“Where Did Cain Get His Wife?”

(Click this link to listen to the audio study.)

Where Did Cain Get His Wife?

Most of us know the story of Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. Cain was a farmer, whereas Abel was a keeper of livestock. So when the time came to bring an offering to God in worship, Abel brought a lamb from his flock, whereas Cain presented Him with vegetables from his garden. Genesis 4 says Cain’s offering did not please God, but Abel’s offering was precisely what God wanted.

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Two reasons are usually given: 1) The Scriptures do not say, but it is generally assumed that God had previously revealed to Adam’s family that only a blood sacrifice, foreshadowing the sacrifice of Christ would please God. After all, how could a just God require something He has never explained? 2) Furthermore, Hebrews 11:4 adds that Abel’s gift was given in faith, but Cain’s was not.

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So, filled with jealousy and rage, Cain proceeded to kill his brother, despite being warned by God about the dangers of anger. The result was that Cain was driven from God’s presence and forced to wander in the land East of Eden, a destiny that left him filled with fear and loneliness. But his loneliness did not last long, for God is gracious even with great sinners. Genesis 4 says Cain took a wife and raised a family with her, building a great civilization East of Eden with his children and grandchildren. For as Jewish tradition suggests, Cain lived to be 500 years old.

But back to our original question. Where did Cain get his wife? In the land of Nod? No, for there were no people anywhere on earth except those God created. Then maybe God created a wife for him, as He did for Adam? That is a nice idea, but there is no evidence of it in Scripture. Furthermore, in order to procreate children, Cain’s wife had to have the same human DNA as the rest of us.

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The short answer is: He got her from the same pool of candidates from which we get our wives and husbands—from the children of Adam and Eve. The Bible is clear. Adam was the progenitor of the human race, and Eve was “the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20). No human being has ever been produced who was not a son of Adam or daughter of Eve.

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But 6,000 years later, this confuses us. After all, haven’t we been rightly taught that incest is repulsive? No one in his right mind would think of marrying his sister! For we know the danger of marrying close relatives. Close relatives are more apt to carry the same genetic flaws we have. Marriage with them therefore increases the odds of passing those flaws onto our children in the form of birth defects and other genetic disorders. Most of us are aware of the skeletal weaknesses, eye problems, and skin disorders suffered by designer dogs inbred too closely. GERMANSHEPS3

Similar problems also develop among humans. Haemophilia is a well-known genetic disease that figured prominently in the history of European royalty in the 19th and 20th centuries. Britain’s Queen Victoria, through her daughters, Princess Alice and Princess Beatrice, passed the mutation on to the royal families of Spain, Germany, and Russia. Victoria’s son Leopold, Duke of Albany, suffered from it as well. For this reason, Haemophilia was called “the royal disease”. Tests on the remains of the Romanov imperial family reveal that the form of Haemophilia passed down by Queen Victoria was likely the relatively rare Haemophilia B.

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But Cain had no need to be concerned about these issues. For one thing, the gene pool hadn’t had time to deteriorate by then. Nor had God forbidden marriage with close relatives. In fact, most of the patriarchs married close relatives. Abram married his half-sister Sarai. Isaac and Jacob married their cousins. It wasn’t until the Law was given to Israel that God enacted taboos against incest, to safeguard his people from birth defects (the gene pool having further degraded by then) and from adopting the immoral practices of their pagan neighbors.

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So Cain married his sister. Genesis 5:4 says that in addition to Cain and later Seth, Adam and Eve had many other children. Jewish tradition says Eve bore Adam 23 children. Of course, she had longer to do that mothers today. If Adam lived 930 years, it’s likely that Eve lived a long life too, giving her hundreds of years to raise her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

As for Cain, Genesis 4:16-24 goes on to trace seven generations of his family, many of whom were successful in their careers. Jabal ran a profitable business making tents and raising livestock. Jubal was the father of those who compose music and craft musical instruments. Tubal-Cain made everyone’s lives more comfortable by developing the technology to forge bronze and iron.

