The Flood-Literal or Legend?

Series: Consider this… “A Conversational Defense of our Faith”

Lesson #3: The Flood – Literal or Legend?

Scenario: You’re in a conversation with someone about the Bible, and you begin to talk specifics. The person says, “Well, I choose a more open-minded approach than most Christians. A lot of Bible stories weren’t really literal, like a big flood and animals in a boat…that’s a bit of a stretch.” How do you respond?

 The flood described in Genesis is by far the most sweeping physical event in history. Many of our natural resources and scenery can be directly traced to this event. It is a very important part of the Biblical narrative, and worthy of study. For our purpose in this lesson, I want to consider two questions.

Question #1 – Was it a literal global flood?  

  1. Genesis chapters 6-9 describe the event with specific details, such as boat specifications, dates, timeframe, water height, limiting of animal categories to “kinds”, occupants of the boat, food provisions, Noah’s age, sources of the water, and the after effects.
  2. If the flood was literal, then we should expect to find evidence on the earth’s surface, and beneath. Observation reveals a geological record pointing to a rapidly developed, catastrophic event, not long slow deposits over “millions of years”. For example:
  • The Fountains of the Great Deep – In Genesis 7:11 God broke up (those words literally mean “ripped apart”) the fountains of the great deep. This sudden global release of subterranean water would have come with incredible heat and pressure. This alone would deliver massive cataclysmic destruction at the points of origin, on the earth’s surface, and final ground elevations. This is exactly what we see with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the Ring of Fire, mountain ranges from surface compression, and faults from plate subduction. Here are some links with details:

 http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/catastrophic-plate-tectonics

 http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/tools/flood-waters.asp

http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/PartII.html

  •  When the water began receding in Genesis chapter 8, it revealed the devastation of the flood. Today we see an abundance of formations that can only be described by an event like the flood. For example, fossils of sea creatures high above sea level, rapid burial of plant and animal life, rapidly deposited layers of sediment, the Grand Canyon, and much more. Here are some links with details:

 http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v2/n4/geologic-evidences-part-one

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/wog/grand-canyon

http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/GrandCanyon.html

 Question #2 – What difference does the Flood story make now? 

  1. God is gracious. Gen. 6:8 says, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Noah’s deliverance was based on God showing Him “unmerited favor” along with his family. Incidentally, we’re here now because of it.
  2. God honored His covenants (with Noah, saving him and his family-Gen. 6:18) & (with Himself, to never flood the earth again-Gen. 8:21-22). God always keeps his promises…to the letter.
  3. Worship is important. Noah’s first recorded act after leaving the ark was to build an altar and worship (Gen. 8:20). Based on how Noah is first mentioned, I think he worshipped regularly.
  4. Noah’s faith is a key part of the story, not just ancillary. (He acted on faith, and fear of the Lord-Hebrews 11:7). Building the ark took a long time, and considering the conditions of the culture, he no doubt heard a lot of naysayer comments.
  5. Rebellion against God is our ongoing core problem (Gen. 6:5 & 8:21). The story starts and ends with God commenting on the condition of our hearts. We cannot change ourselves, only He can do that.
  6. God’s Word is not just “kind of true” or “mostly true”, but is specifically true in every way.
  7. Sin brings God’s wrath, and the flood is referenced in the New Testament as an example (Luke 17:26-30 & II Peter 3:1-13).
  8. Christ suffered the penalty of God’s wrath for us. His redemptive work on the cross provides a way for us to have a personal relationship with Him (Rom.5:1-2, 5:8, 6:23, 8:1).

 The story of Noah and the Flood is often in children’s lessons, but rare in adult studies. The scoffers are busy spreading their message, and I encourage you to take a little time to familiarize yourself with the facts. I’ve included several websites on the Links page. With anecdotal evidence all around, we have a great opportunity to show the overarching theme of the gospel by a fascinating picture of God’s provision. What a story…what a truth!

6-Day Creation – Fact or Fable?

Series: Consider this… “A Conversational Defense of our Faith”

Lesson #2: 6-Day Creation – Fact or Fable?

Scenario: You’re in a waiting room. A conversation is prompted by the TV news story playing of a school district resisting inclusion of “Intelligent Design” in textbooks. Someone says, “I can’t believe people still want to put that stuff in school, it’s so unscientific.” How do you respond?

