Reflection by Dr. Abidan Shah

REFLECTION by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: This weekend, it has been 20 years since September 11, 2001. Anytime people talk about what took place on that day, they always add where they were that morning – “I was on my way to work and the radio was on,” or “I was getting breakfast at a restaurant and the TV was on,” or “I was asleep and my family/friend called me and told me to turn the TV on,” and on and on. How many of you remember what you were doing that morning? Personally, it was a busy morning in our home. My dad was visiting with us. In fact, he was preaching revival meetings at our church in Henderson, which was in a different location at that time. Nicole’s mom had also come to help us. Nicole had just returned from taking Rebecca to school. My dad was watching the news on TV and there was something about a plane hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center. We didn’t think much of it until 17 minutes later another plane hit the South Tower. Then the most chilling words that I’ve ever heard came from the TV announcer – “Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe we are under attack. America is under attack.” I also remember my dad saying, “That is the work of Bin Ladin.” I had never heard that name before, none of us had, but it didn’t stop there. At 9:37 am, a third plane hit the West Side of the Pentagon, where our very own David and Evelyn Woodson were working. They narrowly escaped. Finally, about 10:03 am, Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvnia. It was probably targeted towards the White House or the Capitol Building. Through the heroic efforts of the passengers, the plan of the hijackers was foiled. Altogether, about 2,977 people died, among them were 340 firefighters and 72 police officers. Thousands were injured and billions of dollars were lost in damages. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in history. The attack was on much more than life and property. It was on our American way of life, a life that our founding fathers envisioned, and many gave their lives for it. Before I preach this message titled “REFLECTION,” let’s stand together for a moment of silence.

Micah 4:4 “But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; For the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.”

Context: This verse was a very important verse in the founding of these United States. In fact, it contains the ideals that make us a great nation, and the solution to how to get them back. Before we see why that is, we need to understand its original context. Micah was a prophet of the southern kingdom of Judah who lived around the same time (740 BC – 690 BC) as Isaiah. Although he primarily preached to the southern kingdom, he also prophesied to the northern kingdom. In particular, he addressed the royal cities of Samaria (north) and Jerusalem (south). The problem was on two fronts: moral decadence inside and military invasion outside. Spiritually, it was very bad in the north, but the south was not too far behind. Some prophets were promising that God was going to come through and everything will be fine, but they were false prophets (Micah 1:3-7). Micah warned the people that God’s judgement was on the way. He told the southern kingdom not to try to build an alliance with Assyria. The Assyrian army under Tiglath Pileser was going to march south against Israel in the north. Once they were done destroying them, they were going to come after the south. Just as prophesied by Micah and others, the Assyrians came down Israel’s coastal plain into Philistia and one by one captured every city along with way, starting with Damascus in Syria and then Galilee. Then, he died, and people thought that it will be all good, but his son, Shalmaneser, came to power. He put down the rebellion and deported the people of the north into exile (722 BC). This was the Assyrian Exile. Now, the remaining southern kingdom tried to make a deal with Egypt and then with Babylon, even though God had warned them not to go here nor there but turn to him. After Shalmaneser came Sargon and after Sargon came Sennacherib. He was ruthless. He laid siege to 46 strong cities and countless villages along the path. In fact, in a place called Lachish, archaeologist found a huge pit where the Assyrians dumped some 1500 bodies, throwing pig bones and trash on them and covering it up. Next, he turned towards Jerusalem and had Hezekiah hemmed in as a “bird in a cage.” He bragged about it on his prism which is now in the British museum. Jerusalem was overrun with refugees and had become about 3-4 times its size. Micah 2:12 “I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, Like a flock in the midst of their pasture; They shall make a loud noise because of so many people.”

Application: Can you imagine what the south, especially Jerusalem, must have been like? Can you imagine how the people must have felt? Can you imagine how they must have looked back to the glory days of David and Solomon? Can you see the parallels?

Then, King Hezekiah repented. Listen to his prayer – 2 Kings 19      15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said: “O LORD God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 Truly, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, 18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. 19 Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone.” Listen to God’s answer – 2 Kings 19      32 “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: ‘He shall not come into this city, Nor shoot an arrow there,Nor come before it with shield, Nor build a siege mound against it. 33 By the way that he came, By the same shall he return; And he shall not come into this city,’ Says the LORD. 34“For I will defend this city, to save it For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’ ” 35And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh.” His own sons killed him as he was worshipping in the temple of Nisroch, his god. According to Herodotus (Greek historian from the 5th century BC), Pharaoh Sethos of Egypt had a dream that a deity was going to fight Sennacherib and that night an army of field mice got into the Assyrian camp and destroyed their weapons. More than likely, this was the bubonic plague.

Application: With all the craziness happening in our country and our world, are we stopping to ask what is God trying to tell us? Could it be that God is bringing us to a point where we are like a “bird in a cage?” Are we going to repent like Hezekiah?

When we truly repent, then God gives us a message of hope. After there was repentance, God gave Micah a vision of the New Jerusalem. Micah 4        1 Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD’S house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it. 2 Many nations shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion the law shall go forth, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 He shall judge between many peoples, And rebuke strong nations afar off; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore. 4 But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, And no one shall make them afraid; For the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.”

The Vine and the Fig Tree – It is found 2 other times in the Old Testament. First one is the past glory under Solomon in 1 Kings 4:25 “And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, each man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan as far as Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.”Second one is like Micah about the future New Jerusalem in Zechariah 3:10 In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, “Everyone will invite his neighbor Under his vine and under his fig tree.’ ” These two things (Vine and Fig Tree) were symbols of life, vitality, and fertility (Daniel Dreisbach). They both take years of patience and cultivation. They are symbols of peace and security.

