Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Mysteries of the manger.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).

At this point, let us consider several questions that may be raised concerning those events leading up to the birth of the Savior.

1. Why did Joseph and Mary wait so long before coming to Bethlehem? We know that both believed the angel’s message about the Babe in Mary’s womb, and they doubtless were well aware of the prophecy in Micah 5:2 which stated that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem.

Why did they wait until the last moment to come? In fact, one is somewhat led to believe that had it not been for the decree of Caesar Augustus they might not have come at all. Answer: No satisfactory answer has been found by this author. It is best to conclude that Joseph (man of God that he was) had good reasons for acting in the manner that he did. The reader may desire to explore this further.

2. Why didn’t Mary and Joseph stay with their relatives in Bethlehem? The inns of those days were rather notorious, and Joseph must have been desperate to subject his pregnant wife to the sin and noise of such a place. But, of course, they were denied even this. Answer: it would have been too difficult to explain (or to expect them to understand) the nature of the virgin birth. Every gossip in town doubtless knew by this time that Joseph and Mary had been married only six months, and there she was, expecting a baby at any moment. Was the father Joseph? Did the child belong to some stranger? Thus, to spare his beloved wife all this, Joseph did not call upon their relatives.

3. Why was Jesus born in a place which apparently housed animals? Answer: Because lambs are usually born in barns. This was God’s Lamb.

4. Why did angels appear to the shepherds first? Answer: What other earthly group than shepherds would better understand what God has just accomplished? These were men who raised lambs and later sold

them for sacrificial purposes in the temple. (See John 1:29; 10:11). Note: They would eventually understand that in the past the sheep had died for the shepherd, but soon the Shepherd planned to die for the sheep. (See John 10:11.)

5. Why did God use the angels in the first place? Answer.
a. Because angels are interested in the things of salvation. (See
1 Peter 1:12; Exod. 25:20; Dan. 12:5-6; Luke 15:10; Eph. 3:10.)

b. Because they were present at the creation of this world and shouted for joy (Job 38:7). It is only logical, therefore, that God would allow them to be on hand at the presentation of the Savior of this world.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Was Jesus a clone?

The following response comes from Dr. Charles Detwiler, Biology Professor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.:

Human beings will soon be able to cause a human egg cell with a somatic cell nucleus taken from another person to develop to full adulthood. This adult will be a “clone” of the original adult from whom the somatic cell nucleus was taken. If this sort of process is experimentally feasible, must we still view the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ as being dependent on a miracle? Wouldn’t a slight alteration have occurred in the womb of Mary that would allow one of her ova to commence development and to produce the body of our Lord?

Parthenogenesis, the development of unfertilized eggs to adulthood, is known to occur albeit rarely in the animal kingdom. The main problem in viewing Christ’s birth in this way, is that the offspring of this process are invariably female in gender unless the maternal parent is able to store sperm within her body. Scripture explicitly states (Luke 1:34) that Mary was a virgin—that she had not had a sexual relationship with any man. It also states (Matt. 1:25) that she had no such union until after the birth of Christ. If, therefore, it is not possible for a human sperm cell to have been within the virgin Mary’s body, and if Jesus was genetically and therefore biologically a male, clonal descent from his mother is simply not possible. There is only one possibility left.

The maternal contribution of Mary must have received sufficient genetic information to have produced a normal male body for our Savior to inhabit. This required the presence of biological information that simply could not have resided within Mary’s own genetic information. Scripture clearly indicates that this information did not find its source in the body of Joseph or any other human male alive at the time. The conception of Christ must have been, as always assumed in Christian teaching, a miracle. Jesus Christ’s body could not have been a clone of anyone present on earth at the time. Rather, in some miraculous way, the Holy Spirit of God, produced within the body of His precious “daughter” a deposit of information sufficient to generate, biologically, “the son of Abraham, and the son of David.” And in a still higher miracle that same Holy Spirit infused that body with His own Being, such that our Savior was entirely, the son of Abraham, the son of David, and the son of God.

When we consider the soul of man, genetic cloning contains its own mysteries that biologists will not by their technical methods account for or explain. But the conception of our Lord is a miracle of biological and theological proportions vastly beyond the scope and possibility both of cloning technology and normal conception of mortal human beings. Could it have been the greatest miracle ever to have come from the hand of Almighty God?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Christmas babies.

“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS … Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda”
(Luke 1:30, 31, 34-39).

Never in the history of childbirth did two expectant mothers have more to talk about than these two women.

A. Here was Elisabeth, well past the childbearing years, but anticipating a baby.
B. Here was Mary, a young virgin, but now with child. This was the case because “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

It should be noted that Elisabeth’s unborn child is referred to twice as “the babe” (Luke 1:41, 44), indicating scripture’s position on abortion. From the beginning, John was not looked upon as a developing mass of human tissue or a fetus, but as “the babe.”

