Sunday, January 24, 2010

NO SWEAT!


Men sweat but apparently women only perspire! Was this the case for Adam and Eve in the Garden? It was after their rebellion that the LORD God said to Adam “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground....” Genesis 3:19. Sweat reminds us of God’s curse.

Their work in paradise abruptly ended, Adam and Eve made fig-leaf garments to cover their nakedness. But before their expulsion, “the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them” Genesis 3:21. The fig leaves were to be left behind. They now were clad in garments that would cause any man or woman to sweat or perspire respectively!

The word sweat is mentioned only three times in the Bible. The first is as we have already seen. The second is in relation to Old Testament priests when offering up to God the fat and blood of animals. “They shall have linen turbans on their heads and linen trousers on their bodies; they shall not clothe themselves with anything that causes sweat” Ezekiel 44:18. Upon finishing their work they were to take off and “leave their garments in which they have ministered…in the holy chambers, and put on other garments” Ezekiel 44:19. The “priestly” garments were linen; garments that caused no sweat.

The third has to do with Jesus. Having just finished His Last Supper the “Last Adam” entered a garden to prepare Himself for entering the holy chambers. Jesus was not about to offer up to God the fat and blood of animals. The “Great High Priest” was about to offer up His own blood. “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground” Luke 22:44. He needed something to wipe the sweat from His face. He needed those linen garments that cause no sweat so that He could take His own blood behind the veil. So, as naked as Adam, He was nailed to a tree. “And they divided His garments” Luke 23:34.

Jesus’ work on earth being finished Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for His body. “Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb hewn out of rock…” Luke 23:53. Hearing that Jesus had risen from the dead “…Simon Peter… went into the tomb; and he saw the linen clothes lying there, and the handkerchief (literally ‘sweat cloth’) that had been round His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself” John 20:6&7. Like a priest having finished ministering in the holies Jesus left His “priestly” no-sweat garments behind.

He lived and died by the sweat of His face to wipe away God’s curse from the faces of all who trust in Him and His righteous work. Therefore trust in Him and not in your own sweat! For no sweat or perspiration is allowed to enter heaven. For there all His saints are “arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright” Revelation 19:8.

(From my paperback The Song of Creation & Other Contemplations - eBook version: https://www.amazon.com/SONG-CREATION-OTHER-CONTEMPLATIONS-ebook/dp/B006WRZDES/ref=la_B006NTVAWY_1_18?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1504854545&sr=1-18&refinements=p_82%3AB006NTVAWY

Friday, January 15, 2010

THE LAW OF NATURAL SELECTION

In terms of natural selection or the survival of the fittest, only those who follow Christ are fit to survive, for, according to the Bible, Jesus Christ saves only those who believe in Him for salvation. To the non-Christian world, belief in Christ is seen as a crutch, a weakness, but to God it is a vital component in His plan of cosmic redemption. It is as Jesus says, ‘Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?’ Mark 8:35-37. Therefore according to the law of natural selection unbelief is irrefutable evidence demonstrating to the unfit that they thus far have not survived nor will survive when God calls them to give account!
video

"A man or woman rejects God neither because of intellectual demands nor because of the paucity of evidence. One rejects God because of a moral resistance that refuses to admit one’s need for God. God invites each one to come to Him, the Author of life, and receive His salvation offered through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself reminds us that it will profit a man nothing if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul. But to the one who trusts in Him, He offers life in all its fullness."[1]

When Adam and Eve rebelled against God they sought to hide themselves from Him among the trees of the Garden. The contemporary Evolutionist or neo-Darwinist seeks to do the same by hiding in a world in which (according to him) all need for God has been or in due process will be removed. In other words because the neo-Darwinist has adopted the Materialist worldview he proclaims to all who will listen that there is no ‘evidence’ for God. Here the Christian reminds the neo-Darwinist that he is rejecting the Triune God who has revealed (i.e., has given ‘evidence’ of) Himself in at least three verifiable ways.

Thus the Christian presents the neo-Darwinist with ample ‘evidence’ of the Triune God by inviting him to consider:
1) The general revelation of God, i.e., the material things God has made, e.g., the sun, the moon, the stars, the birds, bees, trees, etc., including man and his social interactions.
2) The written revelation of God, i.e., the sixty-six books of the Holy Bible.
3) The internal revelation of God, i.e., the individual’s own conscience (which either accuses or excuses the individual for his or her own thoughts, words, and actions.)

