Better Or Worse? ,Be strong and of good courage… fear not, nor be dismayed; for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee

You must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of. —2 Timothy 3:14

At the beginning of each new year, experts give their predictions about the economy, politics, weather, and a host of other topics. Will there be war or peace? Poverty or prosperity? Progress or stagnation? People everywhere are hoping that this year will be better than last, but no one knows what will happen.

There is, however, something we can be certain about. A guest speaker at my church suggested that when we ask if the world will get better or worse, the answer is “Yes, to both!”

Paul told Timothy, “In the last days perilous times will come; . . . evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them” (2 Tim. 3:1,13-14).

The inspired Word of God instructs, corrects, and encourages us as we follow God’s path (vv.16-17). J. B. Phillips described the Scriptures as our “comprehensive equipment” that prepares us fully for all branches of God’s work.

As the spiritual darkness of our world grows deeper, the light of Christ shines more brightly through all those who know and love Him. Jesus is our joy and hope—today, tomorrow, and forever! By David C. McCasland

Heavenly Father, the trouble in this world can
divert our eyes from You. Thank You for Your Word
that helps us stay focused. May we find our delight
in Your love and share it with others today.

The powers of evil around you are no match for the power of Jesus within you.

Be strong and of good courage… fear not, nor be dismayed; for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.—1 Chronicles 28:20.
That we should serve in newness of spirit.—Romans 7:6.

HELP us, O Lord! Behold we enter
Upon another year today;
In Thee our hopes and thoughts now centre,
Renew our courage for the way,
New life, new strength, new happiness,
We ask of Thee; oh, hear, and bless!
JOHANN RIST.

THE year begins; and all its pages are as blank as the silent years of the life of Jesus Christ. Let us begin it with high resolution; then let us take all its limitations, all its hindrances, its disappointments, its narrow and commonplace conditions, and meet them as the Master did in Nazareth, with patience, with obedience, putting ourselves in cheerful subjection, serving our apprenticeship. Who knows what opportunity may come to us this year? Let us live in a great spirit, then we shall be ready for a great occasion. GEORGE HODGES.

Walk cheerfully and freely in God’s service. ST. TERESA.

Building Wise Friendships

Proverbs 17:17; 18:24

Genesis 2:18 contains some of God’s first words regarding His creation of the human being: “It is not good for man to be alone.” This truth still applies. Throughout history, people have sought companionship, though sometimes the focus has been on quantity rather than quality. Even if we count hundreds as pals, we can still be lonely. Wise relationships are built slowly and with significant effort, affording us time to nurture only a small number of loyal friends. But it’s these true friends, not mere acquaintances, who will delight and motivate us throughout life.

In order to develop wise friendships, we must love sacrificially. A relationship that grows out of selfishness or dependency will die as soon as the other person tires of the lopsided arrangement. But two individuals committed to giving without expecting anything in return will develop a mutually beneficial friendship. They serve one another gladly, valuing the other’s desires and needs above personal wants.

Even in loving relationships, however, emotional and psychological injuries can occur. We all make mistakes. But thankfully, everyone who follows Jesus Christ has experienced pure pardon. We should, therefore, be prepared to ask forgiveness and be forgiving.

Only by modeling Christ in our life can we truly commit to a friend’s spiritual growth. As we practice biblical principles, we will be able to encourage our friend to pray and meditate on the Word of God. The commitment to love, forgive, and motivate another person results in a wise and joyous friendship.

Creation and the New Year

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

It is appropriate for Christians to begin the New Year by referring back to the beginning of the very first year. The first verse of God’s Word is also its most important verse, since it is the foundation on which everything else is built. Even God’s great work of salvation is irrelevant and futile without His prior work of creation, for only the Creator of all things could ever become the Savior of all things.

If a person really believes Genesis 1:1, he or she should have no difficulty believing anything else in the Bible. The very first object of saving faith (Hebrews 10:39) is the fact of special creation by the word of God (Hebrews 11:3).

