For Such a Time
“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under Heaven;
A time to be born and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to break down and a time to build up;
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance;
A time to cast away and a time to gather;
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain and a time to lose;
A time to keep and a time to throw away;
A time to tear and a time to sow;
A time to keep silent and a time to speak;
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time of war and a time of peace…
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Also He has put eternity in their hearts…” Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
A Time to Stand
There are times when we must stand up, step out and speak up, fighting the good fight of Faith. This Scripture teaches us that we need to be ready to defend our family, our Faith and our future. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the Faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8
Lessons from God’s Creatures
It is noticeable that God has provided His creatures with weapons. Almost every animal has some means of defense, for flight, or fight, means of camouflage to defend themselves and their loved ones. God has equipped His creatures with claws, talons, teeth, horns, hooves, and tusks. How can it be that the Creator has provided His Creation with weapons and with the instinct to protect their lives and their young, but Christians whose names written in the Lambs’ Book of Life, believers, are expected to instead be pacifist doormats, like salt that has lost its saltiness, good for nothing, but to be thrown outside and trampled underfoot!
Be Armed and Prepared
Our Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples: “He who has no sword, let him sell his garments and buy one.” Luke 22:36
Self-Defence is Mandated in God’s Law
The Law of God is clear: “If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no quilt for his bloodshed.” Exodus 22:2. The Law of God establishes the basic right of self-defence. Any person is justified in defending himself, or his family, whenever they are attacked, or their lives are in danger. Any weapon is permissible for use in self-defence. The Law of God does not say that the homeowner is guilty if he uses a sword, but innocent if he uses a club! The issue is not one of weapons, tools, but the right and duty of self-defence.
A Father’s Duty
Fathers and husbands are required by Almighty God to provide for their families. This includes providing food, housing, clothing, education, medical care, love, discipleship and spiritual guidance. But he must also provide protection. Of what worth are all the other provisions, if one does not provide protection as well? Anyone who fails to provide for their family has denied the Faith and is worse than an unbeliever. In fact, those who refuse to protect their young are worse than an animal. What animal will not fight to protect its offspring?
Violent Threats from Pimps
Through the years, I have received numerous death threats. This has included from pimps who violently objected to outreaches we have conducted outside their brothels, and to our publications such as Finding Freedom from the Pornography Plague.
Death Threats from Communists
Numerous Communists, including the Ministry of Justice, Department of Religious Affairs, of FRELIMO controlled Mozambique, responding to my Mozambique Report documenting the persecution of Christians and massacres perpetrated by the Marxists in Mozambique, bluntly declared that if I returned to Mozambique, they would kill me!
Death Threats from the Sudan Government
The official government of Sudan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, website, even posted an article, which stated that “Hammond should expect to be bombed in Sudan…he should expect to be shot on sight…his writings make him an enemy of the state!”, in response to my Faith Under Fire in Sudan book. To underline the seriousness of the government of Sudan’s threats, our Frontline Mission base in Sudan was subjected to ten aerial bombardments and I came under fire on a number of occasions, including by aerial bombardment, rocket fire and artillery barrage, while ministering at church services in Sudan.
Death Threat Fatwa from Muslim Extremists
The publication of my history book on Slavery, Terrorism and Islam – The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat, earned me a death threat Fatwa from some Islamic radicals. In accordance with Biblical Principles, I have made all reasonable precautions in hardening the target/strengthening our defences at both home and Mission. Regular visits to the shooting range, keeping armed and alert are essential daily precautions for a public speaker and writer who has earned the animosity of people with a violent track record.
The Pope and the President
However, there are lessons to be learned from public figures too. We must do what we can, and trust God to do what we cannot. For example, both Pope John Paul II, and President Ronald Reagan, despite having the very best security in the world, were both shot in 1981, and both survived.
Christianity is Not a Pacifist Faith
Pacifism is in defiance of historic Christian teaching. The 39 Articles, The Foundational Statement of the Church of England, states clearly in article 37: “It is lawful for Christian men to carry weapons.”
The Westminster Catechism, considered the finest expression of Biblical teaching, states, under the Sixth Commandment, that the prohibition against murder requires as our duty: “All careful studies and lawful endeavours to preserve the life of ourselves and others, by resisting, by just defence, against violence, protecting and defending the innocent.” (Q135)
“Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.” Proverbs 25:26
Farmers at Risk
With over 4,000 farmers and their family members having been murdered in South Africa since Nelson Mandela became president in 1994, white farmers in South Africa need to be vigilant and alert, living in condition orange and red most of the time, armed and prepared to respond to murderous assaults at a moment’s notice.
Even churches today need to have a security ministry. In one weekend, 15 -16 September 2013, over 70 churches in Egypt were attacked by Muslim mobs, bombed and burned. In just 5 years, over 1000 churches were attacked and 17,000 Christians killed by Boko Haram jihadists in Northern Nigeria.
The St. James Massacre
When St. James Church of England in Kenilworth, Cape Town, South Africa, was attacked by APLA terrorists of the Pan African Congress (PAC), 25 July 1993, one of our missionaries was in the congregation and returned fire, injuring the terrorist who was spraying the congregation with his assault rifle from the doorway. This resistance, by a single member of the congregation, with a snub-nosed point 38 revolver, caused the terrorists to break off the attack and flee.
“Do not be afraid of them, remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.” Nehemiah 4:14
So, just as personal, family and church defense is necessary, so too are there time when national defence is required.
Augustine and Just War
The great Christian Theologian Augustine of Hippo taught that a Christian could be a soldier and serve both God and his country honourably. Augustine spelled out the Christian criteria for a just war. This involves three aspects: Jus ad bellum (the right to go to war), Jus in bello (the right conduct during war) and Jus post bellum (the conclusion of a war).