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But it wasn’t a happy family. For Cain’s family were people of the earth without a love for God. Genesis 4:26 says it wasn’t the birth of Seth that “men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” Cain’s family felt they could settle down and find happiness in this world, rather than the world to come. John later warned why this is impossible. He said, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

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In addition, they suffered from the same selfish, violent character as Cain. Moses, the author of Genesis, picks a representatives from both the line of Cain and the line of Seth to contrast the character of their kids. Genesis 5:24 says that Enoch, seventh from Adam through Seth, walked with God and was taken to heaven without dying because his life pleased God. But of Cain’s family, nothing is said about their love for God, for they had none. Instead, it says Lamech, seventh from Adam through Cain, took two wives (the first polygamist), murdered a young man for wounding him, and boasted that if Cain is avenged seven times, then “Lamech is avenged 77 times.” Quite a little family, huh?

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So now we know where Cain got his wife. He married one of his many sisters born to Adam and Eve. But then, knowing the character of the family he raised, maybe you think it would have been better if Cain hadn’t found a woman to marry him. Careful! Don’t jump to conclusions. One of the beautiful truths we learn in the Sermon on the Mount is that God is a good God who provides good things to both the righteous and the unrighteous. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44-45)

One of the most gracious things God has given to all peoples, good or bad, is the gift of marriage. In the beginning, He said it was not good for man to be alone. So He created marriage. As Psalm 68:6 puts it, “God sets the lonely in families.” He even cares about the loneliness of unbelievers. What a gracious God!

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A final question is in order, then. If you or a loved one is not yet married, where is the best place to find a spouse? First, it is important to pray and ascertain if God wants you to get married at this time. Why pray? Because God not only answers prayer, but He also uses delays in answering prayer as a means to purify our motives and develop our patience, which we surely need if we do get married. To help answer this question, read 1 Corinthians chapter 7 which offers the clearest guidelines on this topic, revealing that there are a few whom God calls, at least for a short time, to serve Him as single adults. This gives them more time and freedom to serve Him than their married friends.

But if you have determined through prayer and the counsel of wise friends that it’s God’s will for you to marry, where should you look for a partner? If you love Christ, the best place to look is while serving faithfully in a church or Christian ministry. This not only puts you on a path where God is able to bless you and guide you; it also puts you in a context where other Christian singles may be present. But don’t search with desperation. Trust God and pray. Even if there aren’t singles in your church or ministry right now, God can bring them to you. I have seen this happen countless times as a pastor and a missionary.

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Maybe our story will encourage you. I was 20 years old at the time, a new Christian, not attending church yet, and living in Tacoma. Cheryl was 18, became a follower of Christ as a child but was working in Southern California. Both of us wanted to get married, but how would our paths ever cross? The first thing God did was lead me to pray and join a Bible-teaching church. I’ll never forget the night I knelt down and told God I was sorry for trying to find my own wife, that I knew a wife is a gift from God, and that I would henceforth stop looking for a mate and let Him decide who I should marry, prayerfully waiting for Him to bring her into my life.

Providentially, that week a pastor was shopping at the store where I worked, invited me to church, and I went. I didn’t meet any single women, but I did get baptized, grounded in my faith, and ready for the right woman when God brought her my way.

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Not coincidentally, it was at that same time that the Holy Spirit began to give Cheryl a desire to return home to her church in Tacoma. One of the first things her friends did upon her return was invite the two of us to a 4th of July picnic where no other singles were invited. It was a setup. But we found that we liked each other, spent the afternoon talking together, and I asked her to go out with me. In fact, from that point on we were inseparable, and 13 months later I married the love of my life.

That was 43½ years ago, and I thank God that in spite of my immaturity and the adjustments that come with marriage, she has always remaineed my best friend and I haven’t been lonely since. It may not surprise you that Cheryl is the daughter of the pastor who invited me to church with amazing wisdom that has helped me throughout my ministry as a pastor. But our greatest joy are the two daughters God has given us, who also love Christ and are both serving Him with their husbands in their churches.

So trust God and pray believing that He loves you and will meet your needs in His way and time. And He will!

(Click here to open the PDF copy and print it.)

 

What’s the Surest Way to Show You Love Jesus?

Jesus didn’t intend for us to guess. He told us clearly: “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matt. 25:40).

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Jesus loves the poor and spent most of His ministry healing and teaching the poor. Consequently, it was the poor who followed Him. They knew this world was not their home. So they focused their money and energies on spreading the good news of God’s kingdom and filling it up with the poor in spirit who love Jesus. This was His command:  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

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This is one reason Principles for Life Ministries has channeled our money and energies toward reaching the spiritually poor of Nicaragua. Did you know that Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Central America? Cheryl and I have had the privilege of taking 3 trips there working under the leadership of our partners, Pastor Rigoberto and Claudia Reyes. Because the people are so poor, it shouldn’t surprise us to find them so responsive to the good news of Jesus. Hundreds have believed and been baptized over the last several years, dozens of churches have been planted, and dozens of pastors trained.

