming of Jesus Christ.

     The flow of history through the OT moves along the following lines:

  • Creation of the universe
  • Fall of man
  • Judgment flood over the earth
  • Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel)—fathers of the chosen nation
  • The history of Israel
  • Exile in Egypt—430 years
  • Exodus and wilderness wanderings—40 years
  • Conquest of Canaan—7 years
  • Era of Judges—350 years
  • United Kingdom—Saul, David, Solomon—110 years
  • Divided Kingdom—Judah/Israel—350 years
  • Exile in Babylon—70 years
  • Return and rebuilding the land—140 years
     The details of this history are explained in the 39 books divided into five categories:

  • The Law—5 (Genesis - Deuteronomy)
  • History—12 (Joshua - Esther)
  • Wisdom—5 (Job - Song of Solomon)
  • Major Prophets—5 (Isaiah — Daniel
  • Minor Prophets—12 (Hosea — Malachi)
     After the completion of the OT, there were 400 years of silence, during which God did not speak or inspire any Scripture. That silence was broken by the arrival of John the Baptist announcing that the promised Lord Savior had come. The NT records the rest of the story from the birth of Christ to the culmination of all history and the final eternal state; so the two testaments go from creation to consummation, eternity past to eternity future.
ESV MacArthur Study Bible

     January 1, 2016

     I watched some of the New Year’s Eve celebrations before going to bed last night. I did not stay up till midnight. The tremendous amount of money spent on these lavish parties compared to the poverty and hunger here in America and around the world always leaves me empty. We ask God to heal, fix so many things that are within our power to heal/fix. It makes me so sad.

     Today is January 1, 2018 and what was true two years ago is more so today.

     Meanwhile, we all want a happy and secure home life. Dr. Johnson, the eighteenth-century conversationalist, once remarked that the aim and goal of all human endeavor is “to be happy at home.” But in the Western world, and many other parts as well, homes and families are tearing themselves apart. The gentle art of being gentle—of kindness and forgiveness, sensitivity and thoughtfulness and generosity and humility and good old-fashioned love—have gone out of fashion. Ironically, everyone is demanding their “rights,” and this demand is so shrill that it destroys one of the most basic “rights,” if we can put it like that: the “right,” or at least the longing and hope, to have a peaceful, stable, secure, and caring place to live, to be, to learn, and to flourish.

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on this day. It stated: “I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as commander-in-chief… do, on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three… publicly proclaim… that all persons held as slaves… are, and henceforward shall be, free…. And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence… and… recommend… they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.” Lincoln concluded: “And upon this act… I invoke… the gracious favor of Almighty God.”

American Minute
Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant,
shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
--- Isaiah 53:11

If we have no peace,
it is because we have forgotten
that we belong to each other.
--- Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa Reflects on Working Toward Peace

Get real. You can be free. Look at him. He’s God who died for you, but he’s also a man. He understands. He knows what it’s like. He has been tempted in every way as you are.
--- Timothy Keller

Ye call Me Master and obey not, Ye call Me Light and see Me not, Ye call Me Way and walk not, Ye call Me Life and desire Me not, Ye call Me Wise and follow Me not, Ye call Me Fair and love Me not, Ye call Me rich and ask Me not, Ye call Me Eternal and see Me not, Ye call Me Noble and serve Me not, Ye call Me Mighty and honor Me not, Ye call Me just and fear Me not.
--- Found on an old slab in the Cathedral of Lubeck, Germany

'Tis the voice of the sluggard; I heard him complain, you have waked me too soon, I must slumber again.
--- Isaac Watts
Isaac Watts Remembered 1674-1748

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 1:1-6
     by D.H. Stern

The proverbs of Shlomo the son of David,
king of Isra’el,
2     are for learning about wisdom and discipline;
for understanding words expressing deep insight;
3     for gaining an intelligently disciplined life,
doing what is right, just and fair;
4     for endowing with caution those who don’t think
and the young person with knowledge and discretion.
5     Someone who is already wise
will hear and learn still more;
someone who already understands
will gain the ability to counsel well;
6     he will understand proverbs, obscure expressions,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Let us keep to the point

     My eager desire and hope being that I may never feel ashamed, but that now as ever I may do honour to Christ in my own person by fearless courage.
Phil. 1:20. (Moffatt.)