A just war requires a just cause. Innocent life must be in imminent danger and intervention must be to protect life. Only duly constituted authorities may wage war. War must be a last resort, only after exhausting all peaceful means. There must also be a reasonable probability of success to justify involvement in a war.
Just conduct in a war requires that it be limited to military targets and not endanger civilians, nor damage the environment, nor harm animals. The Scripture is clear that soldiers are not even to chop down fruit trees during war. The benefits of the war must be proportional to the costs and risks of the war. In a just war there must be a clear distinction between combatants and non-combatants. Enemy combatants who surrender, or who are captured, are not to be mistreated in any way.
Military necessity should be governed by the principle of minimum force. Every means must be taken to limit excessive and unnecessary death and destruction, nor may combatants use weapons or methods of warfare which are evil.
A just war must be concluded with a just peace. Revenge is not to be permitted. Life and property is to be respected and rule of law upheld.
By these Biblical standards there have been many senseless and unnecessary wars in which neither side was at all concerned with righteousness and where both sides share the guilt. However, we can also discern in history many necessary wars, which were defensive and just.
The Battle of Tours, AD732, in France was one such landmark battle. Charles Martell the Hammer, rallied the Christian soldiers of Europe on the plains of Portieres in the Battle of Tours and courageously stood for firm resisting six furious charges of the Muslim cavalry, routing them and sending them fleeing back across the Pyrenees Mountains. The Reconquista, which liberated Spain from 800 years of Islamic occupation and oppression in 1492, the Great Siege of Malta, 1565, and the Battle of Lepanto, October 1571, were other vital defensive battles which protected Europe from being overwhelmed by Islamic invasions. The lifting of the Turkish siege of Vienna, 1683, was another major turning point, which protected Europe from becoming Eurabia.
The Bible states: “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. So it shall be, when you are on the verge of battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people. And he shall say to them ‘Hear O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart feint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you’.” Deuteronomy 20:1-4
Many of the Psalms are prayers to God for guidance in war, or hymns of thanksgiving to the Lord for victory in battle. The Scriptures reveal that God is a God of war, as well as a God of peace, because God is primarily a Holy God of justice. On occasions, God not only permitted war, but commanded it. In the Bible, military defence against invaders is given the same status as capital punishment for murderers. If all the people with a conscience refuse to fight – then it will leave the battlefields in the hands of men without a conscience.
However, foreign military adventurism does not fulfil the requirements for a just war. Instead of sending in the Marines! We should send in Missionaries. There is no military, or political solution to the complex crisis endemic to the volatile Middle East, because the problem is primarily spiritual. Muhammad is a false prophet. The Quran is a false book. Allah is a false god. Islam is a false religion. The Muslims in the Middle East need the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of sending bombs, we need to sow Bibles throughout the Middle East. Instead of intervening in their incessant wars, we need to bombard them with Gospel radio broadcasts, ministry through the internet, Bibles online, and wholeheartedly work to fulfil the Great Commission throughout the Middle East. We will do more to undermine terrorism by fulfilling the Great Commission, than we will by any military expeditions. There are frequently alternatives to war, including diplomatic and economic measures and the more excellent way of Christian love and Gospel ministry.
We were involved in a just war in Rhodesia and South West Africa defending these peaceful nations from communist terrorist attacks and building the line against Soviet expansionism. Yet, during our Bible study and Prayer meeting in the South African Army, the Lord gave me the vision of responding to the communist hate with Christian love. They are sending terrorists to us. We need to send Missionaries to them. They are smuggling in landmines, limpet mines, grenades, to sow terror in our communities. We need to smuggle Bibles and Christian books into their territories and win converts, make disciples, undermining their communist tyranny with the fulfilment of the Great Commission.
The wise Christian does not seek to selfishly avoid the problems of the world, but courageously steps out in Faith to be part of the solution.
There are times when sinful men need to be restrained by laws and by force. Liberty needs to be defended. Freedom often comes through, and often needs to be maintained by hard fighting.
If all Christians became pacifists, would all the Muslims, atheists, communists also become pacifists? Not likely. It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism – while the wolf remains of a different opinion.
For those pacifists hoping for worldwide peace, listen to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9). You have to make peace. It takes action. Sometimes military action. Most times missionary action. May God find us faithful to His Word and may we be prepared to defend the defenceless, and to rescue the innocent. When we have to fight, may God grant that we will be fast and accurate. Make disciples. Teach obedience to all things that the Lord has commanded. The Bibles of the Christians are more powerful than the bombs of the Muslims and Marxists. “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15
12 May is International Nurses Day.
It is also the birthday of the most famous and influential nurse, Florence Nightingale.
Few people realise the enormous debt which the whole world owes to Florence Nightingale. This courageous Reformer transformed hospitals and pioneered the modern nursing profession. No other person in history has done more to alleviate suffering and establish so high a standing of health care for the sick.
The Degraded State
Before Florence Nightingale the condition of hospitals and the nursing profession was in a degraded state. Hospitals were dirty and over-crowded. Antiseptics were unknown. Scarcely any facilities for the training of nurses existed, and their pay was less than that for a common labourer in the field. Nurses were drawn from the “undesirable sections” of society and were commonly regarded as “vulgar”, “uneducated”, “unclean” and were notorious for their drunkenness and immorality.
Florence Nightingale was named after the town in Italy where she was born on 12 May 1820. Until that time, Florence was always understood to be a man’s name, but through her parent’s tendency to name their children after their town of birth, Florence has become an honoured woman’s name.