The verse is comprehensive and scientific, viewing space (“the heavens”) and matter (“the earth”) as functioning in a framework of time (“in the beginning”). This space/matter/time “continuum” (as scientists call it) has not existed eternally, nor is it still being created, both of which heresies are standard beliefs of all forms of evolutionary pantheism (including most of the world’s religions and philosophies, ancient or modern). It was created—and even completed in the past.

This foundation of all foundations is, clearly, the only sure foundation upon which one should build a life, or an organization, or anything. A firm renewal of one’s commitment to special creation, as literally recorded by divine revelation in the inerrant Word of God, is thus the proper way to begin a New Year, or a new home, or a new career, or a new family, or any phase of a Christian life. This is the time to confess and forsake all doubts and trust God’s Word! In the beginning of the first year, God created all things. At the beginning of this year, we should resolve to believe and obey all things in His Word. HMM

Jesus Devastates an Old Earth

millions-of-years

Introduction: Blindsided into Debate

I was attending a Christian conference and staffing an Answers in Genesis booth. As I walked around to look at the other booths at the beginning of this conference, a man quickly came up to me (from his booth), even though there was a crowd waiting to speak with him. He evidently felt the need to confront me (in front of the crowd at his booth) because he saw that I was wearing an Answer in Genesis conference badge.

In a hostile tone, the first thing out of his mouth was something akin to, “Is Answers in Genesis here at the conference? Well, I guess I am going to have to find your booth and set you straight about the age of the earth!”

Perhaps you are thinking, “I’m glad I wasn’t in that situation.” Well, I don’t like those situations either! But for some reason, I tend to be in the middle of debates way too often. What ran through my head was, “How did I get myself into this situation? I was only walking through the conference halls!” But I realized there was crowd of people staring as this man began his diatribe, so there I was, blindsided and thrust into a debate.

Needless to say, 2 Timothy 2:24–25 and 1 Peter 3:15 say to always be prepared to give an answer and be ready in season and out of season to rebuke and correct with gentleness and patience. I realized this “out of season” debate was going to occur, but I still need to do it with gentleness, while being bold.

My Response

I asked this man, “In the context of the first marriage between Adam and Eve, do you think Jesus was wrong in Mark 10:6 when He said that God made them male and female at the beginning of creation? Or do you believe that the creation has been around for 13 billion years and marriage first came about at the end of creation a few thousand years ago with Adam and Eve?”1

For the reader, allow me to explain why I asked the question this way. If you start with the Bible, Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day of creation. So Adam and Eve were created about five days after the initial creation event on Day One. Then if you add up the genealogies from Adam to Jesus you get a few thousand years (about 4,000 years). Most chronologists agree on this point.

But all Christians who have bought into an old earth have much more than 4,000 years between creation and Christ. They insert about 13.7 billion years between the creation event that they call the big bang and the marriage between the first human male and female. They further state that Adam and Eve only showed up a matter of thousands of years ago. So all old earth scenarios have marriage (between a human male and female, which first began with Adam and Eve) about 13 billion years after creation, which is the end of creation, nowhere near the beginning of creation.

Returning to questioner, it was apparent that he was not ready for that question. What I did was contrast his stated position against what Christ had said. And this man knew it right off the bat. So did the crowd watching. They wanted to hear his answer, and so did I.

Realizing he was trapped in a “catch-22,” this man immediately changed the subject to talk about what secular scientists believe about the age of the earth. I wasn’t going to let him do that. He needed to address what Jesus said.

So I again kindly asked, “Was Jesus wrong in your view?” This man, who was so confident and aggressive, began to squirm right where he stood. And he responded, “I don’t want to deal with that.”

That is the crux of the issue: either you trust God’s Word, or you don’t.

At this point, I concluded our conversation by saying, “That is the crux of the issue: either you trust God’s Word, or you don’t.” Hopefully, it was apparent to the crowd that this man was not standing on what Christ said in His Word but was clinging to outside influences and did not want to address what Christ had said. Frankly, I was nervous, but I was being bold and seeking to be kind and gracious.

Why Is Mark 10:6 So Powerful?