Genesis 1:1, John 1:3, Col.1:16, and Ex. 20:11 all clearly state that God created the earth. We’ll skip past the “Intelligent Design” phrase and cut strait-to-the-chase by asking “Does science confirm or contradict the Bible’s story of creation by God in six days?” Let’s break it down into three parts:

Part 1 – Science vs. The Bible

In 1896 Cornell University President Andrew Dickson White published a book titled A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. 1 The book launched the idea that science and Christianity were mutually exclusive. However, after years of permeating higher education, this myth is being dismantled by citing the facts, such as:

  • Prominent scientist of history perfected their methods based on the belief that God created “with order”. Men like Galileo, Pascal, Newton, and Pasteur believed His work could be studied, observed, and understood. Consider this quote from Johannes Kepler in his book Astronomia Nova De Motibus, “The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order which has been imposed on it by God, and which he reveals to us in the language of mathematics.”
  • Galileo’s mistreatment by the Roman Catholic Church during the inquisition has been used as evidence of conflict between science and Christianity. However, Galileo’s work actually affirms his commitment to scripture instead of church leaders. His study of the earth in orbit revealed God’s design of the solar system, and its magnificence. We should not fear the facts…they’re on our side!
  • A 1996 university survey revealed that 40 percent of scientist believe, not simply in God, but in a personal God who answers prayer. 2
  • It’s been said that science doesn’t support a global flood as described in the Bible. However, there is overwhelming evidence of such an occurrence, and many formations can ONLY be explained by the flood in Genesis (We’ll address that in detail during lesson 3).

  Part 2 – Young Earth vs. Old Earth

When the Darwinian Theory gained popularity in the late 19th century, theologians were caught off guard. The “evidence” of an extremely old earth caused many to formulate new doctrines in attempts to reconcile Genesis with contemporary ideas. Unfortunately, even renowned scholars of that day reinterpreted scripture to reflect these views. There are 3 major alternatives (compromises, in my opinion) that came out of that era:     

Theistic Evolution – the belief that God created the basic parts and let natural selection take over, therefore guiding the evolutionary process.

  1. This contradicts the very core of evolutionary teaching that no single source is behind the process, thus “Theistic Evolution” is an oxymoron.
  2.  The Bible teaches that death specifically came to earth through Adam’s sin (Rom. 5:12, I Cor. 15:21). The idea of millions of years of natural selection before Adam doesn’t fit with scripture. 3

The Gap Theory – the belief that there is a long gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 allowing the “millions of years”. This idea comes specifically from Thomas Chalmers of the 19th century, and was popularized by the notes in C.I. Scofield’s study Bible. 3

While it’s an intriguing idea, it doesn’t fit the context of the Hebrew. The official Hebrew Bible (our OT) The TANAKH, interprets Gen. 1:1 this way, “When God began to create heaven and earth.” As you can see, it is declarative and simply sets up verse 2 with no pause. It doesn’t describe two separate events.

The Day/Age Theory – the belief that the 6 days in Genesis 1 & 2 represent ages of time, not literal days. The idea is that for some reason, creation was a long drawn out event over millions of years, and God simply stepped in on occasion and moved it to the next age.

  1. The Hebrew word for “day” in the Creation story is “yom”. It is consistently used in scripture to mean a literal day, and the specific mention of “morning” and “evening” leaves no room for an alternative.
  2. The creation order is also problematic for this view. On the 3rd day, God created vegetation (grass, herbs, trees, etc.). The sun doesn’t appear until day 4. If day 3 was an era of time, how could vegetation survive with no sun?

In additional to these reasons, experiments measuring things like element depletion, continental erosion, lunar dust, and many more show the earth to be young, not millions of years old. 4

Part 3 – Evolution – the general belief that man has a common evolutionary ancestry with apes, and other animals

The difference between Macroevolution and Microevolution is a key component when discussing the overall theory.

  1. Macroevolution is defined as: The appearance of new traits that the ancestral population neither had nor possessed the genetic information that is required to produce them. 3 (a fish becoming a bird) This part of the theory is directly opposed to the biblical record. There is no evidence for it, and has never been observed.
  2. Microevolution is defined as: The changes in the percentages of a population that have a particular trait, which is basically adaptation. 3  This idea is clearly true, and observable. A bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, or high/weight of a group of people changing makes sense. There is room for variations in dog breeding, but it doesn’t turn a dog into a cat.
  3. The Fossil Record – Much has been made over the years of so called transitional humans. The iconic images of Lucy, Neanderthal, and others, when put to the test reveal ape skeletons, disfigured humans, or even blatant fraud.

Also too, with the modern volume of cutting into the earth, there should be massive amounts of transitional fossils, but that isn’t the case. The ones that have been found, point to the Biblical record (when properly age tested, more details in lesson 3). Additionally, there are major flaws in The Big Bang Theory, and the DNA comparisons between humans and chimps.

Conclusion: The evidence for God creating in a literal 6 day time period is vast, but we must remember Hebrews 11:6 “without faith it is impossible to please Him”. Faith is where it starts, and our words should be tempered with love. Scientific facts are our friends, but the Creator Himself should be our focus.       

