This article by Dr. Danny Faulkner from September 2, 2010 was helpful. Scientific research is a natural place for a Christian to be. It is a place of uniformity, induction, invariant and universal logic that allow us to discover and apply certain invariant and universal physical laws. The Christian owns science because only the Bible gives an authentic account for its very origins, that being the mind of God. History shows that scientific “truth” changes over time. The uncertainty is the reason why continued testing of our ideas is so important in science..

Science is the study of the natural world using the five senses. Because people use their senses every day, people have always done some sort of science. However, good science requires a systematic approach. While ancient Greek science did rely upon some empirical evidence, it was heavily dominated by deductive reasoning. Science as we know it began in the 17th century. The father of the scientific method is Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626), who clearly defined the scientific method in his Novum Organum (1620). Bacon also introduced inductive reasoning, which is the foundation of the scientific method.

The first step in the scientific method is to define clearly a problem or question about how some aspect of the natural world operates. Some preliminary investigation of the problem can lead one to form a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an educated guess about an underlying principle that will explain the phenomenon that we are trying to explain. A good hypothesis can be tested. That is, a hypothesis ought to make predictions about certain observable phenomena, and we can devise an experiment or observation to test those predictions. If we conduct the experiment or observation and find that the predictions match the results, then we say that we have confirmed our hypothesis, and we have some confidence that our hypothesis is correct. On the other hand, if our predictions are not borne out, then we say that our hypothesis is disproved, and we can either alter our hypothesis or develop a new one and repeat the process of testing. After repeated testing with positive results, we say that the hypothesis is confirmed, and we have confidence that our hypothesis is correct.

PROPERLY APPLIED INDUCTIVE REASONING DOES NOT NECESSARILY LEAD TO A TRUE CONCLUSION.

Notice that we did not “prove” the hypothesis, but that we merely confirmed it. This is a big difference between deductive and inductive reasoning. If we have a true premise, then properly applied deductive reasoning will lead to a true conclusion. However, properly applied inductive reasoning does not necessarily lead to a true conclusion. How can this be? Our hypothesis may be one of several different hypotheses that produce the same experimental or observational results. It is very easy to assume that our hypothesis, when confirmed, is the end of the matter. However, our hypothesis may make other predictions that future, different tests may not confirm. If this happens, then we must further modify or abandon our hypothesis to explain the new data. The history of science is filled with examples of this process, and we ought to expect that this will continue.This puts the scientist in a peculiar position. While we can definitely disprove a number of propositions, we can never be entirely sure that what we believe to be true is indeed true. Thus, science is a very changing thing. History shows that scientific “truth” changes over time. The uncertainty is the reason why continued testing of our ideas is so important in science. Once we test a hypothesis many times, we gain enough confidence that it is correct, and we eventually begin to call our hypothesis a theory. So a theory is a grown-up, well-developed hypothesis.

At one time, scientists conferred the title of law to well-established theories. This use of the word “law” probably stemmed from the idea that God had imposed some order (law) onto the universe, and our description of how the world operates is a statement of this fact. However, with a less Christian understanding of the world, scientists have departed from using the word law. Scientists continue to refer to older ideas, such as Newton’s law of gravity or laws of motion as law, but no one has termed any new ideas in science as law for a very long time.

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton (1643–1727)

In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton (1643–1727) published his Principia, which detailed work that he had done about two decades earlier. In thePrincipia, Newton presented his law of gravity and laws of motion, which are the foundation of the branch of physics known as mechanics. Because he required a mathematical framework to present his ideas, Newton invented calculus. His great breakthrough was to hypothesize that the force that held us to the earth was the same force that kept the moon orbiting around the earth each month. From knowledge of the moon’s distance from the earth and orbital period, Newton used his laws of motion to conclude that the moon is accelerated toward the earth 1/3600 of the measured acceleration of gravity at the surface of the earth. The fact that we on the earth’s surface are 60 times closer to the earth’s center than the moon allowed Newton to devise his inverse square law for gravity (602 = 3,600).

This unity of gravity on the earth and the force between the earth and moon was a good hypothesis, but could Newton test it? Yes. When Newton applied his laws of gravity and motion to the then-known planets orbiting the sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn), he was able to predict several things:

  1. The planets orbit the sun in elliptical orbits with the sun at one focus of the ellipses.
  2. The line between the sun and a planet sweeps out equal areas in equal intervals of time.
  3. The square of a planet’s orbital period is proportional to the third power of the planet’s mean distance from the sun.

Johannes Kepler

Johannes Kepler (1571–1630)

These three statements are known as Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion, because the German mathematician Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) had found them in a slightly different form several decades before Newton. Kepler empirically found his three laws by studying data on planetary motions taken by the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546–1601) over a period of 20 years in the latter part of the 16th century. Kepler arrived at his result by laborious trial and error for over two decades, but he had no explanation of why the planets behaved the way that they did. Newton easily showed (or predicted) that the planets must follow Kepler’s law as a consequence of his law of gravity.

Many other predictions of Newton’s new physics followed. Besides Earth, Jupiter and Saturn had satellites that obeyed Newton’s formulation of Kepler’s three laws. Newton’s good friend who privately funded the publication of the Principia, Sir Edmond Halley (1656–1742), applied Newton’s work to the observed motions of comets. He found that comets also followed the laws, but that their orbits were much more elliptical and inclined than the orbits of planets. In his study, Halley noticed that one comet that he observed had an orbit identical to one seen about 75 years before and that both comets had a 75-year orbital period. Of course, when the comet returned once again, Halley was long dead, but this comet bears his name.

In 1704, Newton first published his other seminal work in physics, Optics. In this book, he presented his theory of the wave nature of light. Together, his Principia and Optics laid the foundation of physics as we know it. Over the next two centuries, scientists applied Newtonian physics to all sorts of situations, and in each case the predictions of the theory were borne out by experiment and observation. For instance, William Herschel stumbled upon the planet Uranus in 1781, and its orbit followed Kepler’s three laws as well. However, by 1840, astronomers found that there were slight discrepancies between the predicted and observed motion of Uranus. Two mathematicians independently hypothesized that there was an additional planet beyond Uranus whose gravity was tugging on Uranus. This led to the discovery of Neptune in 1846. These successes gave scientists a tremendous confidence in Newtonian physics, and thus Newtonian physics is one of the most well-established theories in history. However, by the end of the 19th century, experimental results began to conflict with Newtonian physics.

Quantum Mechanics

Near the end of the 19th century, physicists turned their attention to how hot objects radiate, with one practical application being the improvement of efficiency of the filament of the recently invented light bulb. Noting that at low temperatures good absorbers and emitters of radiation appear black, they dubbed a perfect absorber and emitter of radiation a black body. Physicists experimentally determined that a black body of a certain temperature emitted the greatest amount of energy at a certain frequency and that the amount of energy that it radiated diminished toward zero at higher and lower frequencies. Attempts to explain this behavior with classical, or Newtonian, physics worked very well at most frequencies but failed miserably at higher frequencies. In fact, at very high frequencies, classical physics required that the energy emitted increase toward infinity.

Max Planck

Max Planck (1858–1947)

In 1901, the German physicist Max Planck (1858–1947) proposed a solution. He suggested that the energy radiated from a black body was not exactly in waves as Newton had shown, but was instead carried away by tiny particles (later called photons). The energy of each photon was proportional to its frequency. This was a radical departure from classical physics, but this new theory did exactly explain the spectra of black bodies.

In 1905, the German-born physicist Albert Einstein (1879–1955) used Planck’s theory to explain the photoelectric effect. What is the photoelectric effect? A few years earlier, physicists had discovered that when light shone on a metal to which an electric potential was applied, electrons were emitted. Attempts to explain the details of this phenomenon with classical physics had failed, but Einstein’s application of Planck’s theory explained it very well.

Other problems with classical physics had mounted. Physicists found that excited gas in a discharge tube emitted energy at certain discrete wavelengths or frequencies. The exact wavelengths of emission depended upon the composition of the gas, with hydrogen gas having the simplest spectrum. Several physicists investigated the problem, with the Swedish scientist Johannes Rydberg (1854–1919) offering the most general description of the hydrogen spectrum in 1888. However, Ryberg did not offer a physical explanation. Indeed, there was no classical physics explanation for the spectral behavior of hydrogen gas until 1913, when the Danish physicist Niels Bohr (1885–1962) published his model of the hydrogen atom that did explain hydrogen’s spectrum.