 

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To get a personal view of what is happening, please take time to watch the short video below produced by Pastor Rigo. Because many of us are not Spanish-speakers and have trouble understanding those with accents, the entire video is subtitled in English. Marvel at the community of El Bonete where the poorest of the poor live. And then realize that in spite of their poverty, they are some of the most joyful people on earth! Why? Because joy is a gift from God and the fruit of loving and serving Jesus!

Two requests as you pray for this miraculous ministry:

1) Make a donation to the Nicaraguan Extension Bible Institute. $10 goes a long way in Nicaragua. You can do that by hitting the Donate button to our ministry and trusting us to send 100% of your gift to their ministry account. Or visit their website and find out how to give, pray, and even organize a short-term mission trip to support their work.

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2) Please pray for God’s supernatural healing of Cheryl and me (Gary). Our retirement plans included mission trips to teach and support national leaders like Pastor Rigo. Then we were struck down with cancer (from which Cheryl still suffers side effects) and spinal stenosis and Parkinson’s Disease (Gary). But at aged 65 and 63, we don’t think this is how God wants our ministry to end. So join us in praying for wisdom as to how to respond (serving from home or surgery to repair our bodies.) Thank you for caring and praying!

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO EDEN?

Whatever Happened to Eden?

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No. Not that one!

I’m talking about the real one where Adam and Eve lived. Crosby, Stills, and Nash sang about it in their song, “Woodstock.” They said, “We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”

(To listen to the audio version of this short lesson, please click Audio Study.)

Every human heart longs for that. When we hear of environmental extremists preventing gas pipelines from being built or legislation promising affordable healthcare to every American, we’re hearing cries for a return to the Garden. Nothing wrong with that. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “If I find in myself a desire for something that this world cannot provide, then it’s safe to assume that I was made for another world.”

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We were, and we need to realize it. We were made for Eden! Unfortunately, if we try to find it in this life, we’re going to be miss it both here and in the world to come. Thomas Moore wrote about an island paradise called Utopia, where justice and human kindness ruled and no greed or crime could be found. But it turned out to be a satire about man’s impossible dream to live in such a paradise, for the name “utopia” actually comes from two little Greek words—ou meaning “no” and topos meaning “place” = “no place.

But the fact is there was an Edenic paradise in the beginning. The Bible even gives us its coordinates. Genesis 2:8 says it was located at the headwaters of four rivers—the Tigris, the Euphrates, the Gihon, and the Pishon. The trouble is only the Euphrates and the Tigris still exist, making those directions useless to us today. Something catastrophic must have happened. The catastrophe was when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s law and were exiled from the Garden. The Garden didn’t cease to exist at that point. Man was simply barred from its entrance. And to ensure that we weren’t able to get back in, God stationed cherubim at its gates, who acted like holy “bouncers” guarding its entrance.

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Of course, it is doubtful that Adam and Eve ever ventured far from the Garden. After all, that was their original home and the place where God dwelt. It was Cain, not his parents, who was driven from the face of God and made to wander East of Eden. Adam and his wife likely set up camp just down the street from Eden in a world that was still glorious enough that they were able live to the ripe old age of 900!

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So what happened to Eden? There are two possibilities. Read on in Genesis, and you will find that because the thoughts of men’s hearts were only evil continually (Genesis 6:5), God destroyed that world in a Great Flood of water. (By the way, worldwide judgment is coming to this planet again for similar reasons. However, this time it will not come in the form of water, but fire (See 2 Peter 3.). A second, even more likely possibility, is that God transplanted His Garden to Heaven where it has been blooming ever since. For when we read the last page of the Bible, Revelation 22 reveals a glorious garden serving as Central Park in the New Jerusalem. In it will be the Tree of Life growing along the esplanade of the River of Life, all of which will one day be transplanted back to the earth one day.

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Any chance we can live there? Every chance in the world (not this one, but in the world to come). How do we get there? Jesus gave us directions: “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it Twere not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-2) That place is the Holy City, New Jerusalem, with God’s garden paradise in the center of it.

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Jesus then continued, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” But Thomas the Doubter worried, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” For the benefit of all of us who doubt, Jesus explained to him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” So quit worrying about how you’ll get there. If you love Jesus and believe in Him as your Lord, He will make sure you are there to join Him.

