The History of Astronomy Confirms the Bible.

The History of Astronomy by Dr. Jason Lisle (original source here)

The development of astronomy throughout history is a magnificent confirmation of biblical authority. The Bible is God’s inerrant, propositional revelation to man. As such, the Bible is absolutely correct in everything it affirms. This naturally includes its claims about the universe. When the Bible touches on the topic of astronomy, it is absolutely correct. The history of astronomy confirms this.

Secularists claim that the Bible is not the Word of God, but merely a man-made collection that documents the primitive thinking of the ancient Hebrews. As such, secularists believe that the Bible has countless mistakes, and therefore repudiate the idea that it should be used as a foundation for scientific research. This is not a new view. Ancient astronomers also largely rejected biblical authority, opting to form opinions of the universe while ignoring the inerrant history recorded in God’s Word. Yet, the Bible has been vindicated time and again with each new discovery.

The Spherical Nature of Earth

Sometimes evolutionists make the silly claim that believing in biblical creation is like believing in a flat earth. The irony is that the Bible taught a round earth long before secular thinkers came to accept the idea – at a time when they still believed the Earth was flat. One hint is found in Isaiah 40:22 in which the “circle of the earth” is mentioned. The Hebrew word translated “circle” here is ‘chug’ which refers to a circle or a circuit; something that begins where it ends and has the general sense of roundness such as a sphere. Of course, this isn’t conclusive proof of a round earth because a flat disk might also be described as a “circle.” Furthermore, some people have suggested that the circle or “circuit” of the Earth is actually a reference to Earth’s annual orbit around the sun, which would be remarkable confirmation of the heliocentric solar system long before any secular naturalist stumbled onto the idea.

For a more conclusive passage, consider Job 26:10. Here we read that God “has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters at the boundary of light and darkness.” The same Hebrew word ‘chug’ is used in verb form indicating that God has drawn a circle on the surface of Earth’s oceans that separates light and darkness. Astronomers refer to this boundary as the terminator, because light stops there. People at Earth’s terminator are experiencing either a sunrise or a sunset. The terminator occurs primarily over the “waters” (oceans) because Earth’s surface is primarily water. The only way the terminator can always be a circle is if the Earth’s shape is spherical. No other shape will produce a circular terminator regardless of the position of the light source. We now have photographs of Earth from space that confirm a circular terminator.

Perhaps the earliest biblical confirmation of a spherical Earth is implied in Genesis 6-8. Here we read about a worldwide flood in which all the high hills under the entire sky were covered with water (Genesis 7:19). This would be impossible on a flat earth; the water would either run off the edge, or the edges would be raised so as to trap the water, in which case the edge itself would not be flooded and would constitute a hill that was not under water. A global flood is only possible on a globe.

Interestingly, all these passages were written at a time when the secular scholars of the day believed that the Earth was flat. Isaiah was written around 700 B.C. Job was written around 2000 B.C. Moses wrote Genesis around 1500 B.C. However, there is internal evidence that Moses used historical documents that were previously written by eyewitnesses as source material under divine guidance (e.g. Genesis 5:1, 6:9, 11:10). In any case, the Bible’s references to a spherical Earth predate the oldest secular reference.

Generally, the Greek mathematician Pythagoras is credited with being the first secular scholar to propose that the Earth is round. His argument for this (if he had one) is not recorded. But Pythagoras lived around 500 B.C., long after the biblical references to a round Earth had been written. Aristotle is generally credited with being the first secularist to demonstrate that the Earth is round from such lines of evidence as lunar eclipses. The Earth’s shadow on the moon is always circular regardless of the orientation of the sun and moon relative to Earth – this is only possible for a spherical planet. Aristotle lived during the 300s B.C.

So we see that the Bible recorded a round Earth long before the secular scholars of the day. It is almost as if the Hebrews had some divine insight into the issue. How about that! It follows that there was a time when the secular scholars of the day would have claimed that the Bible is wrong in its assertion that the Earth is round. But today, the Bible has been vindicated.

Earth Floats in Space

In a time when the secular experts believed the Earth to be flat and floating in water, the Bible teaches that God “hangs the Earth on nothing” (Job 26:7). This verse poetically describes the fact that Earth floats in space and is suspended on nothing. This cosmic fact is remarkably counterintuitive and may have been hard to believe when it was recorded. After all, everyday experience informs our senses that things fall unless they are suspended on something. The ancient idea that Earth is flat and floats in water is far more intuitive; we have seen that some things do float in water. But to suspend to the Earth on nothing may have seemed ridiculous. But today, the Bible has been vindicated. The Earth indeed hangs on nothing, and we now have pictures that confirm this. Continue reading

“Practical” Preaching

Dr. John MacArthur (source):

More than once I have been asked why my sermons focus so much on biblical interpretation and not as much on personal application. In a similar vein, verse-by-verse Bible teaching and an emphasis on doctrine are sometimes criticized as being irrelevant and impractical.