Of course, being part of the fallen mass of mankind the neo-Darwinist continues trying to hide from God by suppressing the truth of God in the three aforementioned spheres. Therefore, as expected, he rejects outright the ‘evidence’ for God as revealed in the things God has made (from the macro to micro). And, since he has already said ‘no’ to the Triune God, he feels he can safely reject His written revelation too. Then he explains away the revelation of God in the human conscience simply by adjusting it to fit his Materialistic Evolutionary worldview. Thus the neo-Darwinist rejects all of the ‘evidence’ the Triune God gives of Himself.

The neo-Darwinist is a Materialist, but God is Spirit. Therefore Materialism is Atheism. And, because it has adopted a Materialist stance neo-Darwinism has introduced the cancerous cell-destroying and soul-destroying Atheism into the scientific sphere.

"The atheist risks everything for the present and the future, on the basis of a belief that we are uncaused by any intelligent being. We just happen to be here. That one is willing to live and die in that belief is a very high price to pay for conjecture."[2]

As per the law of natural selection, Atheism means that there is no room for a Grand Design or a Grand Designer at the back of creation. This is why the rod of contemporary Atheism is trying to swallow Almighty God! However, even with his mouth full of evidence to the contrary the neo-Darwinist insists on proclaiming absurdities (such as those espoused by the Atheist Richard Dawkins e.g., that all design in creation is merely illusory!) But, the neo-Darwinist cannot have his cake and eat it too. For, there is evidence that at least one neo-Darwinist does not believe in ‘blind indifference’, i.e., lack of design and purposelessness.

In a reply to a poster in a forum discussing whether science should be taught in (Scottish) schools based on Evolutionist or a Creationist presuppositions a pro-Evolutionary-science poster wrote:

"Natural selection is NOT chance. Don’t you get it? It is NOT chance. Evolutionists are NOT proposing chance events alone over time, but a selective mechanism (natural selection) that sorts out the mutations and builds on what has gone before. That is NOT chance. Got it? It is NOT chance. Only the mutations are chance (or random – another word you [i.e., a pro-Creationist-science poster] abuse) but that is irrelevant as even if they were not, natural selection would still operate. By deliberately omitting the non-chance mechanism of natural selection you are deliberately misrepresenting me, and that is just plain dishonest."[3]

Whether the writer just quoted was being dishonestly misrepresented is something we’ll leave for Judgment Day. However, clearly this Evolutionary-science advocate, by positing that there is a ‘non-chance mechanism’ component to Natural Selection, has seen the need to distance himself from Richard Dawkins who preaches that:

"The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference."[4]

Since ‘non-chance’ and ‘blind, pitiless indifference’ are as mutually exclusive as chance and purpose, by definition, any non-chance mechanism cannot at the same time be indifferent. Here, Dawkins, the forum-poster, and I are in agreement that genetic mutations happen in accordance with ‘chance.’ Mutations have the appearance of no design or purpose. For example, a fruit fly with legs for antennae clearly is not according to design! So far so good! However, please note that it is precisely because of the use of the words such as ‘chance’, and ‘random’ when referring to mutations that purpose and design are exemplified. A fruit fly with antennae where wings ought to be is an anomaly. It is a breakdown or degeneration of the original model or design. Otherwise we would not refer to it as a ‘mutation.’ Therefore by speaking of chance mutations we are acknowledging that which goes against the norm. Put another way, chance mutations break the law of original design.

Dawkins and the forum poster deny original design while insisting that mutations occur by chance! Then our forum-poster insists that, through a process of natural selection, some mutations are randomly selected and survive as the fittest to produce more mutations that may or may not be selected in the process! However, any mutation or random event is a suspension or disruption of a natural law. It is a going against the ‘norm.’ Whether mutations occur by chance or not is not the issue. The issue is whether there is an original non-mutant model, i.e., a working model before mutation. The mere use of the word ‘mutation’ is testimony that there is. Thus Natural Selection is design by another name, and as such, cannot at the same time be an illusion of design!

We therefore agree with our ‘forum poster’ that though genetic mutations may very well be ‘chance’ occurrences, Natural Selection itself is a non-chance mechanism. However, as Calvinists we do not believe in chance in any sphere but rather believe in the sovereignty of God in all things, from the micro to the macro, and we believe in His sovereignty in all creation from beginning to everlasting. In short, we believe that everything that comes to pass was ordained by God and, though man is held responsible for his own actions, everything is sovereignly brought to pass in accordance with God’s decretive will.

