There are several phrases and themes that are used repeatedly throughout the Bible. One is these is “light” and the ongoing contrast between light and darkness.
The creation of light is the first command given by the God (Genesis 1:3). At the end of the Bible, the light of God is shown as overwhelming and casting out all darkness (Revelation 22:5). Between these two beacons, the imagery of light makes nearly two hundred appearances in the Bible. Continue reading » Let There Be Light
Psalms 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
There is a feature that most of us put a lot of stock in. This is that any maker, whether he or she be an architect, painter, sculptor, potter, metal smith, gunsmith, jeweler; any of these, will usually leave their mark upon their creations. Their seal or stamp or signature assures the owner of its authenticity and worth; it’s very quality. Usually when we know who made a thing it tells us a lot of things we want to know about the thing itself and of its standards of usefulness or quality. A valuable and very fine Rembrandt, Vermeer, or a Matisse or even a Picasso can be authenticated by the artist’s signature and if the painting lacks such an identifying mark, then it is usually worthless. We look for those identifying marks to know whose it is. Continue reading » The Maker’s Mark
On January 12, 2010 the island nation of Haiti was devastated by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. Of its nine million residents, it is estimated that 200,000 lost their lives, another 250,000 were injured, and two million became homeless. News of this tragedy was brought to our attention on a daily basis. Politicians and celebrities appealed to Americans to donate money to help the people of Haiti. All of the pain and suffering caused by this earthquake lead some to ask why God would allow such a thing to happen. Continue reading » Does God Cause Natural Disasters?
In Genesis 11:1-9 we read the familiar story of the tower of Babel. At this time in the history of man he was singular. After the flood man had a single language and seemed to inhabit one particular area, in and around Shinar. In Shinar man had the grand idea of establishing for himself a name. He proposed to do this by building a city and a tower to the heavens. Clark puts this event about 100 years after the flood and already we can see the folly of man as he again thinks of his works and ideas and seeks to establish a name unto himself.
Throughout the years of the history of man, his folly has been evident. He has built cities, established governments, overthrown the same, and all the while professed to be gaining knowledge. His search for knowledge is insatiable and while knowledge is a good thing it is also the bane of man’s existence as he has established by himself truths which are not. In Acts 26:24 Festus cried out to Paul, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” Unfortunately it is the same today. As man increases in knowledge the madness for his own knowledge is ever increasing and wasteful and leads him to foolish conclusions.
Continue reading » A Babbling Tower
Editor’s Note: Brother Roberts edits the Forest Hills church of Christ Communicator, a monthly mail out bulletin. This article appeared in the May 2004 issue of that paper. While local references are made, the principles are timely and important for all Christians to note. As such, we appreciate the opportunity to give his article an even wider reading in this issue of Watchman.
“Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”
Jesus, the wise and perfect Master Teacher was not gladly received by all who heard him. We must realize that Jesus always had the right attitude, chose the right words, expressed the truth, and spoke with clarity. But some resented the truth that he taught. “Therefore many of his disciples when thy heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?’ When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured about this, he said to them, ‘Does this offend you?'” (John 6:60-61). Without debate, we can conclude that the fault lay with the listeners, not the speaker. Jesus taught the truth and some hated him for that very reason. Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Have I Become Your Enemy?
We have preached and written at length about the contention some in the Lord’s church are making that the “days” of Genesis 1 are not to be taken as literal 24 hour periods of time. Those who make such a claim say that God’s other means of revealing himself to man, the “testimony of nature” indicates that the universe is billions of years old, and came into existence with a “Big Bang.” I never thought I would hear it, but some are saying that the “Big Bang” theory is the Christian’s friend.
It is not surprising that “Big Bang” advocates would appeal to “natural revelation”, because the Bible clearly contradicts their contentions. Even a casual reading of the Bible account reveals that God made the world in six days, and rested on the seventh. Further, in looking at the genealogies in the book of Genesis and elsewhere, it is equally obvious that the Bible teaches the world to be of relatively recent origin.
Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: Natural “Revelation”
A number of years ago, a popular series of articles ran in various bulletins and publications and were used in sermons which urged people in the denominational world to “Ask Your Preacher” where the Bible teaches….infant baptism, instrumental music, the doctrine of faith only, etc. The series was designed to raise awareness among denominational people that their preachers could not defend certain doctrines inherent in their beliefs and practices. It was an effective method of urging people to read their Bibles, examine their practices in the light of scripture, and question the preaching of those who could not provide book, chapter and verse for their doctrines.
