An alarming trend in our nation is that more and more of our young – while believing in God – are turning away from the church He established.
In this wonderful country of ours, that allows all Americans freedom of religion, some people believe the Bible was written by inspired men. They believe it describes a God who created man, the earth and the entire universe. They also believe it contains God’s plan of redemption, from the Old Testament through the New Testament culminating with Christ’s death on the cross. In God’s plan, Jesus lives a sinless life and was sacrificed so we can have forgiveness of sins. The New Testament also describes the establishment of the Lord’s church, and the spread of the gospel throughout the known world. We believe the New Testament reveals that men will be judged and will either go into heaven to be with the Lord or suffer in hell with the devil and his angels.
There are other people who choose not to believe in God. They refuse to believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and that when we die there is no life after death. There are still other people that believe in parts of the Bible. They believe there is a God and some of the Bible is inspired by Him, but some of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, was written by uninspired men and is mostly composed of myths and fables.
Now let’s consider the above scenarios. I believe with all my heart the Bible is from God and that we will be judged for the way we live. But for this discussion, let’s say there is no Heaven or Hell, when we die, all ends. Those individuals that followed the Bible lived a wonderful stress free life. They did not cheat on their spouses; therefore they were not eaten up with guilt, always afraid of being caught by their mate. They did not cheat on their income tax; therefore, they are not afraid of an IRS audit which would catch them. Because of their spiritual training before they married, they do not commit sexual sins that might lead to a pregnancy or contracted some type of sexually transmitted disease. If they get sick or become incapacitated in any way, their brothers and sisters in Christ will take care of them. When they lose a loved one, their brothers and sisters in Christ will be there to comfort them, prepare food for their family and many other acts of kindness. There are many more reasons I could give why being a faithful Christian results in a wonderful life on the earth.
Now for all those that reject God and his Bible nor accept God as our Creator but reject parts of his Holy Scriptures, would their life be as happy as the individuals described in the above paragraph? I have personally known some that I worked with that rejected God and his teaching. They decided to enjoy the worldly life style. They wanted to have a good old time doing what they wanted to do. Some were having affairs, always lying to there mate, always worrying about getting caught. I have known others addicted to drugs and alcohol that lost their family and jobs. They were mental wrecks. I have known others addicted to the internet and all the things it had to offer, i.e., pornography and other impure things. They would spend hours on the computer filling their mind with filth and garbage found there. How could anybody be happy with this life style?
Now let us fast forward to the end of time, and we find out there is a God, there is a judgment day when all people will be judged for the way they lived. We find out there is a Heaven and a Hell. What happens to those that loved the Lord and lived their lives as His children? We read in Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are those who do my commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and enter through the gate to the city.” Also in Revelation 21:4, “And God will wipe away every tear from your eyes there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
This is what happens to those individuals that reject all or part of God’s Holy Scriptures, and lived a life contrary to the scriptures. We read in Luke 13:27-28, “He will say I tell you, I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from me all you workers of iniquity. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the other prophets in the kingdom of God and yourself thrust out.”
Also, in Revelation 21:7-8, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But the cowardly, unbelievers, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstones, which is the second death.”
What if you make the wrong choice???
Skeptics often look for reasons to dismiss the Bible. A recent complaint I heard against those who simply accept the Scriptures is, “How can you just believe in a book that talks about unicorns?”
Most of us scratch our heads and say, “What on earth are you talking about?” But, it is true that the King James Version of the Bible does mention unicorns in several places: Numbers 23:22 (KJV); Numbers 24:8 (KJV); Deuteronomy 33:17 (KJV); Job 39:9-10 (KJV); Psalm 22:21 (KJV); Psalm 29:6 (KJV); Psalm 92:10 (KJV); Isaiah 34:7 (KJV).
Many of us, having moved past the antiquated King James will likely just say, that’s only a problem for folks hanging on to the “Authorized Version.” However, we still need to deal with why that is there.
I don’t know why the King James translators used that particular word. Did they believe a mythical creature with life-giving blood, who could be captured by getting it to lay its head in the lap of a virgin actually existed at some time? I don’t know. Even if they did, that doesn’t mean that is what the Bible was actually teaching.
What I do know is this, the word “unicorn” and the Greek and Latin words that caused it to be in the KJV Bible simply mean “one horn.” They do not necessarily mean the mythical creature we speak of today. Considering the existence of the rhinoceros, is there really that big of a problem in believing that at some point there was an animal in existence that had a single horn? We also have the narwhal. Please, don’t give me arguments saying the rhino’s horn is just hair and the narwhal’s is a tooth. The fact is they look like horns and men would naturally call them by names that identify that marker. To think there might have been an animal that had a single horn that died out is not that hard to believe. It doesn’t mean the animal was magical. It only means it had one horn.
