Posted in Genesis, Job

The Age of the Earth – Part Two

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was (or possibly became) formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

Here are the four reasons I believe the heavens were already in existence before the six days of Genesis one:

  1. Darkness is only on the face of the earth in verse two; it isn’t filling the universe. Job 38 describes the earth at some time after it was created as having clouds as its garments and being “wrapped in thick darkness.” (Job 38:9)
  2. When God says, “Let there be light,” on day one, He was not creating light, He was allowing the light that was already filling the universe to appear on the earth.* Evening and morning on earth are describing a solar day as the clouds dissipate enough at God’s command for light to appear again on the face of the earth.
  3. The difference between “bara” and “asah.” In Genesis 1:1, God creates the heavens; on the fourth day He only works on them. The word “create” in Hebrew is “bara,” the word used on the fourth day in connection to the stars, sun, and moon is “asah” (often translated “made”). Bara indicates something brand new while asah never involves something new, but rather something preexisting that is being worked on.
  4. On day four God doesn’t create the heavens, He only works on them by completely removing the cloud cover so they can be seen from the earth. This is similar to the work He does on the earth in day three. He doesn’t create the earth on the third day, He gathers the water so that dry land appears, and then calls the dry land, “earth.” In a similar way, on day four He doesn’t create the heavens, He removes the clouds so the heavens can be seen from the earth.

*Scofield Study Bible: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” Comments: “Neither here nor in verses 14-18 is an original creative act implied. A different word is used. The sense is made to appear; made visible. The sun and moon were created ‘in the beginning.’ The ‘light’ of course came from the sun, but the vapor diffused the light. Later the sun appeared in an unclouded sky.”

Posted in Genesis

The Age of the Earth – Part One

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was (or possibly became) formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

Many have felt that a straightforward reading of the Bible leads to an earth/universe which is less than 10,000 years old. Any other explanation is often seen as a compromise with the scientific community who believe the earth is billions of years old. Do we have to choose between the Bible and what most scientists believe about the age of the earth?

Genesis One gives six days of creation and describes each day by the words, “There was evening and there was morning,” giving the impression of a 24-hour period. Some make the point that the sun and moon are not created until day four so there is no reason to believe that “evening and morning” are describing a solar day. This group would say that each day, the Hebrew word “yom,” is describing an indefinite period where God creates through a long process that is only generally summarized in the text. There need be no conflict with scientists, in this view, because Genesis One is only concerned about “who” created, not about “how” He created.

Although I have some sympathy with this argument, I think it is unnecessary when one looks closely at the text. If we subtract all six days of creation given in Genesis One, notice that we still have an earth even though it’s covered with water and darkness. Before day one, the earth is already here. The only verse that references the creation of the earth is Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Is this an introduction to what the author is going to describe as happening during the six days, or is the actual creation of the heavens and the earth being referenced before the six days? Since the earth isn’t created during any one of the six days, I think we have to conclude that Genesis 1:1 is describing the act of God in creating the original heavens and earth. If this is the case, and the heavens, including the stars, sun and moon, are already here before day one, day four cannot be describing their creation. Tomorrow I will give four reasons I believe this is true.

Posted in Romans

The Great Designer

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and Divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.” Romans 1:20

C.S. Lewis tells about a man who stumbles over a watch in the middle of a desert. Where did it come from? He didn’t see anyone leave it there and no footprints are visible around it in any direction. There are no video tapes of what happened beforehand, and there is no scientific experiment that can be run to test why this watch appeared. Any explanation concerning this watch will have to be based on faith.

The man examines the watch more carefully. The metal band is elastic and can be stretched so that it fits snugly on the wrist. There is a plastic, clear covering that appears to be designed to protect the face of the watch. There are ordered numbers going around in a perfect circle and three hands pointing to different numbers. Hold it! One of them is moving – this object is ticking!

Here are the two faith explanations available to our man. One is that the watch is the result of a designer and has been left here by someone. The other is that over an immense period of time the sand blew together in such a way to form the band, face, and plastic covering of the watch. In a freak accident, numbers were etched on the face, remarkably in order, and by some natural stimulus (who knows what it could be), it started ticking all by itself. The appearance of design is deceiving because it is the result of nothing more than time and chance.

Both of these are faith explanations, but I submit, one of them is much easier to believe than the other. Our universe is so clearly designed at so many levels, it is incredible to me that anyone can believe it is only the result of random coincidences over a long period of time.

Posted in Romans

Science Proving God

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and Divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.” Romans 1:20

On December 26, 2014, the Wall Street Journal ran an article called: “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God,” by Eric Metaxas. The article tells of Carl Sagan’s original announcement in the 1960s that there were two important factors for a planet to support life: The right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star. With this easily attainable goal in a universe as vast as ours, there was a project put together with both public and private funds called: “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” (SETI).