In the Bohr model, the electron orbits the proton only at certain discrete distances from the proton, whereas in classical physics the electron can orbit at any distance from the proton. In classical physics the electron must continually emit radiation as it orbits, but in Bohr’s model the electron emits energy only when it leaps from one possible orbit to another. Bohr’s explanation of the hydrogen atom worked so well that scientists assumed that it must work for other atoms as well. The hydrogen atom is very simple, because it consists of only two particles, a proton and an electron. Other atoms have increasing numbers of particles (more electrons orbiting the nucleus, which contains more protons as well as neutrons) which makes their solutions much more difficult, but the Bohr model worked for them as well. The Bohr model is essentially the model that most of us learned in school.

While Bohr’s model was obviously successful, it seemed to pull some new principles out of the air, and those principles contradicted principles of classical physics. Physicists began to search for a set of underlying unifying principles to explain the model and other aspects of the emerging new physics. We will omit the details, but by the mid-1920s, those new principles were in place. The basis of this new physics is that in very small systems, as within atoms, energy can exist in only certain small, discrete amounts with gaps between adjacent values. This is radically different from classical physics, where energy can assume any value. We say that energy is quantized because it can have only certain discrete values, or quanta. The mathematical theory that explains the energies of small systems is called quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics is a very successful theory. Since its introduction in the 1920s, physicists have used it to correctly predict the behavior and characteristics of elementary particles, nuclei of atoms, atoms, and molecules. Many facets of modern electronics are best understood in terms of quantum mechanics. Physicists have developed many details and applications of the theory, and they have built other theories upon it.

Quantum mechanics is a very successful theory, yet a few people do not accept it. Why? There are several reasons. One reason for rejection is that the postulates of quantum mechanics just do not feel right. They violate our everyday understanding of how the physical world works. However, the problem is that very small particles, such as electrons, do not behave the same way that everyday objects do. We invented quantum mechanics to explain small things such as electrons because our everyday understanding of the world fails to explain them. The peculiarities of quantum mechanics disappear as we apply quantum mechanics to larger systems. As we increase the size and scope of small systems, we find that the oddities of quantum mechanics tend to smear out and assume properties more like our common-sense perceptions. That is, the peculiarities of quantum mechanics disappear in larger, macroscopic systems.

Another problem that people have with quantum mechanics is certain interpretations applied to quantum mechanics. For instance, one of the important postulates of quantum mechanics is the Schrödinger wave equation. When we apply the Schrödinger equation to a particle such as an electron, we get a mathematical wave as a description of the particle. What does this wave mean? Early on, physicists realized that the wave represented a probability distribution. Where the wave had a large value, the probability was large of finding the particle in that location, but where the wave had low value, there was little probability of finding the particle there. This is strange. Newtonian physics had led to determinism—the absolute knowledge of where a particle was at a particular time from the forces and other information involved. Yet, the probability function does accurately predict the behavior of small particles such as electrons. Even Albert Einstein, whose early work led to much of quantum mechanics, never liked this probability. He once famously remarked, “God does not play dice with the universe.” Erwin Schrödinger (1887–1961), who had formulated his famous Schrödinger equation stated in 1926, “If we are going to stick to this ****** quantum-jumping, then I regret that I ever had anything to do with quantum theory.”

Note that with the probability distribution we cannot know precisely where a particle is located. A statement of this is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (named for Werner Heisenberg, 1901–1976). We explain this by acknowledging that particles such as electrons have a wave nature as well as a particle nature. For that matter, we also believe that waves (such as light and sound) also have a particle nature. This wave-particle duality is a bit strange to us, because we do not sense it in everyday experience, but it is borne out by numerous experimental results.

For instance, let us consider a double slit experiment. If we send a wave toward an obstruction with two slits in it, the wave will pass through both slits and produce a distinctive interference pattern behind the slits. This is because the wave passes through both slits. If we send a large number of electrons toward a similar apparatus, the electrons will also produce an interference pattern behind the slits, suggesting that the electrons (or their wave functions) went through both slits. However, if we send one electron at a time toward the slits and look for the emergence of each electron behind the slits, we will find that each electron will emerge through one slit or the other, but not both. How can this be? Indeed, this is perplexing. The most common resolution is the Copenhagen interpretation, named for the city where it was developed. This interpretation posits that an individual electron does not go through either slit, but instead exists in some sort of meta-stable state between the two states until we observe (detect) the electrons. At the point of observation, the electron’s wave equation collapses, allowing the electron to assume one state or the other. Now, this is weird, but most alternate explanations are even weirder, so you might understand why some people may have a problem with quantum mechanics.

CLASSICAL PHYSICS INTRODUCED DETERMINISM, QUANTUM MECHANICS INTRODUCED INDETERMINISM.

Is there a way out of this dilemma? Yes. Why do we need an interpretation to quantum mechanics? No one demanded any such interpretation of Newtonian physics. No one asked, “What does it mean?” There is no meaning, other than the fact that Newtonian physics does a good job of describing what we see in the macroscopic world. The same ought to be true for quantum mechanics. It does a good job of describing the microscopic world. Whereas classical physics introduced determinism, quantum mechanics introduced indeterminism. This indeterminism is fundamental in the sense that uncertainty in outcome will still exist even if we have all knowledge of the relevant input parameters. Newtonian determinism fit well with the concept of God’s sovereignty, but the fundamental uncertainty of quantum mechanics appears to rob God of that attribute. However, this assumes that quantum mechanics is a complete theory, that is, that quantum mechanics is an ultimate theory. There are limits to the applications of quantum mechanics, such as the fact that there is no theory of quantum gravity. If the history of science is any teacher, we can expect that quantum mechanics will one day be replaced by some other theory. This other theory probably will include quantum mechanics as a special case of the better theory. That theory may clear up the uncertainty question.As an aside, we perhaps ought to mention that the determinism derived from Newtonian physics also produces a conclusion unpalatable to many Christians. If determinism is true, then all future events are predetermined from the initial conditions of the universe. Just as the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics led to even God not being able to know the outcome of an experiment, many people applying determinism concluded that God was unable to alter the outcome of an experiment. That is, God was bound by the physics that rules the universe. This quickly led to deism. Most, if not all, people today who reject quantum mechanics refuse to accept this extreme interpretation of Newtonian physics. They ought to recognize that just as determinism is a perversion of Newtonian physics, the Copenhagen interpretation is a perversion of quantum mechanics.

The important point is that just as classical mechanics does a good job in describing the macroscopic world, quantum mechanics does a good job in describing the microscopic world. We ought not expect any more of a theory. Consequently, most physicists who believe the biblical account of creation have no problem with quantum mechanics.

Relativity

There are two theories of relativity, the special and general theories. We will briefly describe the special theory of relativity first. Even before Newton, Galileo (1564–1642) had conducted experiments with moving bodies. He realized that if we move toward or away from a moving object, the relative speed that we measure for that object depends upon that object’s motion and our motion. This Galilean relativity is a part of Newtonian mechanics. The same behavior is true for the speed of waves. For instance, if we ride in a boat moving through water with waves, the speed of the waves that we measure will depend upon our motion and on the motion of the waves. In 1881, Albert A. Michelson (1852–1931) conducted a famous experiment that he refined and repeated in 1887 with Edward W. Morley (1838–1923). In this experiment, they measured the speed of light parallel and perpendicular to our annual motion around the sun. Much to their surprise, they found that the speed of light was the same regardless of the direction they measured it. This null result baffled physicists, for if taken at face value, it suggested that the earth did not orbit the sun, while there is other evidence that the earth does indeed orbit the sun.

In 1905, Albert Einstein took the invariance of the speed of light as a postulate and worked out its consequences. He made three predictions concerning an object as its speed approaches the speed of light:

  1. The length of the object as it passes will appear to shorten toward zero.
  2. The object’s mass will increase without bound.
  3. The passage of time as measured by the object will approach zero.

These behaviors are strange and do not conform to what we might expect from everyday experience, but keep in mind that in everyday experience we do not encounter objects moving at any speed close to that of light.

