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Tuesday, May 08, 2018

The Purpose of Life…

Life is a precious gift from God.  It is God who “forms the spirit of man within him” (Zechariah 12:1), and it is to God that our spirits return after death (Ecclesiastes 12:7).  Consequently, it would seem that men ought to use their lives to please God.  But rather than striving to “seek the Lord” (Acts 17:27), men often expend their energies in other ventures.
Some, for example, act as if their purpose in life is to gain physical wealth.  And to that end they focus all of their efforts.  Those who struggle in this area should be reminded of several basic Biblical truths:  1) “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses” (Luke 12:15); 2) Christians ought to “lay up for [themselves] treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20); and 3) “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).  Life’s purpose is not to amass earthly wealth.
Others act as if their purpose in life is to maintain their physical health.  While it should be granted that our bodies are important to God (1 Corinthians 6:19), and that “bodily exercise profits a little” (1 Timothy 4:8), it must be remembered that at the longest, our lives are but brief (James 4:14).  For this reason, we must make sure that we do not become so consumed with caring for our bodies that we lose focus upon God.
Still others act as if the purpose of life is to experience pleasure.  This, too, misses the point of our existence.  Our purpose is to “Fear God and keep His commandments. For this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

The Greatest Need in America

We’ve been thinking much about the state of our country. Economic woes, fear of enemies, health concerns, natural disasters, spiritual decline, and confused morality call for our attention; and we continually ask what God’s will is for this country.
We are perplexed but not surprised that the fastest growing religious group in America is the group that identifies themselves as having “no religion.” According to the American Religious Identification Survey taken in 2001, adults who do not subscribe to any religious identification has more than doubled from 14.3 million in 1990 to 29.4 million in 2001; their proportion has grown from just eight percent of the total in 1990 to over fourteen percent in 2001. Only 77 percent of Americans now claim to be Christians.
Many of those who claim to be Christians have convictions far different from the teaching of the New Testament. For instance, the Pew Forum recently released a survey saying that 65 percent of American Christians say that many religions can lead to eternal life, a fact that contradicts Jesus’ plain statement in John 14:6 (see also Acts 4:12; Ephesians 4:4-6).
What America needs most is the gospel, the old story of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. That divine story will lead them to change their hearts and lives in repentance and to unite with Christ in baptism. The gospel will open their hearts to faith, hope, and love.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Content Analysis

“Forewarned is forearmed,” so the saying goes. It always helps to understand as fully as possible the situation at hand. This search for information led the United States to develop several new methods of espionage during the Second World War. One of the simplest, and yet most effective, tools used for finding useful information was Content Analysis.
Not being able to trust Nazis propaganda produced for public consumption, American analysts instead looked at the frequency of topics arising in the German media.  Content Analysis highlighted shifts of national mood and accurately let America to have a clear picture of life behind enemy lines.
This approach proved valuable in cutting through a facade, and was useful during the Cold War in understanding the mind-set of the Soviet Union. The strength of Content Analysis rests in its simplicity and ease of application.  Beyond espionage, the methods of Content Analysis have found wide acceptance and currently are used in various marketing, public relations, and political applications.
Content Analysis also reveals interesting trends within congregations. A simple exercise is to list all the church activities mentioned in a congregational bulletin. When times of worship and Bible study begin to be crowded out by things that are not worship or Bible study, a disturbing trend is uncovered. Also, listing the subjects covered in Sunday morning and in Wednesday evening classes, or the topics addressed from the pulpit can reveal shifts in emphasis that will dramatically change the church over time.
Perhaps the most sobering application of Content Analysis is in our own lives. Listen to the topics discussed at a typical church fellowship. Do Christians talk about the truths of Scripture, or do the topics we discuss reflect a more secular outlook? Does the content of our communication differ much from our friends and neighbors who are not Christian? As Jesus reminds us in Luke 6:45, “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Watching ourselves and our congregations, let’s try ever to be moving closer to the Lord, rather than farther away.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Did the Israelites Completely Destroy the Canaanites or Not?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Even though the Canaanites were “greater and mightier” than the Israelites (Deuteronomy 7:1), and although they were “strong,” even possessing “iron chariots” (Joshua 17:18), “Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded” (Joshua 10:40).1 Similar statements are made in Joshua 11:8-23. The Bible reader learns later, however, that “Israel…did not completely drive them out” (the Canaanites, that is—Judges 1:28).2 In fact, in some situations the text says, “they could not drive out the inhabitants” (in part because “they had chariots of iron,” Judges 1:19; Joshua 17:12-13). Instead, “the Canaanites dwelt among them, and were put under tribute” (1:30).