There is a list of books and links for your personal study on the links page:

https://cchrisholland.com/links/

Notes:

1. Who Made God? -Ravi Zacharias & Norman Geisler (p. 49)

2. Beyond Opinion – Ravi Zacharias (p.109)

3. The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics – Ed Hinson & Ergun Caner

4. In the Beginning – Walt Brown

In the Beginning…is God Real?

Series: Consider this… “A Conversational Defense of our Faith”

Lesson #1: In the Beginning…is God Real?

Scenario: You’re at a family gathering, having a conversation with a grown niece’s boyfriend. The discussion turns to spiritual things, and when the subject of God comes up, he says, “I don’t believe the Bible’s version of God, and how things started.” How do you respond?

Of course, a good way to start is asking questions of the person, but we need to have done the same to ourselves first. For example, ask yourself these questions concerning belief of the way things started:

What do I believe?

Why do I believe it?

How can I explain it?

Naturally, the Bible is our source for truth, and doctrine, but what if the person isn’t receptive to scripture quotes? What do I say when someone simply shuts down concerning the Bible, and great verses like Gen. 1:1 & John 1:1? Do I just dismiss them? Absolutely not…regroup and start over. Consider this…

In addition to the sacred truth of the scriptures, there are 5 major arguments for God’s existence. Here are 3 of them.

 #1 The Teleological Argument: This is based on the observation that nature has such a refined level of design, sequencing, and beauty, that chance could not possibly be the author of such incredible things.

  1. Long before we had technology to see the expanse of space, David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” (Psalm 19:1)
  2. God said to Job that creation takes on form like “clay under a seal”. The earth is literally like a mark left from the signet ring of the maker (Job 38:14).
  3. William Paley in his book, Natural Theology tells the story of a man noticing two items in a field, a rock and a watch. The rock brought no special interest, just a naturally occurring thing, but the watch was different. It had obvious marks of a craftsman who shaped the metal pieces, polished the class bezel, and wound the spring. We can point to this magnificent creation as evidence of God, as opposed to random chance.

 #2 The Moral Argument: This is based on the universal recognition of right & wrong in the world.

  1. Even when there is no concept of Judeo-Christian teaching, there are behavior codes. Even in remote places, rules are in against such things as murder & theft, why? It’s because a “conscience” is hardwired into people from being created in God’s image. What makes right “right”, and wrong “wrong”? Who defined that originally? God did.
  2. Paul used the Moral Argument in two separate passages of scripture, Rom. 1:18-21 and Acts 17:22-29. He successfully shows how nature points to God’s creative role, and man’s rebellion.

#3 The Experience Argument: This is based on your personal testimony. 

  1. Description – I can describe my Dad because I know him. I can tell of his personality, preferences, and other details, because of a relationship with him. It’s the same with describing God. There are characteristics of Him beyond my ability to communicate, but that shouldn’t stop me from talking about what I know is true.
  2. Observation – In science, part of an experiment is the observation. Our life is “observable” and we should be mindful of what onlookers are observing. Over time, if our life proves consistent, then our credibility compels people to ask “How?” and “Why?”

 Conclusion: The evidence for God is overwhelming. Just like Paul in Acts 17, we hear opinions of all kinds. Mankind has many beliefs contradicting scripture, but at the core, they’re feeble attempts to approach God on human terms. Jesus said in John 14:6 that He is the only way to God, and faith in Him is the only true source of life.

There is a list of books and links for your personal study on the links page:

https://cchrisholland.com/links/

Radically Forward…

After two trips through Radical by David Platt, the question lingered in my mind, “Now what?” While leading two different groups through the small group study, there were MANY conversations. Opinions are abundant, but the only place I could find clarity was the scripture.

Since Dr. Platt’s writing pointed back to Jesus’ words, I specifically looked to the Gospels. Honestly, after dealing with the substance of the book, I needed a lifeline, and here it is. Maybe you need to pack it in your spiritual daypack too.

Reality #1: Embracing Radical brings fear.

Take comfort in this though, the Disciples were afraid too. John 20:19 tells us they were locked up, hidden, and didn’t know what to do next. Many times I feel the same way, but His voice speaks, “Peace be with you”, just like in verse 19.

Reality #2: It’s God’s plan.

In Luke’s account of this scene (Luke 24), Jesus says everything had to happen just as they did, in order to fulfill prophecy (verse 44). It was true then…and still true today. God is working His plan, not mine. I need to relax in the fact the He’s in charge.

Reality #3: Only Jesus can help us see the plan.

“And He opened up their understanding to comprehend the Scriptures.” Luke 24:45 Amazingly, I often forget the simple truth that I need Jesus to help me “see it”.

Reality #4: It’s in His power not mine.

In verse 49 of Luke 24, Jesus instructed them to wait to be “endued with power from on high” and the world was changed forever because they did! His presence and power makes ALL the difference.

Going forward in a “radical” way can be daunting, but very compelling. The great news is Jesus promised to be with us, all the way to the very end!

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