Scott Gage

PO Box 3425
Fayetteville, AR 72702



November/December Issue 2008 - Volume 27   Number 6

A Shining Moment In Sports

Finally Back

Perhaps no one has missed us…I hope that isn’t the case!  This is the first issue of BC to be published since the Sept/Oct 2008 issue.  There have been several factors that have delayed publication.

I was in India from October 28 to November 24, 2008 teaching at several training works and also visiting congregations and individuals.  In fact, our last stop was in Mumbai last year. We were on the plaza around the Gateway of India one week before the attacks took place. The Gateway stands in front of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.  We left Mumbai to return home two days before the attacks occurred.  I am certainly thankful that we left prior to this incident. We are sorry for those who were struck down and also for their families and friends; however, we were thankful that none of our acquaintances in Mumbai were directly affected by it.

When I returned home in late November, Thanksgiving had arrived. What a wonderful holiday when we focus on giving thanks to God for his bountiful blessings. Right on the heels of that holiday both my wife, LaDonna, and our youngest daughter, Rachel, had surgeries in the month of December.  All went well for both of them, for which we are thankful.

Another factor in this delay has been some technical problems with our indicia. The indicia is the box on the outside cover that contains mailing permit information. A few years ago, we printed up a stockpile of BC covers, and for some reason the permit number was left off of them. For a while the post office was allowing our mailing agent to simply add the permit number. But we received a letter stating that we could no longer do that. Since my printing agent has changed since these covers were printed a few years ago, I had to go to them and ask them to redo things for the cover. Due to all of these factors, and also my need to catch up on things, this last issue for 2008 has been long delayed.  I hope that we have things fixed now and that I can be more prompt in publishing.

I have recently discovered a web site called awakengeneration.com. It is sponsored by the American Family Association (afa.net). It contains some informative and challenging articles, blogs, etc.  While I do not necessarily endorse everything that appears on either of these web sites, I am happy to find people that are challenging secular pundits and who also challenge Christians to make a stronger and more intelligent argument for their faith. I am including a couple of articles written by Ron Carlson that appear on the awakengeneration web site.



Is the Bible the Inspired Word of God?

During a question and answer session at a recent speaking engagement, a university student asked me, “Why do you believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God?”  Now this is a very interesting question; and probably one of the most important questions any Christian could ask themselves.  What is so special, so unique about the Bible that Christians believe it is literally the inspired word of God?

In answering this student’s question, I encouraged him to consider the following facts about the Bible:

First, the Bible is not just one single book.  This is a more common misconception than many people realize, especially with people who do not come from a Judeo-Christian background.  Rather than being a single book, the Bible is actually a collection of 66 books, which is called the canon of scriptures.  These 66 books contain a variety of genres: history, poetry, prophecy, wisdom literature, letters, and apocalyptic just to name a few. 

Second, these 66 books were written by 40 different authors.  These authors came from a variety of backgrounds: shepherds, fishermen, doctors, kings, prophets, and others.  And most of these authors never knew one another personally. 

Third, these 66 books were written over a period of 1500 years.  Yet again, this is another reminder that many of these authors never knew or collaborated with one another in writing these books.

Fourth, the 66 books of the Bible were written in 3 different languages.  In the Bible we have books that were written in the ancient languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic; a reflection of the historical and cultural circumstances in which each of these books were written.

And finally, these 66 books were written on 3 different continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe.  Once again, this is a testament to the varied historical and cultural circumstances of God’s people.

Think about the above realities: 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, on 3 different continents.  What’s more, this collection of books shares a common storyline- the creation, fall, and redemption of God’s people; a common theme- God’s universal love for all of humanity; and a common message- salvation is available to all who repent of their sins and commit to following God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. In addition to sharing these commonalities, these 66 books contain no historical errors or contradictions.  God’s word truly is an amazing collection of writings! 

After I had shared the above facts with this student, I offered him the following challenge: I said to him, “If you do not believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, if you do not believe that the Bible is of a supernatural origin, than I challenge you to a test.”  I said to the student, “I challenge you to go to any library in the world, you can choose any library you like, and find 66 books which match the characteristics of the 66 books in the Bible.  You must choose 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, written on 3 different continents.  However, they must share a common storyline, a common theme, and a common message, with no historical errors or contradictions.”  I went on to say, “If you can produce such a collection of books, I will admit that the Bible is not the inspired word of God.”  The student’s reply was almost instantaneous, he emphatically stated, “But that’s impossible!” 

“But that’s impossible!”  It truly is impossible, for any collection of human writings.  However, the Bible passes this test.  The Bible contains 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, on 3 different continents, with no historical errors or contradictions.  The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, bears the mark of Divine inspiration.