Jesus said the following in the context of marriage and divorce:

But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ (Mark 10:6)

And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’” (Matthew 19:4)

If one believes Christ is Lord and is dedicated to following the words of Jesus, then accepting millions of years becomes an enormous problem. According to any old-earth and old-universe scenario, many billions of years ago the creation began, and man only arrived on the scene a matter of thousands years ago. How could any professing Christ-follower think that Jesus was in error and that marriage between that first man and a woman (which Jesus clearly believed were Adam and Eve because in the context of Mark 10:6 he quotes from Genesis 1 and 2) only happened at the tail end of 13 or so billion years?

Jesus, the Creator, makes it clear that the first marriage between man and woman (Adam and Eve) came at the beginning of creation. From the chronological information given in Genesis 5 and 11 and in other biblical passages, Jesus was speaking about 4,000 years after this creation.

Since the days in Genesis are regular 24-hour days and Jesus was speaking about 4,000 years later,2 then the first marriage on Day Six was at the beginning of creation, speaking in non-technical language as Jesus was. If the earth is indeed billions of years old, then the first male and female came nowhere near the beginning of creation but the tail end of creation. This is a major theological problem because it calls into account the truthfulness of Christ in any old-earth/old-universe scenario.

Possible Responses to Mark 10:6

Those who religiously and unquestionably believe in the evolutionary timescale over against God’s Word, yet profess Christ as Lord, have tried to respond because they understand this is a devastating argument from Christ Himself against a “billions-of-years-ago” creation. Of course, the man at the conference did not want to give an answer, but others have tried. There are three common responses that need to be examined.

1. Some say biblical creationists have the same problem by appealing to Mark 10:6 because Adam and Eve were created on Day Six, not Day One of creation, which they claim is the “beginning of creation.”

2. Some insert words into Mark 10:6 to change the meaning to “beginning of the creation of marriage.”

3. Some suggest that beginning is referring to an entire figurative “six-day” creation period or Creation Week
regardless of its length.

Looking at Response 1

This popular response by some theologians was dealt a fatal blow by Dr. Terry Mortenson.3 But let’s consider it briefly here. The argument incorrectly makes the assumption that the “beginning of creation” means the “first day of creation.” The Bible doesn’t say Day One of creation; it says the “beginning of the creation” (or simply, “the beginning” in the parallel passage of Matthew 19:4).

If you were to watch a movie and then tell a friend about the beginning of the movie, would that consist of the first word or frame of the movie only? Absolutely not; it would be a range of time surrounding the beginning of the movie and the events that get the movie going.

There are other places in the New Testament that affirm “the beginning” was near the events of the beginning that range from the absolute beginning to the events that even occurred soon after Creation Week, such as the fall into sin. Let’s look at some of these:

– The absolute beginning: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1–2).

– Upon the creation of Adam and Eve (the first marriage): “He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so’” (Matthew 19:8).

– After the “very good” creation was completed (Genesis 1:31) but prior to Adam’s sin: “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

– After sin entered the world so that tribulation can be possible: “For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be” (Mark 13:19).

The point is that the entire Bible stands or falls on Christ’s truthfulness.

If an old-earth proponent uses response 1, then he is conceding that Jesus was wrong. But can Jesus err? No. But for the sake argument, if Jesus erred on this point, then perhaps Jesus erred in passages concerning salvation. If this were the case, then it would undermine the gospel, which a professing Christian claims to believe. The point is that the entire Bible stands or falls on Christ’s truthfulness.

Looking at Response 2

Who is fallible, sinful mankind that he should try to add to Scripture to change the meaning of that Scripture in order to “correct” God’s Word to fit with man’s fallible ideas about the past? Years ago, when I seriously contemplated the idea of millions of years and the big bang, this was the conclusion to which I finally arrived. I realized that when I try to add millions of years into Genesis, that I would be required to reinterpret God to “correct” Him. Then it hit me. God is always right, and if we have to “reinterpret” God’s Word over and over again to mean something other than what it plainly says, then we, as fallible people, are the ones in error (Exodus 20:11; Matthew 19:4–5; Mark 10:6; and so on)!

Allow me to give a glaring instance of something like this as a preface to responding to this second response on Mark 10:6. When I hear someone add to Scripture in order to make it align with views not clearly expressed in Scripture, I think of the treatment of John 1 by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

What Do the “Witnesses” Do?