Micah 4:4 was George Washington’s favorite Bible verse. He quoted it as much as 50 times, especially in the last half of his life. People often question his faith because he did not say much in public about Jesus Christ. Most of the time, he used vague terms like Providence (270 times), The Governor of the Universe, Higher Cause, Great Ruler of Events, All Wise Creator, The Great Spirit, and the Supreme Dispenser of all Good (Thomas Fea). Sometimes, clergy would try to pin him down, but he would always wiggle his way out. Hence, some claim that he was a deist or a 17th century Anglican or a Latitudinarian. What is the truth? Washington was a very wise man. He was operating from a Christian perspective and there were many Christians denominations at that time. He wanted to make sure that all of us would have the freedom to exercise the faith according to our conscience. In his personal letters and church involvement, you find out that he was a very religious person who knew Jesus Christ as his Savior. What is the connection to Micah 4:4? He knew the peril that we were in as a newly formed nation. He knew that without God we were doomed. His hope was to help create a nation that would exemplify what the New Jerusalem would look like one day (from Lillbach):

  • To Marquis de Lafayette, June 19, 1788: “…every one (under his own vine and fig-tree) shall begin to taste the fruits of freedom…”
  • To the Hebrew congregation of Newport, August 17, 1790: “…every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig-tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”
  • To Landon Carter, October 17, 1796: “…in the shades of Mount Vernon under my Vine and Fig Tree; where at all times I should be glad to see you.”
  • Doctor James Anderson, April 7, 1797: “I am once more seated under my own Vine and Fig tree, and hope to spend the remainder of my days…”
  • To the Secretary of the Treasury, May 15, 1797: “…if ever this happens it must be under my own Vine and Fig tree as I do not think it probable that I shall go beyond the radius of 20 miles from them.”
  • To John Quincy Adams, June 25, 1797: “I am now, as you supposed the case would be when you then wrote, seated under my Vine and Fig-tree; where, while I am permitted to enjoy the shade of it, my vows [i.e. prayers] will be continually offered for the welfare and prosperity of our country…”
  • To the Earl of Buchan, July 4, 1797: “…as my glass is nearly run, I shall endeavor in the shade of my Vine and Fig tree…”

His “vine and fig tree” was his ancestral home, Mount Vernon. He had to go away from it for extended periods of time, but he loved coming home. Before and after office, they constantly had guests over. It was rare not to have guests and even strangers at their dinner table. It was his refuge. It brought him happiness. This is what he wanted for everyone who came to this land and was willing to work for it. His “vine and fig tree” represented 3 things that the founding fathers believed represented America (from Dreisbach):

  1. Freedom from Want
  2. Freedom from Fear

How about the slaves that he had? Yes, we cannot ignore that question or bulldoze it, especially in today’s culture. When Lafayette asked him about abolishing slavery, Washington was concerned about the Union. Also, when the Quakers wanted to do the same, he knew it would tear up the Union. He made his statement by his own example. He freed all 123 of his slaves when he died.

Today, we will be taking up on offering for the refugees that are here. They are the Afghan families that were working with our troops and had to flee when Taliban took over. The Raleigh Baptist Association contacted us for help, and we are. What if there are some bad people? If they take God’s money and use it for evil, God will retrieve it. We will do our part as Americans. That’s what makes us different.

  1. Freedom of Religion

John 8      34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Invitation: Has there been repentance in your life? Are you truly free? Are you ready for the New Jerusalem? Are you praying for our nation today?

Unrest by Dr. Abidan Shah


This weekend, our message will take a look at the events that have happened in recent days and how we ought to approach them from a biblical perspective. In today’s world, we are bombarded by so much information, it is difficult to discern what is true and what is not. In order to think rightly about the world and the events around us, we must approach them from biblical and historical perspective.

In this message, we will look at the current crisis through the lens of history and Scripture. We will examine the nation of Iran throughout history. Regardless of what we might have heard, this message will help us understand the current situation in light of past events and the Word of God. The title of this weekend’s message is “UNREST.”

What are your thoughts on the current crisis? Do you believe that God’s Word can help us think rightly about culture? Are you saved? Invite your friends and family to worship this weekend. This is a message that none of us can afford to miss!

(Re)Setting the Record Straight (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(RE)SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on November 17, 2018)

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

(Re)Setting the Record Straight“America was founded as a Christian nation!” My father-in-law made that remark to me over twenty years ago. I remember hearing the frustration in his voice and being puzzled by it. I told him that I thought every American believed that. How could they not? After all, this was “One Nation Under God.” He explained to me that there were people who believed that this was never a Christian nation. To the contrary, they claimed that it was birthed in greed and selfishness with the privileged few controlling the many through fear and oppression.

I decided to research for myself. Here’s what I found: Yes, America was founded on biblical values. But, no, that doesn’t mean that everyone who came across the ocean was a born-again Christian. There is a big difference between Christian values and individual Christian lives. The first is a worldview and the second is a transformed life through Jesus Christ. Examine the Constitution of the United States – 34% of all citations are from the Bible. The ideals of freedom of religion, natural rights, and equality were grounded in Christianity. It was repeatedly affirmed that God’s providence was behind the birth of our nation. But this does not mean that every person, even the signers, were always orthodox in their belief and perfect in their character. Here’s an illustration: Our refrigerator keeps the temperature cold which preserves the food. But, this doesn’t mean that everything inside is delicious. In fact, some foods may even get a freezer burn and be harmful. So also, the Christian values of America did not guarantee that every individual would be Christlike. As John Fea in his insightful book “Was America founded as a Christian Nation” remarked: “History is complex. Heroes sometimes do unheroic things. It is the responsibility of the historian to make every effort to explain the past in its fullness.”

