Some of you may have read a book called God’s Smuggler, by Brother Andrew. In it the author described his work of helping persecuted Christians in Communist countries by smuggling Bibles into their countries. The book was published in 1967 but Brother Andrew is still very much involved in helping persecuted Christians. He has founded an organization called Open Doors for the purpose of carrying on the work he began.
Here is how Brother Andrew’s work began.
The Bible tells us that God created the earth in six days. Many scientists who have studied the earth and tried to measure its age have reached the conclusion that is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Most people accept the second view as being correct; they believe that scientists examine the evidence with an open mind and believe only those things which have been proven.
The late Carl Sagan wrote many books proving that the present state of the earth and the rest of the universe is the result of processes that took billions of years. He helped to produce a television series called Cosmos that was broadcast in 1980 and claimed to show how the universe developed.
As long as I can remember I have believed that the Bible is the word of God but in the early part of my life I didn’t understand it because I wasn’t taught about it at home and I attended a church that wasn’t always Biblical in its teachings. When I was 14 I believed that the way to be saved was to be baptized and then live a good enough life so that I would deserve to go to Heaven, so I got baptized and set about trying to finish earning my salvation.
A little more than two years later I had a Sunday school teacher who was saved and who listened regularly to a radio program called Back to the Bible. She recommended it to the class and I began listening to it. As a result I realized that I was on the wrong path in trying to earn my salvation. I finally understood that salvation is gift of God and I received that gift by putting my faith in Christ.
When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
When the Israelites invaded Canaan they faced enemies who were stronger than they were. They won only because God helped them.
Israel was a nation and like any other nation it sometimes waged wars with other nations. The church isn’t a nation but is a body of people from all nations who have put their faith in Jesus Christ. Because we aren’t a nation we don’t have an army and we don’t engage in physical wars but we are involved in warfare of a different kind.
No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.
The kind of lamp Jesus spoke of provided light by burning oil. A lamp placed under a jar would be extinguished for lack of oxygen. A lamp placed under a bed could set the bed on fire.
Jesus once told a parable about a Pharisee and tax collector who went to the temple to pray. Here is the Pharisee’s prayer.
The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.”
The Pharisee wasn’t praying; he was boasting about how good he was. At the conclusion of the parable Jesus said that his prayer was not accepted and when he left the temple he was not justified.
If you heard that someone you cared about was sick and was about to die wouldn’t you immediately go to see him if you could? And wouldn’t that be even more true if you were able to prevent him from dying? Jesus didn’t react this way when he heard that one of his friends was near death.
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”
But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
One technique used by evangelists is to ask those who respond to their message to pray what is called the “Sinner’s Prayer”. The wording of this prayer varies; here is one version.
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.
This practice isn’t found in the Bible. There are several accounts of people believing the gospel and being saved but there is no record of any convert being asked to say this or any other prayer.
The stones used in Solomon’s temple were carved at the place from which they were taken, not at the place where the temple was being built.
When the house was built, it was with stone prepared at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built.
1 Kings 6:7
Imagine that these stones were alive. How might they have felt about what was being done to them?
In the past Christianity has had a strong influence on American culture. That influence has grown much weaker and that fact is reflected in our laws.
Because humans are created in God’s image human life should be protected. Today abortion is legal and there is a movement to legalize suicide by the terminally ill.
God established marriage as a permanent union between a man and a woman. Almost all states have no fault divorce laws which make it easy to end a marriage and many of them allow marriage between two members of the same sex.
God told Adam he could eat the fruit of every tree in the garden of Eden except one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Of course everyone knows what happened next. The serpent persuaded Eve to eat the fruit of the tree; she gave some of the fruit to Adam and he ate it too. As a result they were expelled from the garden and eventually died, and all of their descendants experience suffering and death.
Imagine that you are a physician on a hospital staff and another doctor at the hospital discovers a procedure that dramatically reduces the death rate of its patients. Wouldn’t you and the other doctors at the hospital eagerly adopt the procedure and practice it yourselves? The answer is so obvious to most people that it seems stupid to even ask such a question. But a doctor name Ignaz Semmelweis did discover such a process and the other doctors rejected it. Here is Wikipedia’s description of what happened.
Every year before Christmas we see many displays of the birth of Jesus. The display normally consists of a baby in a manger with Joseph, Mary, some shepherds, and the Wise Men gathered around him. The birth of Jesus was an important event in history and it is appropriate that we should remember it but our traditional picture of how it happened is inaccurate. The Wise Men were not there. They were probably still in their home country and hadn’t even started their journey to Bethlehem.
Most of the elements in the traditional manger scene are taken from Luke’s gospel. He tells us why Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem in the first place and that they had to lay Jesus in a manger because there was no room in the inn. He describes the visit of the shepherds to see the baby. But he never speaks of the Wise Men here or anyplace else. Read the rest of this entry
Edgar Allan Poe is famous for his writing in several different fields. He is well known as an author of horror stories. He is famous as poet. He wrote detective stories that have had such an influence that the Mystery Writers of America honors him by calling its award for best mystery writer the Edgar. But I doubt if anyone associates him with religion or theology.
I recently came across a review he wrote of Incidents Of Travel In Egypt, Arabia Petræa, And The Holy Land by John Lloyd Stephens. You can read the review here:
In this review he expressed his opinions about Bible prophecy.
There is an Irish blessing, “May you be in Heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you’re dead.”
The apostle Paul was someone whom God blessed very much. Do you suppose he was in Heaven half an hour before the Devil realized he was dead?
The purpose of this blog is to share with others some of the things I have learned from studying the Bible. I have also learned a lot about the Bible by reading other people’s blogs. Here are some blogs that have helped me and I think they can help you too.
Naaman was a Syrian general who was also a leper. He came to Elisha for help.
So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.”
2 Kings 5:9-10
He followed Elisha’s instructions and became clean. This convinced him that the God of Elisha was the true God.
Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.”
But he said, “As the LORD lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.”
And he urged him to take it, but he refused. Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the LORD.”
2 Kings 5:15-17
He came to Elisha for physical cleansing but he received spiritual cleansing as well.
Nearly everyone knows how Moses freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. Not many know that Moses had made a previous attempt to free them and had failed.
One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?”
He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”
Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian.
This appears to be nothing more than Moses seeing an act of cruelty and intervening but the New Testament gives more information.
The gay rights movement is promoting the legalization of same sex marriage and the belief that homosexual activity is as normal as heterosexual activity. Anyone who opposes these goals is accused of hating gays.
In some cases the accusation is true. There are people who hate gays; the existence of the Westboro Baptist Church and organizations like it is evidence of this. But there are others whose opposition is motivated by love.
God established marriage as a union between a man and a woman and has forbidden any sexual activity outside of this union. Anyone who truly loves gay people will warn them of the dangers of violating God’s commands rather than encouraging disobedience.
There is a common misconception that all gays support the gay rights movement. In fact there are many gay Christians who oppose it because they recognize the harm it does. Here are three web sites where you can learn more about them.
Many people believe the earth is billions of years old; the Bible tells us that God created it in six days. Some Christians try to reconcile these two beliefs by saying that the days of creation aren’t literal days but simply long periods of time.
The word “day” can mean an indefinite time period and it is used that way in the creation account.
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.
Here the entire time of creation is called a day. But what about the days in the first chapter? Here is a description of the first day.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Each day included a period of light and one of darkness and consisted of an evening and a morning. Only a literal day consisting of the time the earth turns once on its axis has these characteristics.