Jehovah’s Witnesses view Jesus as a created archangel, named Michael. So John 1 becomes a major problem for Jehovah’s Witnesses because Jesus, the Word, is the Creator of all things that has been created. They change the Scriptures in their New World Translation (NWT) to align a little closer with their religion:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 NKJV)

[Jehovah’s Witness change:] In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. (John 1:1 NWT)

Notice how the change is that the Word was “a god” as opposed to “God.” Sadly, this is done to change the Bible to conform to Jehovah’s Witnesses’ fallible unitarian theology, even though the NWT really argues for polytheism (more than one God) in this instance. But the point was to try to demote Christ from being God.4

This obvious example causes problems for Jehovah’s Witnesses because a created Christ (in their view) really cannot endure and satisfy the infinite wrath of God upon sin. The only person that could do that is Christ, who is God, as the infinite Son who could satisfy the wrath of an infinite God to truly pay the debt in full. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a false created Christ who cannot save them, since that created Christ could never take the punishment we deserve any more than we could.

Should We Be Doing the Same Thing as the “Witnesses”?

In a familiar but different fashion, old-earth creationists that utilize response 2 do something quite similar. They essentially insert “of marriage,” which changes the meaning. Unlike Jehovah’s Witnesses, they do not add this to a new translation nor does it affect the character of Christ, so I wouldn’t dare call my old-earth brethren cultic, but I must admit that this tact is identical to what many cultists do. I do not want my brothers in Christ to go down that path—as I once traveled down that path myself!

But in common, both Jehovah’s Witnesses and old-earth creationists have taken outside ideas and imposed them on the Bible to mean something other than what the text says. It is essentially either mixing with Unitarian religious beliefs or, in this instance, mixing with secular humanistic religious beliefs (e.g., millions of years).

When people try to interpret Mark 10:6 in a way that makes it compatible with the idea of millions of years, then what is the difference between that and what cultists do with the text? Don’t mistake what I’m saying here; old-earth proponents can still be saved as long as they trust in Jesus Christ, the Creator, alone for their salvation. They, unlike those who hold Unitarian views of a created Jesus, still believe in the Jesus of the Bible who is God. But their handling of Scripture, like that of cultists, undermines the truth and authority of the Bible.

Let’s now turn our attention to why adding “of marriage” to the Mark 10:6 is not a viable interpretation of the text. In refuting Drs. John Ankerburg and Norman Geisler, Dr. Terry Mortenson states the following:

They argue that ktisis (which is actually the noun “creation” not the verb “create,” as [Ankerburg/Geisler] say) in Mark 10:6 should be translated as “institution” so that Jesus should be understood to be talking about the beginning of the institution of marriage, not the beginning of creation. They base this interpretation on the fact that in 1 Pet 2:13 ktisis is translated in the NIV as “to every authority instituted among men” or in the NASB as “to every human institution.” But they have not paid careful attention to the presence of “among men” (NIV) and “human” (NASB) in this verse.

The Greek text is clear. The phrase under question is pasē anthrōpinē ktisei, where the whole phrase is in the dative case (so literally “to every human creation”) and the adjective anthrōpinē (“human”) modifies ktisei (“creation”). An institutional authority (such as kings, governors and slave masters, which Peter discusses in the context) is indeed a “human creation.” But this is a very different contextual use of ktisis than we find in Mark 10:6, where no adjective is used to modify “creation.” Furthermore, in Mark 10:6 Jesus could have easily said “from the first marriage” or “from the beginning of marriage” or “since God created man” or “since God created Adam,” if that is what He meant.