Is the church of Christ immune to error? Should we not have the same attitude of urging our own brethren to read their Bibles, examine our own practices and question the preaching of those who do not provide book, chapter and verse for what we believe and practice? It was said of the Bereans that they “were more noble (fair minded) than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Do we get a free pass to believe and practice whatever we want since we are “the church” and “our traditions” are beyond question?
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Ask Your Preacher
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore…” (Ephesians 6:10-14).
This admonition from the beloved apostle Paul should not be taken lightly. He knew, because the Holy Spirit had told him “expressly” (pointedly, specifically) that some would “depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). He also told the Ephesians that some would be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (4:14). This warning by our brother Paul is not for his generation only, but will be as true for us as it was for them. “Winds of doctrine” will blow across the brotherhood and we must “take a stand” or be swept away with them. While there are those who are content to bury their heads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge the strange doctrines that are blowing in our day, those who pay attention to the word of God realize that winds are blowing as much today as they were in apostolic times.
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Brethren, It’s Time to Take a Stand
A Rejoinder to Marty Pickup
Editor’s Note: The following Rejoinder by Harry Osborne deals with a response by brother Marty Pickup to an article Osborne and Marc Gibson wrote entitled The Serpent That Was Not There, which appeared in the August 2003 issue of Watchman Magazine. As per the editorial policy of the Magazine, the rejoinder of brother Osborne closes the exchange.
Before reading this rejoinder, the reader is asked to read and carefully consider the original article, The Serpent That Was Not There, and brother Marty Pickup’s response. The search for truth is assisted by careful and prayerful consideration of all teaching while searching the Scriptures daily to see if the things said are so (Acts 17:11). The pursuit of truth is the purpose of this discussion and I appreciate Marty’s willingness to discuss the issues involved in an open and honorable manner. If further discussion on these issues is desired, the pages of Watchman Magazine have been offered to publish such.
Brother Pickup began his response by saying, “I apparently expressed myself very poorly,” further stating, “I greatly regret my choice of words seeing that those words have been read in such a wrong way.” While I appreciate and share Marty’s recognition that hindsight could improve our phraseology, our brother clearly stated his views both in his lecture manuscript and in his response. In the original article, brother Gibson and I understood him clearly the first time, understood him stating the same view to each of us in separate correspondence, and understood his re-affirmation in his response. Since brother Pickup regrets the words used in his Florida College lecture manuscript, it is unfortunate that he chose many of the same words and some synonyms to express the same thoughts in his response. Actually, it was not the “choice of words” that was the problem, but rather the content of the words.
Continue reading » Half Right on the Serpent and Satan
Editor’s Note: The following Response by Marty Pickup is to the article entitled The Serpent That Was Not There, which appeared in the August 2003 issue of Watchman Magazine. The article was co-written by Harry Osborne and Marc Gibson. Harry has penned a rejoinder to brother Pickup. As per the editorial policy of the magazine, the response and rejoinder completes the exchange.
In a recent article for the 2003 Florida College Lectures, I discussed Genesis 3 and the curse that God pronounced on the serpent in the garden of Eden. I apparently expressed myself very poorly, however, because some readers have drawn the conclusion that I thought the Genesis account did not record historical fact or that Genesis 3 is a myth. Nothing could be further from the truth. I greatly regret my choice of words seeing that those words have been read in such a wrong way. So let me now be very clear: the Genesis account of Satan’s temptation of Eve is completely historical in every way. The being identified in the Bible as the serpent was really in the garden and he really tempted Eve. I never intended to suggest anything to the contrary.
Continue reading » A Response by Marty Pickup
(Editor’s Note: The following articles was co-authored by Harry Osborne and Marc W. Gibson.)
Throughout history, the truth of God has been assaulted by those interpreting figurative symbols as literal history and by those interpreting literal history as figurative symbols. Premillennialists have advocated their theories by interpreting the figurative symbols of books like Daniel and Revelation as literal history. Those denying the literal, historical facts presented in the Bible have taken the opposite tack, interpreting literal facts as figurative symbols. Both have violated a simple and fundamental rule for interpreting Scripture:
“All words are to be understood in their literal sense, unless the evident meaning of the context forbids. — Figures are the exception, literal language the rule; hence we are not to regard anything as figurative until we feel compelled to do so by the evident import of the passage” (D. R. Dungan, Hermeneutics, 184).