     My Utmost for His Highest. “My eager desire and hope being that I may never feel ashamed.” We shall all feel very much ashamed if we do not yield to Jesus on the point He has asked us to yield to Him. Paul says—“My determination is to be my utmost for His Highest.” To get there is a question of will, not of debate nor of reasoning, but a surrender of will, an absolute and irrevocable surrender on that point. An over-weening consideration for ourselves is the thing that keeps us from that decision, though we put it that we are considering others. When we consider what it will cost others if we obey the call of Jesus, we tell God He does not know what our obedience will mean. Keep to the point; He does know. Shut out every other consideration and keep yourself before God for this one thing only—“My Utmost for His Highest.” I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and for Him alone.

     My Undeterredness for His Holiness. “Whether that means life or death, no matter!” (v. 21). Paul is determined that nothing shall deter him from doing exactly what God wants. God’s order has to work up to a crisis in our lives because we will not heed the gentler way. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him, and we begin to debate; then He produces a providential crisis where we have to decide—for or against, and from that point the ‘Great Divide’ begins.

     If the crisis has come to you on any line, surrender your will to Him absolutely and irrevocably.

My Utmost for His Highest
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


Heads bowed
     over the entrails,
over the manuscript, the
block, over the rows
          of swedes.

Do they never look up?
     Why should one think
that to be on one's knees
     is to pray?
The aim is to walk tall
          in the sun.
Did the weight of the jaw
     bend their backs,
keeping their vision
     below the horizon?

Two million years
in straightening them
     out, and they are still bent
over the charts, the instruments,
     the drawing-board,
the mathematical navel
     that is the wink of God.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Take Heart
     Editor’s Preface

     Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
--- Psalm 27:14.

     When life is difficult, too difficult for platitudes, people need strong, honest words of encouragement. Christian truth possesses that kind of power, power that transcends the ages. The apostle Paul still speaks to us today; so does Moses. And the words of others—though not “inspired” as Scripture is inspired—speak to us, too—great preachers like George H. Morrison, C. H. Spurgeon, John Ker, and G. Campbell Morgan.

     The preachers quoted in this volume weren’t of the smile-God-loves-you variety. They didn’t sugarcoat life. Take this, for example, from a sermon preached by Arthur John Gossip shortly after the death of his wife:

     I do not understand this life of ours, but still less can I comprehend how people in trouble and loss and bereavement can run away peevishly from the Christian faith. In God’s name, run to what? Have we not lost enough without losing that too? If Christ is right—if, as he says, there are somehow, hidden away from our eyes as yet… wisdom and planning and kindness and love in these dark dispensations—then we can see them through.… Already some things have become very clear to me. This to begin, that the faith works, fulfills itself, is real, and that its most audacious promises are true.… Further, one becomes certain about immortality. You think that you believe in that. But wait till you have lowered your dearest into an open grave, and you will know what believing it means.

     When facing calamities large and small in our own lives, surely we can take heart from such testimony as that.

     That the Gospel is clearly proclaimed in these pages may seem superfluous in a book whose audience likely already believes in Christ. But, first, these preachers did, after all, proclaim the Gospel. And second, the Gospel is the great joy of believers. So be reminded, and meditate on the truths of it.

     When these preachers lived on the earth they spoke the language of their day, using word forms and vocabulary that may, for the modern reader, obscure the message. Because the content of that message is of greater value than preserving archaic forms, I have modernized the language in many older sermons—replacing thees and thous and older styles and sometimes changing word order. Except where it is necessary to a particular sermon I have also replaced the King James Version and Revised Version texts with The New International Version.

     These preached words are a part of our Christian heritage, and you will find the power of God in them still. I want to preserve them not because they are old but because they are true. It is our loss if we allow this part of our heritage to crumble to dust, forgotten, on out-of-the-way shelves. Let us carry with us that which is of value from our Christian history, that we may “be strong and take heart” as we go forward in the new millennium—still waiting for the Lord.

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Take Heart
     January 1

     You have never been this way before.… Consecrate yourselves. --- Joshua 3:4–5.

     When the New Year steps up to greet us, it evokes a certain response within the heart. ( Highways of the Heart (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The) ) We have reached an end that is also a beginning. Behind us is a common journey, before us an untrodden way. What, then, does this old story give us to hearten and guide us as we cross the threshold of the year?