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I also advise you to stop worrying about how you’re going to take advantage of every opportunity in this world and make sure you live up to your potential. Because no one ever does. Nor does life ever turn out the way we hope. But it can turn out better than we hope if we live for the next world instead of this one—developing a Christ-like character so we fit in with the culture there and doing all that we can to attract others to that place.

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One more quote from Lewis’ Mere Christianity before I stop. He said, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” So think of Heaven as often as you can and look forward to returning to that Garden from which we once sprang.

(To download a Microsoft Word copy of this study, click Microsoft Word. To download a PDF copy of this lesson to share it with a friend, click PDF file.

Experts say “No” to Resurrection Claims

(To listen to the audio version of this study, click AUDIO.)

Experts say “No!” to Resurrection Claims

Expert opinions—they aren’t always so expert, are they?

Listen to a few examples: ‘I don’t like the way he stands at the plate. He bends his front knee inward and moves his foot just before he takes a swing. I don’t think this kid will ever make the big leagues!” Who said it? Bill Cunningham, Boston sportswriter, referring to Ted Williams, the last man in the Major League Baseball to hit over .400.

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Or what about this opinion? “I think there’s a world market for about five computers.” Who said it? Thomas Watson, IBM chairman of the board, 1943.

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Then there’s this example: “You ain’t going nowhere son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” Who said it? Jim Denny, Manager of the Grand Ole Opry, 1954, explaining to Elvis Presley why he was being fired after one performance.

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And what about this comment? “With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market for itself.” Business Week magazine, August 2, 1968.

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And finally, one more opinion. This time from Matthew 27, “Order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples go and steal Him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud be worse than the first.” Who said it? The chief priests and Pharisees speaking to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, just after Jesus’ crucifixion and death.

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So what do you think? Were the experts right? No! They were wrong on every count. In Jesus’ case, they pointed to a blood-stained cross and a garden tomb where He was lying and said: “He’s dead! He’s gone! Story over! He’s never coming back!” So for the first 19 years of my life, that’s what I thought. I went to church every Sunday. I read the Bible. I watched all the Jesus films on television—“King of Kings,” “Jesus of Nazareth,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told”—and I called myself a Christian at the time. But in my heart of hearts where no one else can see, the one thing I couldn’t bring myself to believe was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And Romans 10:9 says that in order to be saved, you have to confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. And I couldn’t do that. Why? Because the experts said: “No! It isn’t possible. It didn’t happen. People do not rise from the dead!” And so, for the first 20 years of my life, I chose to believe what the experts said rather than the Lord Himself.

What about you? Do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ? And when I say resurrection, I mean more than He lived on in spirit. I mean what the Bible says—that Jesus Christ of Nazareth literally and bodily arose from the dead, and that His wounded natural body has now become a glorious supernatural body that can never be wounded again. That’s the pivotal belief of Christianity and what makes the difference between eternal life and eternal death. Do you believe in a Savior who was literally raised from the dead? If you don’t, and I imagine there are several people reading this who are still wrestling with that question, I encourage you to reconsider the evidence. Or if you are a believer, but you haven’t been living it or sharing it like you could or should, I remind you: We not only have a faith that’s wonderful and worth living; we also have a faith that’s credible and worth sharing. That’s what I want to do in this study—explain how you can know for sure that Jesus is alive again and present with us today.

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  1. The Historical Evidence

2 Peter 1:16 puts it like this, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” Hold onto to that phrase for a moment—“eyewitnesses of His majesty”—because that’s key!

 You see, down through the centuries, skeptics have come up with all sorts of cleverly devised tales to explain away the resurrection. The first is found in Matthew 28, where the chief priests and Pharisees bribe the soldiers to say that His disciples came and stole His body. That’s why the tomb was empty. But common sense asks: Would eleven terrified disciples hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Jews suddenly have enough courage to sneak past a squad of Roman soldiers to steal a body and concoct a lie? I know people who might be willing to die for the truth but how many of us are willing to die for a lie? Another argument is the wrong tomb theory—the reason the women found the tomb empty was because they got confused and went to the wrong tomb. But then wouldn’t you have to say the soldiers and Peter and John and Joseph of Arimathea the owner of the tomb, as well as the angel who sat on top of the stone that sealed it, that they went to the wrong tomb too?