Florence’s parents were wealthy and well-connected. Florence was highly educated. A governess taught her music and art, and her father, William, taught her Greek, Latin, German, French, Italian, grammar, history, mathematics and philosophy. Florence loved books and immersed herself in her studies. She felt alienated from those around her and was profoundly dissatisfied with “the emptiness” of her existence. She was distressed at the pettiness of social life. She developed a passion for neatness and accuracy. Visitors described her as: “Stubborn”, “Strong willed”, “very intelligent,” and “Extraordinary!”
On 7 February 1837, just before she turned 17 years old, Florence wrote: “God spoke to me and called me to His service.” Florence travelled widely throughout Europe and even to Egypt. She was well aware of the misery of the poor. She became convinced that God had called her to reform the nursing profession and devote her life to the alleviation of suffering for the sick. Her parents were horrified and expressly forbade her to pursue such a degrading occupation. So Florence carried on her investigations, studies and correspondence concerning Hygiene, Sanitation and Nursing in secret.
Intelligence and Intergrity
In her 20’s, Florence was described as: “Tall, slender, elegant and very straight, her hair of a rich brown, her complexion delicate, her grey eyes pensive, yet ready to light into mirth with a smile the sweetest and most winning.” Her personal charm, intelligence, wide reading and sincerity attracted many friendships and marriage prospects – which she spurned.
Seeking First God’s Kingdom
At the age of 30, Florence wrote: “I am 30, the age at which Christ began His mission. Now, no more childish things, no more vain things, no more love, no more marriage. Now Lord, let me think only of Thy Will.”
Training in Germany
Florence travelled to Germany to enroll at a college for Deaconesses. She was a star student at the Lutheran Deaconess Training Institute at Kaiserswerth on the Rhine in Germany. She lived a spartan life in this college, rising at dawn, doing all the menial services, sharing the frugal meals of the sisterhood and attending lectures on nursing. On her return to England she set up a Sanatorium for Sick Governesses run by a Committee of Fine Ladies. This establishment for gentlewomen in Harley Street, London was used to test her innovative ideas on health care. At first there was conflict with the Committee, but in time all the members came to respect her innovations and skill in management.
Hygiene and Fresh Air
In the treatment of the sick, her first principles were cleanliness and fresh air. Contrary to all the tenets that then held sway, Florence began by insisting upon large and open windows for all hospital wards. “Thoroughness, initiative and hygiene” characterised the routines established by her. She produced the most detailed study into the state of health care in Europe
The Crimean War
Florence was just about to assume the superintendence of Kings’ College Hospital when the Crimean War broke out. After the Battle of Alma, in September 1854, The Times correspondent wrote on the shameful lack of proper provision for the care of the wounded after their heroic victory.
Disaster and Disgrace
“There were not sufficient surgeons; no dressings and no nurses; no linen for bandages – and yet, no one was to blame!” This was the first war in which the telegraph was used to wire dispatches back home, so for the first time up-to-date reports kept the people in England informed on the course of the war and the horrors of having no proper medical care for the wounded.
To Care for the War Wounded
As an outcry of indignation arose throughout the country, the Secretary for War, Sir Sydney Herbert, wrote to Florence asking if she would go to organise the care of the wounded in the Crimea. Within two days of receiving the letter of appointment from the War Office, Florence Nightingale set out (21 October 1854) for Turkey. She was accompanied by 38 hand-picked volunteers, whose abilities she had proved. Her sister wrote that Florence “was as calm and composed in this furious haste…as if she were going out for a walk.”
With the announcement of her government appointment, Florence Nightingale came under national attention and became the target of much controversy. It was only after Queen Victoria gave Florence her personal support that most of the accusations against her subsided. Many high officials objected to a woman taking charge of what was essentially “a man’s job.” Others were astounded that a rich, popular, young and attractive gentlewoman was prepared to abandon her life of ease and luxury in England to face dangers, horror and fearsome toil on the battlefield.
Apparently Florence took no notice of her critics. She reached Scutari on 4 November, just in time to receive a flood of wounded from the Battle of Balaclava. While struggling to cope with the Herculean task of tending these casualties, a further 600 wounded arrived from the Battle of Inkerman. She endured the prejudice and opposition of military surgeons, endured unimaginable squalor, a devastating cholera epidemic and battled against bureaucratic bungling from the start.
She reported that: “Far more soldiers had died of disease than on the battlefield.” She described the hospitals as “colossal calamities.” There was no furniture, and no cooking utensils. Toilets were blocked and overflowing. Rats were everywhere. The filth and stench of rotting wounds were overwhelming in the overcrowded, rat, cockroach and lice invested corridors and wards.
When informed that essential items that she needed would take weeks of delay, authorisation from England, and that she needed to await official reaction to the Commission of Enquiry, Florence Nightingale used her own funds to set up a house in Scutari as a laundry, and requisitioned a consignment of 27,000 shirts, which had not yet been released by the Board of Survey. Florence ordered that the bales be opened at once, and the materials delivered to the hospital: “Red tape or no red tape.” Many officials were incensed: “Is this the way to manage the finances of a great nation! Miss Nightingale coolly draws a cheque!” In fact, Florence paid for many of the supplies out of her own funds.
Apparently unconcerned by the controversies and furore surrounding her, Florence continued her work of cleaning up the shambles she had found. Those of her helpers who would not submit to the strict discipline, or endure the necessary privations, were promptly sent home. Official obstructionism impeded her efforts at every step, but she overcame all opposition with her persistence and determination. As Florence wrote: “I have no compassion for men who would rather see hundreds of lives lost than waive one scruple of the official rules.”
