Thursday, 30 August 2012

How old is the Tweed Shield Volcano Landscape?

It is claimed that both the polygonal rocks at Fingal Head, and the basalt underlay in the Mt Cougal section of the Springbrook National Park are 23 million years old - but considerably more erosion is claimed at Mt Cougal than seems evident to me at Fingal Head.

At Mt Cougal it is claimed that 5000 million tonnges (or 1.8 cubic kilometres) of rock has been eroded away from the half-kilometre think basalt underlay in the area between the waterfall lookout and the carpark just a few hundred metres down the track; while at Fingal Head, much of the exposed rocks have maintained their polygonal shape.

Both landscapes allegedly come from the same volcanic eruption 23 million years ago. The large amount of erosion at Mt Cougal appears to have been caused by a mere waterfall, while the rocks at Fingal Head have been subject to the forces of the Pacific Ocean - and yet the rocks at Fingal Head appear to have undergone considerably less erosion than the rock at Mt Cougal. Why?

Assuming they're right that the erosion at Mt Cougal has required 23 million years to occur (whoever "they" are. The plaque states the figure of 23 million years not as someone's theory but as a fact. I wondered though - how many people have devoted time to actually studying the small stretch of landscape between the Mt Cougal waterfall and the carpark a few hundred metres down the track? There are probably only 40-something universities in Australia; and of the few people who have been involved in geological research, I wonder how many people happened to have specifically studied the small landscape between the Mt Cougal waterfall and the carpark? Probably not many. So there might not have been a whole lot of peer review. Yet the plaque states the figure of 23 million as a fact, probably depending in part on the use of popularly accepted broader geochronological tools. And I'm not necessarily saying that's not academic - it was just a thought).

But be that as it may - even if they're right (right that such a magnitude of erosion in the area would ordinarily require 23 million years to occur), I'm thinking that that still wouldn't necessarily mean the landscape must be 23 millions years old. And here's why.

Science can only make conclusions about things that are observable and measurable - but it's outside the domain of science to say whether or not something extraordinary and interventional originally happened to contribute to what we now see.

If you leave it to the natural elements to blow leaves and dirt off your pavement, for example, it might take some days before it happens - but if I come along with a pressure cleaner, it can happen in a few minutes!

When Adam looked at the river in the garden in Eden, on the day he was made, and saw how it cut its way through the surrounding terrain, he might have assumed the landscape had taken a long time to form. But the truth was, God had made it all just a few days before.

Some people protest, "Why would God have deceived Adam by unnecessarily giving the earth the appearance of age!"

But it wouldn't have been to deceive Adam - it would have been to make the place liveable! You can't have a river unless the ground around the river has been carved out to hold the water - otherwise you'd have a lake, not a river! It was God's prerogative to carve out the ground for the river in a day.

Besides original creation, there was another extraordinary, interventional event - Noah's worldwide flood. The fountains of the great deep were broken up. Later the land was divided. The upheaval might have been similar to using a pressure hose on your pavement as opposed to leaving your pavement to time and the elements. Things may have happened a lot quicker than usual.

So could it be that some of the landscapes we see today around the Tweed Shield Volcanic Rim, although they may appear to be very old given currently measurable rates of erosion, were at one time subject to extraordinary and interventional original influences that more rapidly contributed to their current appearance, and that the landforms may therefore be much, much younger? It is outside the domain of science to say whether or not that can be the case.

I realise there are Old Earth Creationists as Well as Young Earth Creationists. But no matter what the process was nor how long it took, I thank God for giving us the idyllic spots by the Mt Cougal waterfall and by the beach near the Fingal Head rocks.

Now let's go swimming!

Jacob Have I Loved, Esau Have I Hated

"The elder shall serve the younger" was simply a prophecy about the future. The prophecy was not in itself the sole reason for that outcome.

It's like, if you say the Titans are going to be beaten by the Sea Eagles next Saturday, it won't later mean there weren't reasons during their game why one team lost and the other won. It won't mean your statement was the sole reason why it happened. It just means you are smart and know the outcome.

And the statement, "Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated" is a statement that was made centuries after Jacob and Esau had both lived and died.