Eventually, these predictions were confirmed in experiments. For instance, particle accelerators accelerate small particles to very high speeds. We can measure the masses of the particles as we accelerate them, and their masses increase in the manner predicted by the theory. In other experiments, very fast-moving, short-lived particles exist longer than they do when moving very slowly. The rate of time dilation is consistent with the predictions of the theory. Length contraction is a little more difficult to directly test, but we have tested it as well.

Relativity Confirmed

Relativity Confirmed

In 1919 a total eclipse of the sun allowed scientists to confirm Einstein’s general theory of relativity. As a result of the sun’s gravitation, stars appeared to be displaced from their true positions, just as Einstein’s theory predicted.

Einstein’s theory of special relativity applies to particles moving at a constant rate but does not address their acceleration. Einstein addressed that problem with his general theory in 1916, but he also treated the acceleration due to gravity. In general relativity, space and time are physical things that have a structure in some ways similar to a fabric. Einstein treated time as a fourth dimension in addition to the normal three dimensions of space. We sometimes call this four-dimensional entity space-time or simply space. The presence of a large amount of matter or energy (Einstein previously had shown their equivalence) alters space. Mathematically, the alteration of space is like a curvature, so we say that matter or energy bends space. The curvature of space telegraphs the presence of matter and energy to other matter and energy in space, and this more deeply answered a question about gravity. Newton had hypothesized that gravity operated through empty space, but his theory could not explain at all how the information about an object’s mass and distance was transmitted through space. In general relativity, an object must move through a straight line in space-time, but the curvature of space-time induced by nearby mass causes that straight-line motion to appear to us as acceleration.

Einstein’s new theory made several predictions. The first opportunity to test the theory happened during a total solar eclipse in 1919. During the eclipse, astronomers were able to photograph stars around the edge of the sun. The light from those stars had to pass very close to the sun to get to the earth. As the stars’ light passed near the sun, the sun attracted the light via the curvature of space-time. This caused the stars to appear farther from the sun than they would have otherwise. Newtonian gravity also predicts a deflection of starlight toward the sun, but the deflection is less than with general relativity. The observed amount of deflection was consistent with the predictions of general relativity. Astronomers have repeated the experiment many times since 1919 with ever-improving accuracy.

For many years, radio astronomers have measured with great precision the locations of distant-point radio sources as the sun passed by, and those results beautifully agree with the predictions. Another early confirmation was the explanation of a small anomaly in the orbit of the planet Mercury that Newtonian gravity could not explain. Many other experiments of various types have repeatedly confirmed general relativity. Some experiments today even allow us to test for slight variations of Einstein’s theory.

We can apply general relativity to the universe as a whole. Indeed, when we do this, we discover that it predicts that the universe is either expanding or contracting; it is a matter of observation to determine which the universe actually is doing. In 1928, Edwin Hubble (1889–1953) showed that the universe is expanding. Most people today think that the expansion began with the big bang, the supposed sudden appearance of the universe 13.7 billion years ago. However, there are many other possibilities. For instance, the creation physicist Russell Humphreys proposed his white hole cosmology, assuming that general relativity is the correct theory of gravity (see his book Starlight and Time1). It is interesting to note that universal expansion is consistent with certain Old Testament passages (e.g., Psalm 104:2) that mention the stretching of the heavens.

Seeing that there is so much evidence to support Einstein’s theory of general relativity, why do some creationists oppose the theory? There are at least three reasons. One reason is that, as with quantum mechanics, modern relativity theory appears to violate certain common-sense views of the way that the world works. For instance, in everyday experience, we don’t see mass change and time appear to slow. Indeed, general relativity forces us to abandon the concept of simultaneity of time. Simultaneity means that time progresses at the same rate for all observers, regardless of where they are. As we previously stated, in special relativity, time slows with greater speed. However, with general relativity, the rate at which time passes depends not only upon speed but also on one’s location in a gravitational field. The deeper one is in a gravitational field, the slower that time passes. For example, a clock at sea level will record the passage of time more slowly than a clock at mile-high Denver. Admittedly, this is weird. However, the discrepancy between the clocks at these two locations is so miniscule as to not appear on most clocks, save the most accurate atomic clocks. This sort of thing has been measured several times, and the discrepancies between the clocks involved always are the same as those predicted by theory. Thus, while our perception is that time flows uniformly everywhere, the reality is that the passage of time does depend upon one’s location, but the differences are so small in the situations encountered on the earth that we cannot perceive them. That is, the predictions of general relativity on earth are consistent with our ability to perceive time. However, there are conditions beyond the earth that the loss of simultaneity would be very obvious if we could experience them.

A second reason why some creationists oppose modern relativity theory is the misappropriation of modern relativity theory to support moral relativism. Unfortunately, modern relativity theory arose at precisely the time that moral relativism became popular. Moral relativists proclaim that “all things are equal,” and they were very eager to snatch some of the triumph of relativity theory to support their cause. There are at least two problems with this misappropriation. First, it does not follow that a principle that works in the natural world automatically operates in the world of morality. The physical world is material, but the world of morality is immaterial. Second, the moral relativists either did not understand relativity or they intentionally misused it. Despite the common misconception, modern relativity theory does not tell us that everything is relative. There are absolutes in modern theory of relativity. The speed of light is a constant. While the passage of time may vary, general relativity provides an absolute way in which to compare the passage of time in two reference frames. The modern theory of relativity in no way supports moral relativism.

The third reason why some creationists reject modern relativity theory is that they think that general relativity inevitably leads to the big-bang model. However, the big-bang model is just one possible origin scenario for the universe; there are many other possibilities. We have already mentioned Russ Humphreys’s white hole cosmology, and there are other possible recent creation models based upon general relativity. True—if general relativity is not correct, then the big-bang model would be in trouble. However, if general relativity is correct, then the shortcut attempt to undermine the big-bang model will doom us from ever finding the correct cosmology.

String Theory

With the establishment of quantum mechanics in the 1920s, the development of the science of particle physics soon followed. At first, only a few particles were known: the electron, proton, and neutron. These particles all had mass and were thought at the time to be the fundamental building blocks of matter. Quantum mechanics introduced the concept that material particles could be described by waves, and conversely that waves could be described by particles. That led to the concept of particles that had no mass, such as photons, the particles that make up light. Eventually, physicists saw the need for other particles, such as neutrinos and antiparticles. Evidence for these odd particles soon followed. Experimental results suggested the existence of other particles, such as the meson, muon, and tau particles, as well as their antiparticles. Many of these new particles were very short-lived, but they were particles nevertheless.

Physicists began to see patterns in the growing zoo of particles. They could group particles according to certain properties. For instance, elementary particles possess angular momentum, a property normally associated with spinning objects, so physicists say that elementary particles have “spin.” Imagining elementary particles as small spinning spheres is useful, but modern theories view this as a bit naive. Spin comes in a quantum amount. Some particles have whole integer values of quantum spin. That is, they have integer multiples (0, ±1, ±2, etc.) of the basic unit of spin. Physicists call these particles Bosons. Other particles have half integer (±1/2, ±3/2, etc.) amounts of spin, and are known as fermions. Bosons and fermions have very different properties. Physicists also noticed that elementary particles tended to have certain mathematical relationships between one another. Physicists eventually began to use group theory, a concept from abstract algebra, to classify and study elementary particles.

By the 1960s, physicists began to suspect that many elementary particles, such as protons and neutrons, were not so elementary after all, but consisted of even more elementary particles. Physicists called these more elementary particlesquarks, after an enigmatic word in a James Joyce poem. According to the theory, there are six types of quarks. Many particles, such as protons and neutrons, consist of the combination of two quarks. The different combinations of quarks lead to different particles. Some of those combinations of quarks ought to produce particles that no one had yet seen, so these combinations amounted to predictions of new particles. Particles physicists were able to create these particles in experiments in particle accelerators, so the successful search for those predicted particles was confirmation of the underlying theory. Therefore, quark theory now is well established.

