What Do You Do On Wednesday Night?

What Do You Do On Wednesday Night? As we said yesterday, we are all given 168 hours a week. One of the questions that we must deal with is how to use that time. Do we spend our time in activities that benefit us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? What do you do on Wednesday night?

I have atheist friends who devote a portion of their free time to transcendental meditation. I have other friends who devote a significant amount of their free time to physical strength training and exercise. Unfortunately, many of us spend whatever free time we have in front of the television.

The first-century Church devoted a significant amount of their time to spiritual activities. In Acts 2:41–47, we read that they had daily time together. They made it a point to eat together and were ”praising God and having favor with all the people.” Verse 45 indicates that a part of their time together was administering relief of a physical nature to those who needed it “parting to all men as every man had need.”

We can see an indication of the health of Christianity today in what Christians do with their spare time. Christianity Today magazine (November 2019) published an interesting report from Lifeway Research on the activities of various Christian denominations and groups. A survey of 1000 Protestant preachers found that 90% of them had some Church activity on Wednesday night. Adult bible study was carried on by 58% of all Protestants. The Church of Christ was the highest with 75%. Prayer meetings were carried on by 45% of all protestants. Baptist churches were the highest in that category, with 74%. A worship service was the mid-week activity of 33% of all Protestants. Pentecostals had the highest percentage, at 62%. Music practice was carried on by 30% of all Protestant groups. Methodists led with 49%.

Christian activity provides a constructive way for people to use their time, away from the TV, and with emphasis on spiritual growth. We see some congregations eliminating Wednesday night activity, and that decision removes an opportunity to grow spiritually.

Our personal experience is that attending Church activities mid-week strengthens our bond with fellow Christians. The Bible repeatedly warns us to be careful with whom we associate. Mid-week activities are one way to facilitate the right kinds of associates. What do you do on Wednesday night?
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Correspondence Courses

Correspondence Courses
The ‘Does God Exist?” program offers correspondence courses. Two of the classes are in apologetics and are graded by John Clayton. One is a basic course suitable for elementary school children, but also for adults with limited scientific background. The other is a college-level course which is also offered on our doesgodexist.org website as well as by mail.

In addition to those two correspondence courses, we offer nine other courses graded by other volunteers that are strictly Bible study courses. Two are basic courses with one designed for men and women who are incarcerated. One is a 12 lesson course for people concerned about substance abuse. Four courses are offered that are general Bible study courses, and two are advanced Bible study courses.

These correspondence courses are all offered free, and we pay the postage for returning the lessons for grading. We have 3700 students enrolled in our apologetics courses, and over 90% of those students are in prison. We provide all materials, give a certificate of completion of a course, and offer a new enrollment in another course. We do not allow students to take more than one class at a time.

If you have an interest in enrolling in a course, send us an email or a written request, and we will send you a form describing the courses so you can choose which one you want to take. Send emails to jncdge@aol.com and written requests to 1555 Echo Valley Drive, Niles MI 49120.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Apologetics Course Has 3700 Students

Apologetics Course
We now have 3700 students taking our Christian apologetics course. We began that ministry in 1960 working with prisoners in Indiana. We wrote a three-lesson apologetics course because a large percentage of the incarcerated people we talked to had lost or were struggling with their faith.

That basic correspondence course kept growing, being updated and revised to the point where we now have 13 lessons. John Clayton grades all of the courses, but we prepared a teacher’s guide for use in Bible school classes and youth programs. We quickly found that the course was too basic for many of our prisoner students, so we began a 13 lesson college-level course. We have offered that course for 20 years, and it is also on our website (doesgodexist.org).

We offer students who complete either one or both of our apologetics courses nine other courses that are Bible-study programs taught by other teachers. There are also contact opportunities with congregations geographically close to the students. All of these courses are free and postage-paid both ways.

We no longer offer the basic course online because of hacking issues, but we will mail it to anyone requesting to be enrolled. You can take the course online by simply opening the question sheet for each lesson, copying and pasting the answers, and emailing them to John Clayton. Details are on the website. Whether online or by mail, our courses are always free of charge.

We send a completion certificate to those students who finish either apologetics course. We will also send a copy of our primary book The Source to those completing the advanced course and requesting it.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Translation Problems

Bible
One of the frequently raised issues concerning the Bible is the question of translations. We have maintained that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and have quoted 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” and goes on to say that using it can make us complete. Those who denigrate the Bible, view such a claim as nonsense not only because it’s an ancient book, but also because they say it contains internal contradictions.

The truth is that if a person looks at who wrote a particular passage, to whom they wrote it, why they wrote it, and how the people of the time would have understood it, most of the claims of error will vanish. The ancient time of the writing is not an issue in the case of the Bible because the subjects the Bible deals with are not time dependent. How to get along with others is not a new issue. How to handle sexual temptation is not peculiar to the modern day. How to raise a child is not a topic confined to the present century. How to deal with failure and grief are not time-dependent questions. The question of race relations and rights for women are topics not just making the headlines today but are questions handled with compassion, wisdom, and common sense in Scripture. It is difficult to read the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 5–7 and not see the great wisdom and practical value of what Jesus taught for today, not just for that group of Jews on a hillside.

The claims of internal contradictions are also easily handled if a little time is spent looking at who wrote it, to whom, why, and how the people of the time would have understood it. The contradiction between Matthew and Luke in giving the genealogy of Christ, for example, is easily explained by looking at who wrote it and to whom. Matthew is a Jew writing to a Jewish audience. He uses the Jewish symbol of seven and its multiples to give the genealogy with 14, 14, and 14 being used as an indication of completeness (See Matthew 1:1-17). In Luke 3:23–38 the genealogy is given in over in 55 “begats,” but this was written by a Greek author to a non-Jewish audience, so the cultural difference is easily seen. (For more on this see “God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word” on our doesgodexist.org website.)

Another example we have discussed is in Genesis 6 where the Hebrew word nephilim is translated in different ways by different translators. The literal meaning of nephilim is “fallen ones,” and this is the flood chapter of Genesis. That means it is not talking about aliens or spirit creatures. It refers to humans who rejected God’s teachings and lived selfishly and destructively. The context and the literal meaning of the word are clear. In this case, the King James translators were in error in how they translated the word nephilim. This part of the King James came from the Latin Vulgate translation where nephilim was translated with the Latin word gigantus. The King James translators didn’t know what to make of the word, so they translated it as “giants.” There are many such errors in the King James and other translations. Some of them are obvious, and some are not. In Hebrews 4:8 the King James says, “For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.” If you read other translations of Hebrews 4:8 you will find that it is Joshua, not Jesus that the passage is talking about. The names “Jesus” and “Joshua” are the same in Hebrew. Jesus means “Savior, ” and “Joshua” means “The Lord Saves.” The King James translators simply got it wrong. By looking at what the passage is about, who it was written to, and why, the error is easily corrected.

Second Timothy 2:15 says to, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” You don’t have to be a Hebrew or Greek scholar to do this, but you do need to invest some time and energy in looking at who wrote the passage, to whom, why, and how the people it was written to would have understood it.
–John N. Clayton © 2017