What was Paul's point? He was illustrating the principle that the present predominant outcome in the nation of Israel relative to the Gospel was not indicative of some failure in God's promises. Rather, in the same way that God had foreseen both positive and negative outcomes for Isaac's children, similarly God had also already foreseen (in the Scriptures of the Prophets) the present outcome (that many ethnic Jews were missing out on experiencing salvation while only a remnant of Jews were receiving it). The prophetic promises hadn't failed - God had already warned that this would be the case.

"The elder shall serve the younger" didn't mean there wouldn't be reasons on Jacob's part nor on Esau's part why one would gain the ascendancy over the other. (Even before birth, the babies were already struggling with each other in the womb! God's above statement came in response to a question from their mother Rebekah about this particular trait of the boys!) Similarly, Paul wasn't saying that the Jews' own unbelief had nothing to do with the outcome. That idea would be so foreign to Paul's design in His Epistle to the Romans. Paul was just illustrating that the Prophets themselves had written of this precise outcome.

In the same way that the Sovereign God had long expressed love to the descendants of Jacob rather than to the descendants of Esau because of the behaviors of their respective ancestors, just as He had foreseen before they were even born - similarly, some Jews were now experiencing their promised salvation while other Jews were missing out, due either to their faith or their unbelief, just as the Scriptures of the Prophets had foreseen would be the case.

Even if we take Paul to mean that God chose Jacob over Esau without any respect to what their actual behaviors would later be, it still brings out this point: that it is God's sovereign prerogative to make choices upon His own basis. And when it comes to saving a soul, what was that basis, according to what Paul had taught up to this point in the epistle to the Romans? Faith! Thus Paul was illustrating that we can't complain that God set faith as the prerequisite for obtaining the promises despite the ramifications of that for ethnic Jews who did not believe. The fact that the Jews were either experiencing or missing out based either on their faith or their unbelief, was an outcome that was no less supportive of the tenets of God's sovereignty, foreknowledge, promises, prophecies, plans, prerogative, covenants, His already stated set basis, and His mercy.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Rates of Erosion of Tweed Shield Volcanic Rock

The inscription on a plaque at the Mt Cougal section of the Springbrook National Park, Queensland, claims that the landscape depicted below is the result of 23 million years of erosion.

It is alleged that in the small space between where this picture was taken and the carpark just a couple of hundred metres down the track, 5000 million tonnes (1.8 cubic kilometres) has been eroded away from a half-kilometre thick layer of basalt which flowed from the old Tweed Shield Volcano, allegedly over 23 million years ago.

The picture below shows another landform nearby at Fingal Head, NSW - a landform which it is claimed comes from the same volcanic eruption. As the lava cooled, it cracked in places, forming these vertical pillars.

Notice that apart from some rounded rock forms at their base, much of the exposed rock has so far maintained its polygonal shape - despite 23 million years having allegedly transpired, and despite being subjected to the erosive effects of coastal winds, rain and the Pacific Ocean.

And yet, up at Mt Cougal, lesser erosive forces than the Pacific Ocean - a mere waterfall - is thought to have eroded away 5000 million tonnes of the same material over the same period of time.

I need someone to explain to me how the wind, rain and a small waterfall has been able to erode away so much of the basalt at Mt Cougal, while over the same period of time, the wind, rain and the Pacific Ocean hasn't yet been able to erode away the polygonal shape of many of the exposed rocks at Fingal Head.

On the surface it seems to me that either the rocks at Fingal Head aren't as old, or the erosion at Mt Cougal didn't take that long.

Just wondering what the standard explanation for this might be.