Unfortunately, there is no such balance in recent rhetoric. It is adamantly claimed that “we need to set the record straight regarding our past.” Such allegations are a byproduct of the postmodern revision of history. It views the past as Hegel’s “historic dialectic,” wherein truth is relative and nothing more than an outcome of the struggle for dominance. All understanding of the past is viewed with suspicion. This is terribly misleading. Yes, revisionism is appropriate but only if more historical documents are discovered or new information sheds light on the existing documents. But, this has to be done very responsibly. If not, we are creating a false narrative to push an agenda. To claim that the First Amendment was a separation of church and state is a gross misunderstanding. It was a protection on other Christian groups from practicing their beliefs without repercussions from the state church. It was never meant to discard Christianity.

Furthermore, tearing down our nation’s Christian foundation is also very dangerous. It is like taking a sledge hammer to the foundation of your house and still expecting the walls and the roof to remain intact. It is impossible. The house will collapse. Those who want to revise our nation’s past are willing to take that chance. I suggest that they travel overseas and visit nations that did not have a strong biblical influence in their past. There is a marked difference in individual rights and dignity of the weak. In fact, it is punishable by death to even challenge their nation’s past. Having come from a nation not founded on Judeo-Christian values, I can testify that this nation was built on biblical values. To use the analogy of the refrigerator again: Don’t throw out a perfectly good refrigerator because some foods have gone bad.


ENCOUNTERS 4 (Clearview Followup) by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Here are some key points to remember from the message:

  1. A Historical Fact to Learn: For years archaeologists struggled with finding the location of a pool named Bethesda in Jerusalem. But recently a pool to the north of the Temple Mount was identified as this pool. It is near the Sheep Gate from which the sheep were brought in for the temple sacrifice. Maybe the pool was there for ritual cleansing for the people before they entered the temple. Some have even suggested that the pool was used to wash the sheep before they were taken into the temple.
  2. A Theological Truth to Believe: Many different views have been advanced for Jesus’s final words to the crippled man – John 5:14 “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.’” I don’t think that Jesus was bringing up original sin or some generational sin. Instead, He was simply demonstrated that He knew the man’s past. Apparently, the crippled man had done something bad that caused his paralysis. Maybe he was doing something wrong and it hurt him. Maybe the authorities or the mob beat him up for his crime. Jesus was warning him not to return to his old lifestyle.
  3. A Biblical Principle to Apply: “…And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” Instead of rejoicing with this man over his healing, the religious leaders had a problem with the calendar! May it never be that at Clearview that we would lose sight of what God is doing because of something trivial – some tradition or opinion.


DIGGING DEEP – 13 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep
Digging Deep

Tying it all together:

  1. Understand the Incarnational Model of Scripture: Just as Jesus was both divine and human but without sin, so also Scripture is both divine and human and yet without errors.

Hermeneutical Triangle


  1. Understand where we are in the History of Biblical Interpretation: Early Jewish Interpretation Sadducees (Literal), Essenes and Qumran Community (Pesher = prophecy), Diaspora (Allegory), and Pharisaic or Rabbinic exegesis, especially Midrash.


  1. Understand how the New Testament used the Old Testament: Single Meaning, Unified Referents; Single Meaning, Multiple Contexts and Referents; and Fuller Meaning, Single Goal.


  1. Understand the 7 kinds of genre in the Bible: Narrative, Poetry, Wisdom, Prophecy, Parable, Epistle, and Apocalyptic.


  1. Understand how language works at a particular stage: Recognize language families for Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; Break language down into word, sentence, and paragraph.



  1. Understand the land of the Bible: between the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea on the West and the Zagros Mountains and the Persian Gulf in the East and between the Amanus and Ararat Mountains in the North and the Nafud Desert and the southern tip of Sinai in the South. The New Testament expanded the region into what today are Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Spain.


  1. Understand the political background of the Old Testament: Ancient Mesopotamia (2500-1100BC) – Sumerian & Akkadian Eras and Amorite Dynasties; Ancient Egypt (2500-1100BC); Hebrews (1150-850BC); Assyrians (900-612BC); Neo-Babylonians (625-539BC); Medes and the Persians (850-331BC); Greeks (1500-165BC).


  1. Understand the political background of the New Testament: Roman Empire – The Emperor, the Provinces, Client Kingdoms, Colonies and Free Cities, Roman Citizenship, Roman Law, Roman Taxation, Benefits.


  1. Understand the religious background of the Bible: Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Canaanite, and Greco-Roman; Religion can come in many forms – animism (animals, plants, and inanimate objects have spiritual essence), henotheism (worshipping one but acknowledging others), polytheism (many gods), and monotheism (one god).



  1. Understand the Biblical Theology of the Old Testament: It adds the necessary depth to the study and interpretation of each passage in its context. Based on where a person is studying in the OT, the key/center will help in shedding light on the text in a whole new way. It will open the understanding of the text in its proper larger context of God’s promise-plan (Walter Kaiser)


  1. Understand the Biblical Theology of the New Testament: It keeps us from focusing on smaller and smaller parts of the Bible and helps us to get the bigger picture. Again, the key is the promise-plan of God (Walter Kaiser). It also helps to make sense of the Unity and the Diversity of the New Testament and the relationship between the Old and the New Testament.



