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Free Will vs. God Part I

I am teaching an overview of the Bible, every Sunday covering one book of the Bible, no matter how long or how short.  One of my resource books is Ray C. Stedman's Adventuring Through the Bible.  He wrote "When God created the human race, He gave us supreme free will.  Even the Spirit of God does not violate it.  If we want to say "no" to God we can."
    If free will is supreme, then God becomes god because He cannot overcome man's free will.  This is illogical and not Biblical, as well as being a hopeless position.

Thank God that we serve God, not a god who is powerless.

Thanksgiving

From George Will's article "America:  Be Thankful You Have Something to Complain About" [https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/america-be-thankful-you-have-something-to-complain-about/2016/11/23/].  He quotes an e-mail from Barnard College student government sent out in 2013:  “Happy Turkey Week. Thanksgiving is complicated. We urge you not to forget that this holiday commemorates genocide and American imperialism. But, enjoy the week off and make it into something meaningful.”
   Say what?  Happy Turkey Week?  Is this all Thanksgiving has become?
   How do you make Thanksgiving meaningful if you are not giving thanks to God who made and cares for you?
   We will address genocide and American imperialism later.  In the meantime, thank God for all His bountiful provisions. 

The 7:14 Prayer Challenge

   II Chronicles 7:14 states "If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

   So the 7:14 challenge is this:  Will you stop and pray twice a day at 7:14 for one minute for our country?

Thanks to my daughter Rebecca for this idea.

Prayer and Thanksgiving

   The Heidelberg Catechism, written in 1563, is divided into three parts, Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude.  In the Gratitude part are two sections.  The first section is the 10 Commandments.  In other words we follow the 10 Commandments out of gratitude for our salvation.  The second section is on prayer.   In Lord’s Day 45, we read the following:
Q & A 116  Q. Why do Christians need to pray?
A. Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us.
[https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/confessions/heidelberg-catechism.]

Challenge:  On Thanksgiving Day, and this next weeks, let us pray because we are thankful!!

Father, send your Holy Spirit on us.  Help us to be thankful.

Christianity and Scientists III

   The Greeks and the Romans had many advanced ideas, but what they did not do was to test their theories to see if their ideas were right.  Some of their ideas, like atoms, could not be tested until the 20th century.  Some of their ideas, like the earth revolving around the sun, Aristarchus of Samos (310-230 B.C.) were well advanced.  But other Greek scientists, Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) and Ptolemy (100-170 A.D.) prevailed.  The church often followed these men.
    But it was Christianity which enabled the scientific advances. 

Thank you Father for giving us brains to think.

Christianity and Scientists II

Everybody has a viewpoint from which you work.  In the Islamic view, Allah is capricious.  To study nature, is therefore binding Allah. 
   This explains why there have been so few inventions coming out of the Islamic world in the last 700 years.  For example, Huffington Post in an article "8 Great Modern Innovations We Can Thank Muslims For" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/06/8-inventions-we-can-thank_n_6424836.html) lists these inventions:
1.  Algebra (9th century)
2. Toothbrush (7th century)
3.  Marching Bands (7th century)
4.  Guitar (9th century)
5. Magnifying glasses/glasses (11th century)
6.  Coffee (15th century)
7.  Hospitals (872)  (But Ancient Greeks had hospitals 300 B.C.)
8.  Surgery (10th century)
The list from CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/01/29/muslim.inventions/) included the above with the addition of:
1. Flying machine (1st designed in the 9th century, but never successful)
2. University (859 by women in Morocco)
3. Music with different instruments (sort of like the guitar) (9th century)
4. Crank (12th century)

Two things stand out in the list:
A.  Lack of MODERN inventions - coffee is the latest "invention" from the 15th century.  Nothing of importance has been invented in the last 700 years.
B.  Lack of IMPORTANT inventions.  Marching bands, guitars, and musical instruments.  All interesting, all makes life more pleasurable, but is that the most important inventions?  I am certainly thankful for the toothbrush, but is that the most important invention?

Christians serve a God who is orderly and therefore, His creation should be studied.  Thank God for Christian scientists.

Christianity and Scientists I

    Christianity believes in an orderly God.  Because God is orderly, therefore the world can and should be studied.  Islam believes that if you study creation, you are binding Allah. 
Result:  Although Muslims make up about 25% of the world's population, there are about 300,000 scientists or 230 scientists/one million people.  In the US, with a population 330 million, there are about 1,100,000 scientists (4,100 scientist/one million people). 
   Why the difference?  Because Christians believe in an orderly God.

