October 12th, 2012 by Christine Colbert

The creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to decay and death into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.     Romans 8:21

Our online dictionary includes this definition for the word “Hebrew”:

ORIGIN: from Old French Ebreu, via Latin from late Greek Hebraios, from Aramaic ‛i b ray, based on Hebrew ‛i b rî — understood to mean ‘one from the other side (of the river).’

Abraham’s descendants’ escaping from Egypt and, with divine Providence, rushing across the “parted” Red Sea certainly do come to mind. Hebrew = one from the other side — or, as this is sometimes expressed, “one who crossed over.” The Red Sea is a long, narrow, land-locked sea; in some ways it is more like a river. Further, Joshua would much later lead the Israelis into the Land by crossing the Jordan River near Jericho.

When we visited Israel a couple of years back, we learned that “Bethlehem” means in Hebrew “house of bread.” He who has been referred to as “Panis Angelicus,” Bread of Angels, the ultimate “manna,” the one who illustrated His “body, broken for you” with bread — was born in the House of Bread!

Yeshua’s kind of “bread” differs from the ordinary kind, however. When we eat ordinary bread, it becomes us, so to speak. But when we appropriate Christ, we become increasingly like Him through the new birth.

Jesus spoke of the importance of being “born again” to Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and had come to Him at night in the hope of not being seen by his own colleagues. When we think about the definition of “Hebrew” meaning essentially “one who crossed over,” the word itself seems to speak of this new birth — in addition to Israel’s exodus. Consider Abraham, Rahab, and Ruth. They left their very different former lives to become Israelis — to “cross over” to a new and unknown life; they somehow summoned the faith to move toward this new life in preference to what was familiar. They sensed something better; they crossed over.

In Isaiah we find the stirring words, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; can you not perceive it?” We find a paraphrase of the first part of this statement in Revelation: “Behold, I make all things new.”

Astrophysicists tell us that more than 200 finely-tuned characteristics of Earth reveal that the universal stage was set in advance for us — for billions of years. And that Earth is in a unique place and time parameter that enables us to observe these exquisite elements of design. A personal Creator had you and me in mind.

Scientists who have also studied Scripture recognize in it a setting forth in several texts — not only in those in Genesis 1 — of the astonishingly-unique process of setting the stage for our world for the very purpose of creating — not suns, but sons.

When He was physically present with us, Jesus often referred to Himself as “the Son of man.” He is described this way in the fiery-furnace story in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament as well. But after the resurrection His description, in the epistles for example, consistently becomes “the Son of God.”

“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ  appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He really is. And all who have this hope will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure.”    (1 John 3:2,3)

The goal that Jesus put before Nicodemus is the same one He puts before you and me — to become citizens of the newer creation that “eye has not seen and ear has not heard.” The one in which weapons will have been transformed into garden tools that facilitate life. In which there will be no more killing or evil or death. No animal predation. No sickness or sorrow or night. The perfect creation — as God would design it.

“You must be born again,” Jesus told Nicodemus, the apparently wise, older man.

“Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness — without it no one will see the Lord.”    (Hebrews 12:14)

God’s love and mercy are freely extended to all. He waits as long as He can. His desire is that as many as possible will enter the Kingdom of all things new.

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May 6th, 2011 by Frank Turek

Editor’s Note: Originally published on TownHall.com , used with permission. Frank Turek is a speaker and author, and a leading Christian apologist. Learn more at his website www.CrossExamined.org.

It’s easy to spot militant atheists who attend my presentation called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. They usually sit with their arms folded and scowls on their faces. During a recent presentation at Michigan State, I knew I’d get push back from one such scowling student sitting to my right. He looked mad and was mad. (He wouldn’t even smile at a hilarious Homer Simpson clip!)

He shot his hand up during the Q&A and yelled out, “You mentioned the problem of evil during your presentation but you didn’t answer it! If there is a good God, then why does evil exist? Why doesn’t God stop it?”