  1. Understand the Role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical Interpretation: No New Revelation; No Guarantee of Infallible Interpretation; No Deeper Truth; No substitute for diligent and proper study; No Guarantee of resolution of difficult passages; Only the saved can be enabled by the Holy Spirit to truly appreciate and apply the Word; All who are saved have access to the Holy Spirit; Those who truly seek Him find His help.


  1. Understand the limits of Application:
  • The Bible does not give specific instructions on all issues for Christians of every age.
  • In our constantly changing world, even if the Bible were to give specific instructions regarding a situation, it will require re-adaptation and re-application of the Bible to the changing world and situation.
  • The stronger the stance is on inerrancy, the greater will be the desire to seek and apply its truths.
  • The closer the interpretation is to the original meaning, the more accurate will be the application.
  • We need to show grace and humility in our application of the Bible.


DIGGING DEEP – 7 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep
Digging Deep

Ancient Mesopotamia (2500-1100BC)

  1. Sumerian & Akkadian Eras:
  • Nimrod is known as the first ruler (Babel, Erech, Akkad, Calneh) – Genesis 10:10.
  • Sumerians in Southern Mesopotamia were the first literate civilization in the world. They wrote on cuneiform tablets.
  • Gilgamesh of Uruk is the most well known Sumerian king. He went to interview Utnapishtim, a survivor of the Flood.
  • Next, Akkadian (probably Northern Mesopotamia) rulers became dominant.
  • Founder of the first Mesopotamian kingdom was Sargon (The King is Legitimate).
  • He conquered as far as Anatolia (Turkey) and traded as far as modern day Bahrain, Southern Iran, and India.
  • The multilevel temple known as ziggurats were built.
  1. Amorite Dynasties:
  • Elamites sacked Ur and broke Sumerian control. (2000-1750BC)
  • Famous king Hammurabi (1792-1750BC) of Babylon gave law codes to his people.


Ancient Egypt (2500-1100BC)

  • Most of our information about the various Egyptian dynasties is coming from an Egyptian priest Manetho (3rd cent BC). Also from the Palermo Stone and Herodotus (5th cent BC).
  • It is complicated because Egyptian kings had 5 different names: Horus name, Nebty name, Golden Horus name, Prenomen, and Nomen.
  • In a 1992 article in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, famous Egyptologist William A Ward wrote an article on Egyptian chronology. Listen to the summary—The current debate on Egyptian chronology is characterized by divergent opinions on the value of the Manethonian tradition, the lengths of reigns of individual Egyptian kings, the existence of coregencies, and the astronomical evidence. In each of these categories, there is little consensus and a wide range of possible solutions; a precise Egyptian chronology is therefore not possible.”
  • Here’s a proposed chronology:
  • Pre-Dynastic and Old Kingdom – (Genesis 10:6, Genesis 12, 13)
  • Middle Kingdom – (Genesis 37:28, Exodus 1:8; 5:1)
  • New Kingdom – (I Kings 11:15-20; 3:1; 10:1; etc…)
  • Third Intermediate and Late Periods (II Kings 19:9, Jeremiah 44:30)


Hebrews (1150-850BC)

  • United Monarchy (11-10 century BC) – Saul, David, Solomon
  • Divided Kingdoms (from 931BC) into Northern (Israel) and Southern (Judah)


Assyrians (900-612BC)

  • Shalmanesser III invaded Israel (Hosea 10:14-15)
  • Tiglath-Pileser (745-727) first Assyrian king to rule over Babylonia.
  • Ahaz of Judah appealed to him for help against the King of Damascus and King of Israel and he came (2 Kings 16:7-9)
  • Shalmanesser V besieged Samaria for 3 years (II Kings 17:3-6)
  • Sargon II (721-705) deported the 10 northern tribes according to Assyrian policy of deportation and relocation.
  • Assyria fell to the Chaldeans of Southern Mesopotamia.


Neo-Babylonians (625-539BC)

  • Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest and most well known king.
  • Captured the Southern Kingdom of Judah. In 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon came and destroyed Jerusalem and destroyed the temple and destroyed the walls and drove the people of Judah out of their homes. He forced them to march 700 miles across the hot desert to a land they had never seen.
  • He later repented for his pride before God.


Medes and the Persians (850-331BC)

  • Captured Babylon in 539BC and issued the edict to let the Jewish people return (Ezra 1:1-4).
  • Esther queen of Xerxes (486-465BC)
  • Nehemiah returned under Araxerxes I to rebuild the walls. (444-445BC)


Greeks (1500-165BC)

  • Alexander the Great is prophesied of in Daniel 8:5-8.
  • The spread of Greek culture.


Test Passages:

  1. Jonah 3:1-3 & Genesis 10:9-11


  1. I Samuel 8:1-9


  1. 2 Kings 20:12-18; Isaiah 39:1-8


  1. Daniel 2

Episode 8: History of Biblical Interpretation (Part 1)

In this episode of Hoi Polloi, Pastor Shah tackles the history of biblical interpretation. In this first part, he focuses on early Jewish interpretation and how it was influenced by various traditions and schools of thought.

For more information on Digging Deep, Clearview Church’s summer Bible study, check out the Facebook page at You can also find the notes from each week on Pastor Shah’s blog.