     We must sanctify ourselves. What that means is gathered from the words of Jesus: “For them I sanctify myself” (John 17:19). Facing the untrodden way, we are to dedicate ourselves again to God. We are to give ourselves to the duties of our calling with a fresh and unreserved surrender—no matter what our calling. The wonders of tomorrow depend on the sanctification of today—a new surrender here and now is the prelude to a wonderful experience, which ought to be borne in mind by those who are growing weary of their work and dreading the prospect of another year. The enthusiasm of youth may have departed, the strength we once enjoyed may have been weakened, the freshness may have been rubbed off things through the ceaseless handling of the years. But if, here and now, facing the unknown in our Lord’s fashion we sanctify ourselves, tomorrow will be more wonderful than yesterday.

     Israel sent on ahead the ark of God. It was the sign and symbol that the Lord was with them, and they sent it on ahead into the swollen river. In spite of the express command of Jesus, how we send our imaginings ahead! How we toss ourselves into a fever over the fears of the untrodden way! Fear is a poor hand at finding a place to wade across. Fear is a sorry bridge-builder. Fear drowns the music of today. It hears nothing but the rushing of the river. But Israel sent on the ark of God, and that made all the difference. With a fresh surrender of ourselves, with spirits receptive and responsive, with a conviction that God is ahead, ordering everything in perfect love, let us go forward with the banners flying, to the high adventure of another year, for we have not come this way before.
--- George H. Morrison

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day   January 1
     Verse by Verse

     When preached simply and purely, verse-by-verse and book-by-book, the Bible can change lives and transform history. Just ask Zwingli.

     Ulrich Zwingli was born on January 1, 1484, in a Swiss shepherd’s cottage in the Alps. His parents instilled in him a love for God. The young man proved a brilliant student, and following a brief stint as a schoolteacher he entered the priesthood. For ten years he labored in the village of Glarus, and there he began corresponding with the famous Greek scholar Erasmus.

     The Swiss church was bubbling with corruption during this time. In 1516, when Zwingli moved to Einsiedeln, he, too, was struggling hard with sin. In his new village, the young priest fell into an intimate relationship with the barber’s daughter. But it was also in Einsiedeln that he borrowed a copy of Erasmus’s newly published Greek New Testament. Zwingli copied it. Carrying it everywhere, he pored over it continually and scribbled notes in the margins and memorized it. The pure Scripture began doing its work, and Zwingli’s life and preaching took on new vigor. Soon he was invited to Zurich as chief preacher in the cathedral.

     He arrived on December 27, 1518, and began his duties on his thirty-sixth birthday, January 1, 1519, with a shock. He announced that he would break a thousand years of tradition by abandoning the church liturgy and the weekly readings as a basis for his sermons. Instead, he would teach verse-by-verse through the New Testament, beginning immediately. He proceeded to preach that day from Matthew 1 on the genealogy of Christ.

     Such preaching was radical in its day, but Zurich loved it. Zwingli’s concern for the city’s youth, his courage during the plague, and his cheerful temper dispelled initial doubts about his reformation ideas. Later, when opposition arose, Zurich’s City Council and 600 other interested citizens gathered to evaluate his actions. The assembly (the First Zurich Disputation, 1523) affirmed Zwingli and encouraged his work. Lives were changed; history was made. The Swiss Reformation had begun.

     Jesus Christ came from the family of King David and also from the family of Abraham … The Lord’s promise came true, just as the prophet had said, “A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”
--- Matthew 1:1,22,23.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Read The Bible Through
     An Excellent Poem

     I supposed I knew the Bible,
Reading piece-meal, hit or miss;
Now a bit of John or Matthew,
Now a snatch of Genesis.

     Certain chapters of Isaiah,
Certain Psalms–the twenty-third!
Twelfth of Romans, first of Proverbs
Yes, I thought I knew the Word!

     But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do,
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read the Bible through.

     You who like to play at Bible,
Dip and dabble, here and there,
Just before you kneel aweary,
And yawn through a hurried prayer,

     You who treat the Crown of Writings,
As you treat no other book,
–Just a paragraph disjointed,
Just a crude, impatient look.

     Try a worthier procedure,
Try a broad and steady view;
You will kneel in very rapture
When you read the Bible through.
--- Amos R. Wells

New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference
     Identifying Jesus

     John 1:1

     It is fitting that the first verse of the first book of the New Testament,
Matthew 1:1, identifies Jesus as the Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. These few words sum up the culmination of the entire Old Testament, and in them are the seeds from which the New Testament plan will grow. The long-awaited, promised Messiah, the restorer of God’s kingdom and the redeemer of his people, is Jesus himself. This is Matthew’s central message, his purpose for writing his book.