In recent years, particle physicists have in similar fashion developed string theory. Physicists have noticed that certain patterns among elementary particles can be explained easily if particles behave as tiny vibrating strings. These strings would require the existence of at least six additional dimensions of space. We already know that the universe has three normal spatial dimensions as well as the dimension of time, so these six extra dimensions bring the total number of dimensions to ten. The reason why we do not normally see the other six dimensions is that they are tightly curled up and hidden within the tiny particles themselves. At extremely high energies, the extra dimensions ought to manifest themselves. Therefore, particle physicists can predict what kind of behavior strings ought to exhibit when they accelerate particles to extremely high energies. The problem is that current particle accelerators are not nearly powerful enough to produce these effects. As theoretical physicists refine their theories and we build new, powerful particle accelerators, physicists expect that one day we can test whether string theory is true, but for now there is no experimental evidence for string theory.

The Size of Strings

The Size of Strings

STRINGS—THE SMALLEST OBJECTS KNOWN TO PHYSICS
Looking at progressively smaller parts of a water molecule, we can glimpse the complexity God designed in all things.

We realize the illustration used deuterium, a rare isotope of hydrogen, to help convey the point.

Currently, most physicists think that string theory is a very promising idea. Assuming that string theory is true, there still remains the question as to which particular version of string theory is the correct one. You see, string theory is not a single theory but instead is a broad outline of a number of possible theories. Once we confirm string theory, we can constrain which version properly describes our world. If true, string theory could lead to new technologies. Furthermore, a proper view of elementary particles is important in many cosmological models, such as the big bang. This is because in the big-bang model, the early universe was hot enough to reveal the effects of string theory.

Conclusion

Modern physics is a product of the 20th century and relies upon twin pillars: quantum mechanics and general relativity. Both theories have tremendous experimental support. Christians ought not to view these theories with such great suspicion. True, some people have perverted or hijacked these theories to support some nonbiblical principles, but some wicked people have even perverted Scripture to support nonbiblical things. We ought to recognize that modern physics is a very robust, powerful theory that explains much. At the same time, the theory is very incomplete in some respects. In time, we ought to expect that some new theories will come along that will better explain the world than these theories do. However, we know that God’s Word does not change.

String theory has emerged in the 21st century as the next great idea in physics. Time will tell if string theory will live up to our expectations. What ought to be the reaction of Christians to this? We must be vigilant to investigate the amount of nonbiblical influences that may have crept into modern thinking, particularly in the interpretation of string theory (as with modern physics). However, we must be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water. That is, can we reject the anti-Christian thinking that many have brought to the discussion? The answer is certainly yes. As with the question of origins, we must strive to interpret these things on our terms, guided by the Bible. Do the new theories adequately describe the world? Can we see the hand of the Creator in our new physics? Can we find meaning in our studies that brings glory to God? If we can answer yes to each of these questions, then these new theories ought not to be a problem for the Christian.

Compliments of Answers in Genesis.

warrior1

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” ,Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:26-32

Dearly beloved here is Jesus Christ, in His graciousness, speaking a command and gentle rebuke to Thomas. Christ has revealed Himself to Thomas, despite Thomas’s previous statement that he would never believe, we see Him in a repentant posture of worship, “Ho Kurios moi, kai ho Theos mou”.

This is a dramatic event as Thomas makes this shift from unbelief to belief. Let’s look carefully at the Scripture to see the impact of this account.

What does the record tell us about Thomas prior to his emphatic rejection of his fellow apostles accounts of the resurrection?

We see his appointment and the teaching he was under:

From Luke 6:12-19,

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: ….the bible names, Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, and Simon, and Judas son of James and Judas Iscariot.

Each rabbi would have disciples, a group who were under his teaching, for example we read in Acts 22:3 that Saul was under the teaching of Gamaliel, a leading scholar of the age. Jesus already had a large following of disciples and he now selected apostles. An apostle is an envoy, a delegate a messenger.

In this same passage Luke 6, we see the themes of Christ’s message as He continues with preaching the beatitudes. He speaks to the poor, hungry, those who weep, and those who are marginalized. He offers stern warnings for the rich, those whose bellies are full, those who laugh and who are offering the popular teaching of false prophets. He orientates his hearers to a correct attitude to their enemies, and correct judgment, culminating with this admonition in verse 46 – 49.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.

All we read shows that Thomas was obedient to Christ. Moreover, He knew those who built their house on the sands of false religions, vain philosophies, and competing ideologies; the hypocrites and sycophants. He was as familiar as we are with the pious religious types, those we would know today as a cultural Christian.  Thomas met the followers of rituals, ceremonies and traditions, who consider themselves Christian but their hearts ultimately care for their own creature comforts and conveniences, more concerned with matters of the world than those of the kingdom.

Are your foundations down to the rock? Consider this:  who make the best fighters? If you were heading to war, where the bullets are striking the ground, the shrapnel blasting through the air scattering molten shards of metal able to slice a man in half and scatter body parts, who would you want alongside you, as an ally?

With an enemy ready to deceive, and distract, do you want to be with a theorist or a practitioner? A theorist being one who may be well versed in Scripture, one who has an intellectual understanding of the requirements of warfighting but who has not actually fought in a battle. A practitioner someone who puts knowledge into action, facing the trials of battle and has the scars of experience to show? The soldier who has been to war, the surgeon who has actually conducted operations, or the lawyer who has fought a case in court.

Let me ask you, have you a faith constructed on the sands of intellectual ascent to Jesus through study or even a temporal religious experience, or do you bear battle scars from conflict and trials because you have a firm foundation and your soul belongs to Christ?

Why does Ephesians 6:14-18 speak of the Christian being issued the full armour of God?

the belt of truth,

the breastplate of righteousness,

for your feet, the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

the shield of faith,

and the helmet of salvation,

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

You only issue armour to a soldier if he’s going to war. The one who never leaves the safety and protection of the training ground for the field of conflict is of no need of armour and is of no value to his commander.

If you are born again, you’re on the rock, if you’re on the rock then you are in the fight. If you are in the fight, you are collecting the bruises and wounds of engaging with the enemy. Thomas was not only under the teaching of the Lord but as one of His commissioned officers he was in the battle and by all accounts prepared to die, see John 11:6.

In Matthew chapter 10 we see Thomas the apostle sent with authority, the text reads: These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.

Do you suppose Thomas received this authority and did not exercise it? There is no questioning from scripture his obedience. Our account shows he is a man of faith, on the streets preaching the word and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. Don’t miss this important phrase, the kingdom is at hand! at hand is the greek phrase. ‘eggizo’, it means, be at hand, come near. There was an urgency to Thomas mission. He knew from Daniel 7:13 how near that kingdom was: ……

And Don’t you just love Thomas for being the one who asked the question that attracted one of Christ’s most profound statements, I am the way the truth and the life, found in John 14, starting in verse one:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me……And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you maybe also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

What a great question from Thomas. That’s my encouragement ask questions, inquire, seek answers. In the garden, we read in Genesis 3 God asked, “where are you Adam?”, Jesus asks Thomas, “have you believed because you have seen?”.

Why ask these questions? God the Father, God the Son have no need of the answers; God does not accumulate knowledge, He has no need to seek answers. He is omniscient, all knowing, immutable, unchanging.

We face questions from God because they cause us to think.  That is to be our approach when teaching one another or when dealing with the unbeliever.

“What is it you believe and why do you believe it?.

If you’re approaching dialogue by making assertions, seeking to get your point across that you might persuade someone of the strength of your argument then you are missing the point.

Pastor mentioned the other week, ‘proof is different to persuasion’. You can offer irrefutable evidence of the biblical truths, display your encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible, but that will not change the mind of the unbeliever. Would it not be more productive to get him to think through the issue, wrestle with it intellectually?

You ask the questions, allow God to do the persuasion, It is He who does the drawing, John 6:44, we simply proclaim the gospel.

And that brings us back to Thomas. He had heard Christ say during his public ministry “believe in me”, moreover, these men and women whom he knew and trusted, with who he had shared hardship, persecution, sorrows and joys most certainly tried convincing him that they had seen the risen Christ. But he would not believe them.

Why not? Simply ,Thomas has his foundational beliefs, and no amount of evidence was about to change them. Consider this:

Thomas is a devout Jew immersed in the Scripture. He had been with who He understood was the Christ, Messiah, Meshiak Matthew 16:16. The Scriptures were on his heart and rooted in his mind. He knew they spoke of liberation from oppression. God had repeatedly responded to the cries of His chosen people. Under the yolk of slavery in Egypt, and Babylon. They were delivered from corrupt judges and bad kings. He knew of God’s covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7 and read King David’s prayer in response :

  1. And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. 29 Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.” 2 Samuel 7:

This is Thomas’ sure expectation from God’s Word, the Torah and Tonach. From the prophets he reads of the promised fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. He is anticipating a conquering redeemer to restore David’s physical throne. He was in possession of the same messianic chapters and verses we read today: Genesis 3:15, Psalm 2, and 22, Isaiah 7:14, 52 and 53 and many more.