The enthusiasm to find life on other planets has diminished since then as scientists have discovered that there aren’t just two factors necessary for life on a planet; there’s actually more than two hundred. The probability of life existing on any planet, including ours, turns out to be zero. I will now go to direct excerpts from the article:

Metaxas writes: “As factors continued to be discovered, the number of possible planets (that could sustain life) hit zero, and kept going. In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here. Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life – every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart.”

“Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that ‘the appearance of design is overwhelming’ and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said ‘the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator gains credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.’”

God is speaking through creation about His own existence. It turns out that it takes more faith to believe He doesn’t exist than to believe He does.

Posted in John

Difficult Questions

And His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?’” John 9:2

The disciples asked Jesus a difficult question and He answered them. I’m so glad they asked it, so that we could all hear the answer. The church can either welcome questions or see them as a threat to the established system. God is very secure in Himself, and I think He likes questions when they are accompanied by a heart that wants to know the truth. Asking often leads to study which can lead to deeper convictions than those who never bothered to ask.

There are some people, I am convinced, that want to not believe. They have another issue with God and may use difficult questions to hide the real problem. Sometimes people are mad at God because of unresolved pain, so their questions are really only accusations against God. Others seem to resent that they are not the ones who ultimately decide what is right and wrong. They question God to justify their own lifestyle.

But there are others who are genuinely open to believe, and some who actually want to believe, but they have honest questions that hinder them. God does not ask us to set aside our minds to believe in Him. In fact, He calls us to love Him with all of our minds. Faith does not contradict our minds, but it does transcend them. For these people, it can be very helpful to give the mind rational answers for troubling questions. Explanations for difficult questions will not give a person faith, but they can give a person’s mind permission to exercise the childlike faith it takes to connect with God. He is so much higher than us, and His ways so beyond us, that we must humble ourselves like children to experience the fullness of His love and salvation.

Posted in 1Peter, Romans

What are You Wearing?

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Romans 13:14

Just because you have a new outfit in your closet doesn’t mean that you chose to put it on today. When we accept Christ into our hearts God gives us a new nature, but He doesn’t remove the old one. Christians have the ability to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” or to not put Him on. When we don’t put Him on we live governed by the same appetites, desires, fears, manipulations, and agendas that those in the world function under every day. Our lives become, “the survival of the fittest,” with a little God added on here and there.

But when we get up in the morning and put on the Lord Jesus, our new nature responds and transformation occurs, little by little, from glory to glory, until those around us can sense something different about us. It’s not just reflected in what we do but in who we are. They begin to smell the fragrance of His life in us even as we go about our daily responsibilities.

So what does it mean to put Him on? First, it means to die to self. When Paul said he, “died daily,” he was referring to dying to the carnal nature. Before you put on a new outfit you take off the old one. We have to do it every day because we won’t lose the old nature until heaven. Second, it means to choose an attitude that puts God first instead of self. Humility instead of pride, loving instead of competing, praying instead of presuming, serving instead of consuming, and thanking God for what’s good instead of whining about what’s bad.

We can’t produce any of these on our own, but we can choose an attitude that activates the new nature inside of us. In Christ, you have become a partaker in the divine nature (2Peter 1:4), so that what is easy for God can eventually become easy for you and me. We must practice putting on the Lord Jesus. The world around us rarely gets a glimpse of Christ even from those who call themselves Christians, so our lives stick out like a brand new outfit when we truly put Him on. Peter wrote: “Be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1Peter 3:15) When they see Him, they will ask.

Posted in John, Luke, Mark

Destiny or Comparison?

“So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” John 21:21-22

My wife and I were at a pastor’s convention and one of the speakers preached from Psalm 29 on the voice of God. His point was that we are formed by whatever voice we regularly listen to. He asked if we were listening to the voice of destiny or comparison.

He said that when we stop listening to the voice of destiny, the voice of comparison will take over. The fruit of operating out of comparison will either be a competitiveness that wins by making sure others lose, or a complacency that comes from self pity because we don’t think we’re as good as someone else.

The problem is how deeply ingrained comparison is in our hearts. Jesus told the disciples at the last supper that one of them would betray Him. Luke 22:23 says that “they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing.” But the argument about who was the worst quickly gave way to another one about who was the best because the very next verse says, “And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.” (Luke 22:24) We know Peter thought he was on top from his statement to Jesus, “Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.” (Mark 14:29)

But the text above from John 21 finds Peter in a very different place. He has denied the Lord and has gone back to fishing. He used to think he was the best, but by now, we can imagine, he is convinced he is the worst. To bring him back to his destiny Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. When he says he does, Jesus recalls him into the ministry; “…feed My sheep; …tend My flock; …shepherd my lambs.” It’s not about whether Peter thinks he’s as good at it as someone else, it’s only about loving Jesus and doing what Jesus told him to do. Denying Jesus didn’t change his destiny any more than our failures change God’s destiny for us. God has factored our weaknesses, mistakes, and even our sins into His plan.