Thank you Father Creator for making us with minds and for making Your creation so beautiful.

Supermoon and God Part II

They say that the next supermoon won't occur for another 68 years.  How can they predict that?  They can predict that because we live in an orderly world.  God is a reliable, dependable, orderly God who is not capricious.  Can you imagine living in a world that we could not predict the sunrise/sunset times?  Or one where it would be freezing one day and 100 degrees the next? 

Thank you Creator Father that You are dependable and orderly.

Supermoon and God

Did you-all see the supermoon?  Okay, how could you not have seen it?  It was so big - largest it will be for another 68 years.
But what was your reaction?  Did you praise the Creator for making such a beautiful moon, positioned just right at a perfect distance from the earth?  Too close, and it would be sucked into the earth's gravitational field and smash into the earth.  We talk about a meteor that hit the earth many years ago.  Can you imagine the impact of the moon?  Positioned close enough to be seen clearly to shine on the earth.

Thank you Creator Father for the moon.

Tacitus the Historian - Part VI

"Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus."  (Tacitus Annals XV, 44)

Raphael Lataster, a lecturer in religious studies at the University of Sydney, wrote a book There was no Jesus, There is no God.  But Tacitus, a Roman historian states Jesus existed.  You may not accept Jesus is God, but to state that Jesus never existed does not match up with the facts. 

Thank you Father for sending Your Son Jesus Christ to live here on earth, to die for our sins.

Tacitus the Historian - Part V

"Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus."  (Tacitus Annals XV, 44)

    Tacitus is the only Roman source that mentions Pontius Pilate.  But people do not doubt that Pontius Pilate ever lived.  But when Christ is mentioned, some scoff that he existed.  Pontius Pilate also has the dubious distinction of being one of two males mentioned in the Apostle's Creed, the other being Jesus Christ:  "He [Jesus Christ] suffered under Pontius Pilate."  The only mention by a Roman historian is of him crucifying Jesus Christ.

(to be continued.)

Tacitus the Historian - Part IV

   "Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus."  (Tacitus Annals XV, 44)
    Why did Tacitus write the "extreme penalty" instead of saying the word "crucified"?  The reason is that this method of punishment was so distasteful and used for slaves, pirates, and enemies of the state, that in polite society it was not mentioned.  We do the same today.  We often say someone "passed on," "left us," "departed," "went to a better place," instead of saying he died.   We don't call a spade a spade.

(to be continued)

Tacitus the Historian - Part III

     "Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus,"  (Tacitus Annals XV, 44).
    What is the extreme penalty?  The Romans had several methods of execution.  If you were a Roman citizen, the penalty would be beheading.  That is why Paul, a Roman citizen, was beheaded, not crucified.  If you were not a Roman citizen, the extreme penalty was death by crucifixion.  That is why at the end of Spartacus you see all the slaves who revolted being crucified.  There were about 6,000 slaves who were crucified between Rome and Capua.
     And this is why Jesus was crucified as He suffered the Roman extreme penalty.

Tacitus the unbeliever states that Christ was crucified.  The Bible states that Jesus was crucified.  From an historian's point of view, it is a match.

(to be continued) 

Tacitus the Historian - Part II

   Tacitus writes this "Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus."  (Annals XV 44). 
    Tacitus writes that the Roman procurator for Judea was Pontus Pilate. Luke the historian writes about Jesus at the beginning of Jesus's ministry on earth:  "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea"
    As a historian, I am looking for opposing viewpoints.  When two different people from two different backgrounds say the same thing, my confidence level goes up.  Here we have a pagan, non-believing writer, write of Pontus Pilatus and a Gospel writer, Luke, writing of Pontius Pilate.  Both are writing within decades of each other.  Both are historians. 
    Both also state that Pontius Pilate was the governor or procurator of Judea.  Both mention that the emperor was Tiberius.
 
(To be continued.)

Tacitus the Historian - Part I

     "Tacitus, in full Publius Cornelius Tacitus, or Gaius Cornelius Tacitus (born AD 56—died circa . 120) Roman orator and public official, probably the greatest historian and one of the greatest prose stylists who wrote in the Latin language."  (from the Encyclopedia Britannica (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Tacitus-Roman-historian).  Thus, Tacitus lived just after Christ died (about 30 A.D.).
    He wrote The Annals which cover the period from Caesar Augustus's death (14 A.D.) to the death of Nero (68 A.D.)
   (More to follow.)