We now know these point to Jesus Christ, to his life, death, burial and resurrection but Thomas cannot see this in the Scripture. The one he had hoped was Meshiak is now dead, ignominiously executed by the Romans and Thomas has no Interest in a crucified Messiah – he is in mourning, grieving for the loss of one he deeply loved.

Listen to this from Dr Steve Lawson: To the Jew, the message of a murdered Messiah was the ultimate scandal. In Roman times, crucifixion was a punishment reserved for the worst criminals. So dreaded was death by crucifixion that no Roman citizen could be nailed to a cross. Such a horrific death was reserved for the notorious enemies of the Empire—terrorists, murderers, and anarchists. When the Jews were told that their long-awaited Messiah had been put to death on a cross, this was a stumbling block to them—literally, a scandal. It was a scorned message of defeat, not victory, that caused them to fall further into unbelief.

And now you have the picture of Thomas. A devout Jew who twice a day would say the shemah:

“Shamah Yisrael Adonai Elo-hey-nu Adonai echad.”

One who had faith in The One God of the Bible, the sovereign creator God, who laughs at the plans of man and when he chooses meets out justice to the enemies of his chosen people. God is not defeated and certainly not hung on trees.

However, Thomas was radically changed. Here is a faithful, devout Jew, who knew the cost to his soul of blasphemy, who knew God’s just penalty for bowing to false gods was death, worshipping Jesus Christ as God. Why?  because Jesus Christ is God and we see in this dramatic episode this being revealed to Thomas.

From here we see the consequence of coming to know Christ as Lord and King. Thomas is sent with all authority, we see him later gathered in Jerusalem ready to go to all the known world. He has set Christ apart in his heart as Lord, 2 Peter 3:14 and is prepared to give a reason for his hope.

Thomas will be in ministry for another 37 years, faithfully preaching the gospel of the kingdom, sin, repentance , and faith in the one true and living Triune God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of the until in AD70, around his mid 50s, Thomas was speared to death at Calamina, a martyr proclaiming Christ.

In these verses in John 20, we see how an encounter with the risen Christ radically changes the man.

Christ says to the new Thomas, “have you believed because you have seen? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Through history Jews anticipated Meshiak, the Messiah. Those who have not seen and yet believed were here blessed by Christ. He is speaking in the past tense, those who have believed. How were those who came before Christ saved? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David? Was it by works of the law? Obeying the ordinances of the priesthood, the sacrificial system? By no means. The psalmist tells us “a sacrifice I did not desire” Psalm 46:6, 51:16, they have no value for cleansing from sins. Hebrew 10:4, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Those who had gone before were saved in the same we are: by faith. How does that faith come about? By the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith, Hebrews 12:2.

In this text, Jesus is blessing those who in faith eagerly anticipated Israel’s Redeemer. On this side of the veil we now see clearly God predetermined plan of redemption. We have now, along with Thomas, seen the Christ. He is revealed to us through God the Holy Spirit, who opens our spiritual eyes, changes our hearts and turn our minds to love for our King, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords son.

October 20, 2014

Dispensationalism (hereafter DT) has several primary tenants. Ryrie wrote that the sine qua non of DT are as follows:

1. Doxological view of history. This is the view that all of human history from creation to consummation is ultimately for God’s glory. With this, all Christians agree.

2. Literalistic hermeneutic. Most Christians would agree in principle with this concept, that scripture ought to be understood as it presents itself. DT maintains in particular that the Old Testament prophecies concerning the nation of Israel must be understood in a literal fashion, i.e., not spiritualized to mean something other than what they appear to say on the surface. By this they mean that they must be fulfilled by ethnic, national Israel.

3. Ongoing distinction between two peoples of God: Israel and the Church. It is this tenant that truly separates the system from the rest of Christianity. In order for the Old Testament prophecies concerning the nation of Israel to be fulfilled in a literal fashion (2.), there must be a clear distinction between Israel and the Church. This principle is actually what drove John Nelson Darby to conceptualize a Pre-Tribulational rapture for this reason: If the Church and Israel are both on the earth at the same time, God cannot fulfill promises to Israel without neglecting the Church and vice versa.

In contrast to Covenant Theology (hereafter CT), when the New Testament authors utilize an Old Testament prophecy and apply it to the Church, DT understands this to be secondary to the ultimate fulfillment, which must be literal.

Traditionally, DT maintains that the Church was a mystery in the Old Testament. By this, they mean that the Old Testament does not speak of the Church in any way and that no prophecy explicitly references the Church. The Church, in DT, obtains blessings because of God’s promise to Israel rather than (as CT holds) in fulfillment of them. So when a New Testament author utilizes an Old Testament prophecy and applies it to the Church, DT maintains that this cannot be the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy but rather a spiritual application of it. The true fulfillment must be found in future Israel, according to DT.

The third of the sine qua non (according to Ryrie) is an ongoing distinction between the two peoples of God: the Church and Israel. This is both a serious theological problem and an entirely anachronistic concept. Before Darby in 1830, no one conceptualized this distinction. It had always been understood throughout Church history (and especially among the apostolic fathers) that the Church IS Israel.

At this point, it’s necessary to address the common accusation by DT that every other system is a form of “Replacement Theology.” By this, they mean that non-DT systems wrongly believe that Israel has been replaced as God’s chosen people by the Church. This is first and foremost a confusion of the opposition. We do not suggest that the Church has replaced Israel but rather that the Church is the ultimate fulfillment of Israel. I will elaborate on that more below. Second, this accusation of “Replacement Theology” is somewhat ironic since it is DT that believes Israel has been “set aside” and, essentially, replaced by the Church during the Church Age.

Now, when I say that the Church is the ultimate fulfillment of Israel, we have to understand how the term is used in the NT as well as the OT. The Greek term for church is ἐκκλησία (ekklesia). It is derived from terms meaning, lit., “called out ones,” and means “assembly” or “congregation.” In fact, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (which was in use in the first century) called the Septuagint (LXX), the term ἐκκλησία is used to translate the Hebrew word which refers to the assembly of Israel. So the term “Church” is not even new to the New Testament, so it could not be a new concept either. What is strange about the New Testament Church is not that some other entity has become God’s chosen people but that God’s chosen people now includes Gentiles. Thus, Israel is not replaced but rather expanded from primarily those of Jewish descent to include people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people.

Now a problem arises at this point which is addressed thoroughly in scripture because the issue came up in the early church: How can Gentiles be God’s people if they are not becoming Jews? Of course, by “becoming Jews” they would mean becoming circumcised, following the dietary restrictions, partaking in the festivals, adhering to the dress-code, participating in ceremonial washings, and taking part in the temple worship and sacrifice system. All these things were what, to the mind of the first century Jew, separated them from everyone else. It was a dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile.

In Ephesians 1 through 2:10, Paul addresses the many blessings that were given to Israel—”the first to hope in Christ” (“Men of Israel” in Acts 2)—and then applies these blessings equally to the Gentiles—”you also when you heard the word of truth.” He continues this argument throughout the entire book, calling Jew and Gentile to be as one in Christ, explaining that this massive influx of Gentile believers was foretold long ago. The means by which this would occur was veiled until the cross. But see how Paul highlights that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile in Christ:

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

(Ephesians 2:11-22)

Those things which separated Jew from Gentile were all types and shadows of Christ. Now that the substance had come, the shadow gave way to the Light. This dividing wall was removed by the blood of Christ, and so Jew and Gentile are one. Gentiles were once strangers and aliens (lit., foreigners) of Israel, her covenants and promised blessings, but now Gentiles have been made fellow citizens (of Israel) and members of the household of God, having been grafted into the single Olive Tree, the corporate assembly of Israel. He made the two into one new man: the Body of Christ, the Church.