How are we to make sense of these differing statements? Are they contradictory, as skeptics allege, or are there logical explanations? Consider a few plausible reasons for the differences in the statements in Joshua and Judges regarding the conquering of the land of Canaan.

First, sometimes the statements are contextually limited to a particular region of Canaan. For example, Joshua 10:40 (“all the land” was conquered) is limited to the southern part of Canaan, as Joshua 10:28-43 indicates.3

Second, just as writers and speakers today use intended exaggeration “all the time,” Bible writers also used this figure of speech (known as hyperbole). Similar to Luke’s statement in Acts 2:5 that Jews “from every nation under heaven” had journeyed to Jerusalem for Pentecost or similar to Paul’s statement that “every creature under heaven” (Colossians 1:23) had heard the Gospel, some of the conquering language in Joshua and Judges should likely be understood (at least in part) as hyperbolic—the description of something “that is better or worse than it really is"4 for the sake of emphasis. If we had been at some of the battles led by Joshua against the inhabitants of Canaan where a weaker army (Deuteronomy 7:1) repeatedly and soundly defeated the stronger armies of Canaan, might we also have truthfully described the events as we read them portrayed in Joshua? If today, we can honestly tell others “we are starving” when we are very hungry (but not literally “starving”), or that one team “destroyed” another team (but actually just won the basketball game by 30 points), could Joshua not honestly, though hyperbolically, similarly describe the Israelites’ impressive victories in Canaan?

Third, the conquering of the land of Canaan took approximately 10 years5 (and a lot can happen in a decade!). Just as land has been won and lost through the millennia by various nations in rather short periods of time, could Israel not have conquered various regions one year and yet it be retaken by certain Canaanites (who had temporarily fled their homeland for fear of their lives) in subsequent months or years (cf. Joshua 10:36-39; 15:15-16)? No doubt, many statements in Joshua and Judges are referring to two different periods of time, including the time following Joshua’s death when Israel severely digressed spiritually (Joshua 2:7-10,21-23).

Fourth, one must be careful not to assume that everything in Joshua and (especially) Judges was written in precise chronological order. Just as the Bible as a whole is not a strict book of chronology,6 nor are these two books.7 Non-sequential examples are quite obvious at times. For example, after noting the death of Joshua in the first verse of Judges, the writer gives more details about his death and burial in Judges 2:7-9.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, many fail to recognize the conditional nature of God’s promise to give Israel all the land of Canaan. God was not going to give Israel the Promised Land if they failed to take it obediently. They obviously were not going to receive Canaan as their inheritance if they had never left Egypt or if they were going to be as fearful and unbelieving as was the generation that died in the wilderness (Numbers 13-14). Israel failed in their first attempt to defeat Ai because of sin in the camp (i.e., Achan’s sin; Joshua 7:1-26). God said to Israel following this failure: “You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you” (Joshua 7:13). Unfortunately, time and again Israel disobeyed Jehovah, which resulted in God withdrawing His helping hand from them (Judges 2:1-3), which led to repeated defeats, even after victory at one time was known (cf. Joshua 17:18; Judges 1:19).

Due to distrust, disloyalty, and disobedience, some parts of Israel were never fully and continually possessed by the Israelites in Joshua’s day. Rather than stand in firm reliance on the promises of God, trusting in Him every day in every way, and possessing all the land for generations, Israel freely (and sadly) fulfilled the dismal prophetic warnings of God given in the days of Moses and Joshua.

[T]his people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, “Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?” (Deuteronomy 31:16-17).

When you have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to them, then the anger of the Lord will burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you (Joshua 23:16).


1 For a reasoned defense of “God’s Just Destruction of the Canaanites,” see http://www.apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=1630&b=Joshua.
2 For other specific scriptures about the failure of the various tribes of Israel to drive out the Canaanites, see Joshua 13:13; 16:10; 17:11-13; 15:63; Judges 1:21,27-36; 2:1-5.
3 When Luke wrote that “all the world should be registered” by the decree of Caesar, and that “all went to be registered” (Luke 2:1,3), he obviously meant “all” in a limited sense—not every single person on the planet, but those under Caesar’s rule (i.e., within the Roman Empire).
4 “Hyperbole” (2018), Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyperbole.
5 If (a) there were a total of 450 years from the oppression of Abraham’s descendants to inheriting the land of Canaan (Acts 3:17-20 (NASB), and (b) Abraham’s descendants were oppressed in a foreign land for 400 years (Acts 7:6), and (c) they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years (Acts 13:18), then it must have taken them about 10 years to conquer the nations in the land of Canaan and receive their inheritance (Acts 13:19).
6 For more information, see Eric Lyons (2005), “Alleged Chronological Contradictions,” http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=1582.
7 Simply because much of Joshua is sequential does not mean that every single statement was written in chronological order.