But what about a therapeutic abortion? Consider the following: A therapeutic abortion occurs when a pregnant woman is persuaded (often by her doctor) that her unborn child presents an emotional or mental threat to her general well-being. Therefore, the most practical and painless solution (for the mother at least) is simply to kill the offending baby. There are two well-known instances in history in which this attitude toward unborn human life could certainly have been applied.

The first case involved that of an older woman, the wife of a respected religious leader, living in a large southern city. Present-day advice to her would have been: “Do you really feel it wise to complete this birth? Consider your age. The psychological strain upon you will be much greater than it would be on a younger woman. Then too, as an older parent, don’t you think you’ll have real problems adjusting to this infant? I mean, it might even affect your relationship with your husband. No, all things considered, it would be far better to terminate the potential problem right now.”

The second case had to do with a teenage girl, engaged to a struggling young tradesman, living in a small northern town. Here there could be no doubt. A quick abortion would immediately solve the embarrassment and downright hostility, which would certainly develop if the unborn baby was not destroyed.

Two simple and clear-cut cases for therapeutic abortion. Not quite. Could even the most calloused present-day abortion mill operator stomach the thought of Elisabeth (the older woman) and Mary (the teenager) with trembling hands and hearts awaiting the sharp instrument of some ancient abortionist?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Earth Walk

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).

In the latter part of 1971 an American astronaut named James Irwin wrote a book titled, Moon Walk which described how he had once left a beautiful and hospitable planet called Earth (on July 26, 1971), and by way of a special vehicle (Apollo 15), had, thirteen days later, touched down upon a dangerous and totally inhospitable planet known as the moon. For three days he walked its rough surface and then returned home. If rightly understood, the incarnation could well be entitled, God’s Earth Walk, for it relates the amazing story of how Jesus Christ once left a beautiful and blessed place known as heaven, where He had constantly enjoyed being worshipped by all the angels (Heb. 1:6), and by way of a special vehicle (the body being prepared for Him in Mary’s womb), had touched down upon a sin loving and God hating planet called Earth. For the next thirty-three plus years He traveled its dusty roads, agreeing to eat our food, to drink our water, to breathe our air, to go to the cross and have His face covered with our spittle, and His ears filled with our curses in order to save us from our sins! THIS IS THE STORY AND GLORY OF THE INCARNATION!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Creation Question: 1

How many false philosophies does the first verse in the Bible refute?

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).

● It refutes atheism, for creation is the work of God’s hand.
● It refutes evolution, for the universe was created and did not evolve.
● It refutes materialism, for the universe did not always exist.
● It refutes polytheism, for there is only one God.
● It refutes pantheism, for God is apart from and independent of his creation.

When did the Holy Spirit first appear on earth? Many erroneously believe he originally came at Pentecost in Acts 2, but here he is seen at the very beginning of creation.

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2).

However, a comparison may be seen between Gen. 1 and Acts 2: In Gen. 1 the Holy Spirit is seen hovering over the waters, infusing it with life and energy. In Acts 2 He did the same with the 120 believers assembled in Jerusalem.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

When can Christ come back?

Does anything have to happen before Christ returns to earth?

The surprising answer seems to be yes. One final event must transpire and that event is the adding of the last repenting sinner into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. Thus when the body is complete, the Head will appear, or, to use another scriptural analogy, the Bridegroom will come for his beloved bride. The entire book of Ephesians seems to suggest this. See especially 1:10, 22, 23; 2:21; 4:4, 13, 16; 5:22-33.

A very practical truth may be seen here. According to Acts 2, the first convert was added to the body of Christ at Pentecost. What an occasion that must have been, with 3,000 answering Peter’s “altar call.” And God had provided 120 “personal workers” to deal with them (Acts 1:15; 2:1). We know that God himself keeps all records. Perhaps someday at the judgment seat of Christ one of these 120 will hear the Master say: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. You led the first individual into that spiritual body!” If this be true, and if Christ’s coming is at hand, it is entirely possible that a soul winner reading these very words might one day hear similar words from Jesus: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. You led the last individual into that spiritual body!” At any rate, someday a soul winner will point some seeking sinner to the Savior and it will all be over!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pillars... caterpillars

Since coming to Liberty University in 1972 to establish our Bible Institute I have had the opportunity to preach in hundreds of churches. It wasn’t long before it became evident that the average congregation consisted of two groups. The smaller group (some 10-20%) were the PILLARS. These faithful members gave willingly and lovingly of their time, talent, and treasure to the work of God. They taught Sunday School, drove buses, visited the sick in hospitals and sinners in their homes. These were the PILLARS!

And the remaining 80-90%? Well, like CATERPILLARS they simply crawled in and out every three or four weeks!

It well may be Isaac Watts had the caterpillars in mind when he composed the following hymn. You’ll note the first three stanzas overview the problem involved, while the fourth stanza presents the glorious solution!

Am I a soldier of the cross? A foll’wer of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause Or blush to speak His name?

Must I be carried to the skies On flow’ry beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize And sailed thru bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace, To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign—Increase my courage, Lord!
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy Word.