My response to that is simple—and may sound familiar to you because I communicate the principle at every opportunity. The meaning of Scripture is the Scripture. If you don’t have the true meaning of the text, you don’t have the Word of God. That’s why exegesis (a linguistically and historically sound interpretation of the text) is the absolute and primary essential in every sermon.

So my priority and driving passion is to make the truth of Scripture known. I want to help people know what God’s Word says. I’m confident that if I can help men and women understand the implications of the Bible―to feel the full weight and meaning of divine truth―the Holy Spirit will guide them in the application of that truth to their individual lives and circumstances.

Yes, some biblical principles may seem more practical or more immediately applicable than others. But all Scripture is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Teaching people what the Bible means is inherently practical. In fact, until a person understands the implications of a verse or passage, no sound application can be made.

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to make the most personal, individual applications of the truth of Scripture in the heart of the hearer—and He does that infallibly, in a way that I as a preacher cannot. He instructs and directs us in how to put God’s Word to work in our lives.

We see the evidence of that in the responses we receive from the people Grace to You is reaching. Every day we hear from men and women around the world, describing how the Lord is working in their lives through His Word and thanking us for our doctrinally focused resources. They bear witness to the practical value and universal relevance of the doctrine we teach. In fact, not long ago we received a long letter from a woman named Sandra. Here’s a portion of what she had to say:

I grew up in a home with loving Christian parents, but I rebelled against Christ during my teenage years. I took pride in my academic accomplishments and was generally a very proud individual. I was confident that I would become a successful attorney someday and live a life of affluence. My childhood upbringing kept me from rejecting God’s existence, but although I knew He existed, I did not have a relationship with Him.

God’s mercy and grace were poured on me one day as I drove from school to my afternoon job during the first year of my undergraduate studies. I switched my car radio from one station to another, searching for something fun, when I tuned in to a Christian station my father had preset. I had made a habit to simply skip over that station, but on this particular day I heard your familiar voice before I had the chance to change it. You were teaching on the subject of predestination. I continued listening with the sole intent of finding weaknesses in the argument, but the Lord used that message to bring me to repentance. That message was not sugarcoated. You did not mince words—you did not make me feel good. No, instead your message brought me to tears. The Lord used you through your faithful teaching of the Word of God to humble an angry, ungrateful, and proud sinner and to bring me to repentance and eternal life.

While I know that your service is not for the praise of anyone, I simply hope you are encouraged in knowing that the Lord has used you, through the teaching of His Word, to save souls and minister to people you were not even aware existed.

Every day, people like Sandra are tuning in on radio or looking to our website and finding biblical truth that speaks directly to their spiritual needs and circumstances. The Lord puts the teaching of His Word in a position to convict, rebuke, instruct, comfort, and encourage His people when and where He chooses.

And while we affirm God’s sovereignty over whom He reaches and how He works in lives, there is still a significant, human component. You and I have roles to fulfill, responsibilities to discharge, and blessings of a spiritual harvest in which to share.

John Piper and Gospel Confusion

Brothers I am troubled!

There’s no doubt that John Piper is one of the people God has used to impact my theological journey in a significant way. Much could be said about that. This blog is filled with many references to John Piper’s works.

However, in recent days I have become increasingly concerned about what Dr. Piper is teaching. He makes a distinction between initial justification and entering heaven, to the point that the gospel is confused, and some would even say, denied.

It is because I have greatly admired Dr. Piper that I have really tried to give him the benefit of the doubt on this. I really have. But the more I have read and the more I have re-read Piper’s material, the more troubled I have become. I would have expected the opposite to be true – that the more I read of his, the more clarity I would find to set my concerns aside. However, that is not the case in any way at all.

I am deeply troubled. John Piper is abundantly clear in what he is saying and that is what bothers me greatly.

Here’s a video by Pastor Patrick Hines of Bridwell Heights Presbyterian Church, Kingsport, Tennessee, responding to Piper in his own words.

Genesis and History

Article by Director Thomas Purifoy Jr.: Six Reasons Reformed Christians Should Embrace Six-Day Creation (original source here)

When ‘Is Genesis History?’ opened in theaters last year, we had no idea it would be the top-grossing Christian documentary for 2017. We were even more surprised when our distributor said it was bringing it back to theaters on Feb 22, 2018, for an Anniversary Event.