However, having said that, there are actually some pretty good arguments made for knowing what animal is referred to. I’m going to call a hostile witness to the stand: Isaac Asimov, a well-known atheist.
The Hebrew word represented in the King James Version by “unicorn” is re’em, which undoubtedly refers to the wild ox (urus or aurochs) ancestral to the domesticated cattle of today. The re’em still flourished in early historical times and a few existed into modern times, although it is now extinct. It was a dangerous creature of great strength and was similar in form and temperament to the Asian buffaloes.
The Revised Standard Version translates re’em as “wild ox.” The verse in Numbers is translated as “they have as it were the horns of the wild ox,” while the one in Job is translated “Is the wild ox willing to serve you?” The Anchor Bible translates the verse in Job as “Will the buffalo deign to serve you?”
The wild ox was a favorite prey of the hunt-loving Assyrian monarchs (the animal was called rumu in Assyrian, essentially the same word as re’em) and was displayed in their large bas-reliefs. Here the wild ox was invariably shown in profile and only one horn was visible. One can well imagine that the animal represented in this fashion would come to be called “one-horn” as a familiar nickname, much as we might refer to “longhorns” in speaking of a certain breed of cattle.
As the animal itself grew less common under the pressure of increasing human population and the depredations of the hunt, it might come to be forgotten that there was a second horn hidden behind the first in the sculptures and “one-horn” might come to be considered a literal description of the animal.
When the first Greek translation of the Bible was prepared about 250 B.C., the animal was already rare in the long-settled areas of the Near East and the Greeks, who had no direct experience with it, had no word for it. They used a translation of “one-horn” instead and it became monokeros. In Latin and in English it became the Latin word for “one-horn”; that is, “unicorn.”
The Biblical writers could scarcely have had the intention of implying that the wild ox literally had one horn. There is one Biblical quotation, in fact, that clearly contradicts that notion. In the Book of Deuteronomy, when Moses is giving his final blessing to each tribe, he speaks of the tribe of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) as follows: “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns….”
Here the word is placed in the plural since the thought of a “one-horn’s” single horn seems to make the phrase “horns of a unicorn” self-contradictory. Still, the original Hebrew has the word in the singular so that we must speak of the “horns of a unicorn,” which makes it clear that a unicorn has more than one horn (Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, 1968, v. 1, pp. 186-187).
Obviously, I’m not suggesting that Asimov is an authority on all things biblical. However, when an atheist who would naturally want to take every possible potshot at the Bible he could can tell that the King James Version didn’t actually teach the existence of the mythical creature we call a unicorn, then perhaps that should lay any of our fears to rest on this subject.
We can trust God’s word. Let’s continue to trust in it.
It is becoming increasingly common for those claiming to be Christians today to deny the historical accuracy of the first chapters of Genesis. Having accepted the Theory of Evolution, they are searching for a means to make those chapters fit with their scientific outlook. One big problem with this is Adam. If the first chapters of Genesis are not historically accurate, then Adam is not a historically real figure. He is made into some representative of mankind as it developed through evolutionary means. However, Adam stands out as an obstacle to wedding the scientific views of evolution with the Bible. No matter how we slice it, the Bible presents Adam as a real historical figure. Not only that but a historical figure upon which the truth of his existence as a real person is based several New Testament doctrines. Let me share with you a few biblical passages that show the Bible presents Adam as a real historical man.
- Genesis 5:1-5 presents a historical narrative with a genealogy. Adam stands at the head of that genealogy. Interestingly, he is even given a length of life. At 130 years old he had a son named Seth and then lived another 800 years. That is an odd way to speak of a person who never really existed but is just a mythical construct to represent mankind in general.
- In I Chronicles 1:1, Adam is placed again at the head of mankind’s genealogy. He is not presented as a mythical construct or an allegorical parable. He is listed as a real person. The obvious question would be if the Theory of Evolution is true and Adam, therefore, is not, at what point in this genealogy did the author move from not real people to real people?
- In Luke 3:23-38, the genealogy of Jesus is traced all the way back to Adam. He is once again presented as a real historical person who held a place in a real period of time. Once again we ask, at what point did this genealogy move from real people to unreal people?
- In Matthew 19:3-9, Jesus based His teaching regarding divorce and remarriage on the creation of male and female, created that way from the beginning. Our marriage law is based on Adam’s marriage to Eve being a real marriage. Jesus clearly believed Adam was a real person. If we believe Jesus, we need to believe in Adam. If we can’t believe in Adam, then we must toss Jesus out as well.
