AM: According to the Gospels Jesus was crucified, but in Acts 5:30 Peter says that he was hanged on a tree. Did Peter get it wrong? Ed: JESUS CHRIST died by crucifixion. This was a form of capital punishment which the Romans tended to use for the lowest criminals, and is possibly the most excruciating method of torture ever invented. The victim of crucifixion was hung on a ‘cross’. This is traditionally understood as a stake fixed upright in the ground with a cross-piece to which their hands were fixed. Actually when our English Bibles use the word ‘cross’, they are translating the original Greek word ‘stauros’ which simply means a stake or post. Some historians believe that crucifixion involved just the stake, without the cross-piece. The cross is at the heart of the Gospel message. Not the object itself—that was not important, and anyway no one knows what it
WE ARE ALL PRETTY FAMILIAR with ‘price inflation’. Generally the price of an item (a bottle of milk for example) will rise over time. It’s not a universal rule—you can also get periods of stagflation or deflation, but in general prices rise. You might be surprised to know that inflation has been around for a very long time. It was operating in Bible times. And you might be more surprised to learn that we can use price inflation to check that the Bible narrative is true and accurate. That it was written when it claims to have been written, and that the events fit the period to which they relate. The Price of Milk Let me illustrate how this works. Suppose for example I shared with you a newspaper article claiming to have been written in Britain in the 1960s and covering events from that period. In this article it
AT THE OUTSET, we need to realise that God loves the world with an everlasting love: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). Salvation has come to humanity by means of Jesus Christ. It is the gift of God: ‘In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself’ (2 Corinthians 5:19). Human Wickedness God has given everyone the opportunity to choose between right and wrong, good and evil. He has promised everlasting life to those who choose to follow His way. Sadly, we often make the wrong choice. We ignore God’s principle of love. Down the centuries, millions have died in countless wars. Wars start because of human pride and greed (James 4:1–3). God is not to blame. Hunger, too, has brought suffering to millions. Yet one nation selfishly hoards food
LOOKING FORWARD in time to the life of Jesus Christ, the prophet Isaiah wrote: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this (Isaiah 9:6–7). Among these majestic titles there are two which sometimes cause confusion. Why is it that Jesus is referred to as ‘Mighty God’ and ‘Everlasting Father’? This passage is often used to support the idea that Jesus Christ is part of the Trinity—that is, he is God.
LUKE WAS A DOCTOR (Colossians 4:14). As well as his Gospel he wrote the Acts of the Apostles. He records names, places and events with meticulous care, showing Jesus as both Son of God and Son of man. His birth in Bethlehem was announced by the angels as ‘good news of great joy’ to all (Luke 2:10). Jesus was also proclaimed by the angel Gabriel as the heir to the throne in Jerusalem where David once ruled (1:32–33). He will bring peace among men (2:14). But before he takes his throne Jesus had to become a Saviour from sin. Luke portrays Jesus as a man of prayer and records how he ‘set his face to go to Jerusalem’ where he was to die (9:51; 17:11; 19:28, 37, 41, 45). Jesus foretold that the temple and the city of Jerusalem would be overthrown, which happened in 70 ad—yet he will return
IN THE Northamptonshire village where we live there are some very unusual walls. Some are garden walls, surrounding flower beds and lawns. Others form the sides of houses. All of them are centuries old. When you look at them closely, you see they are made of mud and chopped straw. In fact, our village walls have a strange connection with the life of the Israelites in Egypt in the time of Moses. They are made of just the same ingredients as the bricks the Israelites were forced to make for Pharaoh. There are examples of Egyptian bricks in the British Museum in London, complete with the official stamp of the Rameses brickworks—bricks which date back to the time of the Exodus and could easily be the very ones handled by Moses’ brothers as they bowed under the lash of the overseers. The composition is clearly visible. You may be puzzled
YOU HAVE TO ADMIT, the Bible says some difficult things. For example when God brought the nation of Israel into the Promised Land He told them to wipe out the native population: ‘When the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them’ (Deuteronomy 7:2). Some would call that genocide. The Law of Moses includes the death penalty for certain crimes. For example, ‘Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death’ (Exodus 21:12). Some would call that barbaric. Because of these things there are those who dismiss the Bible as irrelevant and even dangerous. It’s a genuine concern, and we need to face up to it. The Bible says ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8). How can this be true, if