The following is my outline of the critical study of the New Testament based upon the following works: Werner Georg Kümmel The New Testament: The History of the Investigation of Its Problems, William Baird, History of New Testament Research 3 volumes, Stephen Neill and Tom Wright, The Interpretation of the New Testament 1861-1986, and Scott McKnight and Grant Osborne, The Face of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research.

New Testament scholarship saw a radical shift with the coming of deism. Deism was the birth child of the cosmology of Newton (1642-1727) and the rationalism of the Enlightenment. For the deists God was not some orthodox creed or some authoritarian establishment but just a natural, universal religion.

The works of John Locke (1632-1704) were instrumental in creating the framework for the impact of deism on NT scholarship. Even though Locke himself was not a deist, he formulated the philosophy that was exploited by the deists against NT. Contrary to the notion of innate ideas, as proposed by Descartes (1596-1650), Locke advocated an empirical epistemology. According to this view, there are two kinds of knowledge: external sensation and internal sensation. The mind is a blank slate wherein all knowledge comes in via external sensation. This knowledge is then appropriated and arranged by the reflection of the human mind. What cannot be known by reason is revealed by God through supernatural revelation. This revelation will not contradict reason. To this the deists retorted – if the supernatural revelation does not contradict reason, what’s the use of revelation. After all, the ordered universe and the rational mind was enough. Hence, fulfilled prophecy and supernatural miracles were no longer viable or necessary.

Locke was considered to be a pious Christian but he rejected the doctrine of original sin and was not fully orthodox with regards to the doctrine of the Trinity. He also rejected the idea of propitiatory, substitutionary atonement. He considered faith to be simply an assent to doctrines. Although Locke laid down the famous dictum: “The most certain interpreter of Scripture is Scripture itself, and it alone is infallible,” his views on Scripture were far from orthodox. He held to the opinion that the Scripture has errors. He also argued that human beings did not inherit Adam’s guilt but only his mortality. Other divergent views of Locke were that speaking in tongues in Corinth was actually speaking in Hebrew.

The father of deism was Lord Edward Herbert of Cherbury (1583-1648) and the leader of the cause was Charles Blount (1654-1693). Deists claimed that God established a rational order at creation and then stepped away. Leading propagandists were John Toland (1699-1722) and Matthew Tindal (1657-1733). Toland’s basic thesis was that “there is nothing in the gospel contrary to reason, nor above it; and that no Christian doctrine can be properly call’d a mystery.” In other words, when the doctrine of the Gospels is exposed to reason, it is rational and free of any mystery. It is the clergy who have conspired to create the idea of the mysterious. He gave another important thesis: “Nor is there any different rule to be follow’d in the interpretation of Scripture from what is common to all other books.” Although, Toland allowed for miracles, he considered them compatible with reason.

Tindal, however, was sharper in his criticism of the Bible than Toland. He considered reason to be supreme and no scripture to be beyond the reach of reason. He further asked the question – how could anyone be certain of the text of the bible, if it has so many variants. He argued that Jesus simply revived the old religion and called people back to the religion of nature, the religion of reason.

Another deist, Anthony Collins (1676-1729) rejected fulfilled prophecy as legitimate to claim the authenticity of scripture or Christianity. He argued that since the Jewish people had manipulated the Jewish text to prevent the Christians from claiming the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy in Jesus, there was no use in trying to advocate fulfilled prophecy as a viable defence. Using allegorical interpretation of prophetic passages does not prove the truth of Christianity.

The charge against miracles was taken up by the deist Thomas Woolston (1669-1733). He tried to make a fool out of the clergy about miracles. Much can be said against Woolston’s approach. One major counterpoint is that if scripture itself lends natural explanations that invalidate miracles, then why didn’t the writers and scribes remove the incriminatory details.

Deism continued to flourish in England in the eighteenth century. Notable mentions include Peter Annet (1693-1769), Thomas Morgan (d. 1743), and Thomas Chubb (1697-1747). Annet called Moses an impostor and pointed out the discrepancies between the Paul of the letters and the Paul of the Acts. So also Morgan who blamed Moses for introducing senseless rituals of the Egyptians in the place of the rational religion of nature of Abraham, Noah, and Enoch. Christ was not the Messiah but a restorer of the natural religion. His attack of the OT is reminiscent of Marcion. He also denied the substitutionary atonement of Christ. Finally, Chubb questioned the authenticity of the Gospels. He rejected the notion that the Gospel writers were supernaturally inspired. To this can be added the doctrine of atonement, original sin, and Trinity.

Even though the deists were not biblical scholars, they raised some very important questions for biblical research. Their attacks were usually marked with sarcasm and ridicule. This did two things: open the door for more moderate attacks and open the door for defense of the scripture and orthodox Christianity. The latter somewhat impeded serious study of scripture. The deists assumed that nothing would be left of Christianity by the end of the eighteenth century but they failed to expect the coming of the Wesleyan revival. Neither did they expect the coming of David Hume (1711-1776) who argued that deism was not skeptical enough. Deism did not survive long in England but was revived in Germany.


CHRISTMAS: CHRISTIANITY’S GREATEST PROOF – Part 1 (Virgin Birth) by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

We’re in a new series for the next three-week called, “CHRISTMAS: CHRISTIANITY’S GREATEST PROOF.” This morning we are in part 1 of this series on the Virgin Birth.