She organised staff, oversaw purchases, set up housekeeping, ordered furniture, supplied clothing, supervised daily routines, working an average of 20 hours every day, performing the duties of cook, housekeeper, washerwoman, general dealer and storekeeper along with scavenger and nurse. Florence began and ended each hospital day routine with prayers. She also provided reading rooms and library books for the patients.
It was her custom before retiring to make a last tour of the wards. Her tall slender figure in nurse’s uniform, rich brown hair covered by a white cap, passing, lamp in hand, down the long isles between the rows of beds, bestowing comfort on the wounded seemed like an angel to the hundreds of wounded and sick soldiers.
Florence visited the battlefront to set in place further reforms. Hospital mortality (the death rate of patients) before she took over the care of war-wounded in the Crimea was as high as 42%. Soon Florence brought hospital mortality down to only 2%,
As Dr. Benjamin Jarved of Oxford declared: “Nobody knows how many lives are saved by your nurses in hospitals, how many thousands of soldiers who would have fallen victim to bad air, bad drainage, and ventilation are alive owing to your forethought and diligence.”
Towards the end of the war, Florence succumbed to a severe fever, which could have easily taken her life. She recovered, but her health was so damaged that she would never be the same again.
In spite of her sickness and weakened condition, Florence refused to leave her post of duty until the British army evacuated Turkey at the end of the war in July 1856.
Travelling under a false name, as “Miss Smith”, she avoided the enthusiastic receptions that had been arranged for her, but was received by Queen Victoria, whom she persuaded to support hospital reform. Prince Albert described Florence as “extremely modest.”
Florence’s work in the Crimea was, to her, only a beginning. She founded the Nightingale Home for Training Nurses at St. Thomas’s Hospital and published an 800 page report entitled: “Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army.” This formed the basis of a Royal Commission to reform medical care in the military. The Army Medical Corp was transformed as a result of her efforts.
Florence took a deep interest in the sanitary and health measures adopted in India and was in constant communication with the Secretary of State for India to reform sanitation and health in that vast country.
Health Care Reform
Florence launched the most significant campaigns to improve health care and prevent patients dying from causes which could have been prevented. She strove to learn from the past in order to save lives in the future. It was her goal to ensure that those who had suffered in Crimea had not suffered in vain. She changed forever the status of the nurse and the fate of the soldier.
Her “Notes on Hospitals” revealed that civilian hospitals were as bad, if not worse, than military hospitals. She worked late into the night establishing effective training for nurses, setting new standards for sanitation and drainage. Her research reports dramatically improved working conditions for the poor and health care for the sick. Her requirements for nursing included that they must be: “Sober, honest, truthful, trustworthy, punctual, quiet and orderly, clean and neat.”
In Spite of Ill Health
Struggling against ill health herself, and surrounded by a colony of cats, Florence Nightingale continued her crusade to save lives and provide efficient, effective health care for the infirm.
Notes on Nursing
The Florence Nightingale Museum records that she wrote 200 publications and 13,000 letters. Her most famous book: “Notes on Nursing” has been translated into many languages including German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish and Finnish. It remains a classic resource and textbook for nurses, managers and health planners to this day. It dealt with all aspects of health care, including hygiene, bedding and diet. It emphasised the two most important principles of nursing: observation (such as the pulse, appetite and breathing of a patient) and sensitivity to a patient’s needs and comforts.
Florence incorporated Bible studies and prayer meetings as part of her trainee nurse’s routines and appointed chaplains for the hospitals.
Florence Nightingale’s writings on hospital planning and organisation had a profound impact on health care worldwide. Her far-sighted reforms saved innumerable lives and established nursing as a respectable profession.
A Most Productive Life
After a most productive life, at age 90, Florence Nightingale died on 13 August 1910. Over 1,000 nurses and many veterans of the Crimean War attended her funeral service at St. Paul’s in London. Lord Stanley delivered this eulogy: “I know of no person besides Miss Nightingale who, within the past 100 years…has voluntarily encountered dangers so imminent, and undertaken offices so repulsive, working for a large and worthy object, in a pure spirit of duty towards God and compassion for man.”
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me…. Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25: 34-40
CHRIST is RISEN INDEED! – Evidence for the Resurrection
“And declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the Resurrection from the dead.” Romans 1:4
The dramatic film, RISEN provides an excellent Evangelistic opportunity to engage friends, family, neighbors and strangers with the overwhelming evidences for the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We have produced a tract specifically designed for you to print out and distribute. RISEN is a springboard to discuss the Person and Event that changed everything.
The bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is tremendously important. Death is man’s greatest enemy and it has conquered all men – but Christ. Cities and nations, like people, are born and grow for a season and then fade away. Homes, clothes, even vehicles, wear out and eventually go back to dust, just as do their owners. The Bible describes this universal reign of decay and death as “the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21). In science it is recognized as the Second Law of Thermodynamics – the Law of Increasing Entropy. Left to themselves, every system tends to become disordered, to run down and eventually die. All the founders of great religions and movements have died and you can visit their graves. Zoroaster, Confucius, Buddha, Muhammad, Marx and Lenin. They are all dead and decayed in the grave. But Jesus Christ is alive!
So, what difference does that make? You may ask. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is vitally important because it demonstrates Christ’s victory over death, it gives hope to all mankind, it shows that eternal life is available to believers, it points to the ultimate triumph of God over all evil and it provides an indisputable proof that the message about Jesus Christ, as both Judge and Savior, is true. “Because He has appointed a Day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man Whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:31
The Research of Skeptics
The Resurrection is so important and foundational to Christianity that it has been targeted for the most relentless attacks. Frank Morison, a lawyer, determined to disprove the Resurrection and thereby undermine Christianity. The result of his exhaustive investigations was his conversion to Christ and the publication of his book: “Who Moved the Stone?” which decisively demonstrates the overwhelming evidence for the Resurrection.
