Category Archives: Bible study

Will we be married in Heaven?

Most people get married at some time during their life.  What happens when married people die?  Are they still married?  Some Sadducees once asked Jesus that question.

The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”

But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”  (Matthew 22:23-30)

It is clear that the marriages we enter into on earth will no longer exist in Heaven but the Bible speaks of a different kind of marriage that will exist there. Read the rest of this entry

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Moving the embassy to Jerusalem

On December 6 President Trump announced that the United States embassy in Israel would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Since Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, this seems like a reasonable step to take, yet this decision has been met with protests all over the world.  The United Nations voted 128 to 9 to condemn it.  The Palestinians have objected and threatened violence because they consider Jerusalem to be their capital.

Israel is unique among the nations of the world.  It began when God told Abraham to go to another land and promised to make a great nation of his descendants.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  (Genesis 12:1-3)

Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael.  The descendants of Isaac became the nation of Israel and fulfilled God’s promise to make Abraham a great nation.  Jerusalem became the capital of Israel.  God’s temple was there and it was where Jesus was crucified, fulfilling the promise that all families of the earth would be blessed in Abraham. Read the rest of this entry

No True Scotsman – not always a fallacy

There is a logical fallacy known as the “No true Scotsman” fallacy.  Here is how it is described in Wikipedia.

Philosophy professor Bradley Dowden explains the fallacy as an “ad hoc rescue” of a refuted generalization attempt. The following is a simplified rendition of the fallacy:

Person A: “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
Person B: “But my uncle Angus likes sugar with his porridge.”
Person A: “Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”

This fallacy is often used in debates about evolution and creation.  The evolutionist claims that scientists believe in evolution.  The creationist points out that a lot of scientists believe in creation and reject evolution.  The evolutionist says that they are not true scientists.

Even Christians sometimes use this fallacy to dismiss other Christians with whom they disagree on doctrine.  I was once engaged in an internet discussion with someone who believed that the only true Christians were those who believed in the five points of Calvinism.  Anyone who rejected this belief was not a true Christian.  (If you don’t know what Calvinism is, you can find out here: What is Calvinism? )

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The man who would not be king

Rudyard Kipling wrote a story called “The Man Who Would be King.”  It is about two Englishmen who took control of a small state in Afghanistan and set up a kingdom there.  You can read the story here.

The Bible tells of a man who would not be king.  He was offered the kingship of Israel and turned it down.  In view of what happened afterward I think he was wrong to do this.

The man’s name was Gideon.  You can read his story in Judges 6-8.  God called Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianites.  With only 300 men he was able to overcome a Midianite army of 135,000.  The people of Israel were so grateful they offered to make him their ruler. Read the rest of this entry

Paving the road to Hell

Christianity is based on love.  It was love that made God send Jesus to die for our sins.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

All that God wants from us can be summarized in two commands.

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40)

We are saved through faith but love is more important than faith and is the only acceptable motivation for what we do. Read the rest of this entry

The suffering of Jesus

Before his arrest Jesus prayed that if it were possible he might avoid being crucified.

And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 

And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:39-46)

He wanted to avoid the crucifixion but he submitted to God’s will and as you know it was God’s will for him to be crucified.  Read the rest of this entry

Leprosy

Leviticus 13 and 14 give God’s commands concerning leprosy.  Leviticus 13:1-44 tells how it was diagnosed.  A priest examined the skin of the person suspected of having leprosy and declared him clean or unclean on the basis of that examination.  The next two verses describe how a person declared unclean was to live.

The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, “Unclean, unclean.” He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. (Leviticus 13:45,46)

He was isolated and forbidden to have contact with those without leprosy.

Today the term “leprosy” is given to a disease called Hansen’s disease.  A comparison of Hansen’s disease and biblical leprosy shows that they are not the same.  Here is how the National Institute of Health describes Hansen’s disease.

Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy) is a rare bacterial infection that affects the skin, nerves and mucous membranes. After exposure, it may take anywhere from 2 to 10 years to develop features of the condition. Once present, common signs and symptoms include skin lesions; muscle weakness or paralysis; eye problems that may lead to blindness; nosebleeds; severe pain; and/or numbness in the hands, feet, arms and legs.

Hansen’s disease

Read the rest of this entry

Transgenders and same sex marriage

The Bible teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman and that in God’s eyes a same sex “marriage” is not a marriage at all.  This is simple and is something that anyone can easily understand.  At least it would be simple if it weren’t for the current transgender movement.  A transgender person is one who perceives himself to be of the opposite to his biological sex.  Some transgenders go far as to have sex change surgery which makes them appear to be of the opposite sex.  When one of these people decides to marry the question of what is a same sex marriage becomes unclear.

Suppose a man and a woman decide to marry.  If one of them was born as a member of the opposite sex and had a sex change operation is their marriage legitimate or is it a same sex union?

Suppose two members of the same sex want to marry but one of them was born as a member of the opposite sex.  Is their marriage a same sex marriage or do they have a right to get married according to God’s laws?

Each cell in the human body contains 23 pairs of chromosomes.  One pair determines the sex of the individual.  Each chromosome is either an x or a y chromosome.  A person with two x chromosomes is female, while one with an x and a y is male.  Sex change operations have no effect on a person’s chromosomes.  If a same sex couple marries and one of them is transgender, they are technically of different genders, so the marriage is permissible, but the cisgender member of the marriage is engaging in sexual activity with a person who is outwardly of the same gender, so he is violating the prohibition against sexual involvement between members of the same sex.

The transgender movement has raised a lot of questions about sex and marriage that we didn’t need to think about in the past.  I don’t know the answers to these questions but I believe Christians should be aware of them so we can find answers and be prepared when we encounter these situations in real life.

Is human activity responsible for climate change?

It is generally accepted that the earth’s climate is changing and that the greenhouse gases produced by the use of fossil fuels are responsible for much of this change.  In 2015 a group of nations signed an agreement known as the Paris Accord in which they agreed to take steps to ease climate change.  Earlier this year President Trump was criticized when the withdrew the United States from this agreement.

President Trump’s action was not as irresponsible as most people seem to think.  There are many scientists who think that human actions aren’t responsible for climate change.  You can read the arguments for both sides of this issue here:  Is Human Activity Primarily Responsible for Global Climate Change?

Both sides are based on the opinions of scientists who have studied the data extensively.  For those who believe the Bible there is a third option.  The Bible teaches that humans do affect the climate but not by burning fossil fuels. Read the rest of this entry

The Wise Men at the manger

Every year around Christmas we see nativity scenes.  The details of the scenes differ but all of them show the baby Jesus in a manger with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Wise Men either standing or kneeling around him.  These scenes serve a useful purpose by reminding everyone that Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa Claus.  Unfortunately every nativity scene I have ever seen promotes an error.  They show the Wise Men being present at the birth of Jesus.  In fact they were nowhere near Bethlehem then and didn’t arrive until much later.

Here is Matthew’s description of the birth of Jesus.

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:24-25)

He doesn’t give any details about the birth except to tell us that Mary was still a virgin.

Luke 2:1-20 gives a more detailed description of Jesus’s birth.  Joseph and Mary were forced to go to Bethlehem because of a decree by Caesar and Jesus was born there and placed in a manger.  An angel revealed to a group of shepherds that the Messiah had been born and they came to see him. Read the rest of this entry

Did Jesus claim to be God?

There is disagreement as to whether Jesus was God.  Some who deny his deity say that he never claimed to be God.  The fact is Jesus said several times in the gospels that he was God.

If you begin reading the gospels, beginning with Matthew, you will come to a section known as the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7.  He stated three times in this sermon that he was God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

He equated being persecuted for the sake of righteousness with being persecuted for his sake.  Only God, the source of all righteousness, could make such a claim. Read the rest of this entry

The golden calf

While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the commands that God gave, the people became worried about whether or not he would return and they demanded that Aaron make gods to lead them.