The next time you encounter someone who asks you why you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, try sharing this challenge with them.  Better yet, don’t wait until you’re asked, just go ahead and share this challenge with a friend today.  You don’t even have to mention the Bible up front, just ask them if they think it would be realistic to assemble such a collection of books.  After they say, “But that’s impossible!” you’ve got a ready-made opportunity for sharing the truth of God’s word with somebody!


Written by: Ron Carlson
Date: Dec 19th 2008, 15:39



Defending Salvation Through Christ Alone

Don’t all religions lead to God? Isn’t one faith as good as another? Isn’t it arrogant to say that only one religion leads to salvation? These are some common questions that people in our pluralistic world are wrestling with today. In a world full of religious options, many people of goodwill, including Evangelical Christians, have trouble with the idea that there would only be one way to enter into a saving relationship with God. However, this is exactly what God’s word tells us; salvation is only found in a relationship with Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).   

The problem that many Christians often face when communicating this biblical truth, is that many non-Christians will simply reply, “but I don’t believe the Bible”. So, how can we as Christians convey this critical biblical truth to people who don’t necessarily accept the scriptures as God’s word? This is where a simple little philosophical argument can be extremely helpful; it’s called the “Law of Non-Contradiction”.

In the philosophical discipline of Logic, there are numerous rules that govern the process of forming a coherent and rational argument. One of these rules is the Law of Non-Contradiction. The Law of Non-Contradiction formally stated is that “A cannot be non-A”. In plain language, this simply means that something that is true cannot be anything but that thing which is true. For example, if it is true that Jason Carlson alone wrote this article, nobody but Jason Carlson could have written this article. Either Jason Carlson alone wrote it or he did not. To say that Jason Carlson and Jane Doe both individually wrote this article would be a violation of the Law of Non-Contradiction.

When it comes to the questions of religious pluralism and promoting the Christian claim of exclusivity (salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone), the Law of Non-Contradiction can serve as a valuable resource in a Christian’s apologetic tool-box. Here’s how it works:

All religions in the world make absolute truth claims regarding the way to salvation…

·       Christians proclaim that salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

·       Hindus claim that salvation (liberation) is achieved when a person transcends this world of illusion by building up enough positive karma (good works) to escape the cycle of reincarnation.

·       Muslims state that the possibility of salvation* results from submitting one’s life to Allah and faithfully carrying-out the Five Pillars of Islam.

·       Buddhists say that salvation (Nirvana) is the result of detaching one’s self from the desires of the physical, material world.

Each of the world’s religions claims to promote the true path to salvation, but each of these religions provides a distinct and contrary path from all of the others. Thus, one of these paths to salvation is true, or none of them are true, but they cannot all be true at the same time; this would be a violation of the Law of Non-Contradiction.

For the Christian who uses this apologetic argument in response to the questions of religious pluralism and to promote the Christian claim of exclusivity, it is important to understand that this argument does not prove that Jesus is the one true path to salvation. What this argument demonstrates is that from a philosophical standpoint, it is irrational to claim that all religions are equally valid paths to salvation. The idea of religious pluralism (“all roads lead to God”) is philosophically invalid according to the Law of Non-Contradiction.

In order to show that Jesus Christ is the one true way to salvation, Christians must be ready (1 Peter 3:15) with other apologetic tools: arguments for the historicity of Jesus Christ, the reliability of the gospels, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, etc. There are terrific reasons for believing each of those truths; however, we will have to save those for another posting.

*In Islam there is no certainty of salvation. Allah, the god of Islam, is capricious by nature and therefore even the most devout Muslim has no certainty of salvation. The only certainty of salvation in Islam is to die as a martyr in Jihad or holy war.


Written by: Ron Carlson
Date: Dec 19th 2008, 15:39



"A Shining Moment In Sports"

The batter stepping up to the plate prompted little concern to the opposing team.  Sara Tucholsky is only a bit over five feet tall, and had only recorded three hits in 34 at-bats all season long.  A senior for Western Oregon University, she had never hit a home run in her career, and this was one of the final games of the season.  The other team, Central Washington University, prepared for an easy out as Sara assumed her stance and waited for the pitch.

Imagine everyone's surprise when Sara hit the ball hard enough for it to disappear over the center field fence.  The two runners already on base quickly scored the game's first runs.  It was then that fans spotted Sara writhing in pain just past first base.  In her excitement she had missed stepping on first base.  As she turned to tag the base, her knee gave out.  She was unable to get to her feet and complete the journey home.  Her first-ever home run would be wiped from the books, and her teammates were prohibited by the rules (they thought) from helping her.