The pro-Evolutionist-science advocate just quoted above (i.e., the forum-poster) is clearly frustrated with the confusion caused by the use of the term ‘Natural Selection’ – which term, (if I have understood him correctly!) he believes to be synonymous with ‘random selection.’ The terms natural or random selection frustrate me too! Random or natural selection sounds very much like an oxymoron to my ears.

While viewing the same ‘evidence’ in nature Calvin and Darwin concluded different things, which was that, whereas Calvin saw that the reason for cruelty among animals (e.g., a cat toying with a mouse before it kills it) is because creation is fallen. This is in accordance with God’s written Word. However Darwin, on the other hand, putting the written revelation of God to one side, started talking in terms of the ‘Survival of the Fittest,’ otherwise known as ‘Natural Selection.’

We do not have any real problem per se with these two synonymous terms (i.e., Survival of the Fittest and Natural Selection) so long as they are qualified with what our ‘forum reader’ refers to as a ‘non-chance mechanism.’ By definition, ‘non-chance’ denotes purpose, (i.e., real, not imagined, purpose!) Therefore Natural Selection is evidence or revelation of purpose. Purpose is evidence or revelation of intention or design. Design is evidence or revelation of a Designer, but not any old designer, but rather the Triune God. Thus Dawkins’ panicky head-in-the-sand denial of design is because he dare not let God get a foot in the door of his Evolutionary religion.

The Calvinist RC Sproul offers some help regarding the oxymoron of natural or random selection. Says Sproul,

"Logic functions as a policeman not only when we indulge in irrational concepts like self-creation. We find other oxymorons popping up from time to time in discussions of science (and in philosophy, theology, and every other field of inquiry).
Linguistic confusion occurs when analytically false statements are used or when ‘studied ambiguity’ replaces linguistic precision. Precision in speech is an important complement to precision in research.
"When phrases such as ‘inherent randomness’ or ‘random selection’ are used, we wonder what they mean.
"If a particle is said to have ‘inherent randomness,’ this suggests that a random character is built in or intrinsic to it. Does this mean that it acts the way it does for no reason at all? Or does it merely mean that its activity cannot presently be predicted? The latter is a posture of humility commensurate with the real limitations of our knowledge. The former suggests an illogical concept, namely that the activity of the particle is an effect without a cause.
The phrase random selection (or random mutation) is also somewhat confusing.
To make a ‘selection’ suggests some sort of intentionality, a trait usually associated with intelligence. Is it possible to have an unintentional intention?
"In popular jargon we use the phrase random selection to describe certain types of actions. Suppose we are going to draw a ticket stub from a box in order to award a door prize to a ‘lucky’ participant. We shake the box to insure a proper mixing and perhaps even blindfold the person designated to select the ticket. We want to choose the ticket ‘at random’ to insure that the drawing is not rigged in favour of a particular contestant. We seek to leave the outcome to ‘chance.’
"This is a legitimate use of the phrase random selection. A selection is made but without the specific intention of choosing a particular person’s ticket. But intention is at work. We are intentionally choosing an unknown ticket. Again ‘chance’ does not influence which ticket is chosen. That is determined by how the hidden tickets were mixed in the shaking and where the selector’s hand reaches into the box. There is no operation of chance itself.
If the phrase random selection is used as a synonym for action-without-a-cause, then it is illogical. Also the term selection may be used in a metaphorical or figurative sense. This is the way the phrase natural selection is often used."[5]

The folly of neo-Darwinism’s worldview can surely be seen in its use of the term Natural Selection. This term is an oxymoron – but, ironically, only to the neo-Darwinist! Selection that takes place naturally is still selection. For selection naturally follows a set of laws, even if those laws are natural laws. All law is evidence or revelation of a lawgiver. Even a cursory reading of Genesis chapter one would demonstrate to the reader that every time the Triune God said the word ‘Let’ He was setting ‘natural’ laws in place. For example, ‘Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth according to its kind”, and it was so.’ The antecedent of all law (whether physical, genetic, biological, mathematical, aeronautical, lingual, musical, moral, natural, etc., etc.) is God the great Lawgiver. Natural Selection is indeed a ‘non-chance mechanism.’ Therefore whatever else it may be, Natural Selection, is a law, i.e., of Natural Law,[6] and as such, is revelation of – i.e., is evidence of – the lawgiver who is none other than the Triune God.

