Bible Study: Hebrews 11

Read Hebrews 11

The first verse of Hebrews 11 is one I memorized many years ago in the King James Version. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The substance of things hoped for; the KJV was written to be read out loud and it’s poetic language, combined with rhythm and cadence, is the reason it is so often read today in public ceremonies and gatherings. In my case it’s what I grew up with so with many important passages of scriptures those are the words I know by heart.

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Bible Study: Hebrews 1

bible-pagesThe first two things we would typically do when beginning a study of a book of the Bible is identify the writer and the audience he was addressing. That’s usually easy to do by reading the first paragraph or two. Sometimes we need to add historical context in order to understanding what was happening in the lives of the intended audience. I’m going to try to keep this introduction short and get into Hebrews chapter 1 instead of dedicated a post to it. I don’t know who wrote Hebrews. If you believe the Apostle Paul wrote Hebrews, I’m not going to argue with you. As a well-studied and passionate Pharisee he would have certainly had the background into the Old Covenant. We also see numerous examples in his epistles that relate the ministry of Christ to the Old Testament examples, descriptions of Jesus and Adam as types of first men, and exhortations that that the grace that comes through Jesus Christ is superior to the Law. If you do not believe that Paul wrote Hebrews then I will not argue with you either. In the 13 New Testament epistles written by Paul he clearly identifies himself as the author and the writer of Hebrews is left anonymous. That would be a divergence from his usual style. I will not engage in any debate over the authorship of Hebrews but will defer a statement many Christians would do well to adopt and apply to a variety of topics: the Bible doesn’t speak to that. If it were important for us to know then God would not have allowed that detail to be lost to history. As far as identifying the audience is concerned it is more than suggested by the title. Hebrews is addressed to Jewish believers that have accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah and offers evidence that this was always God’s plan. Continue reading

God is Near: Book Discussion #1

book discussionMaybe I’ll come up with a more clever series title but let’s try this out. If you haven’t read the book don’t worry, there should be enough discussion of scripture and of the Christian life in general to give these posts merit. If you don’t know what book I’m talking about it read this page. 

The process of writing God as Near as it exists in its final published form took place over a 2 year period of time, more or less. The first 4 or 5 chapters in particular have been around a while. Chapter 1 deals extensively with the creation story recorded in Genesis and Chapter 2 begins with a quick summary of the Noah story. As publication drew near I decided to leave those chapters alone and ignore certain recent events which are more suited for blogging anyway. Continue reading

Creation Debate: The Issue is Viability

Ken vs. Bill Is creation a viable model for origin is the topic of the Bill Nye – Ken Ham debate. Ham wants us to define some critical terms, namely creation/evolution and science. What I can’t believe we are not defining is viable.

UPDATE: View the full debate by clicking here.

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Academic Discussion: Young Earth Debate

earthWe started our academic discussion series by defining terms. One of my favorite sayings is “Don’t make the Bible say something it doesn’t say.” I enjoy a hearty discussion and even a little bit of friendly debate as much as the next guy, but we must be careful to build up not tear down other believers. There are many things that we simply cannot know. There are mysteries that will only be revealed to us when we come into God’s Kingdom. The ancient Greeks were occupied with continuous discussion and debate, but Paul encourages us to keep our eyes on the prize so to speak, focusing on what is of most importance.

In the 17th century an Irish bishop named James Ussher worked out a chronology of biblical events, based on male lines of lineage presented in scripture. His work is the basis of many young earth creationists, which it might be noted, was his particular bias when he started the started task. Continue reading

God’s Image – Part 1

stick manSo God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Imaging a simple stick figure. With no more than a circle and a few straight lines, one can convey the image of a human form. But does the stick man above look like me? To an extent yes, but it also resembles every other one of the six plus billion people on earth. We could create a more realistic portrait with a few crayons or colored pencils. A portrait artist with oil paints could create an image approaching photo realism, and of course we could always take a picture. Wax museums are filled with likenesses of iconic figures capable of fooling the human eye.

So what does it mean that we created in God’s image? Continue reading

Stephen Hawking Settles Things Once and for All

Stephen Hawking’s latest book, The Grand Design, goes on sale next week.  Here’s a preview:

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,” Hawking writes.  “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.” Continue reading

Discussions That Are Academic

debateThere are some discussions/debates that are purely academic in nature, meaning that they have no real bearing on anything practical.  Is Superman strong enough to beat up the Incredible Hulk?  It doesn’t matter who wins the debate, there is no practical application for the results.  Continue reading

Bible Survey, Creation Week

bible-pagesIt’s done!  The much awaited first installment of Bible Survey, Creation Week, is now online.

The first 12 chapters of Genesis cover a period of centuries, and present us with some major events from early history.  The Gen. 1 post is lengthy, and this looks like it may be a slow go for a few posts.  After we meet Abraham in Gen. 12, we should be able to take wings and fly.  Here is an excerpt:

God is all-powerful, and created all that exist from nothing, confirmed by Heb. 11:3  and Rev. 4:11.  Critics might argue that Hebrew is an ancient, difficult language, and that no original copies survive due to the passage of time.  Many times, however, the truths of the Old Testament are quoted, illustrated, or otherwise affirmed by the authors of the New Testament.  Their writings are more recent, plentiful, and easier translated from Greek and/or Aramaic.  That God created the universe and all that is in it is one of those fundamental truths.

Read Creation Week at Bible Survey.

Answering Tough Questions

question_mark_3dRichard Dawkins and Sam Harris are raising an army of New Atheists who are ready to do battle with the people of faith.  It is no longer enough to simply not believe in God; the “New Atheists” don’t think anyone else should have the right to either. 

The issues of creationism, evolution and Intelligent Design have been pushed into the forefront of debate in recent years, thanks to films by Ben Stein and the opening of the Creation Museum.  The battle of words takes place not just in pulpits or auditoriums, but in board of education meetings at the state and local level that determine curriculum and policy.  In both issues science, reason and logic are dragged through the mud by both sides in order to “prove” one side is right and the other wrong. 

Abortion is and perhaps always will be a hot topic in this country.  Continue reading