Statement of Faith

1. There is one God

2. The trinity

3. One of God's earliest plans was to save all those who believe in Jesus

4. Then God created everything

5. All have sinned

6. God inspired holy men of God to write certain authoritative Scriptures

7. From early times God has said that He shall ultimately come again to live with the righteous and judge the wicked

8. God promised to send a Savior - and the sole basis for salvation would be faith - and He shared this promise with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

9. To this day, ethnic Israelites are beloved for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob's sakes

10. But being ethnically Jewish could never be the basis for salvation

11. Moses' Law was a temporary scheme to make all men realize their need of a Savior

12. The underlying spiritual principles expressed in Moses' Law remain consequential

13. But externally observing Moses' Law has now been abolished as a scheme for obtaining salvation

14. The true means for obtaining salvation was witnessed in the Law and the Prophets - Jesus Christ

15. In the fullness of time the Lord Jesus Christ came in the flesh, was born of a virgin, died for the ungodly, was buried and rose again on the third day, was seen of many, and ascended bodily to heaven, thus fulfilling the Law and the Prophets

16. Many Jews did not believe in Jesus, and as a consequence of their unbelief, they have entered a state of delusion and deception, along with the Gentiles who know not God, as foretold by the Prophets

17. Jews and Gentiles alike are therefore concluded to be equally in need of mercy

18. But all who believe in Jesus - regardless of ethnicity, and without being required to keep the external observance of Moses' Law - are being saved, for God loves the whole world

19. Thus in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, as also the Law and Prophets foretold

20. All who believe, by believing, share in God's predestined scheme of salvation

21. Christ is building His Church

22. Immersion in water in the Name of the Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit can follow the experience of salvation

23. Communion is symbolic of the Lord's body and blood

24. There are distinct experiences, subsequent to salvation, that may be had with the Holy Spirit

25. You can be sure a believer has been baptised with the Holy Spirit when you hear him speaking with a tongue by the Holy Spirit

26. The only scheme by which the Gentiles (the fullness of the Gentiles) and Jews (all true Israel) shall be saved, is by grace through faith alone

27. The entire Gospel era - beginning with John's Baptism and continuing until the Second Coming of Christ - is called intrinsically the last days

28. In this era ethnic Israel is experiencing tribulation; the nations are experiencing distress; and believers are experiencing persecution

29. Meanwhile the Gospel shall continue to be preached among all nations

30. And then - nobody knows the hour, day, season nor times (years) - Christ shall come

31. In the days of the last trumpet, that blessed hope, Christ shall come, dead believers shall be resurrected bodily, living believers shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, and all believers shall forever be with the Lord

32. The wicked shall be resurrected bodily, the earth shall be destroyed, the wicked shall be judged eternally

33. There shall be new heavens and a new earth wherein God shall dwell with the righteous forever!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Did God Send Strong Delusion to Some People?

The Old Testament prophesied that God would send strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.

Does this mean, as some say, that God sits up in heaven and randomly goes to one person, "I'm going to delude you so you can't believe!" while He says to another person, "I'm going to make you get saved whether you like it or not"?

To whom did Paul say God sent this strong delusion? To Jews who didn't believe in Jesus. Notice, the strong delusion was a state that God allowed to come upon Jewish individuals, not as the cause of their unbelief, but as a consequence of it.

In other words, the strong delusion didn't cause them to be unable to believe - rather, their unbelief resulted in their state of strong delusion and deception. 'Strong delusion' and deception described the state of the majority of Jewish individuals in Paul's day quite well. The majority did not accept the Messiah, and therefore they entered into a spiritually delusional state.

Thus when Paul quoted the Scripture about God sending strong delusion, he meant it as an explanation for the seeming failure of the Jewish nation to experience the prophesied promises. Their deceived state did not mean God's prophesied promises had failed; nor did it mean God had decided that no Jew could ever again be saved. It was simply the consequence of unbelief. Believers were experiencing what had been prophesied, and the unbelievers had become deceived as a consequence of their unbelief. This was an outcome which the Prophets themselves had foretold. Faith was always going to be the basis upon which God would justify a person.

Meanwhile some Jews and many Gentiles received Jesus, thus receiving all that had been promised to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Law and in the Prophets.

This state of delusion and deception did not make the unbelieving Jews any worse than unbelieving Gentiles - because the unbelieving Gentiles were already without the knowledge of God. It just put Jews and Gentiles on an equal footing - each classified as unbelievers in need of God's grace and mercy.

And if anyone discontinued his unbelief and received Jesus - he could be saved. The delusion and deception immediately lifted. Whether Jew or Gentile.