Why did this film resonate so much with audiences? Perhaps it demonstrated that it’s intellectually reasonable for Christians to embrace 6-day creation.

By ‘6-day creation,’ I’m referring not just to one’s view of Genesis 1, but to an entire chronology of historical events. These include the immediate creation of everything in six normal days, a Fall that brought corruption and death into the universe, and a global Flood that destroyed the world. I recognize that among some Reformed Christians this is not a popular view of history. Instead, some have adopted the framework hypothesis, analogical days, or the cosmic-temple model to interpret Genesis 1.

They then accept the conventional chronology of universal history. This includes the slow formation of everything over billions of years starting with a Big Bang, the corruption, and death of trillions of creatures before the arrival of Adam and Eve, a Fall that introduced death only to mankind, and a local flood during the days of Noah.

I realize that intelligent and godly Reformed Christians hold to this model of Earth history. Nevertheless, many seem unaware of the actual events they must inevitably adopt when affirming a 13.8 billion-year-old universe. After all, one cannot extend history for billions of years without attaching new events to it. Those events have theological consequences. This is why Reformed thinkers like Geerhardus Vos, Louis Berkhof, and D. Martin Lloyd-Jones embraced 6-day creation. They understood it is the events included in 6-day creation that are essential for Christian theology.

Here are six theological reasons worth considering:

1. God’s Goodness Must Be Reflected in the Original Creation
Ligon Duncan observed in an interview for ‘The Gospel Coalition’ that affirming the goodness of the original creation is non-negotiable. As the Westminster Confession states, the goodness of the original creation is the manifestation of the glory of God’s own goodness. (WCF 4.1)

What does that goodness look like? It is full of life-giving power and bounty. This is what we see in Genesis 1. God pronounces His original creation ‘good’ and ‘very good.’ It was a world of plenty and beauty without animal carnivory (Gen 1:30) and without corruption and death (Rom 8:21).

Yet this picture of an artistically-designed, beautiful world only fits within the chronology of 6-day creation. If one adopts the conventional chronology, one must accept that the Earth was absent from the universe for its first 9 billion years. After a galactic cooling event, the Earth slowly formed through billions of years of uninhabitable environments. God eventually created the first complex marine life, then progressively created or evolved different types of organisms. These experienced death and massive extinction events that led to the destruction of trillions of living creatures. All this happened long before the appearance of Adam and Eve.

I realize that some Christians may not be interested in these sorts of details. Yet anyone who chooses to accept an old universe implicitly accepts the historical events that go with it. It is a history filled with lifelessness and death, not the goodness of God.

2. Adam’s Sin Resulted in Universal Corruption and Death
According to the conventional chronology, corruption has always been a part of the universe. This can be seen in the fossil record which supposedly represents 540 million years of animal suffering and death. It provides snapshots of a world often full of thorns and thistles. Continue reading

How to Find the Will of God

Article by R. C. Sproul: What Is the Will of God for My Life?

This excerpt is taken from the book “Everyone’s a Theologian”.

What does the Bible say about God’s leading? It says that if we acknowledge God in all our ways, He will direct our paths (Prov. 3:5–6). We are encouraged by Scripture to learn the will of God for our lives, and we do so by focusing our attention not on the decretive will of God but on the preceptive will of God. If you want to know God’s will for your life, the Bible tells you: “This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). So when people wonder whether to take a job in Cleveland or in San Francisco, or whether to marry Jane or Martha, they should study closely the preceptive will of God. They should study the law of God to learn the principles by which they are to live their lives from day to day.

The psalmist writes, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:1–2). The godly man’s delight is in the preceptive will of God, and one so focused will be like “a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season” (v. 3). The ungodly, however, are not like that but “are like chaff that the wind drives away” (v. 4).

If you want to know which job to take, you have to master the principles. As you do, you will discover that it is God’s will that you make a sober analysis of your gifts and talents. Then you are to consider whether a particular job is in keeping with your gifts; if it is not, you should not accept it. In that case, the will of God is that you look for a different job. The will of God is also that you match your vocation—your calling—with a job opportunity, and that requires a lot more work than using a Ouija board. It means applying the law of God to all the various things in life.