Just as a pinch runner was about to enter the game (which would have changed Sara's home run into a single), one of the players from Central Washington spoke up.  "Excuse me, would it be OK if we carried her around and she touched each bag?"  The one asking was Mallory Holton, the star of the opposing team.  Unlike Tucholsky's modest accomplishments, Holton is the career leader in home runs for her school.  But she knows something about knee problems, and is scheduled for surgery on both of her knees after the season ends.

Nothing in softball's rules prevents members of the opposing team from helping a player round the bases, so Holton and teammate Liz Wallace helped Sara stand on her one good leg and carried her around the base paths.  Knowing that they were putting their team at a disadvantage by helping score the run, they nonetheless carried the injured opponent, stopping at each base so she could make the tags.

Western Oregon would go on to win that game by a score of 4-2.  But did Central Washington really lose?  Sure, they dropped that game, but people across the nation now know something about them.  They've made a deeper impression than if they had taken the easy way out.  As Sara Tucholsky said later, "I'm glad to get this story out because it is an awesome thing they did for me. ... In a very close game like that, they did an amazing thing."  (For the full details of this heartwarming story, just enter Sara's name in any Internet search engine.)

We need more stories like this.  In our time sports has become an outlet for frustration and anger, it seems.  Fans generally make life miserable for the visiting team.  We well remember the brawl that took place in November of 2004.  The Indiana Pacers were playing in Detroit when fans began throwing objects at the Pacers.  One of Indiana's stars charged into the stands to throw some fists with spectators, a decision that cost him a 25-game suspension.  It reminded us, though, that some take sports far too seriously.  Others who are guilty of such extreme behavior can be found virtually any evening at local Little League games.

Here, however, was an occasion when sports rose to one of its crowning moments.  Players came together to help one who was injured.  They thought about more than just helping Sara off the field; they wanted her to enjoy a rare moment in the spotlight.  It's a scene that should be shown while "One Shining Moment" plays in the background.  It truly was a shining moment.

Softball is not mentioned in the Bible, but the attitude this story highlights certainly is.  In fact, it's one recommended by Jesus: "And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise" (Luke 6:31).  Recognize that?  It's what we traditionally have called "the Golden Rule".  We often simplify it as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  It's not a hard concept to grasp, but sometimes extremely difficult to practice.

A story in the Old Testament shows how one did good for another, even at his own expense.  David, who had been designated as the next king of Israel, developed a strong friendship with Jonathan, son of the current king, Saul.  On one occasion, Saul blew up at his son for being friends with David: "For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom.  Now therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die" (1 Samuel 20:31).  Saul was right: Jonathan would never be king if David was allowed to live.  Did Jonathan coonsider joining plot to remov this rival to the throne?

Such a thought never entered Jonathan's heart.  1 Samuel 18:1 tells us why: "... the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul."  Instead of helping his father eliminate the competitor to the throne, Jonathan aided David in his escape from the king.  He could have had the throne for himself, but Jonathan chose to do what was right.  His love for David made the difference.

You probably know that the Greek language (the language in which the New Testament was written) has different words for our English word "love".  The most impressive of those is "agape".  Here's one passage where its uniqueness stands out: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:43,44).  Behind Jesus' command to "love" our enemies is that word "agape".  As you'll quickly realize, this type of attitude is rare.

Agape is a love that is committed to the other person's well-being. Instead of being just a feeling (as we tend to view love), agape means that I will do good for you even if I don't have good feelings toward you.  The world doesn't teach me to do good things for people that hate me, who abuse me and who persecute me.  The world advises me to get rid of them, if possible.  But I made a decision many years ago not to be ruled by the world.  Jesus is now my Lord, and His counsel is what I follow.  Even when His command goes against what I have been taught, I'll work hard to do it.

Paul elaborated on this remarkable trait of Jesus' followers: "Therefore 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:20,21).  When I have the advantage over my enemy, I'm tempted to "get even" with him.  The Lord, however, tells me to use the opportunity to do good.  In doing so, I'll be making a statement to the world about the superiority of love over force.

In many stadiums across the world, fans cheer when an opposing player goes down with a serious injury.  But the actions of Mallory Holton will be remembered for much longer than the final scores of games that have been played.  The scenes of Holton and Wallace carrying Tucholsky - their "enemy" - around the bases speaks more powerfully than dozens of lectures.  This episode reminds us that there is within each of us a spark of the Divine.

Let us fan that spark into a cheering, warming blaze!

…Timothy D. Hall

Hem-Lines 5/1/08