Friday, 24 August 2012


Nais kumilos ni Hesus sa ating mga pagtitipon sa pamamagitan ng Kanyang Espiritu.

Ang tangi lamang Nyang hangad ay mabigyan Siya ng panahon para makakilos sa ating mga pagtitipon. At ipinangako Niyang Siya ay kikilos!

Noong si Hesus ay nasa mundo, ang basbas na nasa Kanya ay hindi lamang para mangaral at magturo ng Banal na Salita - nabasbasan din Siya para magpagaling ng mga wasak na puso, magbukas ng mata ng mga bulag at magpalaya ng mga bihag. Ang mga bagay na yaon ay nais pa rin Niyang gawin hanggang sa ngayon! Ang kailangan lang nating gawin ay bigyan Siya ng panahong makakilos sa ating mga pagtitipon - at Siya ay kikilos.

Ayos sa Marcos 16:17: “At lalakip ang mga tandang ito sa magsisisampalataya…”

Pinangako ni Hesus na ang mga tanda ay magsisisunod sa mga magsisisampalataya. Kung nais nating makita na sinusundan tayo ng mga tanda, ang kailangan lang nating gawin sa ating mga pagtitipon ay maglaan ng oras para mapangyari ang mga tanda - at ang mga iyon ay susunod. Ang mga tanda ay magaganap.

Ang ilan sa mga tanda ay ang mga: “…mangagpapalabas sila ng mga demonio sa aking pangalan; mangagsasalita sila ng mga bagong wika…ipapatong nila ang kanilang mga kamay sa mga maysakit, at sila’y magsisigaling” (Marcos 16:17,18).

Sabi sa talatang 20: “At nagsialis sila, at nagsipangaral sa lahat ng dako, na gumagawang kasama nila ang Panginoon, at pinatototohanan ang salita sa pamamagitan ng mga tandang kalakip. Siya nawa.”

Ang mga apostol ay nangaral - kasama nilang kumilos si Hesus, pinagtibay ni Hesus ang mga pangaral sa pamamagitan ng mga tanda.

Kung nais nating makita na sinusundan tayo ng mga tanda, hindi sapat ang basta mangaral - kailangan rin nating bigyan ng panahon si Hesus na kumilos kasama natin at gumawa ng mga tanda pagkatapos nating mangaral.

Ang kailangan lang nating gawin ay bigyan ng panahon ang Panginoon na makakilos - at Siya ay kikilos! Ito'y Kanyang ipinangako!

Sinulat ni Pablo na apostol na ang kanyang mga pangaral ay hindi basta mga salita, bagkus ay kapangyarihan. Ang kanyang pananalita at pangangaral ay pinapatotohanan ng Espiritu at ng kapangyarihan (I Mga Taga Corinto 2:4).

Kung nais mong makita ang pagkilos ng Banal na Espiritu, huwag mong basta wakasan ang pagtitipon pagkatapos ng iyong pangaral. Bagkus, bigyan ang Banal na Espiritu ng panahon para makakilos.

Sinulat ni Pablo na ang Diyos ay naglaan ng mga regalong espiritwal sa Iglesya. Ang Banal na Espiritu ay nakatakdang magpahayag sa Iglesya (I Taga Corinto 12:7).

Ang kailangan lang nating gawin ay maluwag na pahintulutan ang Banal na Espiritu - bigyan Siya ng panahon - at Siya ay kikilos. Siya ay magpapahayag. Magkakaroon ng pagpapatunay.

Ang pagpapahayag ng Banal na Espiritu ay makakatupad ng mga bagay na hindi kayang makamit ng pangangaral lamang.

Ang pagpapahid o basbas ay makakapaghatid ng pagkatuto sa kasalanan, pangungumpisal, pagsisisi, pagpapatawad, pagpapagaling ng mga pusong wasak, pagkilala sa ng mga espiritu, pagpapalayas ng mga demonyo, pagpapagaling ng mga pusong wasak, pagbibigay ng mga salita ng karunungan at kaalaman, pagbibigay ng pananampalataya, mga propesiya, pagpapagaling, himala, kagalakan, pagtawa, pangitain, pagsasalita sa mga wika at interpretasyon ng mga wika.