Matthew 1:18-25 18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 24Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

Overall Background: LIFE magazine just came out with a special edition last month (Nov. 16, 2012), titled “Jesus: Who do you say that I am?” It’s on the shelves right now. The introduction is titled “The Carpenter’s Son Who Changed Everything.” Listen to the introduction:

“From the most modest of means in a volatile part of the world that people of varying faiths…would come to call the Holy Land, a Life Cover - Jesus 2012young man emerged whose radical, inspiring philosophy seemed not only a challenge to religious orthodoxy and political authority, but perhaps a course forward through life, which was so often a vale of tears. He developed a following, and after His martyrdom, when He was barely 30 years of age, a cult….Who was this man?…To some, Jesus is the Son of God, the anointed, the Christ—born to a virgin just more than 2,000 years ago…To others Jesus is just a man….And to still others He is little more than a myth. Maybe He lived, they say, but His stature as a great and transcendent human being is a novelistic interpretation of Paul….He is, say these naysayers, an idea. But… Whether idea or man, Jesus—in whose name, surely wars have been fought, and awful deeds done—is a model that, day-to-day, encourages much good, a mirror that reflects, for many of us, our hopes….

(And then it concludes with these words) …Whether Jesus was sent from Heaven or not, whether He died on the cross or not, and ascended or did not—Jesus is alive in our time. To believers and non believers alike, Jesus matters. Still matters. He long has. He always will.”

That for a lack of a better term is “baloney.” Is it true? Does it have any facts behind it? Have we been misled to believe in a myth or an idea? Absolutely Not! But that is what’s being fed through many of our colleges and universities. Our young people are being bombarded by such false claims. This is not just a laughing matter. This is not just an optional matter like “do you like Coke or Pepsi?” or “do you like Country music or Rock Music?” or “do you like the beach or the mountains?” What you believe about Jesus decides where you will spend eternity. AND ETERNITY IS TOO LONG TO BE WRONG.

Application: This morning the question for you is not what you believe about the church or the Bible. The question is “What do you believe about Christ?” When Jesus asked His disciples “Who do you say that I am?” He did not ask that because He was confused. He asked to see if they believed in Him.

Maybe your faith has been shaken; maybe you have doubts in your heart; maybe you have questions but you feel you cannot ask them. Let the Holy Spirit of God open your heart and your mind to the truth. Don’t look at this morning’s message as just some intellectual discussion. This is a message that will increase your faith. The more you know and understand, the stronger you can stand against the assault of the enemy.

I believe Christmas (the coming of Jesus Christ) is Christianity’s Greatest Proof. This morning we are talking about the Virgin Birth. Meaning: Jesus was not just some “Carpenter’s Son.” He was God’s Son. Everything about Him was different, especially how He came in this world.

Now some people have a tough time with that. They raise some questions against it that I want us to look at this morning.


A Virgin having a child, how can that be? This was the same question that was running through Joseph’s mind – Listen to verse 19 “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20But while he thought about these things,

Mary visited by angelWhat is Joseph thinking? I know that I can leave this girl and move on with my life. No one is going to blame me. But could it be that she is still a virgin and yet pregnant?

By the way, this was the same question that Mary had when the angel came and gave her the word that she has found favor with God and she will conceive in her womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. In Luke 1:34 she says to the angel “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

Both Joseph and Mary were asking the age-old question: How can a virgin have a child? In other words, are miracles possible? Some people laugh at the idea of miracles. For example: Richard Dawkins, a self-proclaimed atheist, said sometime back, “The Virgin birth, the resurrection, the raising of Lazarus, even the Old Testament miracles, all are freely used for religious propaganda, and they are very effective with an audience of unsophisticates and children.”

So are miracles possible? In fact, that is the wrong question. The real question is “Is there a God?” If you can believe that there is a God, you can believe that miracles are possible.

Now some people don’t believe in God.

Let me prove to you that there is a God in less than 2 minutes.

For e.g. Here’s a watch in my hand. I have had it for the past three years. Just looking at it I can say that it is no more than maybe 5 years old. Prior to that, this watch did not exist. It had a beginning at some factory somewhere. Somebody had to make it. Since this watch had a beginning, somebody had to make it.

In the same way, this universe began to exist at some point. I believe that it is no more than 6,000 years old. Some people say more but either way, it had a beginning. For this universe to begin to exist, somebody had to make it – the sun, moon, stars, earth, oceans, grass, animals, human beings, etc. That someone is God. People throughout the history of the world have acknowledged that there is a God. Some of the greatest minds in the world—Socrates, Galileo, Newton, Einstein—have looked at creation and declared that they believed in God. David says in Psalms 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.”

Let me go one step further: If God made nature; Nature has to obey Him. Miracles are simply nature obeying its Creator.

The Virgin Birth was a miracle. Never had it happened before and never since. Science cannot explain it, medical field will deny it, and anyone with a normal intelligence will laugh at it. The only way it will happen is for the moment God will enter into the sphere of natural laws (the laws that He put in place). He is not going to break them or remake them or redefine them. He will prove to the world that they are His Laws – they are subject to Him. A child is not going to drop out of the sky, he is not going to appear out of thin air. No – a woman will conceive; she will carry him 9 months; she will feel the pain of child-birth; but it will not be humanly conceived. It will be a miracle!

If you believe in God, miracles are no problem! I have no problem with God so I have no problem with miracles.

Application: God is still in the miracle business. Do you believe that? He is still healing the sick, touching the brokenhearted, and changing a sinner.

Question 1. How can it be possible?


The common ones that are mentioned are: Semiramis and Tammuz

  1. Assyrian mythology where Semiramis (the wife of Nimrod) gave birth to Tammuz. According to legend she was impregnated by a sunbeam.
  2. Egyptian mythology it was handed down as Isis and Osiris.
  3. Greek mythology about Dionysius, who was born from a human mother (Semele) and the god Zeus.
  4. Indian mythology – Buddha was conceived when an elephant entered his mother’s belly.