     In his first verse, Matthew made an amazing claim. At the time he was writing, many Jewish readers would have been skeptical about the idea that the man Jesus was indeed also the promised king or Christ. After all, he was merely a carpenter from a backwoods province, and they wanted a king just like other worldly kings — politically connected, militarily powerful, and personally charismatic, with all the accompanying pomp, circumstance, and credentials.

4: Holman New Testament Commentary - John
Historical Core with theological elaboration
     Word Biblical Commentary

     Since the ministry of Jesus begins only after his baptism by John (chap. 3) and the temptation (4:1–11), the opening two chapters of Matthew are in a sense the preparation for the main narrative. The preparation that Matthew provides, however, is far from simply the supplying of some helpful background information. The first two chapters constitute a work of art that makes a statement of its own and that anticipates the theological richness of the total Gospel.

     The question of the historicity of chaps. 1–2 is very often posed in terms of history and theology conceived of as polar opposites, as though what is theological cannot be historical and vice versa. That is, one has here either theology or history. The idea of a historical core with theological elaboration is hardly considered. Yet that may very well be the case here in what is admittedly material of a special character. Matthew has taken his historical traditions and set them forth in such a way as to underline matters of fundamental theological importance. Thus he grounds his narrative upon several OT quotations and provides a strong sense of fulfillment. The literary genre of these chapters, as we shall see, is that of midrashic haggadah, designed to bring out the deeper meaning of the present by showing its theological continuity with the past. Matthew’s procedure is to set the scene theologically by identifying the who and the how in chap. 1, and the where and whence in chap. 2. To some extent Matthew may have apologetic or polemical concerns here, but in the main these chapters are a statement of the theological significance that may be perceived even in the preliminaries. In this instance the prolegomena articulate the Gospel before the main narrative.

Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 36, John (Second Edition)
Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 1

     “They did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.”
Joshua 5:12.

     Israel’s weary wanderings were all over, and the promised rest was attained. No more moving tents, fiery serpents, fierce Amalekites, and howling wildernesses: they came to the land which flowed with milk and honey, and they ate the old corn of the land. Perhaps this year, beloved Christian reader, this may be thy case or mine. Joyful is the prospect, and if faith be in active exercise, it will yield unalloyed delight. To be with Jesus in the rest which remaineth for the people of God, is a cheering hope indeed, and to expect this glory so soon is a double bliss. Unbelief shudders at the Jordan which still rolls between us and the goodly land, but let us rest assured that we have already experienced more ills than death at its worst can cause us. Let us banish every fearful thought, and rejoice with exceeding great joy, in the prospect that this year we shall begin to be “for ever with the Lord.”

     A part of the host will this year tarry on earth, to do service for their Lord. If this should fall to our lot, there is no reason why the New Year’s text should not still be true. “We who have believed do enter into rest.” The Holy Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance; he gives us “glory begun below.” In heaven they are secure, and so are we preserved in Christ Jesus; there they triumph over their enemies, and we have victories too. Celestial spirits enjoy communion with their Lord, and this is not denied to us; they rest in his love, and we have perfect peace in him: they hymn his praise, and it is our privilege to bless him too. We will this year gather celestial fruits on earthly ground, where faith and hope have made the desert like the garden of the Lord. Man did eat angels’ food of old, and why not now? O for grace to feed on Jesus, and so to eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan this year!

          Evening - January 1

     “We will be glad and rejoice in thee.”
Song of Solomon 1:4.