Ang Banal na Espiritu ay makakapagpahayag rin ng mga bagong tahakin mg Iglesya ukol sa ministeryo at paglilingkod. Sa ganitong paraan nagsimula ang ministeryo ng Apostol Pablo - sa pamamagitan ng pagpapahayag ng Banal na Espiritu sa buong kongregasyon. Nais rin magpahayag ng Banal na Espiritu sa ating mga pagtitipon ngayon.

Ang lahat nang ito ay nakakapagpalakas sa Iglesya. Hangad ni Hesus na mapalakas ang kasalukuyang Iglesya. Hangad Niyang maglingkod sa Iglesya. Maglilingkod Siya sa pamamagitan ng Banal na Espiritu. At ang pagpapahayag ng Banal na Espiritu ay pinagkaloob sa iyo, sa bawat isa sa atin.

Sinabi ni Hesus: “Katotohanan, katotohanang sinasabi ko sa inyo, Ang sa akin ay sumasampalataya, ay gagawin din naman niya ang mga gawang aking ginagawa; at lalong dakilang mga gawa kay sa rito ang gagawin niya; sapagka’t ako’y paroroon sa Ama” (Juan 14:12).

Ipinangako Niya: “Kung kayo’y magsisihingi ng anoman sa pangalan ko, ay yaon ang aking gagawin (Juan 14:14).

Kaya pagkatapos mong mangaral, sabihin mo ito:

"Ama, hinihiling namin sa Pangalan ni Hesus, na isugo Mo ang Banal na Espiritu sa pagtitpong ito. Ibinibigay namin sa Iyo ang panahong ito para kumilos. Salamat po Panginoon. Amen."

Pagkatapos, ibigay mo sa Kanya ang panahon para makakilos sa buong kongregasyon. Manatili ka lang sa iyong kinatatayuan at hayaan Niyang hipuin ang buong kongregasyon. Hayaan mo ring hipuin ka Niya.

Huwag kang kumilos o magsalita ng kahit ano, malibanng pangunahan ka ng Banal na Espiritu. Huwag mong pangunahan ang kongregasyon sa pag-aawitan sa pagkakataong ito - ang pag-aawitan ay maaaring makahadlang sa mga bagay na nais gawin ng Banal na Espiritu. Hayaan lang ang Banal na Espiritu na kumilos sa paraang Kanyang nais, sa sino mang Kanyang nais, sa sinumang nais Niyang gamitin, at hanggang kailan Niya nais.

Pagkatapos maranasan ng kongregasyon ang sariwang pagkilos ng Banal na Espiritu, magkakaroon sila ng tunay na dahilan upang purihin ang Panginoon. Iyon ang tamang oras para magsimulang mag-awitang muli.

Subukan mo ito sa susunod ninyong gawain sa Iglesya, sa pagtitipon ng mga kabataan, ng mga bata, ng mga kalalakihan, ng mga kababaihan, sa panalanginan, sa pulong ng mga grupo, sa pag-eensayo ng pagtugtog, o kahit sa anumang uri ng pagtitipon.

Si Hesus ay sumasaiyo!

Padalhan mo kami ng magandang balita sa mga mangyayari!

Pagpalain Ka!

- isinalin ni D. David

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Two Witnesses

©R. Scott Clark

Bill asks,

[C]ould you give me a quick answer to who the two witnesses are in Rev 11:3, and the identity of the two olive trees and two lampstands in verse 4?
Dear Bill,

I understand the Revelation to have been given c. 93 AD as an encouragement to the suffering church (under the cross, as we used to say) between the 1st and 2nd advents and I see in the book a series of cycles, which a roughly parallel (after chapter 3). I also read the symbolism in light of the original context described in chapters 1-3, where we see the visible church suffering from informal persecution from the broader culture, from Roman authorities, from non-Christian Jews, and from spiritual, doctrinal, and moral corruption from within.

I take the Revelation, after chapter 3, as a highly, intentionally symbolic book. I doubt that the Apostle John wanted us to identify these figures or images with particular people but to understand what they represent.