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Then there’s the hallucination theory—the idea that the disciples of Jesus wanted to see Him again so badly that they simply imagined it. But then I came across 1 Corinthians 15:6 which says that on one occasion Jesus appeared to more than 500 believers at the same time, and I realize one or two of the disciples could have been seeing things, but 500 believers at the same time? Besides, do hallucinations typically include things like the consumption of bread and wine, the smell of frying fish, the touch of a loving hand, and all the other things Jesus did with His disciples?

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My favorite example is Thomas who not only doubted but was determined not to believe until someone proved it to him. “Not me!” He said. “I’m not going to be taken in by a few idle tales! Unless I put my finger into the print of the nails and my hand in His side, I will never believe!” So 8 days later, Jesus appears to Him. But instead of putting His fingers into Jesus’ wounds, as He said He would, what does Thomas do? He simply falls to the ground in worship saying, “My Lord and my God!” Or as Augustine put it, “Thomas doubted that we might never doubt!” And finally, there’s the swoon theory—the claim that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. He merely fainted and then later revived in the coolness of the tomb.

I love John Stott’s response to that. He writes: “Are we to believe that after the rigors of trial, flogging, and crucifixion, Jesus could survive 36 hours in a stone sepulcher with neither warmth nor food nor medical care? That he could rally sufficiently to perform the superhuman feat of rolling the boulder away from the door without disturbing the Roman guard? That he could then live somewhere in hiding for 40 days making surprise appearances and convincing his disciples that he’d conquered death, and finally disappear without any explanation?” He concludes: “Such gullibility is more incredible than Thomas’ unbelief!”

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In fact, what’s the fatal flaw in all of these alternative theories that attempt to explain away the resurrection? They set the eyewitness testimony aside for something that has no evidence at all, and doesn’t that strike you as a little bit arrogant and unfair? I mean, who in the world do we think we are, two thousand years later, to say we know better than Peter and Mary and John and all the other eyewitnesses what happened that first Easter morning? That’s why Peter is so adamant on this point. He says, “We did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty!” We have eyewitness testimony to His miraculous birth. We have eyewitness testimony to His sinless life. We have eyewitness testimony to His death for our sins. And we have eyewitness testimony to His glorious resurrection from the dead and His ascension into Heaven where He now rules over creation and prepares to return as earth’s long-awaited, rightful King. That’s the first reason I believe what I could never believe before—because of the historical evidence. And there’s a second line of reasoning Peter offers, and that’s—

2. The Biblical Evidence

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He continues in verse 19, “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” You may recall that’s the evidence Jesus Himself pointed to in talking to His two disciples on the Emmaus Road. Cleopas and the other disciple, who remains unnamed, were grieving the death of their Savior wondering what could’ve happened to His body. So what did Jesus do for them? He appeared to them in a concealed manner so they wouldn’t recognize Him at first, and then He took them to the Scriptures. Luke 24:25—“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” And my question is: Why? Why would He take them first of all to the Scriptures rather than revealing Himself to them? The answer is because even when we can’t trust our own eyes or feelings, we can trust the Word of God. Peter says it’s “something more sure to which we do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place.”

You see, if I went by feelings alone, I wouldn’t know for sure that Jesus is living in my heart this morning, that I’m a new creature in Christ, and that I’m forgiven and on my way to heaven, because the moment I consult my own feelings, the devil comes along masquerading as the Holy Spirit and whispers, “Are you sure that Jesus has saved you and that you’re a new creature in Christ? After all, you’re not a very holy fellow?”

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And sometimes I have to agree, “I’m not!” But then that isn’t the issue, is it? The issue isn’t what I feel about myself; it’s what God says about me! And when I read God’s Word, it says: “Whoever will may come! Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow! And the one who comes to me I will never, no never cast out!” And the same is true of the resurrection. We have reliable eyewitness testimony, but even more reliable than that is the testimony of Scripture—the promise that Jesus would come, that He would die, and that He would rise again from the dead. Speaking of Messiah to come, David wrote: “You will not abandon my soul to the grave nor will you let your holy one see decay. You will make known to me the path of life.” So we weigh the historical evidence and we search the Scriptures to learn everything we can about the Lord Jesus Christ, but the final and most important reason to believe is because of—

 

III. The Personal Evidence

Listen again to what Peter writes in verse 19. He says: “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” What do you suppose Peter means by that—“until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”? Well, if you compare Scripture with Scripture, as we’re taught to do, you find that that phrase, “the morning star,” refers to Jesus Himself. Jesus is the bright and morning star, and one day soon the great day will dawn when we see Him in the brightness of His glory. But even now that morning star is ready to fill our hearts with His glory. “For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” And ultimately, that’s the only way to know for sure He’s alive and real—by opening our hearts to His Spirit and inviting Him to fill us with His presence and power.