A skeptical university lecturer, Josh McDowell, determined to disprove Christianity by investigating evidence against the Resurrection. The result was his conversion to Christ and publication of the monumental: “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” which exhaustively and conclusively presents documentation and evidence upon evidence substantiating the historical truth, factual accuracy, archaeological evidence, manuscript evidence, fulfilled prophecies, transformed lives and other indisputable evidences which support the fact of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead and the truth claims of Christianity.
Thomas Arnold, Professor of History at Oxford University, one of the greatest historians of the 19th Century wrote: “I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better, fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair enquirer, than the great sign which God has given us that Christ died and rose from the dead.”
Simon Greenleaf, an unbelieving Jew, recognized as one of the most skilled legal minds ever produced, developed the Harvard Law School. He is recognized as the top authority on what constitutes sound evidence. After being challenged by a student if he had examined the evidence for the Resurrection, Simon Greenleaf made a thorough and exhaustive examination of the objective evidence and the testimony of the four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In his book: “The Testimony of the Evangelists” (Baker, 1874) he concluded: “It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.”
Simon Greenleaf declared that any court of law, if presented with the evidence of the Resurrection, would have to give a verdict in favor of the integrity and accuracy of the Gospel writers and the fact of the Resurrection.
One of the most popular books ever written and most successful films ever produced, Ben Hur, was a result of a skeptical challenge to General Lew Wallace to the authenticity of Christ’s Resurrection and a careful examination of the evidence. As General Wallace was US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at that time, he explored archaeological sites and manuscripts in the Holy Land.
What are the facts? The religious leaders, the Pharisees and Sadducees, who had campaigned and conspired to have Christ arrested and executed on trumped-up charges, had a compelling interest in disproving any claims of the Resurrection. They had presumed that the execution of Jesus would eliminate this threat to their religious power base and silence His supporters. These Jewish religious leaders had great concerns about the corpse of Jesus and they approached the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, for a military detachment to secure the tomb (Matthew 28:62-64).
The Roman governor’s priority in the volatile province of Palestine was to preserve peace and stability. He recognized the political problems that would ensue if anything happened to this religious Teacher whom he had three times declared innocent and ultimately washed his hands in front of the crowd declaring, “I am innocent of this Man’s Blood” (Matthew 27:24). His wife had warned him: “Do not have anything to do with that innocent Man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him.” (Matthew 27:19)
Pilate was only too aware that a travesty of justice had taken place and the last thing he needed was a review of his shameful conduct and dereliction of duty in this case. Ensuring that the victim’s corpse remained buried was definitely in Pilate’s political interests as well. “‘Take a guard’, Pilate answered. ‘Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how’. So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.” Matthew 27:65
The Roman Guard
As the chief priests had approached the Roman governor and as the Greek word Koustodia is used to describe the detachment of soldiers, it was evidently a Roman guard. If only a Temple guard had been used, there would have been no need to approach Pilate to issue the order. Additionally, the concern of the guards after the Resurrection to be protected from consequences from the governor (Matthew 28:14) confirms that those guarding the tomb were Roman soldiers. The detachment would have consisted of at least sixteen soldiers with four men placed directly in front of the entrance of the tomb, on duty, at any time. Under Roman military law any guard who deserted his post, or who fell asleep on duty, would face crucifixion. Typically, if Roman soldiers allowed a prisoner to escape they would face the same sentence as the prisoner – in this case crucifixion.
The seal placed on the stone at the entrance to the tomb signified the administrative authority of Rome and only an authorized officer of Rome would be permitted to break the seal. Anyone breaking a Roman seal without permission would be tracked down and executed.
Although the intention of the religious and political leaders had been to ensure that the phenomenon of Jesus ended at the tomb, their extraordinary security measures have only served to confirm the truth that they had murdered an innocent Man and that Jesus Christ was truly the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, “the Firstborn from the dead and the Ruler of the kings of the earth… the One Who lives and was dead and behold, I am alive forevermore.” Revelation 1:5,18.
Christ’s Victory Over Death
“Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus, Who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold I have told you’. So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to bring His disciple’s word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold Jesus met them, saying ‘Rejoice!’, so they came and held Him by the feet and worshipped Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee and there they will see Me.'” Matthew 28:1-10
Attempts to Avoid the Truth of the Resurrection
To explain away the empty tomb, the enemies of the Gospel have had to resort to some desperate deceptions. The first was to suggest that the disciples had stolen the body. This incredible theory suggests that those same disciples who had slept in the garden, fled at His arrest, denied Him before a young woman, were hiding in fear behind locked doors, could have unitedly overcome sixteen professional Roman soldiers, dared to break a Roman seal, moved a two-ton tombstone, just to steal a corpse! A dead Messiah would have served absolutely no purpose for the disciples. What possible motivation could they have had, even had they possessed the ability to overcome the military, political and logistical obstacles? They had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Every one of the disciples suffered severe persecution, most dying as martyrs for the Faith. Would you die for a lie?
Did Jesus Really Die?
Others have questioned whether Christ had really died on the Cross. Perhaps He only fainted? This swoon theory would have us believe that the Roman soldiers, who were professional killers, (the centurion in charge, would most probably have already supervised dozens if not hundreds of executions), had failed to ensure that this high-profile political prisoner was not actually dead. Considering the vicious flogging which the Lord had already endured, the excruciating torture of crucifixion and the spear thrust into His side, with blood and water flowing out, all provide convincing evidence of death.