The two witnesses of Revelation 11 are also the lampstands (light) and olive trees (anointing by the Spirit). They recall the OT legal standard and the pattern of the suffering of the prophets and the conflict between believing testimony to Christ and its opposition. The style and rhetoric of the book is very much colored by the OT (Hebrew) pattern of parallelism, i.e., saying the same thing in different ways. Remember, the book was initially meant to be heard. Most people could not read and wide-spread literacy was more than 1500 years in the future at the time the book was given.

Thus the witnesses/lampstands/olive trees represent those who are approved by God, speaking his Word, in a sin-darkened world that opposes Christ and his spiritual kingdom.

I hope this helps a bit.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Paano Gumana ang Pananampalataya

Kailangan nating bantayan ang ating salita at ang ating puso. Kung naniniwala tayo na natanggap na natin ang sagot sa ating dasal, hindi na natin kailangang huminging muli o magdasal muli.

Kung nag-alala tayo at huminging muli, nagpapakita ito na tumigil na tayo sa paniniwala na matatanggap natin anuman ang hingin natin. Kung naniniwala tayo na natanggap na natin iyon, dapat huminto na tayo sa paghingi bagkus sasabihin natin natanggap na natin iyon. At matatanggap nga natin iyon.

Kailangan nating siguraduhin na ang iniisip natin at ang sinasabi natin ay naaayon sa ating paniniwala na natanggap na natin kung anuman yung hiningi natin sa panalangin at matatanggap nga natin ang mga iyon.

Ang ating parte ay iyong maniwala na tayo'y nakatanggap. Ang parte naman ng Diyos ay ibigay kung anuman ang ating hiningi. Ang ating pananampalataya ay nakikita kung paano tayo manalig sa ating mga sinasabi.

- Translation by D.David

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Is to Biblical to Pray Privately in Tongues?

Paul didn't think it was impossible to pray in tongues privately (I Cor.14).

That's interesting because some assert that the only legitimate function of speaking with tongues in Bible times was so that unbelievers could hear the Gospel preached in their own language by someone who had never learned it, as a sign.

They assert that unless unbelievers understood a tongue, then the tongue itself was not true speaking in tongues. But Paul didn't see it as an impossibility that a person could pray privately in real tongues. He actually said, "...and let him..."

This seem to imply to me that the Acts 2 scenario, in which unbelievers heard their own languages being spoken, was not repeated every time people spoke in tongues in Bible times. It was not always the case that the tongues happened to be understood by some unbelievers in the audience. Often the tongues were "new tongues" or "unknown tongues" (unknown at least to the immediate audience). And that's why the gift of "the interpretation of tongues" was needed and was "set in the church" by God Himself.

If the Acts 2 scenario was always repeated in Bible times (if it always happened that unbelievers understood tongues), then the situation which Paul needed to address at Corinth could never have arisen in the first place. There would have been no need for an interpreter, and no need for someone to keep silence if there was no interpreter, if tongues was always understood.

Paul didn't tell the Corinthians to outright and absolutely stop speaking such tongues. He simply said, "If there be no interpreter, let him pray that he may interpret, or else let him keep silence in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God".

Paul didn't need to add the words, "...and let him speak to himself and to God..." if Paul really wanted to discourage the practice (of privately praying in tongues) absolutely. Paul could have just said, "...or else let him keep silence..." and left it at that. But instead, he added, "...and let him speak to himself and to God..." So Paul obviously saw at least some benefit to praying in tongues.

Seeing it was possible to pray in tongues privately in the congregation, it would also be possible to pray in tongues privately at home. Paul himself said, "I speak in tongues more than ye all, yet in the church I would rather speak with my understanding..." It seems Paul meant he spent a lot of time praying privately in tongues.

In summary:

* Biblical speaking in tongues was always a real language

* but sometimes it was a "new tongue" or an "unknown tongue" (unknown at least to the immediate audience)

* The Acts 2 scenario was not always repeated in the Bible (unbelievers didn't always understand tongues every time tongues were spoken)

* Therefore when addressing a congregation in tongues, an interpretation was to be sought

* or else the speaker was to keep silence and speak to himself and to God in the tongue. Praying privately in tongues was legitimate and edifying. It was one of the Biblical uses of tongues.