When it comes to deciding whom to marry, you look at everything Scripture says with respect to God’s blessing on marriage. Having done that, you might discover that there are several prospects who meet the biblical requirements. So which one do you marry? The answer to that is easy: whichever one you want to marry. As long as the one you choose falls within the parameters of the preceptive will of God, you have complete liberty to act according to whatever pleases you, and you do not need to lose any sleep wondering whether you are outside the hidden or decretive will of God. First, you cannot be outside the decretive will of God. Second, the only way you are going to know the hidden will of God for you today is to wait until tomorrow, and tomorrow will make it clear to you because you can look back on the past and know that whatever happened in the past is the outworking of the hidden will of God. In other words, we only know God’s hidden will after the fact. We usually want to know the will of God in terms of the future, whereas the emphasis in Scripture is on the will of God for us in the present, and that has to do with His commands.

“The secret things” belong to God, not to us. “The secret things” are not our business because they are not our property; they are His. However, God has taken some of the secret plans of His mind and removed the secrecy, and such things do belong to us. He has taken the veil away. This is what we call revelation. A revelation is a disclosure of that which once was hidden.

The knowledge that is ours through revelation properly belongs to God, but God has given it to us. That is what Moses was saying in Deuteronomy 29:29. The secret things belong to God, but that which He has revealed belongs to us, and not only to us but to our children. God has been pleased to reveal certain things to us, and we have the unspeakable blessing of sharing those things with our children and others. The priority of passing that knowledge on to our children is one of the main emphases in Deuteronomy. God’s revealed will is given in and through His preceptive will, and this revelation is given that we might be obedient.

As I said earlier, many people ask me how they can know the will of God for their lives, but rarely does anyone ask me how he can know the law of God. People do not ask because they know how to understand the law of God—they find it in the Bible. They can study the law of God in order to know it. The more difficult question is how we can do the law of God. Some are concerned about that, but not too many. Most people who inquire about the will of God are seeking knowledge of the future, which is closed. If you want to know the will of God in terms of what God authorizes, what God is pleased with, and what God will bless you for, again, the answer is found in His preceptive will, the law, which is clear.

Abiding in Christ

Article: What Does it Mean to Abide in Christ? by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson (original source here)

The exhortation to “abide” has been frequently misunderstood, as though it were a special, mystical, and indefinable experience. But Jesus makes clear that it actually involves a number of concrete realities.

First, union with our Lord depends on His grace. Of course we are actively and personally united to Christ by faith (John 14:12). But faith itself is rooted in the activity of God. It is the Father who, as the divine Gardener, has grafted us into Christ. It is Christ, by His Word, who has cleansed us to fit us for union with Himself (15:3). All is sovereign, all is of grace.

Second, union with Christ means being obedient to Him. Abiding involves our response to the teaching of Jesus: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you …” (John 15:7a). Paul echoes this idea in Colossians 3:16, where he writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” a statement closely related to his parallel exhortation in Ephesians 5:18: “be filled with the Spirit.”

In a nutshell, abiding in Christ means allowing His Word to fill our minds, direct our wills, and transform our affections. In other words, our relationship to Christ is intimately connected to what we do with our Bibles! Then, of course, as Christ’s Word dwells in us and the Spirit fills us, we will begin to pray in a way consistent with the will of God and discover the truth of our Lord’s often misapplied promise: “You will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7b).

Third, Christ underlines a further principle, “Abide in My love” (15:9), and states very clearly what this implies: the believer rests his or her life on the love of Christ (the love of the One who lays down His life for His friends, v. 13).

This love has been proved to us in the cross of Christ. We must never allow ourselves to drift from daily contemplation of the cross as the irrefutable demonstration of that love, or from dependence on the Spirit who sheds it abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). Furthermore, remaining in Christ’s love comes to very concrete expression: simple obedience rendered to Him is the fruit and evidence of love for Him (John 15:10–14).

Finally, we are called, as part of the abiding process, to submit to the pruning knife of God in the providences by which He cuts away all disloyalty and sometimes all that is unimportant, in order that we might remain in Christ all the more wholeheartedly.

Charles Spurgeon – The Man

Article by Michael Reeves: 10 Things You Should Know about Charles Spurgeon (original source here)

1. His ministry began in the year of his conversion as a young man.
Spurgeon was raised in a Christian home, but was converted in 1850 at fifteen years old. Caught in a snowstorm, he took refuge in a small Primitive Methodist chapel in Colchester. After about ten minutes, with only twelve to fifteen people present, the preacher fixed his eyes on Spurgeon and spoke to him directly:

“Young man, you look very miserable.” Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.” Spurgeon later wrote, ‘Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away.’ 1

The ‘Prince of Preachers’ was tricked into preaching his first sermon that same year. An older man had asked Spurgeon to go to the little village of Teversham the next evening, “for a young man was to preach there who was not much used to services, and very likely would be glad of company.” It was only the next day that he realized the ‘young man’ was himself.2

2. He was a man of hard work and huge influence.
He went on to preach in person up to thirteen times per week, gathered the largest church of his day, and could make himself heard in a crowd of twenty-three thousand people (without amplification). In print he published some eighteen million words, selling over fifty-six million copies of his sermons in nearly forty languages in his own lifetime.