     We will be glad and rejoice in thee. We will not open the gates of the year to the dolorous notes of the sackbut, but to the sweet strains of the harp of joy, and the high sounding cymbals of gladness. “O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise unto the rock of our salvation.” We, the called and faithful and chosen, we will drive away our griefs, and set up our banners of confidence in the name of God. Let others lament over their troubles, we who have the sweetening tree to cast into Marah’s bitter pool, with joy will magnify the Lord. Eternal Spirit, our effectual Comforter, we who are the temples in which thou dwellest, will never cease from adoring and blessing the name of Jesus. We WILL, we are resolved about it, Jesus must have the crown of our heart’s delight; we will not dishonour our Bridegroom by mourning in his presence. We are ordained to be the minstrels of the skies, let us rehearse our everlasting anthem before we sing it in the halls of the New Jerusalem. We will BE GLAD AND REJOICE: two words with one sense, double joy, blessedness upon blessedness. Need there be any limit to our rejoicing in the Lord even now? Do not men of grace find their Lord to be camphire and spikenard, calamus and cinnamon even now, and what better fragrance have they in heaven itself? We will be glad and rejoice IN THEE. That last word is the meat in the dish, the kernel of the nut, the soul of the text. What heavens are laid up in Jesus! What rivers of infinite bliss have their source, aye, and every drop of their fulness in him! Since, O sweet Lord Jesus, thou art the present portion of thy people, favour us this year with such a sense of thy preciousness, that from its first to its last day we may be glad and rejoice in thee. Let January open with joy in the Lord, and December close with gladness in Jesus.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     January 1


     Frances Ridley Havergal, 1836–1879

     Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

     It is always challenging to approach a new year and to realize anew that our days upon this earth are so rapidly passing. How important it is that we pause with the psalmist and pray for a “heart of wisdom” that will enable us this year to live each new day in a way that brings all glory to our God.

     I with Thee would begin, O my Savior so dear, on the way that I still must pursue; I with Thee would begin every day granted here, as my earnest resolve I renew—To be and remain Thine forever. --- From the Swedish

     In January of 1874, the many friends of Frances Ridley Havergal received a New Year’s greeting with the heading, “A Happy New Year! Ever Such May it Be!” Following this greeting appeared her text, still considered to be one of the finest New Year’s prayers of consecration ever written:

     Another year is dawning, Dear Father, let it be, in working or in waiting another year with Thee; another year of progress, another year of praise, another year of proving Thy presence all the days.
     Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace; another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face; another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast; another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.
     Another year of service, of witness for Thy love; another year of training for holier work above. Another year of dawning, Dear Father, let it be, on earth, or else in heaven, another year for Thee. Amen.

     One can well imagine that those who received this greeting card from Miss Havergal that year read her words thoughtfully. They were written by one who had already become widely known throughout England as “the consecration poet.” It was said of her that she always lived her words before she wrote them. Her life was one of constant and complete commitment to God. Her many talents—an accomplished pianist and vocalist, proficiency in seven languages, a keen mind (memorization of the entire New Testament, Psalms, Isaiah, and the Minor Prophets)—were all dedicated to serving God and others during the new year. May that be our challenge for this new year as well!

     For Today: Deuteronomy 1:30, 31; Joshua 3:4; Psalm 39:4; Isaiah 58:11

     Begin this new year with a fervent prayer such as the one written by Frances Havergal that God will give your life a renewed purpose and power as you earnestly seek to represent Him in a worthy manner.

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
The Original World vs Eternal World
     Genesis vs Revelation


     Probationary World (Genesis)
Eternal World (Revelation)

1     Gen 1:4 Division of light and darkness
Rev 21:25 No night there

2     Gen 1:10 Division of land and sea
Rev 21:1 No more sea

3     Gen 1:16 Rule of sun and moon
Rev 21:23 No need of sun or moon

4     Gen 2:8-9 Man in a prepared Garden
Rev 21:2 man in a prepared city

5     Gen 2:10 River flowing out of Eden
Rev 22:1 River flowing from God’s throne

6     Gen 2:12 Gold in the land
Rev 21:21 Gold in the city

7     Gen 2:9 Tree of life in the midst of the Garden
Rev 22:2 Tree of life throughout the city

8     Gen 2:12 Bdellium and the onyx stone
Rev 21:19 All manner of precious stones

9     Gen 3:8 God walking in the Garden
Rev 21:3 God dwelling with His people

     The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings
Biblical Theology-Adamic Covenant
     Dr. Jeffrey Niehaus

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Dr. Jeffrey Niehaus

     Various | Villanova University

How Did the Universe Begin?

How and when did life begin?

When Did Culture Begin?