Paul reiterates this same concept when discussing why there were so many apostate Jews. The implicit question was this: If God promised to save Israel, and many Israelites are not saved, has God’s promise failed? Paul’s answer is this:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

(Romans 9:6-8)

Ishmael was descended from Abraham, his seed according to the flesh, but Ishmael received none of the blessings promised to Abraham’s seed because he was not a child of the promise. Who now are children of Abraham? Paul’s argument explains:

What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’

and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”

“And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’

there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

(Romans 9:22-26)

This prophecy was originally made to Israel and concerning Israel, yet Paul here uses it as proof that both the called Jews and the called Gentiles are heirs of this promise. Who then are the children of Abraham? Who are the Jews?

For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

(Romans 2:28-29)

Israel of promise had always been a spiritual identity, not a physical one. For many Gentiles were included in the corporate body of Israel in the Old Testament, including Rahab the Cannanite, the prostitute who aided the spies in Jericho; Ruth the Moabitess, wife of Boaz and great-grandmother of King David; Caleb the Kenizzite, one of the two faithful spies sent into the land of Canaan; and Obed-edom the Gittite, the man who kept the Ark of the Covenant in his house for three months. These all became Jews not by changing their ethnicity but by changing their religion. It was always a spiritual people, but beforehand the nation was a geo-political entity; now it is a spiritual entity:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

(1 Peter 2:9-10)

Peter applies all these terms used explicitly of Israel and even quotes a prophecy pertaining specifically to Israel and applies this to the church. Just in case it was not clear enough:

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

(Galatians 3:29)

Christians are the seed of Abraham, not those who are biologically related to him.

 

come-to-me-all-who-labour A key scripture on ecclesiology is Acts 2:42. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” What is ecclesiology and is the Acts 2 model a viable model/blueprint for Spirit of Life Church in 21st century? In the bible we see 6 roles for a church:

Protect and provide for the congregation/assembly. Discipline and accountability. Encourage, equip, and train for mission. Teaching. Hospitality. Leading ordered lives following God’s ordinances: gathering, the Lord’s table, baptism.

Worship is deliberately omitted from the list as the Shemah of Deuteronomy 6:4, alongside 1 Corinthians, gives the foundational principle that all we do is worship:

  • “In eating and drinking, and in all we do, we should aim at the glory of God, at pleasing and honouring him. In other words all we do is an act of worship.” 1 Corinthians 12:31

    Here o Israel the Lord you God the Lord is one, you are to love the Lord your God with all you r heart, all your mind and all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:4

    In teaching doctrine The authors of the New Testament needed a clear understanding of what church is. When referring to the gathering of those under the Old and New Testaments the authors of Scripture use the term ecclesia, translated into English as calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially religious congregation. A gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place. (136 OT, 114 NT) Ecclesia is a motif throughout scripture. Noah was called out from the sinful world before it was destroyed, Abraham left pagan Haran, and was promised a people more numerous than the stars. Under patriarchs, prophets, judges, and kings, the Jews were set apart as a nation under the true and living God (Jonah 1:9). This begs the question, why would translators from the original common greek and hebrew, adopt the term church in the new testament writings? After all, William Tyndale disputed the use of the term and was an advocate of the term congregation. The following information is from ACMTC Library and BenWilliamsLibrary.com: Let’s start by defining the word. “Church” comes from the Old English and German word pronounced “kirche.” In Scotland, it was “kirk.” The following entries are from the Oxford Universal English Dictionary: Church [Old English cirice, circe; Middle English chereche, chiriche, chirche; whence churche, cherche, etc.: -Greek Kuriakon…] Kirk The Northern English and Scottish form of church, in all its senses. In the earlier Greek It was pronounced “ku-ri-a-kos” or “ku-ri-a-kon.” As you can see, this word doesn’t even resemble the Greek word “ecclesia” whose place it has usurped. The meaning of “Ku-ri-a-kos” is understood by its root: “Ku- ri-os,” which means “lord.” Thus, “kuriakos” (i.e., “church”) means “pertaining to the lord.” It refers to something that pertains to, or belongs to, a lord. The Greek “kuriakos” eventually came to be used in Old English form as “cirice” (Kee-ree-ke), then “churche” (kerke), and eventually “church” in its traditional pronunciation. A church, then, is correctly something that “pertains to, or belongs to, a lord.” Therefore for the purpose of this essay I am submitting church is a vernacular term for what the Apostles would have understood as the congregation or assembly of believers. Remembering that the first converts had to wrestle with the question, ‘were gentiles even allowed to become Christians?’, Acts 10:28 and therefore be allowed into the congregation. Believers within the Spirit of Life Church are those who are descendants of Abraham beneficiaries of God’s Covenant Genesis 15:5, grafted into the line of David and members of a Royal Priesthood Romans 11:17. Our antecedents are the Israelites, we are within the kingdom (reign) of Christ, Matthew 12:28, and our primary mission remains; “to see all nations come to a knowledge of truth”

    “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it.” Isaiah 2:2

    Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. Psalm 2:8

    This is a covenantal understanding of the role and position of the Christian, a position held throughout church history; most recently by the puritans and contemporary reformed believers. It is juxtaposed with the 19th century teachings of John Nelson Derby of the Plymouth Brethren, and the Texan Pastor Schofield, who wrote a popularized systematic theology. Their teaching is known as dispensational in which Christian history is divided into dispensations. God deals with different people under different dispensations. Our current dispensation is called the, ‘church age’. Israel is being dealt with under a different dispensation. It is a futurist view of eschatology. A dispensational conviction has a pessimistic view of history: The world is on a trajectory toward increasing oppression, persecution, and conflict. The popular phrase is, “the world is going to hell in a hand-basket.” (pessimillenialism) These fundamentally different eschatological positions have a significant impact on ecclesiology. If, as Matthew 24:14 teaches, the gospel has already been preached to all nations (oikoumene), that the old covenant system with its temple sacrifices came under judgement and was destroyed in AD70 and the kingdom or rule of Christ is growing, then Christ’s church is the means by which this is being achieved. Alternative, if persecution of the church is set to increase, and ultimately lose its battle for nations, our church’s roles and functions as salt and light to the culture is limited. However, I hold to the understanding that mustard seeds will grow to large trees, and that Psalm 110:1 teaches that Christ’s enemies are one by one being made His footstool. As a church under the Kingship of Christ we are marching forward to the beat of His drum, looking to serve Him as He takes the nations for Himself and he puts His enemies under his footstool. There are 100,000 Christians in China, a growing population in India, and biblical Christianity is standing in opposition to Catholicism, and synchronism in Africa and South America. Therefore when continuing in the Apostles doctrine we look to model our lives and community on that which we see across Scripture. Onward Christian Soldiers is a song of victory within history. Scripture’s Model for Church Accountability Acts 9:31 – The church is peaceful multiplied, built up, walking in fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Acts 9 context: Paul being brought into the church and preaching boldly, he is protected from the Hellenists by the church. So what? Paul is assessed before being allowed into the body. Therefore, assess those who join the congregation. Support and protect those who are preaching. Walk in the fear of the Lord that He might use the church for His purposes. For example: Romans 16:1,2. “…Phoebe,,,that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.” Teaching Romans 16:23 – “Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church”. Gaius is a Macedonian who accompanied Paul on his travels. Unknown Christian to whom John’s third epistle is written. So what? Be known to the church. Gaius lives out the Apostles’ teaching, therefore live out teachings of the Apostles. Ordinances Hebrews 10:19-39 – The passage gives the context and purpose of gathering. Giving acknowledgement and gratitude in worship for the sacrifice recorded in 10:1-18. Mission Matthew10:32,33 – So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but pwhoever denies me before men, qI also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Therefore,confess Christ, speaking boldly, with compassion, urgency and wisdom. Discipline Matthew 18:17 – If he refuses to listen to them tell it to the church. Function of the church – discipline, accountability. 2 Corinthians is a stern letter. Paul speaks of his concern for people’s salvation. 2 Corinthians 13:3 Disciplined threatened as a means to show that Christ is working through Paul. Therefore, a continued theme is for the need of church discipline to be exercised, for false converts to be identified ch13:5, and members to conduct themselves as ambassadors Ch 5. Protect and Provide Letter to the Corinthians corrects a church that has been compromised by the culture. Therefore don’t allow the culture to compromise the church. 1 Corinthians 4 – Timothy sent to remind of the way of Christ, as Paul teaches them everywhere in the church. Therefore in the church we reminded of the ways of Christ. Therefore invite a Timothy that we may be transparent and open to correction. Summary (Ephesians 1:22, 3:10, 3:21, 5:23, 5:24, 25, 27, 29, 32) The Ecclesia is the bride of Christ, His perfect and spotless bride, Ephesians 5:27. In this capacity Spirit of life has the authority, following the sovereign will of her groom, to invite whom she will to the wedding celebration. Our daily celebration is seen as we live repentant lives for Christ. We live and work separated by time and space but are united as the bride with one Lord and when we gather it is culmination, continuation and preparation for ongoing worship. The Bride may tell the guests the required garments, and the consequences for failing to dress appropriately. She stipulates the way of entering and warns of the penalty of finding other routes. She dictates behaviour, and exercises corrective measures for disobedience. The bride is the groom’s pride and joy, she is all He wants, and it is her joy to conform to His will because His love for her is immeasurable. She sets her affections for Him above any concerns of conformity, tradition and convention and fears the cost of contravening His ordinances. The fear of her Lord keeps her from harm and steers her to joy, trust and contentment despite toil, tempest and temptation.