3. He was self-consciously a theological and doctrinal preacher.
While Spurgeon is not known as a theologian as such, he was nevertheless a deeply theological thinker and his sermons were rich in doctrine, and dripping with knowledge of historical theology – especially the Puritans.

Some preachers seem to be afraid lest their sermons should be too rich in doctrine, and so injure the spiritual digestions of their hearers. The fear is superfluous. . . . This is not a theological age, and therefore it rails at sound doctrinal teaching, on the principle that ignorance despises wisdom. The glorious giants of the Puritan age fed on something better than the whipped creams and pastries which are now so much in vogue.3

4. He was pre-eminently a theologian and preacher of the cross.
Spurgeon’s was a cross-centered and cross-shaped theology, for the cross was “the hour” of Christ’s glorification (John 12:23–24), the place where Christ was and is exalted, the only message able to overturn the hearts of men and women otherwise enslaved to sin. Along with Isaiah 45:22, one of Spurgeon’s favorite Bible verses was John 12:32: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

He insisted on celebrating the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, and often broke bread during the week as well. He believed his preaching of the crucified Christ was the only reason why such great crowds were drawn to his church for so many years. Continue reading

Looming Debate Over SSA

By Rick Phillips (original source here)

These days, it seems that almost every week social media uncovers another eruption along the Presbyterian Church in America’s (PCA) volcanic fault line between social accommodation/compassion and biblical obedience. This week, a conference promoting strategies to address same sex attraction (SSA) has raised heads and provoked comment. This particular event seems to be a laudable attempt to balance the tension: while calling for a compassionate acceptance of SSA Christians it also makes clear statements in support of biblical marriage and takes a position against homosexual behavior that most people in our society would consider fundamentalist. Conservatives should therefore refrain from drawing the worst possible implications from what seems to be a thoughtful and responsible attempt to address this major cultural touchstone.

While avoiding hysterical division, we can at the same time note that a major question mark hangs over the normalization of SSA as a Christian category. It seems that there is a growing consensus in the PCA that we can and must distinguish between one’s sexual orientation and sinful desires. The alternative would seem to be that we tell men and women struggling with homosexuality that what they consider a part of who they are is sinful and (as some would have it) subject them to tortuous rehabilitation techniques that probably include electric shock. The bridge, therefore, between compassion and biblical fidelity is to embrace “gay in Christ” as a normal and wholesome category and then help our LGBTQ brothers and sisters live celibately with these desires.

One problem with this love-motivated strategy is that it collapses under the weight of Scripture. The biblical argument in favor of SSA acceptance goes like this: we always distinguish between desire and temptation. A heterosexual may sinlessly experience an attraction to a member of the opposite sex without giving in to lust. The same must therefore be the case for a homosexual. The orientation is not necessarily sinful, while the desire represents a temptation to be avoided. The key issue is behavior: does the person (heterosexual or homosexual) give in to temptation and commit the sin?

A first criticism of this approach will note that it fails to apply the Bible’s vastly different approach to homosexuality versus heterosexuality, only one of which can ever be sinless. But the major problem is that the Bible does not distinguish between orientation and desire, while instead categorizing desire as temptation. Biblically, temptation is the outward circumstance that prompts desire into sin. But desire for sin itself is an expression of our sinful nature. Bible-believing churches take this approach to virtually every sin other than homosexuality (it is often pointed out that we would never take the pro-SSA approach to racism, for instance). A biblically accurate approach to homosexuality must therefore be congruent with our understanding of sin in general.

One key text is James 1:14-15: “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Notice that James does not equate desire and temptation but distinguishes them. Desire is the inward disposition toward a given sin. As James sees it, the key issue is not temptation but desire: until desire is sanctified by the grace of Christ, temptation is going to produce sinful behavior. Epithumia, the Greek word translated as “desire” identifies an inward impulse and almost always has a sinful connotation (see Rom. 7:7-8, Gal. 5:17, Col. 3:5, and 1 Thess. 4:5). Therefore, to isolate orientation from sinful desire in simply contrary to Scripture. Continue reading