Genesis 1-3
     Dr. Andy Woods

Genesis 01. Introduction to the Book of Genesis
Genesis 1:1 | 07-19-2020

Genesis 02. Introduction to the Book of Genesis
Genesis 1:1 | 07-26-2020

Genesis 03. The Most Important Verse
Genesis 1:1-2 | 08-09-2020

Genesis 04. How Long is a Day?
Genesis 1:3-13 | 08-16-2020

Genesis 05. Worship the Creator
Genesis 1:14-28 | 08-30-2020

Gen 06 To Every Man An Answer
Gen 1:29-31 | 09-06-2020

Gen 07 Sanctity of the Sabbath
Gen 2:1-3 | 09-13-2020

Gen 08 The Great Choice
Gen 2:4-7 | 09-27-2020

Gen 09 The Great Choice
Gen 2:8-17 | 10-04-2020

Gen 10 God's Marriage Blueprint
Gen 2:18-25 | 10-11-2020

Gen 11 The Strategies of Satan
Gen 3:1-5 | 10-25-2020

Gen 12 Grace vs Religion
Gen 3:6-7 | 11-01-2020

Gen 13 The Blame Game
Gen 3:8-15 | 11-08-2020

Gen 14 Marriage Difficulty
Gen 3:16-19 | 11-15-2020

Gen 15 The Cost of Forgiveness
Gen 3:20-24 | 11-22-2020

Dr. Andrew Woods of Sugar Land Bible Church
Genesis 1-3
     Jonathan Gibson

New Creation and Sabbath Rest
Jonathan Gibson | Gen 1:1-2:3
Westminster Theological Seminary

Your Kingdom Come
Jonathan Gibson | Genesis 2
Westminster Theological Seminary

The Promised Son
Jonathan Gibson | Genesis 3
Westminster Theological Seminary

Jonathan Gibson | Westminster Theological Seminary

Genesis 1-3
     Jon Courson

Genesis 5
How To Read Your Bible
09-28-1997 | Jon Courson

Genesis 1
10-01-1997 | Jon Courson

Genesis 2:18-25
A Match Made In Heaven
10-05-1997 | Jon Courson

Genesis 2
10-08-1997 | Jon Courson

Genesis 3:3
He Didn't Say That!
10-12-1997 | Jon Courson

Genesis 3:6-10, 24
Go FIGure!
10-19-1997 | Jon Courson

Genesis 3
10-22-1997 | Jon Courson

Jon Courson | Jon Courson

Genesis 1-3
     Skip Heitzig

Genesis 1
Calvary Chapel NM

Genesis 1:24-2:25
Calvary Chapel NM

Genesis 3
Calvary Chapel NM

Calvary Chapel NM

Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel NM

Genesis 1-3
     Paul LeBoutillier

Genesis 1:1-5
The Book of Origins (The First Day of Creation)
10-07-2013 | Paul LeBoutillier

Genesis 1:5-31
Creation Days Two through Six
10-08-2013 | Paul LeBoutillier

Genesis 2
Sabbath Rest and Focus on Creation of Man and Woman
10-08-2013 | Paul LeBoutillier

Genesis 3
The Fall of Man
10-08-2013 | Paul LeBoutillier

Paul LeBoutillier | Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon

Genesis 1-3
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Gen 1-10
m2-000 10-9-2013 | Athey Creek

Created | Gen 1-1
s2-002 10-13-2013 | Athey Creek

Gen 1
m2-001 10-16-2013 | Athey Creek

Jesus:Lord of the Sabbath Genesis 2:1-3
s2-003 10-20-2013 | Athey Creek

Genesis 2
m2-002 10-23-2016 | Athey Creek

Bamboozled by Beelzebub Genesis 3:1-6
s2-004 10-27-2013 | Athey Creek

Gen 3
m2-003 10-30-2013 | Athey Creek


07-02-2020 | Pastors' Point of View 130
The Big Lie: Separation of Church and State. |Andy Woods

Prophecy Update 2018
12-31-2018 | Athey Creek

The Jesus We Proclaim
Mike Erre | Biola University

Proclaiming the Good News in a Changing World
Teri McCarthy | Biola University

The Radical Conversion of a Secular Scholar
Mary Poplin | Biola University

The Importance of Prayer
Jamin Goggin | Biola University

Should you use a Bible reading plan?
Dr. Donald Whitney | Southern Seminary

Kingdom Confusion | Genesis 1:26-28
Andy Woods

Hope Through the Curse Gen 3:14-15
John MacArthur

The First Sacrifice Gen 3:20-24
John MacArthur

Genesis 3: The Fall
Monica Romig Green | Biola University

Who Will Welcome Jesus? - Luke 2:7
12-24-2021 | Andy Woods

Dead Sea Scroll Cave 1 and Genesis
02-01-2021 | Bible Facts