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf.

And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it.

And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. (Exodus 32:1-6)

Read the rest of this entry

True and false prophets

There are a lot of people who claim to be prophets who speak for God.  The Bible warns us that many of them are not true prophets and we are not to listen to them.  But how can you tell who really is a prophet and who isn’t?  The Bible answers this question.

And if you say in your heart, “How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?”— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.  (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)

God sent Jonah to prophesy to the people of Nineveh.

Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4)

This is how the Ninevites responded.

And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. (Jonah 3:5-10)

Jonah said Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days and it didn’t happen.  Does this mean that Jonah was a false prophet? Read the rest of this entry

Long range consequences

Jeremiah 39-43 describes Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem and the events that followed it.  Most of the inhabitants of the land were taken to Babylon but some were left.

Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, left in the land of Judah some of the poor people who owned nothing, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time. (Jeremiah 39:10)

A man named Gedaliah was appointed governor.  He was assassinated and, fearing reprisals by Nebuchadnezzar, the Jews planned to flee to Egypt.  They first asked Jeremiah to find out what God wanted them to do.

And they went and stayed at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, intending to go to Egypt because of the Chaldeans. For they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.

Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us—that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.”

Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the Lord your God according to your request, and whatever the Lord answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.”

Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 41:17 – 42:6)

Read the rest of this entry

Leaving vengeance to the wrath of God

We are commanded not to avenge ourselves but to leave all vengeance to God’s wrath.

 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

But just how do we leave vengeance to God?  If what another person does to hurt us involves a violation of the law, there is a very easy way.  Inform the police and press criminal charges against him.  Here is what the Bible says about the role of government.

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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 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, 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. (Romans 13:1-4)

Did you notice the last sentence?  For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.   When we ask the government to take action against someone who has hurt us we are not avenging ourselves but turning the matter over to God’s servant. Read the rest of this entry

Living in exile

Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles from Jerusalem who had been taken to Babylon, telling them how they were to live.

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.

For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. (Jeremiah 29:5-10)

Read the rest of this entry

Will you be rich or poor in Heaven?

Some people are rich and others are poor.  That has always been true and always will be.  Jesus himself said, “You always have the poor with you.”  I wonder how many realize that even in Heaven there will be rich and poor.

Salvation is a free gift from God, not something we can earn by anything we do.  But the goal of salvation isn’t just to get into Heaven.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

We are not saved by works but we are saved to do good works.  Our salvation itself is a free gift but our works after salvation will be judged and rewarded. Read the rest of this entry

The sense of smell

Psalm 115:5-7 describes some characteristics of idols, contrasting them with God.

They have mouths, but do not speak;
    eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
    noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
    feet, but do not walk;
    and they do not make a sound in their throat.

We all know that God sees and hears everything that happens and he has the ability to speak and act, but he has a sense of smell too.  The first mention of it is found in Genesis 8:20-22. Read the rest of this entry

Forget your people and your father’s house

Psalm 45

 My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;
    I address my verses to the king;
    my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.

You are the most handsome of the sons of men;
    grace is poured upon your lips;
    therefore God has blessed you forever.
Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
    in your splendor and majesty!

In your majesty ride out victoriously
    for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
    let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
Your arrows are sharp
    in the heart of the king’s enemies;
    the peoples fall under you.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
    The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
    you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
    with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
    your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
    daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;
    at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

10 Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
    forget your people and your father’s house,
11     and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him.
12     The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,
    the richest of the people.

Read the rest of this entry

Questioning God

Have you ever experienced a time when your life was so messed up you wanted to ask God what was going on?  Job did.

Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning.  Oh, that I knew where I might find him, hat I might come even to his seat!  I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. (Job 23:2-4)

If you read Job 1-4 it is easy to see why he felt that way.  He feared and obeyed God and God had blessed him with great wealth and with ten children.  For a long time he had lived a prosperous and happy life, and then suddenly everything began to go wrong. Read the rest of this entry

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