Indra and ChildWhat are these? They are simply counterfeits put forth by Satan to prevent the real virgin birth.

In the biblical virgin birth there are real people, places, and events. In pagan myths, gods actually mated with humans. In Christianity there is no such thing. It is simply God coming into this world. By the way – pagan myths were written over time (centuries); the Gospels were written while the eyewitnesses were still around.

If you want to understand the right basis for the virgin birth, you have to look to the Old Testament. Listen toIsis and Horus Matthew 1 verse 21-23 21And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

The virgin birth was not just an accident or an afterthought. It had been promised. In fact, it was the very first promise given to humankind.

Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

In the OT, it is always the seed of a man. But here it is the seed of a woman. This was the first prophecy – the proto-evangelium given.

Ever since then Satan has been trying to counterfeit the virgin birth or try to destroy any chances of it. Even with the Sons of God, he tried it and God destroyed the world in a flood. Later with Pharaoh, who commanded the midwives to kill the newborn sons of the Hebrews and when it failed, he commanded them thrown into the Nile. When Jesus was born – Herod tried to kill all the Jewish boys who were two and under in Bethlehem and the surrounding districts.

Application: For everything good that God has for us, Satan always has a counterfeit. Not only that he will do everything to destroy God’s work in your life.

Question 1 – How can it be possible? Question 2 – How about the other mythologies?


Background: Why did Jesus have to be born of a virgin? One reason—to prove that He was sinless. Some people say that Jesus did not have to be born of a virgin to be sinless. He could have been born of the sexual intercourse of two human beings and still be sinless. But listen to how the Bible describes the birth of Jesus in Matthew 1:18, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.”

The focus is not on Mary. It is on the Holy Spirit.

Sadly the focus on Mary has led to some false beliefs in the church: Often people confuse Virgin Birth with the Immaculate Conception or the Perpetual Virginity. They are not the same. Immaculate Conception teaches that Mary herself was conceived in her mother’s womb as a sinless being. This is not a biblical idea. It was just an invention of the medieval church. Even the Catholic Church did not recognize this until 1854, when Pope Pius IX declared it. On the other hand, Perpetual Virginity teaches that Mary was a virgin before, during, and after giving birth to Jesus for the rest of her life. It is not a biblical idea either. It has been held by the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church since the seventh century.

Substitute and RepresentativeVirgin Birth sets the focus on the Holy Spirit bringing the Son of God into this world. The person coming into this world was a Divine Person who was already existing before He entered into this world. He was not tainted by the sin that affects all of us who are born of Adam. He was perfect and sinless.

24Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

Application: Let me ask you – “Who is Jesus to you?” Just a good man, great man, great teacher or God’s Son. He came into this world through the Holy Spirit. Only that same Holy Spirit can open your eyes to see Jesus this morning.



(54th Annual 2012 Fall Session, Cullom Baptist Association, Henderson, NC)

To watch this message, please click here.

 “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

Aldous Huxley (writer and thinker)

I want us to go back in time and look at what happens when the Church looses sight of the mission and the vision and gets caught up in the trivial. The results can be devastating.


The year is 582 AD – a 12-year old boy is with his uncle on a business trip to Syria. While there he sees churches and even meets a monk but he never hears the true gospel.

The year is 589 AD – a council is held in Toledo, Spain, known as the “The Third Church Council of Toledo. Three reasons for this council – First, the conversion of the Gothic King to true Christianity;  Second, 23 condemnations against anybody who followed Arianism (an old heresy); and Third, restrictions on Jewish people.`
The year is 632 AD – that same 12-year-old boy is now 63 years old. He met many Christians and he saw many churches; but he   never heard the true gospel. What he did see was contention and division. Instead he began a religion called Islam. In the process he killed many and even executed 600-700 Jewish people and had an army of 10,000. His last words on his deathbed were “Allah destroy the Jews and the Christians.”
A year later in 633 AD – Fourth Church Council of Toledo. The reason to meet – “How can we punish the baptized Jewish people   who have gone back to Judaism.”
The year is 636 AD – Arab armies under the flag of Islam have captured the areas which are modern Iraq (Mesopotamia) and   modern Iran (Persia).
In the same year (636 AD) – Fifth Church Council of Toledo. One of the decrees at the council is that if anyone were to curse the king or plot against him, they would be excommunicated from the church.
The year is 638 AD – Arab armies under the banner of Islam have captured Syria, Jerusalem, and they are getting ready to capture Armenia
In the same year (638 AD) – the Sixth Church Council of Toledo meets. The reason to meet is to affirm the decrees of the Fifth Council and once again cursed anyone who would plot against the King. Also, some more restrictions against the Jewish people.
The year is 646 AD – A lot has happened. Arab armies have captured Egypt and Armenia and Asia Minor (Modern-day Turkey).   These were all Christian nations. Cosmas Indicopleustes (Alexandrian merchant and traveler) writes in his book that in the 6th century churches were scattered all over these areas.In the same year (646 AD) – the Seventh Church   Council of Toledo met. Once again treason was punishable by excommunication and if any pastor were to speak out – he would be disgraced and the only way he would get communion is if he were dying.
The year is 653 AD – Arab armies have entered North Africa (modern-day Libya, Tunisia, Algeria).
In the same year (653 AD) – the Eighth Church Council of Toledo met. Once again, the king wrote a book of all things he wanted the pastors to tell the people.
The year is 655 AD – Arab armies are busy capturing the Island of Cyprus.
In the same year (655 AD) – the Ninth Church Council of Toledo met. This was an interesting one – if any priest were to have a child by a woman (slave or free), that child would automatically be a slave of the church where his father served. Also, anybody who got converted had to pass the test of Christian festivals in the presence of the bishops to prove their faith. If they failed, they could be flogged or made to fast – depending on their age.
The year is 681 AD – Arab armies under the flag of Islam have captured most of North Africa, Island of Rhodes (near Turkey),   parts of modern-day Afghanistan, and even parts of modern-day Pakistan.
By now there have been 3 more Church Councils of Toledo – 10, 11, and 12. Tenth (656 AD) – cannot sell Christian slaves to the Jewish people and one pastor had freed his slaves and distributed his money to the poor in his will – that was unlawful. Eleventh (675 AD) – bishops cannot buy their positions. If they did, then 2 years exile but they can keep their position. Twelfth (681 AD) – Jewish people could be persecuted by confiscating their things and you could use violence against your slaves.
The year is 702 AD – the Muslim armies (mixture of Arabs and North Africans) have destroyed the North African church –   Christians have been killed or enslaved. The Arabs claimed that they had to fight 10 wars to eradicate Christianity among the Berbers. There were as many as 3 million Coptic Christians and 5 million Berber Christians. Now the Muslim population is now 1 percent of the total population of the world. Since the last Church Council, there have been 6 Church Councils of Toledo (13-18). Topics of discussion have included treason against the King, doctrinal matters need to be believed and not discussed, and whether Christ had one will or two. Oh yes – Jewish people – we still don’t like them.
The year is 711 AD– Would you like to guess where the Muslim armies are standing? At the gates of Toledo.If it were not for a man by the name of Charles Martel who stopped the Moors at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD, all of Western Europe would have fallen into Muslim hands.

