Your E-mails: January 2022

Your E-mails: January 2022

In issue 1650 you asked the question ‘Does the Bible encourage violence?’ Yes it does. Proverbs 23:13: ‘Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.’ The Bible encourages violence against children! Ed WHY IS IT THAT parents and carers— those who should be looking after children—become violent towards them? There may be various reasons. Life can be stressful, and sometimes people will vent their frustration on their children (because they’re an easy target). Children can be exasperating and can drive their parents to lash out at them. There are some people who simply take satisfaction in bullying those who cannot retaliate. Whatever the reason, violence against children is always horrible. The Bible advocates physical discipline. (Often this is known by the general term ‘smacking’.) This is entirely different from violence, and it is unhelpful when the two are confused. Children

Saving Your Life

Saving Your Life

CONSIDER THIS: if you were suffering with a life-threatening illness and you were offered a medicine which was a known cure—would you not take it? The Bible offers a cure that will save your life. And more than that, this cure can give you eternal life. How can this be, you might ask? Let’s look at how the Bible, the Word of God, promises eternal life in a perfect world. To do this we must examine a few passages to see what this entails. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he

The Bombardier Beetle

The Bombardier Beetle

A BOMBARDIER is a type of soldier. The bombardier beetle was given its name because of the intricate and deadly mechanism in its tail with which it defends itself. At the end of the beetle’s tail is a tube 1, which is basically a gun barrel. Behind the barrel is a chemical factory. A pair of glands 2 manufacture hydroquinine and hydrogen peroxide, which are stored in reservoirs3. When the beetle wants to open fire these chemicals are loaded into a combustion chamber filled with water4, and mixed with two other chemicals—catalases and peroxidases— which are secreted by glands in the transfer duct5. This causes a reaction which instantaneously heats the water in the combustion chamber and causes it to be ejected as a boiling spray of noxious steam. The spray can reach to 200 times the beetle’s length, and can be aimed in any direction with pinpoint accuracy. It is a superbly

Why We Can Believe in Jesus Christ

Why We Can Believe in Jesus Christ

MOST SERIOUS HISTORIANS agree that Jesus of Nazareth really did live in Israel, some 2000 years ago. His life and work are well recorded in contemporary historical records. Here we will consider two sources of evidence: the records of the Bible’s New Testament, and the writings of secular commentators. We also want to consider why his resurrection from the dead changed the world. The Gospels The four New Testament Gospels were written in the years following Jesus’ life on earth, and in all probability before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70ad. We can see this from the local landmarks they mention, from the ruling figures they mention, and the events they reference which are well documented elsewhere. The Gospels are eyewitness records, written well within the lifetimes of people who experienced Jesus’ work first-hand. Some of these people would have been friendly to the cause of Christianity, most would have

Acts

Acts

THE WRITER IS Luke, who reminds us that he has previously written—in his Gospel— of ‘all that Jesus began to do and teach’ (Acts 1:1). The book of Acts starts with Jesus’ ascension to heaven (1:9), and shows how Jesus was still at work after his ascension in the spread of the Gospel by his followers. Chapters 2–12 show how, with God’s power (the Holy Spirit), Christ’s apostles preached the Gospel in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. The preaching was so effective that thousands believed and were baptized (2:41, 47; 5:14; 11:24). In Jesus’ name the apostles also performed miracles. Their message always concerned ‘the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ’ (8:12; 19:8; 28:23, 31). It was a message rooted in Old Testament history and God’s promises to the fathers of Israel, but it was now based on the work of Jesus Christ and not the Law of

The Journey Begins

The Journey Begins

IMAGINE THE ATMOSPHERE at school on the last day of the summer term. There is a special air of bubbling excitement as the books are closed for the last time and the sweet freedom of the holiday beckons. Imagine, then, the feelings of the people of Israel, as Moses led them out of Egypt. All their lives they had slaved under the unremitting burdens of the Egyptians, with not even a break at weekends to make Iife bearable. To escape from that miserable bondage was Iiving out a dream. Moreover, Moses promised them that before long they would cross the desert and take over a prosperous land, ‘flowing with milk and honey’ (Exodus 3:8), where each of them would have their own smallholding and work for themselves. It really was too good to be true. The laughter, dancing, and happiness were a totally new experience for God’s suffering people. On

Thankfulness

Thankfulness

PSYCHOLOGISTS tell us that being thankful is good for our health. It actually has measurable benefits, from strengthening your immune system to lowering your risk of heart disease. The very act of counting your blessings and expressing thankfulness will boost your wellbeing—even if you don’t actually have anyone to be thankful to. I have to admit, to me it does seem bizarre to say thankyou if there’s nobody listening. But thankfulness comes easily and naturally when you understand two basic truths: firstly, God is the giver of all we have (James 1:17); and secondly, God is always listening (Philippians 4:6). This is just one of the many ways in which faith in God makes so much sense. It’s no wonder then that thankfulness is presented in the Bible as a fundamental aspect of life: Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever!

Your E-mails: December 2021

Your E-mails: December 2021

I’m concerned about having the Covid vaccine. What does the Bible say? THE BIBLE DOESN’T of course give direct instructions about vaccinations, so we need to look at the principles which will guide the decision we make. One principle is that your body is a gift from God and the Christian must take care of it (1 Corinthians 6:19). So the first question is, are the vaccines beneficial? There are suggestions that they have not been properly tested. There are also conspiracy theories which allege that they are harmful, and even that they are part of some sinister plot against the population. Before we take these theories seriously we should look into their sources and weigh them against the evidence. The consensus is that Covid is a real and devastating disease, and the vaccines offer protection against it. They do have known side effects, as do all vaccines, but the

Plague, Pestilence, Pandemic

Plague, Pestilence, Pandemic

PLAGUES FEATURE WIDELY in the Bible: some are caused by God to further His purpose, for example the plagues on Egypt in the book of Exodus. Infectious diseases are a fact of life, they have been suffered by humankind throughout our history. Recently we have learnt how to effectively control their spread by more advanced medicine, antiseptics and vaccinations. So the Covid 19 pandemic came as a huge shock to most of us. We did not realise that we were so vulnerable in our modern world. Many people will ask, “Why does God allow such suffering to happen?” Our world is not a perfect one but its imperfection is the result of our disobedience in the first place. God gave Adam and Eve the choice to obey or disobey Him. They chose disobedience, and its consequence was mortality. God said to Adam: Because you have listened to the voice of

The Passover

The Passover

ON MARCH 30th 1956, the peninsula of Kamchatka in the far east of Russia was rocked by a tremendous explosion. With an energy equivalent to 40 billion electric fire bars, the great volcano Bezimianny literally blew its top. Within seconds millions of tons of rocks, reduced to fine powder, shot into the stratosphere at twice the speed of sound. Later that afternoon a strange thing happened. As the dust began to drift back out of the sky, the daylight faded. Soon a darkness fell over the surrounding cities, so impenetrable that you could not see your own hand, not even holding it close to your face. People returning from work groped about in the streets, searching for their homes. They were disorientated and terrified. To the Egyptians in the time of Moses, the ninth plague that God brought upon the land must have been a similar experience. We are not