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Think about Peter! Friday night he was hopeless, terrified, and dejected having denied his Master three times swearing, “I do not know the Man!” But then, 3 days later, he was altogether different, so much so that on the Day of Pentecost he took his life in his hands standing before the same crowd that crucified his Master saying, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus…save yourselves from this crooked generation!” And the question is: Where did he get such courage and conviction, and why such a drastic change in his personality? The only answer that works is the power and presence of Jesus Christ. That’s the ribbon that ties the whole package together.

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 I still remember sitting in church on Sunday mornings as a child, reading my Bible, weighing the evidence, and wishing that somebody somewhere would tell me if any of this stuff was true. But no one ever did. Not once in my 18 years attending that church did I ever hear anybody say, “I believe that Jesus is risen from the dead!” So if I enjoy saying it today, you’ll understand why. I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus is risen from the dead not only because of the historical and biblical evidence, but because the Risen, Living Jesus is now living in my heart by faith!

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For me, it took place in my 2nd year of college. I was taking a religion course at the University of Puget Sound thinking it might help me find God. It didn’t. All it did was confuse me. But in that class I met a friend, a charismatic Catholic believer who began to tell me about Jesus. Only the things he had to say were different than everything I’d heard before. Instead of telling me about a Jesus who lived way back there in history or a God who lived way out there in outer space, he told me about a Jesus who was living in his heart and a God who wanted a personal friendship with me. And the more he talked, the more I wanted what he had until finally one day, we decided to skip class together and went out behind the president’s home in the woods where for the first time in my life, I asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Savior. And guess what? Life hasn’t been the same since! I’ll never forget my first Easter as a believer. I was so excited! Three months before, I didn’t believe in the resurrection or Jesus. But now everything was different. Now I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus was not only alive from the dead but I was now sensing His presence in my life every day!

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And that’s what He wants to do in your life too. He wants to come into your life and fellowship with you each and every moment of the day. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, and if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and fellowship with him and he with me.” That’s what the disciples experienced on the Emmaus Road. After Jesus finished teaching them the Scriptures, they invited him to eat a meal with them and it says in the breaking of the bread, “their eyes were opened and they recognized him,” and then what did they said to each other? “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked with us along the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” That can be your experience today. We can’t see Him with our eyes—yet. But if you take Him at His Word and open your heart to His Spirit, your heart will start to burn within you, knowing that He’s alive and living in your heart by faith.

I finish with a short story I came across about a young air force lieutenant by the name of David Steeves, who came walking out of the Sierra Nevada wilderness one spring day to find himself the target of great controversy.

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54 days earlier, he and his air force trainer jet vanished from the sky without a trace. Steeves claimed he developed engine trouble forcing him to parachute into the snowy wilderness below where for the next 7 weeks he struggled just to stay alive. But there was no welcoming committee to greet him at his return. Nor did the authorities believe him. The air force had already declared him officially dead, and when a search of the area failed to turn up the wreckage of his plane, Steeves was forced to resign under a cloud of suspicion. It wasn’t until 20 years later that his story was confirmed. A Boy Scout troop hiking through the woods came across the wreckage of his jet—more than 20 years after it crashed!

I read that, and I couldn’t help but think of Jesus, the most controversial figure in history who made claims few people were willing to believe. On one occasion they gave him up for dead saying, “He’s dead. He’s gone. He’s never coming back!” And many continue to believe that today. But every portion of his story has been proven by eyewitnesses who saw him live, who watched him die, and who three days later found him gloriously risen, showing himself alive to everyone who loved him.

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Why is that good news? First, it means there’s someone with great power and authority to answer your prayers when you’re in need. Even more importantly, because he lives, it means you and I will also live even if we die. So if you’ve been struggling with this issue, struggle no longer! Weigh the evidence, trust the Scriptures, open your heart to His Spirit and share the good news with someone else. For we not only have a faith which is wonderful and worth living; it’s also a faith that is credible and worth sharing.

(To download a copy of the written study, so you can share it with a friend, click WORD for a Microsoft document or PDF for a PDF file of the message.)