This rule is not true because Dungan stated it in a book widely used by faithful brethren for many years, but because the rule expresses the way speakers and writers moved by the Holy Spirit interpreted the writings of others who were also inspired of God. For instance, in Jonah 1:17, the inspired writer related as literal, historical fact that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and remained in its belly three days and three nights. When Jesus gave the God-breathed interpretation of this passage, He related the account as literally true in the details recorded. Another example of the literal facts of biblical accounts being interpreted literally in other passages may be seen in the account from Numbers 21:6 of “serpents” biting the children of Israel in the wilderness wandering which the inspired apostle interpreted as being literal “serpents” (1 Cor. 10:9).
Continue reading » The Serpent That Was Not There
Approximately 3,500 years ago, the inspired scribe recorded in the book of Genesis the events which signaled the beginning of physical creation. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The first chapter of Genesis records in straightforward, concise language the origins of the universe, life, and man himself. For thousands of years men accepted at face value what the inspired writer penned, "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done" (Genesis 1:31-2:2).
The presentation of the Genesis account, together with the geneologies contained in that book present a clear history which shows the creation of the universe and the history of mankind to be of recent origin in relation to the claims of great antiquity advocated by evolutionary theorists.
Continue reading » Big Bang Advocacy (A Call to Compromise)
Editor’s Note: The following article by Daniel King is a rejoinder to a response Phil Roberts wrote to the material written by brother King, appearing in the December 2001 issue of Watchman Magazine. To view the initial material, click here. To read Phil Roberts’ response, click here.
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I read Phil Robert’s recent response to the five articles I wrote for Watchman in absolute amazement. If he is now a friend of the literal view of the Genesis account, then it needs no critics, it needs no opponents, and it needs no enemies!
It is also passing strange that everything he has accused me of, he is himself guilty of in respect both to his original lecture, and to this present brief “review” which he has written. The difference between us, as is so very obvious from his cursory response to our series of articles, is that I have shown myself completely willing to discuss these matters in a public venue, while he prefers to talk about them behind closed doors in private meetings without tape recorders or others means for verification of precisely what was and was not said. With this in mind, let me take this opportunity to renew our offer for a public discussion of these issues with one or more of the principals involved. Phil’s recent speeches and writings, along with the clear declaration of his stance on the fellowship question, now makes him one of the principals. We therefore extend the offer to Phil. If he is willing to enter into a public discussion, let us begin the process of working out acceptable propositions, terms and conditions, to that end. Continue reading » The Author’s Reply to Phil Roberts
Editor’s Note: The following article by Phil Roberts is in response to the material written by Daniel H. King, appearing in the December 2001 issue of Watchman Magazine.
In a recent series of articles published in this venue, Dan King asserts that I have rejected the literal-day approach to Genesis 1 in favor of the day-age approach. This is not true. I have a long history (including my classes this year) of presenting the various interpretations of the days of Genesis 1 and noting that I accept the literal-day approach as the most natural reading of the text, though I would not argue that it is the only possible interpretation.
I would also add here that I do not necessarily consider a brother unworthy of fellowship for considering or even accepting an alternative interpretation, as long as he respects the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. Devout conservatives, totally opposed to the theory of evolution, have, for many years, noted difficulties in the literal-day interpretation of Genesis 1, difficulties which have led them to suggest alternatives. And while I have not found any one of those alternatives convincing (gap-theory, day-age, etc.), I cannot in good conscience simply ignore the questions they raise. In this position, I stand in the tradition of a long line of brethren, including such men as David Lipscomb, W. W. Otey, and the editors of Truth Magazine in the early 1970s. Of course, these men are not my authority, but their commitment to the authority of scripture is well known.
Continue reading » A Brief Response
In a final handout to the preachers and other invited guests assembled at Florida College this summer, brother Phil Roberts, under the heading Do You Accept the Literal Sense?, persisted in his argument against believing the Genesis account of creation is to be taken literally. Regarding Genesis 1:7 and Joshua 10:12-13, he wrote, "What would a person who knew nothing about modern astronomy assume that the passages were saying? What is the "plain sense" of the passages? Would somebody who rejected the "plain sense" in favor of an interpretation adjusted to fit modern knowledge of astronomy be a false teacher?"