Inevitable--Given Enough Time?

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Macroevolutionists often point the proverbial finger at the laws of probability in a pointless attempt to traverse the gaping chasms which exist in the theory of evolution and Big Bang Theory and thereby substantiate them. However, the gaps that exist, such as the origin of matter (cf. Miller, 2013), the origin of life (cf. Miller, 2012), and macroevolution (cf. Brooks and Deweese, 2009), are many and cannot be traversed without violation of recognized scientific laws. In spite of this dilemma, many evolutionists have long cited the principles of probability in an effort to support their dogma, noting that as long as the required events do not have a probability of zero, they are inevitable, given enough time (cf. Erwin, 2000). As far back as 1954, George Wald, writing in Scientific American concerning the origin of life on Earth, penned the words:

However improbable we regard this event, or any of the steps it involves, given enough time, it will almost certainly happen at least once. And for life as we know it, once may be enough. Time is the hero of the plot.... Given so much time, the “impossible” becomes possible, the possible becomes probable, and the probable becomes virtually certain. One has only to wait; time itself performs miracles (Wald, p. 48, emp. added).

There are at least two problems with this assertion. First, several of the events that are necessary in order for the theory of evolution and the Big Bang Theory to be true, indeed, have a probability of zero. So, the question is not really one of improbability, but impossibility. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that supports the contention that, for instance, matter could spontaneously generate or life could come about from non-life (i.e., abiogenesis). In fact, quite the opposite is true. The experimental results of renowned scientist Louis Pasteur forever killed the possibility of the spontaneous generation of life back in the 19th century, and the Law of Biogenesis drove the nails into its coffin (cf. Miller, 2012). This truth creates an impenetrable barrier for evolutionists—a gaping chasm that must be crossed in order for the theory of evolution to be plausible. So, according to the scientific evidence, there is a probability of zero that abiogenesis can occur. According to the laws of probability, specifically Kolmogorov’s first axiom, when the probability of an event is zero, the event is called an “impossible event (Gubner, 2006, p. 22, emp. added). Since several events that are necessary in order for the theory of evolution and the Big Bang Theory to be true have a probability of zero, according to the laws of probability, these atheistic theories are impossible.

The second problem with this contention is that we are not “given enough time” for macroevolution to have occurred. We at Apologetics Press have documented this fact time and time again (cf. Jackson, 1983; Thompson, 2001). Years ago, in his article “The Young Earth,” Henry Morris listed 76 dating techniques, based on standard evolutionary assumptions, which all indicate that the Earth is relatively young (Morris, 1974). Donald DeYoung documented extensive, compelling evidence for a young Earth as well, in the book Thousands...Not Billions (2005). Of course, such information is not broadcasted widely due to its implications. If atheistic evolutionists were sincerely interested in the truth—if they were interested in giving all options a fair shake—they would hear the silent but forceful cry of the evidence: “Macroevolution is impossible! There is a God!”


Brooks, Will and Joe Deweese (2009), “A Response to the 21st Century Science Coalition Standards of Science Education,” Reason & Revelation, 29[6]:41-43, June, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240161.

DeYoung, Donald (2005), Thousands...Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).

Erwin, Douglas (2000), “Macroevolution is More Than Repeated Rounds of Microevolution,” Evolution and Development, 2[2]:78-84.

Gubner, J. A. (2006), Probability and Random Processes for Electrical and Computer Engineers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Jackson, Wayne (1983), “Our Earth—Young or Old?” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/yng-old.pdf.

Miller, Jeff (2012), “The Law of Biogenesis [Part I],” Reason & Revelation, 32[1]:2-11, January, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1018&article=1722.

Miller, Jeff (2013), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2786.

Morris, H. (1974), “The Young Earth,” Acts & Facts, 3[8], http://www.icr.org/article/young-earth.

Thompson, Bert (2001), “The Young Earth,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1991.

Wald, George (1954), “The Origin of Life,” Scientific American, 191:45-53, August.

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