Finally, if we give ktisis in Mark 10:6 the meaning “authority” or “institution,” it makes no sense. What does from the beginning of authority or beginning of institution mean? To make it meaningful Ankerberg and Geisler would have to add a word to the text, which would have no contextual justification.5

Furthermore, the Jews and pre-“millions-of-years” commentator Dr. John Gill also affirm this was the beginning of the creation, meaning the creation “of the world.” Dr. Gill writes the following:

Of the world, or of man . . . “from the beginning of the creation of the world,” is a way of speaking often used by the Jews [Bereshit Rabba, sect. 3. fol. 2. 3. & sect. 4. fol. 4. 1.]6

This may be read in #Ge 1:27 and from thence this sense of things collected; that God, who in the beginning of time, or of the creation, as Mark expresses it, made all things, the heavens, and the earth, and all that is therein, and particularly “man,” as the Vulgate Latin, and Munster’s Hebrew Gospel supply it here, made the first parents of mankind, male and female7

When it comes down to it, contrary to old earthers’ intentions, advocates of this second response are indirectly doing something that the cults also do—they are adding words to Scripture not to make it consistent with some other religious writings, but with the majority view in the scientific community.

Looking at Response 3

If one concludes that “from the beginning of creation” (and likewise “from the beginning” in Matthew 19:4) means “all of the creative period, regardless of its length,” then this is saying that there are 13 billion years of time in the “creative period,” which is the beginning, middle, and even encompasses the bulk of the end of the creation by the time Jesus made this statement (see also Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 4:7)!

It is strange that one would think that 13 billion years or so have passed and that all of it is the beginning of creation—and now suddenly we are at the end after a few “measly” thousand years (e.g., Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 4:7). Going back to our movie illustration, this would be like telling someone that the end was the last second of a movie and that the other two hours of it were only the beginning.

So here old-earth advocates are changing the definitions of the words middle and end to also mean “beginning.” So they are changing the meanings of words to try making them align with their old earth/old universe view. Such a redefinition of terms is unwarranted.
Conclusion of the Matter

Jesus’s words here devastate the concept of an old earth or old universe.

Jesus’s statement in Mark 10:6 is reasonable and accurate in the young-earth view, and any view of an old earth fails when trying to deal with marriage of man and woman being at the beginning of creation. In short, Jesus’s words here devastate the concept of an old earth or old universe.

So it makes sense why this man at the conference didn’t want to address my question about Mark 10:6. In fact, his response was better than most in retrospect. At least he realized there was a problem and opted to remain silent and not reinterpret Christ’s words. So for that, I commend him.

Sadly, many others are more than willing to try to reinterpret Christ’s plain meaning in Mark 10 because of their absolute adherence to millions and billions of years. Be praying that Christians would see through this idea of mixing secular religious ideas like millions of years with their Christianity. It undermines the authority of the Bible, and in many cases it directly undermines the gospel itself.

by Dr. Terry Mortenson

Footnotes

1. In any long-age scenario, mankind only showed up on the scene a matter of thousand years ago; so, in a long-age scenario, it would be impossible for marriage between a man and woman to be any earlier than the very end of creation about 13 billion years later.
2. Ken Ham, The New Answers Book 1 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books 2006), 88–112, https://answersingenesis.org/days-of-creation/could-god-really-have-created-everything-in-six-days/; Bodie Hodge, The New Answers Book 2 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2008), 41–52, https://answersingenesis.org/age-of-the-earth/how-old-is-the-earth/.
3. Terry Mortenson, “But from the Beginning of . . . the Institution of Marriage?,” Answers in Genesis, November, 1, 2004, https://answersingenesis.org/family/marriage/but-from-the-beginning-of-the-institution-of-marriage/
4. Bodie Hodge, “Is Jesus the Creator God?,” Answers in Depth, December 12, 2007, https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/jesus-is-god/is-jesus-the-creator-god/.
5. Mortenson, “But from the Beginning of . . . ”
6. Gill, J., Commentary notes on Mark 10:6.
7. Gill, J., Commentary notes on Matthew 19:4.

https://answersingenesis.org/theory-of-evolution/millions-of-years/jesus-devastates-an-old-earth/

The Lord,He goes ahead of us; He will be with us, He will not fail us

The Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee. Deuteronomy 31:8

If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. — O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. — I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Deuteronomy 31:8. Exodus 33:15. Jeremiah 10:23. Psalm 37:23,24. Psalm 73:23,24.

This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…

This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind… I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13, 14

Father, I will that they … whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me. — I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. — He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. — Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus.

John 17:24. 2 Timothy 1:12. Philippians 1:6. 1 Corinthians 9:24,25. Hebrews 12:1,2.