Why did I give you this history lesson?

  • To tell you that Islam is a threat? Not really
  • To tell you that we shouldn’t have Church Meetings? Not really.

What is the lesson from history?

  • When the Church loses sight of its mission and its vision, the repercussion can be devastating.
  • When the Church gets involved in the trivial and the frivolous, the consequences can change the course of history.
  • When the Church gets stuck in a rut and becomes complacent, lives are sentenced to Hell forever.

Did you know that it took over 700 years to retrieve the portion of the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) back into Christian hands. Thousands upon thousands went to an eternity without Christ—to a place called Hell—because the Church failed to make a difference. Even after the Christians gained control back, it still does not mean that everyone was now saved.

We are standing at the place where the Church of Toledo stood 1400 years ago. We are at the same spot in history. Is Radical Islam the threat to our nation? I don’t think so. As long as we vote for a President who will build up our military and not cut it back, we will be fine.

What is the Biggest Threat to our Nation? LOSTNESS. Everyday men and women, boys and girls are driving past our churches and saying “Church is not for me.”

For e.g. At one time we used to hear – once young people go to college, they walk away from the church; then, we heard – once they become teenagers, they walk away from the church. Do you know the latest report? I was at an Apologetics conference and the latest statistic is that kids 9-12 years old are walking away from the church. Why? Because the church is no longer answering the questions they are asking. At school they deal with the real issues and, at church, they hear stories.

What is the Answer? Listen to what Paul said to the Church in Rome and to the Churches of all ages.

1. We need a sense of urgency.

Romans 13:11-14 11And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

We do not have the time to waste on the trivial. Some of the things that church people fuss about—no wonder we haven’t seen any lost souls saved in months. Our children and our grandchildren deserve better. We should be doing whatever it takes to win the new generation to Jesus Christ. We cannot afford to sit back and criticize the culture; we cannot afford to sit back and reminisce about the past; we need to get busy reaching our neighbors in Christ-honoring and relevant ways to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2. We need to walk in Holiness.

12The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.

There is no substitute to a life of holiness before God. We have become so much like the world that there is no difference between the church and the world. By the way, it has nothing to do with your hairstyle or music style. It is about your lifestyle. We get caught in the superficial and fail to deal with the seriousness of sin. God demands “truth in the inward parts.” We need to deal harshly with sin in our own lives.

3. We need to put on Christ.

14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Meaning: When we receive Christ as our Saviour, we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ; but daily we put on Christ. Daily we remember that we are dead to ourself; it’s no longer we who live but Christ lives in us.  Let the world see Christ in and through us. Only Christ has the power to change lives. Jesus said in John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

Application: People often say to me or ask me – “Do you think we are living in the last days?” Friends – I am not as concerned about whether we are living in the last days as I am about what if the world goes on! What if Christ does not return for another hundred or five hundred or a thousand years, what will our nation look like? Are we doing all we can to lead our children and grandchildren to face the challenges that our facing them? Are we leaving this world in a better state than we found it? Will our children and grandchildren thank us in heaven that we did all we could to help them come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, to have the Bible and Church vibrant, to have Biblical values and ethics intact for years to come. Will they look back at us and praise God that we were not asleep in the face of rising godlessness in our nation.

God has a secret weapon to handle this rise of godlessness in our nation.  They are all around us – on every street corner. They are the medium – small churches of our nation. What if every one of these medium-small churches come alive with gospel of Jesus Christ. What if our pastors make a commitment to burn their ships and stop running to the “greener grass churches” and plant themselves into their communities! We will have revival!

We are afraid of “sleeper cells” in our country. The real “sleeper cells” are the medium to small churches all across our land. Can you imagine what will happen if they wake up!