Continue reading » The Plain Sense of Scripture
In the next section of brother Robert’s response to my own article and the writings of brethren who maintain a literal approach to the creation week (six consecutive 24 hour days), he derides simple and straightforward principles of biblical hermeneutics. To begin with, he questions our usage of terminology such as "the normal sense of the word ‘day’." Surely he does not imply by this that words do not have what we might describe as a "normal sense"? Such talk as this reminds us of the double-talk which we so commonly hear from the modernist and liberal who does every sort of dance around the ordinary and accepted meaning of words in order to avoid what common sense would suggest is the "normal sense" of the words employed by the inspired writers of Scripture. We have become accustomed to these word-games from them, but it will take us a while to acclimate ourselves to this new hermeneutic which is presently making itself felt among our brethren. Most pronouncements which we make in our language are not subject to interpretation. They simply say what they say. It is only the occasional remark which is subject to interpretive methods, because of certain contextual features which require a second look.
Continue reading » Phil Roberts’ View of "Days"
How Many Extra Generations Needed?
The second presentation handout about which I would like to comment is a page entitled How Many Extra Generations Needed/Allowed by King’s Methodology? It begins with a relative date of 1700 BC which he claims is the "approximate date of Abraham give(n) (sic) by King." More than once in his material Phil misrepresents me on this point. He takes off from the relative date which was cited in my article: "The approximate dates for the life of Abraham obtained from the biblical data and archaeology are 2000 to 1700 BC" (p. 1). He knows that liberal critics date the life of Abraham at 1700 or thereafter, since they offer the Nuzi and Mari material cultures and their documentary evidence as establishing a late date for the patriarchal age. Phil is well enough in tune with that argument to know that I do not accept the late date for the age of the patriarchal period. Many archaeologists do, however, opt for this later time slot. That is why I mentioned it in the article — not because I accept it. Note that in our earlier quotation from Hill’s handout, Hill himself mentions a date as late as 1800 BC!
Continue reading » Speculation Gone to Seed
We shall begin our treatment of these matters with a word about our earlier article: Let it be understood that we stand by what we wrote, and are happy to offer comment upon the criticisms of others as to the soundness of our essay. Our detractors make it sound as if they wish to maintain the sacred text against the speculations of one who compromises it with observations from history and archaeology. Nothing could be further from the truth. And it assuredly sounds as if the “pot is calling the kettle black” when we read such allegations flowing from the pen of someone who is defending Hill Roberts’ views as more inherently biblical than our own! Believe it who may! No one among conservative brethren in the past half century, in my experience at least, has represented an agent of change on such matters related to science and the Bible any more than brother Hill Roberts. And his brother Phil is now publicly casting his lot with him.
Continue reading » The Biblical Chronology
In the April, 1999 issue of Watchman Magazine, this writer penned an article on The Primeval Chronology wherein we reviewed an essay under the same title by Dr. William Henry Green of Princeton University, which appeared originally in the journal Bibliotheca Sacra in April of 1890 (more recently reprinted in Classical Evangelical Essays in OT Interpretation, edited by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Baker: 1980). The general topic of discussion was the question of what the age of the earth actually might be, especially in relation to Archbishop Ussher’s date of 4004 BC (or his alternative date of 4138 BC). We asked, “What is the foundation of a chronology of this sort? It is the assertion that the chronologies of Genesis 5 and 11 do not allow more than a few thousand years from Adam to Abraham” (p. 1).
This being the assumption which underlies Ussher’s date, in that brief article we set out to discuss the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 under the guidance of Green’s helpful dissertation. At the time the material was not viewed as particularly controversial or even important, because most everyone assumed that the points made in it were fairly simple and non-threatening, and especially so since everyone seemed to agree on that which was the basic thrust of the material. Certainly, no one raised public objection to that article at the time. And I received no correspondence taking issue with that study. This is so, I believe, because in my experience as a preacher and teacher of the Word, I have yet to encounter anyone who seriously entertains the propriety of Archbishop Ussher‘s chronology. This does not mean that they do not exist, it just means I have not run into them yet. I am sure they are out there! But they are rare, of that I am certain from my own experience.
Continue reading » The Seminar at Florida College