Read More


This has been a long hard week, the disciples are exhausted. We know from Matthew 26 and Luke 22:46 that when exhorted to stay away and be on guard against temptation they failed. Have you ever looked at the disciples and thought I wouldn’t have slept in those circumstances? How are you doing with your intentions? Your intentions to eat more healthily, spend more time loving neighbours, reading your bible?

You see it’s one matter to sit patiently under the preaching of God’s Word, to faithfully serve in the church, to give sacrificially, and participate in bible study. These are good signs for all when we examine the motives of our hearts. However, when you are in the world through the week how does your life look?

Do you deny yourself and pick up your cross? Do you march to the beat of a different drum, or is it that you conform to the conventions of society? How does your life look to onlookers? Do you stand out from the crowd, are your disciplines apparent to your neighbours, to your friends, and even to your spouse! Not the outward disciplines of the Pharisees, with their piety, majestic headgear and tassels but the inward disciplines that cause you to serve not to be served.

When you leave the gathering the world will immediately seek to embrace you. It will want you to seek the physical comforts it provides; the finest foods, a better car, entertaining theatre and cinema, central heating and hot and cold running water. The irony of course is that all these things are a gift from God. All pleasures in life are from God. The problem is that the world wants to steal good things from God, and take credit for the provision.

I will often hear the unbeliever say that they’ll be happy in hell because all their friends will be there. Here’s the problem. The pleasure you get from friends, that’s a gift from God. If you are having sex outside of marriage, the pleasures you’re experiencing? They’re stolen from God. The reason why there is no happiness in hell is because there are no pleasures, they’re taken away. The torment, the suffering, the anguish and heart wrenching regret, will be everlasting, and you’ll know, beyond any doubt, that your suffering is fair, reasonable, and deserved. Outside of the merciful embrace of the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, you will get what you have earned, an everlasting existence in the bowels of hell, where you will give glory to God, “for every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” If you haven’t read Jonathan Edwards sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, written in 1741 then I encourage you to do so.

So let’s go from here, not pursuing worldly comfort and entertainment that can only satisfy for a season, but instead, pursue Christ.

From verse 2 and 3. Judas knew the place having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns, torches and weapons.

Let me briefly offer you a soldier’s perspective. Jerusalem was a strategic city on the margins of the Roman Empire, garrisoned by an occupying force. Daniel 2:40 tells of Rome as the fourth kingdom as strong as iron. The duties of these soldiers would have included guarding the various gates into the city, guarding the civil magistrate buildings, their own HQs and barracks. They would have some policing and patrolling duties as a show of force to the rebellious locals and riot control to suppress insurrection if and when it looked likely.

The soldiers would have had routine duties. Their commanders would have had the challenge, as every military commander has had throughout history, of making a limited number of personnel cover an extensive range of responsibilities. The men in this account, are being sent out on an operation to arrest someone. This person is supported by a band of men and they do not know the weapons they have or how well equipped they are to defend themselves. The soldiers are outside the protection of the city walls at night and led by Jews, officers of the chief priests. Let me assure you this is not the sort of situation that will fill any soldier with confidence.

Given the clandestine nature of efforts to capture and kill Jesus Christ it is unlikely these soldiers have been given clear orders, or been given adequate time to prepare, rest eat, even rehearse. Militarily it is an entirely unsatisfactory situation. The soldiers are tired, frustrated by having their routine upset and probably apprehensive given the dangers of being outside the city walls.

With that in mind lets go to verse 4. Jesus knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “whom do you seek?”.

Jesus Christ stepped out from the shadows, He knew all that was to happen to him. Do you see that? “Knowing all”. Now take care before you answer this question: How did He know all?

Wouldn’t it be easy to say; well Jesus is God, God is omniscient, all knowing, Jesus therefore as the second person of the Trinitarian Godhead, knew all things? In His teaching, His interaction with the religious authorities, and in His prayer life, Jesus made His deity, His eternal and glorified relationship with His father in heaven clear.

However, the Bible doesn’t allow the liberty of simply saying Jesus was God therefore He knew all things. You see we know that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man. We know from Philippians 2:6,7 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. The writer of Hebrews tells us that therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Heb 4:15

James tells us in his letter; “let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt”. And yet we see that Jesus was tempted as we are. We see in these juxtapositions that Jesus Christ was fully man, facing all the temptations that we each face, but succumbing to none. (Correction: I said in my original text that Jesus set aside His deity, that is a serious error. Please accept my apology for making this statement. I did not study the hypostatic union in appropriate depth. I am sorry. Jesus at all times held His two natures, at no time was He not fully God. This is explained in a helpful, well written, scholarly, though easily understood article from Matt Slick: http://carm.org/communicatio-idiomatum. Here is a crucial paragraph from the article which I recommend as a valuable read for a fuller understanding of Jesus Christ:

“In the sacrifice of Jesus, we have Jesus dying. But, did the divine nature of Christ also die? No it did not, since God cannot die. If the divine “side” of Jesus didn’t die, then how is the sacrifice of Christ of infinite value? The answer is found in the communicatio idiomatum because in this teaching (as we have seen in the scriptures above), the quality and attributes of the divine nature were ascribed to the person of Christ. So, even though the divine side of Jesus didn’t die, the person of Christ did die; and the person of Christ was able to claim the divine attributes as His own. Therefore, the death of Christ was infinitely valuable and able to save us from our sins.”

The Bible shows us that Jesus Christ has two natures, He is fully God, and fully man, 100% God and 100 % man. This has an important theological term that I want you to note, the hypostatic union. We come here to learn that we might give a reason for the hope that lies within, that we may give a defence of our faith and give an account of the life and works of our Saviour.

This then begs a new question. How can Jesus, as fully man, turn water into wine, feed 5000 from loaves and bread, heal the demoniac, and here in the garden, know all things that were to happen? I do not believe we are at liberty to say, because he is God. While that is certainly true, he is fully God, it is not a helpful answer. While he remains God, He is functioning under this nature He has taken on, Philippians 2, fully man.

Clearly the best answer for this question is from the words of our Lord. “I and the Father are one, John 10:30” “I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me”, John 5:30. His perfect subordination to the will of the father and by His submission and intimate knowledge of His Father’s revealed will through the Scriptures. This is most noticeably summarised in Luke 4:17 when Jesus started His ministry having been in the wilderness, tempted by the Devil, when He came into the synagogue, opened the scroll at Isaiah 61:1, 2 and announced:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And this needs to be an encouragement to you. This should drive us into the Word of God, for it is here, seeking to mature and grow in likeness to our Saviour, seeking the will of our father in heaven, through the power of the Holy Spirit that we attain knowledge. For it is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom, that’s Proverbs 1:6 and we know from Colosians 2:3,”that in Him, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

So Christ knew all that was to happen, as He knew who He was, His purpose, and God’s plan of redemption for His people because He knew the Scriptures. So let’s go to the Scriptures and see briefly how we might also grow in trust, understanding and confidence of just who Christ is.

And I want to do this without the New Testament. It is always worth remembering that the early church did not have the New Testament and that the Apostles and to an extent, I imagine, the early church fathers, preached alone from the Jewish Scriptures; theTorah and Tonach, what we today call the Old Testament.