Yet, those advocating the swoon theory would have us believe that One Who had endured such savage flogging, crucifixion and a spear thrust to the heart, could not only have survived the legendary Roman military efficiency, but that He was revived on a cold slab in a cold tomb. Further that He somehow disengaged from the grave clothes and one hundred pounds of spices, ointments and wrappings which had effectively mummified Him, rolled away the two ton stone, overpowered, or eluded, the Roman soldiers and somehow found and impressed the disciples with His Deity? These suggestions have only to be mentioned in order to be dismissed as unbelievable.
The Empty Tomb
Another desperate attempt to explain away the Resurrection of Christ has been that they went to the wrong tomb. All of them, Mary Magdalene, Peter, John, the other women, all went to the wrong tomb. Somehow neither the Pharisees, nor the Sadducees, nor the Roman soldiers, nor Joseph of Arimathea, whose tomb it was, thought to point out that the tomb was in fact still occupied! However, this theory is also impossible, as the tomb was not in a cemetery, but in a garden privately owned by Joseph of Arimathea. There was no other tomb in that garden.
The Absence of the Body
All that the Roman and Jewish leaders had to do in order to end Christianity forever was produce the corpse of Jesus. But they couldn’t do it. Even when the Apostle Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost and proclaimed: “Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36. “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 4:33. Many thousands in Jerusalem, including many Pharisees, came to faith in Jesus Christ.
The Crisis of Credibility
To the Jewish religious leaders, this was their worst nightmare, a disaster. The proclamation of the Resurrection of Christ undermined their power and credibility. Thousands of their followers now believed that they had condemned an innocent Man, the Messiah Himself. The new religion of Christianity was undermining the power base and credibility of the Pharisees and Sadducees. If the body of Jesus could have been found, Christianity could be stopped dead in its tracks and the threat to the religious status quo would have ended. Since they desperately needed Jesus’ corpse, the Jewish leaders would have used every means at their disposal to hunt it down and find it – if that was possible.
The Testimony of Eyewitnesses
However, we are not only dealing with the empty tomb and the absence of the body, but the testimony of eyewitnesses. On at least twelve separate occasions Jesus Christ was seen after rising from the tomb. Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9); the other women (Matthew 28:8-10); Peter (Luke 24:34); the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35); ten of the disciples (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-24); all eleven disciples, eight days later (John 20:24-29); seven disciples by the Sea of Tiberius (John 21:1-23); to five hundred at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6); to James (1 Corinthians 15:7); to all eleven apostles and others, at the Ascension (Acts 1:3-12); Paul (Acts 9:3-8); and John (Revelation 1:12-18), all saw the Lord bodily raised from the dead.
To explain away the testimony of all these eyewitnesses, enemies of Christianity suggest that these were merely hallucinations, perhaps as a result of hypnosis or hysteria. However, while hallucinations tend to be unique psychological experiences of an individual, we are here dealing with a large number of individuals, who at different times, in different groups, in different places, both indoors and outdoors, on a hilltop, along a roadside, by a lakeshore, all saw the Lord. They saw Him, they ate with Him, they saw the wounds in His hands and in His side.
Far from being gullible, it would appear that His disciples were very skeptical and slow to believe. Thomas declared that he would not believe that Christ had risen unless he personally placed his fingers in the nail prints in His hands and feet and his hand in the wound in His side.
The Transformation of the Disciples
Not only do we have the testimony of the eyewitnesses, but the dramatic transformation of the disciples. The Resurrection of Christ from the dead transformed the disciples’ grief to joy, their cowardice to boldness, their skepticism to faith and their doubt to determination. It turned Saul, the persecutor of the Church into Paul the Apostle of the Church.
The Transformation of History
It also transformed society and history. It changed the Jewish Sabbath into the Christian Lord’s Day. What else could explain the replacement of Saturday as the Jewish day of rest into Sunday as the Christian Lord’s Day? The Resurrection transformed a Jewish remnant into the worldwide Christian Church. Over 2-Billion people worldwide describe themselves as Christians who believe in the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. The very existence of the largest religious movement in the history of the world is another powerful evidence of the truth of the Resurrection.
Jesus Himself had prophesied His Resurrection from the dead. Because of His fulfilment of this, we can be absolutely certain that Jesus Christ is God with us, as He claimed. By His Resurrection we can know that our sins are forgiven through His Blood sacrificed on the Cross of Calvary: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that Whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:14-16
Because of Christ’s death on the Cross, we can rejoice that our sins are paid for – we are forgiven, justified by faith.
Because of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead, we can rejoice in the prospect of eternal life.
Because of Christ’s Ascension, we can know that He has all authority and that His Great Commission will be accomplished on earth.
Because of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost we do not need to trust in our own abilities, but in His power alone. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.”
Proclaim It to the Nations
William Sangster – the church leader and hymn writer – suffered from increasing paralysis which finally prevented him from even being able to talk. On his last Easter before he died, he wrote: “How terrible to wake up on Easter and have no voice to shout, ‘HE IS RISEN’, far worse, to have a voice and not to want to shout!”
We serve a risen Savior! Death is defeated. Christ has risen – victorious over death, hell, satan and the grave.
Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Christ, though he may die, yet shall he live, (John 11:25).
