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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Finding Answers to Tough Questions

Question 1: Is the Bible accurate?

My professor says it is a fact that the Bible is full of errors and contradictions. Why should I read such a faulty book?

My Harvard professor said Exodus 37:17-24, which describes sevenfold lamps, was in error because such lamps did not exist in Moses’ time. Later I took part in an archaeological expedition in Dothan in Israel and watched workmen uncover a sevenfold lamp dating from 1400 B.C., right from Moses’ time.

Critics once said the Hittites never existed because the Greeks and Egyptians didn’t mention them. Then a whole Hittite civilization was discovered. The Greeks and Egyptians did mention them but got the name so twisted no one recognized it. The Bible had it right.

That did not satisfy the critics. They said, “That may be true, but the Horites are fiction.” Others said Sargon never existed. Some even said King David never existed. But Horites were proved to be the same as Hurrians. Sargon’s palace has been excavated. Recently, an ancient inscription was discovered that mentions David’s name and kingdom.

Again and again the Bible has been proved true. It is the critics who are in error due to their unbelief and insufficient knowledge.

Other supposed errors include chronological difficulties caused because the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all used different systems of measuring time or dating. One cause of apparent contradictions is that one passage may use round numbers; another may give the exact figure, depending on the purpose of the writer.

Most of the errors critics talk about are copyists’ errors. Because the books of the Bible were copied by hand it was easy to make spelling mistakes, misread a word, or leave out a word or a line. By comparing the many ancient copies that have been discovered, scholars can determine the original reading in the vast majority of cases. Those cases where we can’t be sure are mostly differences in spelling or word order. None of them affect the teachings of the Bible in any way.

Remember also that the Bible uses everyday language because it was written for the common people, not for scientists. Actually, scientific language did not develop until modern times. Most of us still use the language of appearance, just as the Bible does. Who says, “What a beautiful earthset,” even though we know that it is the earth’s turning that causes the sunset?

The Bible is a wonderful revelation of God and His plan. It will not lead us astray.

— Stanley M. Horton

 

Question 2: What is the unpardonable sin?

I have heard that the unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. How can I be sure I have not committed it?

“‘Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men,’ Jesus said, ‘but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven’” (Matthew 12:31, NIV). Forgiveness was available even for those who tortured and killed Jesus (Acts 3:13-20). What can be so horrible that it eliminates the possibility of God’s mercy and forgiveness from a person’s life?

Since God is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), individuals must close and lock the door to God’s love themselves. They do so by hardening their hearts to God’s Spirit, who seeks to draw them to Jesus for spiritual rebirth (John 3:5-8). This doesn’t happen in one impulsive moment, but by a lifetime of willful, deliberate rejection of the Spirit’s pursuit. This can create such spiritual and moral darkness that people call good evil (Isaiah 5:20) or attribute God’s works of deliverance through Jesus to Satan (Mark 3:22).

People who worry about the possibility of having committed this sin demonstrate by their concern they have not irrevocably hardened their hearts toward God.

— Stephen Lim

 

Question 3: Why should I go to church?

Sometimes it feels like the church is filled with hypocrites. Why do I need to be part of a church, when I can worship God and study His Word on my own?

Something in all of us wants to belong. We need relationships.

As children, sometimes the worst part of a game would be choosing sides. It’s embarrassing to be the last one picked and painful to be left out.

Many clubs are exclusive. Some of them are not really places to be sociable. They are designed to keep certain kinds of people out.

God did not design the church to keep certain kinds of people out, but to bring all kinds of people in. The church is not a club. It’s a family … God’s family. Our spiritual home.

In a natural family we are brothers and sisters by birth, not by choice. My sister didn’t pick me. When I was born, I was her brother and always will be.

When you are born into a family, what you get is what you get. Being accepted — being loved — is something else, but you belong simply because you were born.

The same is true when you’re born again. The Bible says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). When you are born again, you become a child of God. You belong in His family. His Son Jesus Christ is your Elder Brother. Jesus offered His life as a sacrifice to pay for your sins, so you could come home.

What will you find in God’s family? Most important is the presence of Jesus Christ himself. Because Jesus Christ is God, He is with you now, right where you are. But when you come together with God’s family, Jesus is present in a way you can never experience when you are alone. When you go to church, He is there to welcome you, for He promised, “Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).

In God’s family, you will also find purpose. Your life is not an accident. The Bible says, “We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). God wants to use your life to bless others. When you are a part of a Bible-teaching church, you will find direction. God’s Word will guide you in His plan and purpose for you.

Part of God’s plan is that a place is being prepared for you — a real place — for eternity. Jesus promised, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2,3).

But even before you reach your eternal dwelling place, when you join the family you’re home. Home is not just a place — it’s people. Because you belong, someone is always glad you came. In one of Jesus’ stories, when the lost son came home, his father rejoiced, welcomed him and forgave him (Luke 15:11-32). Jesus told the story to show you that your Heavenly Father is waiting to welcome you home.

Sadly, the lost son’s older brother was not thrilled his brother had come home. I can’t promise that everyone in God’s family will make you feel welcome. But I can happily promise you that in the church our Heavenly Father has commanded the whole family to accept and love you. We know what it feels like to be lost and then to be welcomed home and forgiven. Along with our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus, we’ll be glad you came. Because you belong here. And you will be home.

— Randy Hurst

 

Question 4: If Jesus is returning, what is taking Him so long?

Where is this “coming of Christ” that was promised? Everything is going on as it has since the beginning of time.

If this is what you think when you hear mention of Christ’s return to snatch away His people, be careful. Peter predicted last-day scoffers, following their own evil desires, would be saying just that (2 Peter 3:3,4).

With the many centuries since the promise was given (Acts 1:11), it is natural to wonder if such a supernatural intervention will actually take place.

Count on it. It is going to happen. The Bible is full of references to this glorious event, the blessed hope of every believer (Titus 2:13). However, don’t be misled by our human way of counting time. The average human lifetime is 70 to 80 years. But some life forms live fewer years than humans and some much longer. God’s lifetime is forever, without beginning or end. As Psalm 90:4 says, “A thousand years in [God’s] sight are like a day that has just gone by.” So it has been just “a couple of days” since the promise was given to first-century Christians.

But why might Christ delay His return even for another instant? Several reasons come to mind:

He is giving our generation a chance to repent and receive His salvation.

He is testing the strength of our faith and commitment.

He is giving the Church opportunity to evangelize the lost.

His delay encourages us to work faithfully, as though death is yet in the future, but to be ready for His coming at any time.

God is not willing that any should perish or experience spiritual death. His delay is not slowness in fulfilling His promise (2 Peter 3:9). He is preparing His bride “to present her … as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27).

Our natural minds tend to be concerned about the millions since the first century who have lived on earth without accepting Christ as their Savior. And we should have a burden for the lost of our day. But we should be even more concerned about becoming the holy and blameless bride of Christ without wrinkle or blemish. Christ tarries now so we may have opportunity to become that prepared and perfect bride.

As God’s children, our earthly lives will end in one of two ways: by death or via the Rapture. A faithful elderly Christian woman left detailed instructions for her funeral. But at the end of the note she wrote, “Prefer to go in the Rapture.”

Are you ready for either departure route?

— Zenas J. Bicket

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