We know where he would be born Micah 5:2. We know that he would be born to a virgin Genesis 3:15 and Isaiah 7:14. We see when he would come Daniel 2:40, and the Kingdom He would inaugurate v44 and we see in Daniel 9:24, 25 that he would die, be cut off and put and end to the sacrificial system. God tells us history before it happens.

This is but a glimpse of the detailed and specific writings and prophecies that foreshadow and provide types of the coming Messiah, Meshiak. One of the Scriptures that has been conventionally retold during the Christmas season is Isaiah 9:6 – 7

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given; – (Micah 5:2, Isaiah 7:14)
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called`
Wonderful Counselor, (1 Tim 2;5) Mighty God, (El Gibor)
Everlasting Father (Psalm 90:2) , Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it (Matthew 12:28)
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore. (Daniel 2:44, 9:24)
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Was the zeal of the Lord of Hosts seen in Jesus Christ? Was He zealous for righteousness? To the point of having no regard for the worldly social conventions of the day. A friend of sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes! One who had no hesitation in taking whip to the backs of those who would turn His house of prayer into a den of thieves, who would take a stand against the hypocritical religious leaders of the day: Matthew 23:1-15 – Here we see the zeal of the Lord, fiercely and jealously standing for justice and righteousness.

We’ve have been here to show that while the Bible gives us an account of all human history, while it contains different genres, history, poetry, doctrine and prophecy, most importantly, it shows us Christ. The Old Testament testifies to the coming Messiah. If you imagine Christ, the light of the world stood here in the central pages of your bible, he is casting a shadow over the Old Testament.

In the remaining verses, 5-11, we witness Jesus’ mastery over events as they unfold.

V5. Judas is here. You’ll remember the last time we met him was in the upper room when Jesus sent him out, “what you are about to do, do quickly” John 13:27.

V6. The mob of soldiers unlikely to be well led and seem like a rabble as they fall to the ground in the presence of deity, where with their attention gripped, it can be made clear just who they are seeking as Jesus Christ repeats his question. Jesus is establishing his control and making sure His purpose is not thwarted. A helpful reminder, I would plea you never lose sight of. If you are in Christ, you have been drawn by the Father and belong to Jesus Christ He will not lose you.

And then in v10 Peter steps in, removes Malchus’ ear with a deft swing of his razor sharp sword; Did Malchus, who I presume was lying prostrate on the ground, have the potential to cause problems? I don’t know why Peter thought this would help. Risking a fight with a mob of armed soldiers is not a wise move, and we can only speculate his motives. Perhaps it was a moment of recklessness, to take one for the team while Jesus made good his escape, perhaps he thought they could go down fighting or even Jesus would command legions and chariots of angels, who knows, but either way Jesus Christ puts the brakes on Peter’s reversion to quayside fisherman fight mode.

Jesus tells him to lower his worldly weapons and look to follow Christ’s plan and purpose. Are you looking to Christ? Are you following His plan and purpose? There is a time to take up arms. We live in a fallen world that is groaning under the weight of sin. The gospel message of peace and reconciliation between all men is going out, Jesus Christ’s enemies are being made a footstool, that’s the promise of Psalm 110:1, but as God’s plan unfolds, we are still going to need soldiers and policemen. 1 Timothy 5:8 says, if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever and I submit that includes protection as well provision of your family.

And here in v11 we see Christ’s plan, “shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

What is this cup that the Son is anticipating? What does it contain that caused the Jesus such anguish that blood appeared in his beads of sweat as he considered the terrors He was facing? It is the cup of God’s wrath: Psalm 75:8 tells us; For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs. God’s wrath is portrayed in Scripture as an unpleasant mix of intoxicating liquor with filthy dregs.

Consider the desperate plight of our youth as they leave the nightclubs of our city in the early hours. Young men vomiting, or violent, feeling lonely or angry. Women who’ve lost any semblance of dignity, who the following day are in a alcohol induced mental fog.

This collective societal madness is a gateway to poverty, ill-health, and ruin. Broken relationships, impoverished families and even homelessness. Who has not known the pitiful state of someone living on the street overcome by alcohol? The teeth rot, the skin sags and the insides malfunction. Alcohol poisons from the inside out, the abuser suffers and often the only way to suppress the suffering is to consume more, prolonging the suffering.

Why do we people choose this path of sin, inviting God’s wrath and just punishment? Well the bible tells us that in our natural state we hate God, love our sin, and are wretched hell deserving sons and daughters of Adam. But how should we respond? How does the Bible call Christians to respond? Well its right here in the 51st chapter of Isaiah starting at verse 17:

17Rouse yourself! Rouse yourself! Arise, O Jerusalem,
You who have drunk from the LORD’S hand the cup of His anger;
The chalice of reeling you have drained to the dregs.

18There is none to guide her among all the sons she has borne,
Nor is there one to take her by the hand among all the sons she has reared.

19These two things have befallen you;
Who will mourn for you?
The devastation and destruction, famine and sword;
How shall I comfort you?

20Your sons have fainted,
They lie helpless at the head of every street,
Like an antelope in a net,
Full of the wrath of the LORD,
The rebuke of your God.

21Therefore, please hear this, you afflicted,
Who are drunk, but not with wine:

22Thus says your Lord, the LORD, even your God
Who contends for His people,
“Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling,
The chalice of My anger;
You will never drink it again.

Do you see? If you are in Christ He has taken the cup you so justly deserved for you? This is the Gospel! Jesus Christ has taken your punishment! You must see this. Do you still have a rebellious heart? Don’t presume upon God’s grace. Do you suppose you are somehow saved from His wrath because at the age of eight you gave your heart to Jesus, when you have since abused His name, neglected His word, engaged in violence, disobedience, drunkenness and sexual immorality? If you are living like the Devil, 1 John tells us, you are of the Devil. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit.

Why would you want to stay in your sin when the cure is on offered? What’s preventing you coming? Why procrastinate? Come now!

Congalton
No, belief in God is not a mental disorder despite what many of the liberals and atheists might assert. Though there are those with mental illness who believe in God, there are also those with mental illness who do not believe in God. Believing that there is a divine being who is the creator of all things and who orders our lives is very rational, especially when we consider the complexity and vastness of the universe, the intricate design of the human body, the diversity of life, the beauty of love, and the reality of the concept of information in DNA. Are we to conclude that these things occurred merely because of the physical laws of the universe? Is the super complex arrangement of the nucleotide bond pairs in DNA nothing more than the manifestation of materialistic laws and chemical reactions? Or, is the information contained therein evidence of a creator? Let me give an illustration.

Let’s say that you and I are walking along a path in a forest discussing the issue of believing in God. We come across a pile of 3 stones. Then, a few feet later there is a pile of 5 stones, then a few feet after that a pile of 7 stones, and so on up 101. These are prime number stacks of stones.1 Would it be more logical to conclude that the stones were arranged in this pattern by an intelligence or by random events in that forest? Obviously, we would assume that somebody was there before us and put the stones in the pattern.

The DNA molecule is incredibly more complex than a series of prime numbers arranged along a path. So, are we to conclude that it is the product of the self-arranged atoms? Or, is it more logical to say that it is a product of intelligence? After all, do we know of any place where randomness and physical laws produce information? I know of none. But, we do know that information is the product of intelligence. So, which is more rational to believe: that randomness or intelligence brought the information into existence? In fact, would it be a mental illness to say that super complex information structures, which require incredible ordered patterns of precise regularity, are the product of randomness?

Unfortunately, many who assume that belief in God is a mental disorder assume that their own position, atheism, is automatically the right position to hold. They commit the fallacy of begging the question. That is, they assume their position is true and then argue from it without any defense of their position. Atheism cannot be shown to be the right intellectual position to hold regarding whether or not God exists. Even when an atheist hides behind the intellectually vacuous “I lack belief in God” position, atheism, along with his materialistic worldview, cannot account for our existence, absolute morality, or information structures found in DNA.

Now, I ask you, which is closer to a mental disorder: believing there is a sovereign and divine creator or asserting that randomness and physical laws brought us the universe, beauty, love, moral absolutes, and super complex information structures?

by Matt Slick

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37 other followers