After receiving his instructions Peter did what we usually do, he looked at the guy next to him and asked, “What about him?” Jesus said, “What’s that to you? You follow me.” Our job isn’t to keep track of anyone else’s destiny, that’s between them and God. Our job is to get our eyes off of people and on to Jesus. Let’s fight off the persistent voice of comparison, so we can fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

Posted in 1Samuel

Getting Over Grief

“Now the Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you grieve over Saul…? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons.’” 1Samuel 16:1

Samuel was stuck in his grief. He had prophesied to Saul, anointed Saul, and saw him get off to a great start as Israel’s king, but now Saul had turned his back on God. God had allowed a time of grief to pass so that Samuel could rightfully mourn Saul’s backslidden condition and the negative results all Israel was experiencing, but now He wanted Samuel to move on. “How long will you grieve over Saul?” It’s as if God was asking, “Is this your new life? Are you going to be depressed and live in regret every day because someone you love isn’t walking with God?” God had stuff He wanted Samuel to do for Him, new people for him to anoint, but Samuel couldn’t do anything if he wasn’t willing to leave the place of grief.

Have you been there? I sure have. It’s a dark and heavy place that taints all of life in a negative way. How do you get over the failure of someone close to you? The answer is not forgetting them, but giving them to God in prayer recognizing that only He can reach them. While you ask God to touch the one you love, you also need to be willing to leave the place of grief and go touch someone else He loves. “Fill your horn with oil and go…” Part of our healing comes from getting filled again with His Spirit to touch someone He leads us to in Jesus Name. The way He touches through us is often as simple as a word of encouragement, a prayer, a good deed, or just a listening ear.

It’s a strange thing in the kingdom, but often true. The ones we love the most are often the hardest for us to reach,  so we need to trust them with God, and let Him raise up someone else to speak into their lives. As life and people disappoint us we can allow our grief to paralyze us, or we can give it to God, fill our horns with oil, and ask God to use us again for His glory.

Posted in Ephesians, Mark, Matthew

Part of the Bride

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:31-32

If you have accepted Christ you are a son or daughter of God, but you are not a bride of Christ. Jesus doesn’t have many brides, only one. The two will become one – Jesus is one and the church together is the other one. When we accept Christ we become part of the bride so to fulfill our destiny we must learn how to connect with each other. When we become one unified church, the beauty of the bride will go forth drawing people to Christ, the Spirit and the bride will announce the gospel, and finally, Jesus will come back and take us to the marriage supper of the Lamb. We don’t need anyone but Jesus to become a child of God, but we need one another to really be the bride. That’s why He is so insistent on unity.

Ephesians 4:3 says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” “Make every effort” means work at it!  Jesus said if someone has sinned against us we are to forgive them without even going to them. “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25) He said if someone has something against us and we know about it, we are to go to them and try to make it right. “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)

This is real Christianity that really shows God we are serious. When we make things right, even if we don’t feel like it, the Father is able to bring healing to the bride and prepare us for the coming Bridegroom.

Posted in Acts, Luke

The God of Midnight

“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” Acts 16:25-26

In Luke 11  a friend comes to a friend at midnight because he has no bread. Even though he has nothing to give his midnight visitor he knows someone who does. He goes to this rich friend and after shamelessly, persistently knocking on his door, he secures provision for his other friend. Jesus said that this was how prayer worked and said that if we keep on knocking, seeking, and asking, the Father will give the Holy Spirit to us in a way that will reach our friends who have no bread in their hour of need. The point is to stay connected in friendship with unbelievers and don’t be discouraged if they don’t seem to be responding right now because midnight, the darkest hour, will come to their lives at some point, and then they will seek someone who they think might be able to help.

In our text Paul and Silas could easily have been despairing. While they were evangelizing, doing the very work God had told them to do, they were thrown into prison and chained up. They could have easily fallen into doubt and asked the question: “Why did God let this happen?” The Scripture mentions that it was “about midnight.” Maybe you’re in the middle of some dark circumstance right now and at the end of yourself. You have a choice just like Paul and Silas did.

They decided to trust God in the midst of their circumstances and began to pray and worship instead of grumble and complain. God’s response is astounding. There was a supernatural earthquake whereby the prison doors all opened and everyone’s chains fell off, yet no one got hurt. He is the God of midnight. When man is at the end of himself and there seems to be no hope, God is there, waiting to set people free and bring them to Himself.