- In Romans 5:12-21, Paul says sin entered the world through “one man.” The man to whom he attributes it is Adam. He is very specific. He does not say sin just entered some time in history as lower life forms evolved into humans. He says there was one man and sin came in through him. He is considered to be a type of Jesus. If we throw out Adam as a historical figure where does that leave us regarding Jesus? If we believe Paul, we must believe in Adam. If we can’t believe in Adam, we need to toss Paul’s writings out because he is wrong. By the way, this passage is truly important. Paul bases the teaching that Jesus saves us and removes our sins on His contrast with Adam as a real historical figure. If we throw out Adam, we throw out the doctrine of justification and life to all men through Jesus Christ as the second Adam.
- In the same passage above, Paul claims “death reigned from Adam to Moses.” Paul clearly sees that as a definitive period of time. He saw Adam as a real historical figure.
- In I Corinthians 11:8, Paul based his arguments regarding the covering on the Genesis account that woman was made from man and not man from woman, a concept that cannot fit with the Theory of Evolution. Paul saw that creation as a historical event upon which he could base teaching.
- In I Timothy 2:12-15, Paul based his instruction about women teaching within the congregation on the historical accuracy of the Genesis account of Adam and Eve’s creation. If God did not create them that way, then Paul’s argument falls flat.
Here is the point of all this. It may be that the Bible is completely wrong. Maybe God did not create Adam and Eve but rather humankind wound up on the earth through the evolutionary forces of nature. We need to examine the evidence and choose which of the two we will accept. However, let us not accept any laughable position that tries to wed the Scripture with the Theory of Evolution. If we accept the Theory of Evolution, we cannot accept Adam. If we cannot accept Adam, we cannot accept the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher who lived about 300 B.C., said, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able and not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” Others have asked these same questions for the 2300 years since. However, in their seeming wisdom, they merely demonstrate how philosophers, enamored with their own wisdom cannot see the flaws in their own reasoning.
Epicurus and his philosophical offspring over the millennia have created a false dilemma. That is, they have developed a set of choices and acted like the choices they have listed are the only ones available when they are not.
Epicurus believed a God who is able to eradicate evil but doesn’t do so must be malevolent. So, there are but two choices. Either God is not able to do anything about evil or God is evil Himself. It didn’t occur to Epicurus that there is a third option. It never occurred to him that God might actually be wiser than him and have a better alternative.
Is it possible God sees a good end that can come from the evil and suffering that goes on in the world even today? Is it possible God allows evil because in His infinite wisdom He can actually use it in a way that benefits men if we will let it?
I suggest God who is able to eradicate all evil is unwilling to do so not because He is malevolent but because He loves us too much to do so. First, His love is demonstrated by granting us the free will to choose between good and evil. He loves us too much to force us to be good like Him. He lets us pursue our own course.
Second, He loves us enough to allow evil so that we may grow and learn to rely on Him, which leads to salvation (cf. II Corinthians 12:7-10; Romans 5:3-5). Without evil in the world, we would have no notion of our need to turn to and rely on God. We would be lost and never know it.
Third, He loves us enough to allow evil so we can learn to be merciful like Him (cf. Matthew 5:7). If there were no evil, we could not learn how to relieve the suffering of those who have endured evil. We could not learn to be like God.
Finally, God loved us enough to send His Son as an answer to all evil. By surrendering to Jesus (cf. Galatians 2:20), we can eradicate evil in our lives and help do so in others and prepare for the day God eradicates the world because it is evil.
Yes, evil exists, but not because God is malevolent. No, evil exists because God is love.
PS. As promised, you get extra bonus material on our website that those who only read the bulletin version of this article don’t get.
I just had to use the version of the pic above because of the smart-aleck comment whoever generated this version made. “Athiests (sic) Winning Since 33 A.D.” This poor individual, who doesn’t seem to even know how to spell “Atheists” also doesn’t get it. He sees the death of Jesus in A.D. 33. Certainly, on that Friday, it seemed like Atheists had won. Yet, on the third day, they found out they were losing.
Jesus claimed the victory by rising from the dead.
Of course, this atheist will deny that happened. However, this statement is a great logical contradiction for the atheist. In fact, by making this smart aleck comment, the author of the picture admits that Jesus was someone important. He was not just some unknown or fictitious person. He was and is a real person. He is someone that has to be dealt with if one is going to be an atheist. Further, note the use of A.D. What an admission of the importance of this man who is supposedly nothing but just one of us. All of time has been measured from this man.
Here is my challenge, if the atheists won in 33 A.D. by killing Jesus, produce His remains. If you can’t, then learn who was truly victorious in 33 A.D.