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3
The above message has been adapted from a chapter in Answering Skeptics book (144 pages), which answers 14 such questions. The book, E-Book and an Audio MP3 Boxset Answering Skeptics with 32 sermons, lectures and radio programmes is available from Christian Liberty Books, PO Box 358, Howard Place 7450, Cape Town, South Africa, Tel: 021-689-7478, Fax: 086-551-7490, email: firstname.lastname@example.org and website: www.christianlibertybooks.co.za.
To download the RISEN tract for distribution, click here.
The Illegal Trial of Jesus and the Verdict of History (for a PowerPoint, click here; for the audio, click here; for the video, click here.)
The Blood of Christ (for the audio, click here.)
The Cross of Christ (for the audio, click here.)
To hear the From the Frontline radio discussion on The Centrality of the Cross, click here.
Who Killed Jesus? (for a PowerPoint, click here; for the audio, click here; for the tract, click here
How Can I Know that Jesus is the Messiah? (for the audio, click here; for the tract, click here.)
Patrick was only 16 years old when he saw a fleet of 50 longboats heading for the shore. As the Roman Legions had long since departed Britain, Patrick’s hometown was vulnerable to attack. As the Irish raiders leapt from their boats onto the pebbled beach, sounding their war-horns, the population fled in terror. The attackers looted and burned the village and carried away captives, including young Patrick.
The year was AD 405. Patrick’s name in Latin was Patricius, meaning “Noble”. He was the son of a Civil Magistrate, but now he had become a slave in Ireland. Patrick was sold to a cruel warrior chief whose stockade in Northern Ireland was surrounded by sharp poles with the heads of his opponents impaled on them. Patrick was put to work as shepherd to care for his master’s pigs and sheep. He lived a lonely existence in the nearby hills, enduring long bouts of hunger and thirst, isolated from human company for months at a time. Patrick witnessed the superstitions of the druid priests who sacrificed prisoners of war to their war gods and newborns to the harvest gods. Skulls were used as drinking bowls; heads of decapitated enemies were used as footballs.
In this strange place at “the ends of the earth” amongst these fierce people, Patrick remembered the faith of his father and grandfather, and the prayers of his mother and turned to Christ. Kneeling on the slopes of the Slemish Mountain, near what is now the town of Ballymena, Patrick prayed, sometimes a hundred times a day.
After six years of slavery, Patrick was led of the Lord to escape and run nearly 200 miles to a coastal port where he was able to persuade a captain to take him along with a shipment of Irish wolfhounds. A storm blew them off course to land on the coast of Gaul (France). Attacks by vandals had devastated the area and there was no food to be found in the, once fertile, area. Here Patrick was able to repay the kindness of the ship captain by praying for the Lord’s provision and seeing a herd of pigs appear.
Patrick received a Macedonian call. In a vision, an Irishman named Victoricius presented him letters entitled “The Voice of the Irish”: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us again.” Patrick was “pierced to my very heart” and he returned to the land where he had suffered as a slave many years before.
Patrick was over 40 years old when he arrived as a missionary to Ireland in AD 432. He faced fierce opposition from the Druids. Patrick survived numerous attempts on his life and confronted the idolatry, immorality, slavery and human sacrifices of the savage tribes.
“Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity, but I fear none of these things because of the promises of Heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty who rules everywhere.”
Patrick delighted in taking risks for the Gospel. “I must take this decision disregarding risks involved and make known the gifts of God and His everlasting consolation. Neither must I fear any such risk in faithfully preaching God’s Name boldly in every place, so that even after my death, a spiritual legacy may be left for my brethren and my children.”
At Tara, Patrick challenged the Druids to a contest. The Druids invoked demons and brought a dark fog over the land. Patrick prayed and suddenly the fog cleared and the sun shone brightly. The king ordered 27 chariots to go and seize Patrick. He prayed aloud: “May God come up to scatter His enemies and may those who hate Him flee from His face.” The charioteers fell dead.
Patrick rebuked the king: “If you do not believe now, you will die on the spot for the wrath of God descends on your head.” The king fell on his knees before the missionary and pledged his realm to Christ. Many turned to Christ on that day.
One of Patrick’s writings was a letter excommunicating a tyrant Coroticus who had carried off some of Patrick’s converts into slavery. Within his lifetime Patrick ended the slave trade in Ireland. The legend that Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland has to do with his spiritual warfare in driving the demons from the land.
The famous Lorica “Patrick’s Breastplate” prayer of protection expresses Patrick’s confidence in God to protect him from “every fierce, merciless force that may come upon my body and soul, incantations of false prophets, black laws of paganism, deceit of idolatry, spells of druids…”
Patrick was one of the first great missionaries who brought the Gospel beyond the boundaries of the old Roman Civilisation. Patrick’s missionary strategy was to concentrate on converting the tribal kings. As the kings converted, they gave their sons to Patrick to be trained to be missionaries. From kingdom to kingdom, Patrick converted pagans, built churches, trained disciples, ordained deacons and ministers and built mission stations. Patrick provided pastors with written doctrinal standards with which to teach their people.
Faithful and Fruitful
For 30 years Patrick evangelised Ireland, converting many chiefs and kings, establishing over 300 congregations and baptising 120,000 people.
Patrick became an inspiring example for Celtic Christians. His life of continuous prayer, his love for the Scriptures, his love of God’s Creation and missionary vision inspired many hundreds of Celts to take the Gospel to Scotland, England and throughout the continent of Europe.
Although Patrick is commonly called Saint, he described himself as a sinner. Although Patrick is the Patron Saint of the Irish, he was not actually born in Ireland, but in England. It may also surprise people to know that Patrick was never canonized by the Roman Catholic church, but has been considered the Patron Saint of Ireland as a result of popular devotion and long-standing tradition.