I said, “Sir, that is an excellent question. Sometimes I bluntly answer this way. ‘If God stopped all evil, he might start with you . . . and me because we both do evil every day.’ To end evil on earth God would have to take away our free will. But if he takes away our free will, he takes away our ability to love as well. Allow me to show you a video that beautifully illustrates this in less than two minutes.” I then played this outstanding video (developed by my friend and fellow seminary graduate, Jim Zangmeister), which traces evil back to free will.

Most in the audience appreciated the clip and applauded. But the atheist was unmoved. “Why do babies die, why do tsunamis occur? These aren’t the result of free will!” he protested.

“True, they are not the result of someone’s free will today,” I explained. “But Christianity traces all of our trouble back to a free will choice by Adam. As a result, we live in a fallen world where bad things happen, but God takes the initiative to bring good from evil. In fact, you can sum up the entire Bible in one word—redemption. Paradise lost in Genesis is paradise regained in Revelation. God initiated and achieved this redemption by sending Jesus Christ who suffered and died on our behalf. So we can question God about suffering as the biblical writers did, but God didn’t exempt Himself from it. Jesus was the only completely innocent person in the history of the world, yet he suffered horribly for our redemption. He brought good from evil.”

The atheist didn’t like that either. He interrupted me several times, so I finally asked him, “Are you an atheist?”

He refused to answer but then blurted out, “It doesn’t matter!”

I said, “It does matter because if you are an atheist (I later learned from his blog he is), then you have no grounds by which to judge anything evil. Objective evil doesn’t exist unless objective good exists and objective good doesn’t exist unless God exists. You can have good without evil, but you can’t have evil without good. In other words, the shadows prove the sunshine. You can have sunshine without shadows, but you can’t have shadows without sunshine. So evil doesn’t disprove God—it actually shows there must be a God because it presupposes Good. Evil may prove there’s a devil out there, but it doesn’t disprove God.”

The atheist persisted, “But if God exists, why do some babies die such horrible deaths?”

Well, if the atheist is granting that God exists, then he has a valid question. While he can’t explain evil and suffering from his atheistic worldview, I need to explain it from mine.

My explanation went this way. Although I know why evil in general occurs (see the video), I don’t know why every specific evil occurs. But I know why I don’t know why—because I’m finite and can’t see into the future. Since God is infinite and can see all the way into eternity, he may allow evil events that ultimately work together for good. In other words, he can still bring good from evil even if we can’t see how.

To illustrate, I referred back to the classic Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” That’s where George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, falls on hard times, becomes despondent and tries to commit suicide. He’s saved by an angel and is permitted to see how life in his town would have turned out if he had never existed. George sees that everything would have turned out far worse without him, and thus realizes that even though evil infects life, good can prevail in the end. George could only see this with God’s timeless perspective. Only God can see how trillions of free choices and events can interact ultimately for good even if some of them seem hopelessly negative at the time. (In fact, that’s one reason why God told Job to trust him.)

At that point, a man sitting ten feet from the atheist raised his hand.

“Go ahead, sir.”

He first looked over at the atheist, then back at me and said, “I know of a young woman who was raped and became pregnant. The rape nearly destroyed her.” His voice began to crack . . . “But she decided that she would not punish the baby for the sin of the father. She later gave birth to a baby boy.” (By this point he was weeping openly.) “And that boy grew up to be a pastor whom God has used to help bring many people to Christ. He ministers to people to this day. That boy grew up to be me.”

He then looked back at the atheist and said, “My mother turned evil into good, and God can too.”

The atheist left immediately after the event ended, but I did get to meet that brave pastor who spoke up. His name is Gary Bingham, and he’s the pastor of Hillside Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana. Gary told me that his mom had self-confidence issues for many years but is doing much better since becoming a Christian a few years ago. I thanked him and asked him to let his mom know that she touched many for good that night. I hope through this column she has touched many more today.

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