And the Bible does not say that tongues have ceased!

Comparing Literary Evidence for Jesus and Nero

Some people doubt about Jesus, but believe the accounts about Nero. Yet the surviving literary evidence for Nero's activities dates back no earlier than the literary evidence for Jesus.

No surviving first-generation literary sources have been discovered so far for Nero, only second-generation sources.

And the most relied-upon sources are precisely the same literary sources for Jesus (Tacitus and Josephus).

The literary sources for Jesus are also more in number than what have so far been discovered for Nero.

Furthermore, the best and earliest sources for Nero are contradictory on some major points (Tacitus and Suetonius).

Yet the accounts about Nero tend to be accepted with comparatively little question, while Jesus is more often doubted. I find that academically inconsistent.

What I see happening is that a small number of contradictory accounts about Nero, which by their own admission were only second-generation accounts, are largely accepted - while a larger quantity of accounts about Jesus, which claim to be eyewitness accounts and which have not been proven otherwise, are largely rejected. It seems to me therefore that Jesus should be treated at least as reliably if nor more reliably than the accounts about Nero, if the same literary rules are to be applied. If that's not happening, there must be a reason for it other than an academic reason.

When I say there are greater numbers of sources for Jesus, I'm not just talking about Biblical sources either. But I also think it's unacademic to outright reject the Bible as a source just because it's the Bible.

The four Gospels were written by different individuals, a number of whom claimed to be eyewitnesses. Even if in reality they were only second-generation accounts, as some critics ponder (without proving), the Gospels would at least be as good as the evidence for Nero which is only second-generation evidence.

And yet the Biblical evidence for Jesus (the Four Gospels), even though they are arguably better than the sources for Nero, tend not to be treated seriously as sources, simply because these four separate sources written by four separate authors were centuries later put together with other pieces of literature and together called "The Bible" - as if that somehow makes them illegitimate as sources. It's a bit inconsistent, I think.

Tongues - Prayer Language or Jibberish?

Some people believe speaking with tongues can be a "personal prayer language" - others call this mere gibberish, insisting that Biblical tongues were always understood by unbelievers in the audience. Let's look at what Paul and Jesus said.

Paul wrote that a person may "...speak with an [unknown] tongue (not with gibberish, but with an [unknown] tongue) to himself and to God (unknown at least by himself and by his immediate audience)..." - and Paul called this praying "with my spirit" (in contrast to praying "with my understanding").

It evidently often happened then in the early church that a tongue was unknown (unknown at least by the speaker and by his immediate audience) - and in such cases, rather than decry such a tongue as being mere gibberish, Paul instead exhorted that such a tongue either be interpreted (which required the supernatural gift of "the interpretation of tongues" seeing no-one present was naturally able to understand the tongue) or else Paul exhorted that the speaker of such a tongue was best to refrain from addressing the congregation in the tongue and instead speak (in the [unknown] tongue) "to himself and to God".

The fact that "no man understandeth him" did not, in Paul's estimation, make the tongue illegitimate, but meant rather that the speaker of such an [unknown] tongue "speaketh not unto men but unto God"; and then Paul added that "howbeit (meaning, nonetheless legitimately) in the spirit he speaketh mysteries (despite being an [unknown] tongue, Paul called it not gibberish but mysteries)".

This is not to assert of course that no-one today can potentially hear some gibberish, but just to add to the truth of your Post, the additional truth that even in Biblical times, a tongue didn't have to be a known tongue (at least not by the speaker or by his immediate audience) in order to be considered legitimate. (It was the manner of use of the tongue and not the tongue itself that Paul wrote to correct). It wasn't gibberish that was being spoken at Corinth - they were real languages - but the language often was not understood by the speaker nor by anyone in the immediate audience.

Interestingly, God Himself condoned that a tongue would often be unknown (unknown at least by the speaker or his immediate audience) - or else God would never have needed to "set in the church", by His own Spirit, the supernatural gift of "the interpretation of tongues".