On the last Sunday of every July, up to 30,000 pilgrims pass Saint Patrick’s statue and climb to the top of Croagh Patrick, commemorating Patrick’s 40 day fast on that 2,710 foot summit.
The greatest legacy of Patrick was the tremendous spiritual movement he launched in Ireland and his followers who sent out missionaries to evangelise not only the rest of the British Isles, but much of the continent of Europe.
This article is adapted from a chapter in Victorious Christians who Changed the World https://www.christianlibertybooks.co.za/item/victorious_christians by Dr. Peter Hammond, a missionary, author and conference speaker. Tel: 021-689-4480; email@example.com.
The Nature of Truth
The very name university testifies to its Christian origins. University comes from Uni Veritas – One Truth. Yet, most professors today do not even believe that there is an objective truth that can be known. Secular humanists can open up a polyversity, a diversity, or an aversity, but universities should, by their very name and origin, be Christian.
Ancient Greeks and Romans did Not Have Universities
The Ancient Greeks had their philosophers – Thales, Xenophanes, Parmenides, Xeno, Pythagoras, Democritus, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. They also had their poets – Euripides, Aristophanes and Sophocles. The Romans had some gifted thinkers, such as Seneca, Cicero, Pliny, Lucretius and Tacitus. These were gifted men, but they developed no permanent institutions with libraries. There was no guild of scholars for students and they certified no one. They tested no theories and engaged in no research. They ignored and spurned the inductive method. It is incorrect to assume, as many have done, that universities of the 21st century are direct descendants of Ancient Greek philosophers.
Universities were a Christian Innovation
In fact, all evidence confirms that universities grew out of Christian Mission endeavours and monasteries. The Benedictine order’s first monastery at Monte Cassino, in Italy, in 528 AD, placed great value on the literary treasures of antiquity. Monte Cassino is considered “the godfather of libraries”. The Benedictines collected books, copied manuscripts, loaned books to other monasteries and required the Monks to read books daily. The libraries of the monasteries were described as their armoury – similar to the armoury of a castle. From these Scriptoria and libraries developed the universities of Europe.
The Earliest Universities
Some would point to the School of Law founded by Emperor Theodosius II in 425 AD at Constantinople. Theodosius’ School of Law had 31 professors who taught Latin, Greek, Law and Philosophy. The Medical School in Salerno, in Italy, was founded in the 10th century. The University of Bologna was founded in 1158, due to the efforts of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. The University of Oxford dates back to 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the second oldest university in continuous operation in the world. The Motto of Oxford is: The Lord is my Light (Dominus Illuminatio Mea). The University of Paris was launched in 1200. The University of Cambridge was established in 1209. Many universities had Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” engraved in stone over the entrance to their institutions.
All the universities from the 10th century through till the 19th century were founded as Christian institutions with Theology as the Queen of Sciences and Law and Medicine as other foundational faculties. Most universities grew out of Christian monasteries and mission stations, with Christian monks and missionaries being the first professors.
Universal Education Started with Christianity
Professor Alvin Schmidt in How Christianity Changed the World, documents: “Universal education, schools for both male and female and for all classes, is a uniquely Christian innovation. Catechetical school, cathedral schools, episcopal schools and monasteries, medical universities, schools for the blind and deaf, Sunday schools, grade schools, secondary schools, modern colleges, universities and universal education all have one thing in common: they are products of Christianity…”
All Schools and Colleges are Indebted to Christ
Dr. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe in their book: What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? state: “Every school you see – public or private, religious or secular – is a visible reminder of the religion of Jesus Christ. So is every college and university.”
When Universities were Centres of Reformation and Revival
Universities have not always been the temples of secular humanism and cesspools of moral decadence that they have all too often become today. There was a time when universities were centres of Biblical Reformation and Revival. Many of the greatest university professors were Christian Reformers. This included: Professor John Wycliffe of Oxford University, the Morning Star of the Reformation; Professor Jan Hus, Rector of Prague University; Professor Martin Luther of the University of Wittenberg; Reformer John Calvin, who founded The Academy of Geneva. English Reformer, William Tyndale, graduate of both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, was the first to translate the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew into English. Some of the greatest missionaries of the 19th centuries came out of the university missionary movement, including C.T. Studd and The Cambridge Seven.
Reclaim the Campuses for Christ
Our universities should not be doomed to decadence. By God’s grace, they can once again become centres of Biblical Reformation. We need to thoroughly prepare, equip and empower our young people to be salt and light, to make an impact for Christ, reclaiming our universities for Christ. “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8. Those who understand the ideas that rule the world will have the opportunity to influence the world of ideas.
Are You Equipped to Win the World War of Worldviews?
The Biblical Worldview Summit (5 – 11 January 2023) near Cape Town, Western Cape, is a vibrant and exciting camp programme that practically prepares young people to deal with the issues, temptations and pressures of life, Biblically. The BWS has been designed to equip students with the facts and skills they need to deal with humanism and evolutionism. The Summit is a crash course to enable students to understand and articulate the Christian worldview, to enable them to answer the toughest questions and to practically prepare them so that they can respond to every challenge to their Christian Faith with confidence.
Education is a Battlefield
You need to know what you believe and why you believe it. You need to know how to defend it in an argument. You need to be able to win fellow students to Christ. In the battlefields of ideologies, with all the intellectual intimidation and psychological intimidation rampant on college campuses today, it is vital that we know our enemy and recognise his tactics. We need to understand the times and know how to articulate and defend the Christian Faith in an increasingly aggressive and anti-Christian society. In this world war of worldviews, the Biblical Worldview Summit is an essential resource to inspire, inform and involve Christian students in reclaiming campuses for Christ. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16