After all, Jesus had said that the sign of speaking "with new tongues" (new at least to the speaker or to the speaker's immediate audience) would "follow them that believe".

Of course the Lord Jesus meant real languages though, not mere jibberish. But "new" and ("[unknown]") doesn't necessarily equal gibberish!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Zechariah 9:1-17

Verses 1-8 describe events which were to begin in Zechariah's not-too-distant future.

In verse 9 the predictions reach a crescendo, describing the coming of Jesus - the event in which the saving mood of the prophetic predictions under discussion find their beautiful zenith.

Verses 10-17 revert again to describing events which were to begin in Zechariah's not-too-distant future.

The mood is one of rejoicing, goodness, beauty and salvation. And Jesus is the peak of it all.

Although much of the predictions are likely now already fulfilled, the principle endures that God in His goodness has promised to ultimately deliver all His people (Jew and Gentile) from every last enemy, at His second coming - and it was Christ's first coming which procured this for us.

The predicted deliverances which have now already been experienced historically by the nation of the Jews are still God's heart for Jewish individuals and are a type not only of their present and future salvation in Jesus but also of ours.

How great is His goodness; and how great is His beauty - Jesus our Savior!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Evidence for Bible Events

One of the best evidences that the things written in the Bible are true is the Bible itself.

(Things like: what did Jesus really say? did He really do miracles? was He really crucified, buried and did He really rise from the dead?)

The Bible itself is evidence. I know that idea will be ridiculed by some, because some people seem to feel that the Bible must be rejected as evidence simply because it's the Bible.

But the reality which those people must be able to refute before they can say that, is the fact that the Bible contains eyewitness accounts of many of the events it describes. In any court of law, there is no better evidence than an eyewitness. So why disallow the Bible as evidence?

In regard to the record about Jesus, it is indisputable, from a historical and literary point of view, that the New Testament record concerning Jesus was written in the first century, by eyewitnesses, for readers many of whom could have confirmed or denied the events described and yet there was widespread acceptance of the facts as written.

That means we have reliable evidence for what Jesus said and did and for what happened to Him.

On the topic of Noah's flood and the creation account, it is evident that Jesus accepted the record of the Book of Genesis. He referred to Noah. He even quoted from the creation story. Agreeing with Jesus is therefore enough of a reason to take the Genesis record as true.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Cessationist Claims Based on Manuscript Evidence

Sometimes the cessationists' arguments based on the so-called 'earlier and most reliable manuscripts' are irrelevant or even self-defeating.

For example, a cessationist once tried to prove his beliefs by asserting that Mark 16:17-18 (which mentions tongues) does not exist in older manuscripts but was spuriously added to the text in later manuscripts. But when you think about it, that's a self-defeating argument.

If tongues had already ceased by then, no motive could have existed to spuriously insert reference to tongues in a place where no reference to tongues previously existed!

Either tongues must have still existed when the so-called 'later' manuscript was written, or else the so-called 'oldest and most reliable' manuscript must in fact have been the later of the two.

Therefore no matter which manuscript one favours, his own manuscript offers no concrete support for the dogma that tongues must have ceased.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Will All Israel be Saved?

Romans 11:25,26 is more of a soteriological explanation than an eschatological forecast.

"And so [not, and then] shall all Israel be saved".

"And so shall all Israel be saved" could mean: not, and then - but in this manner, or according to this scheme, shall all Israel be saved.

1. The Scheme:

Jews and Gentiles both concluded in unbelief. Both able to be shown mercy. Both on the same basis: by grace through faith. Potentially a mutual salvation.

2. When?

"Now". The Gentile by the Jews' hardening; the Jew by the Gentile's mercy.

3. For how long?

For how long may this scheme, where both Jews and Gentiles, side-by-side, mutually benefit from each other, and receive salvation, continue?

"Until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in" - the end of the world.

4. According to this scheme, all Israel may be saved. That is, all the believing ones.

Then Paul quotes a verse from the Prophets which showed that the Gospel would turn ungodliness away from Jacob. The believing remnant is experiencing that!