[1] Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism, Baker Books, 2006, pp. 155-6.
[2] Ibid. p. 154.
[3] The Herald Forum, Glasgow, May 8, 2008.
[4] Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden. p. 155.
[5] RC Sproul, Not a Chance, The Myth of Chance in Modern Science & Cosmology, Baker Books, 1994, p. 162-163.
[6] Natural Law = 1 Philos. Unchanging moral principles common to all people by virtue of their nature as human beings. 2 a correct statement of an invariable sequence between specified conditions and a specified phenomenon. 3 the laws of nature; regularity in nature (where they saw chance, we saw natural law). Oxford English Reference Dictionary.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

CALVINISM VERSUS DARWINISM

Make no mistake, Calvinism and Neo-Darwinism are two very much opposed worldviews. They are locked in mortal combat. So serious is this matter that, if it hasn’t already, Western democracy will become detached from its Christian moorings to be set adrift in the uncharted seas of relativism – i.e., if Neo-Darwinism is permitted to cut the West’s Biblical moorings.
Says one representative atheist,

'We must fight for a post-Christian secularism, that is to say atheistic, militant, and radically opposed to choosing between Western Judeo-Christianity and its Islamic adversary – neither Bible nor Koran. I persist in preferring philosophers to rabbis, priests, imams, ayatollahs, and mullahs. Rather than trust their theological hocus-pocus, I prefer to draw on alternatives to the dominant philosophical historiography: the laughers, materialists, radicals, cynics, hedonists, atheists, sensualists, voluptuaries. They know that there is only one world, and that promotion of an afterlife deprives us of the enjoyment and benefit of the only one there is. A genuinely deadly sin.'[1]

Au contraire! As a matter of fact, as a Christian I enjoy this world very much thank you! I’m also looking forward to this world’s future renewal! Therefore I would much rather listen to the Frenchman and Christian John Calvin than the Frenchman and anti-Christian Michel Onfray any day! Says Calvin,

'The Apostle Paul distinguishes believers by this mark, that their ‘conversation is in heaven,’ whence also they ‘await their Saviour’ (Philippians 3:20). And, that their courage may not fail in this race, Paul joins all creatures to them as companions. For because formless ruins are seen everywhere, he says that everything in heaven and on earth strives after renewal (Romans 8:19). For since Adam by his fall brought into confusion the perfect order of nature, the bondage to which the creatures have been subjected because of man’s sin is heavy and grievous to them. Not that they are endowed with any perception, but they naturally long for the undamaged condition whence they have fallen. Accordingly, Paul has attributed ‘groaning’ and ‘birth pangs’ (Romans 8:22) to them, that we, ‘who have received the first fruits of the Spirit’ (Romans 8:23), should be ashamed to languish in our corruption, and not at least to imitate the dead elements, which bear the punishment for the sin of another.

'To prick us more sharply, Paul calls the final coming of Christ ‘our redemption’ (cf. Romans 8:23). It is true indeed that all the parts of our resurrection have already been completed; but because Christ was once for all offered for sins (Hebrews 10:12), ‘He shall appear a second time, apart from sin... unto salvation’ (Hebrews 9:28). Whatever hardships distress us, let this ‘redemption’ sustain us until its completion.'[2]

John Calvin (1509-64) systematized the Christian Religion at the time when the Church that had become very deformed under the papacy and Roman Catholicism, was being reformed. Reformed Christianity, to which I adhere, began at the time of the great Reformation – a time of getting back to what the Bible really teaches.


Perhaps you have been inoculated against Reformed Christianity and the Christian worldview. Perhaps some portion of misinformation propagated by anti-Christians such as Michel Onfray or Richard Dawkins has so gotten stuck in your craw that it causes you to spit whenever you hear Calvin’s name mentioned! A small sample of the teeth gnashing and vitriol spewing that the name of Calvin causes in some can be found the following caricature of Calvin and some of his Biblical understandings, as painted by the Darwinist and ‘journalist’ Christopher Hitchens,

'According to the really extreme religious totalitarians, such as John Calvin, who borrowed his awful doctrine from Augustine, an infinity of punishment can be awaiting you even before you are born. Long ago it was written which souls would be chosen or ‘elected’ when the time came to divide the sheep from the goats. No appeal against this primordial sentence is possible, and no good works or profession of faith can save one who has not been fortunate enough to be picked. Calvin’s Geneva was a prototypical totalitarian state, and Calvin himself a sadist and torturer and killer, who burned Servetus (one of the great thinkers and questioners of the day) while the man was still alive. The lesser wretchedness induced in Calvin’s followers, compelled [them] to waste their lives worrying if they had been ‘elected’ or not…'[3]

Hitchens goes on to state that he has had some crazy people phone him ‘with hoarse voices condemning me to death or hell or both’ … And of ‘the eternal blackening of my name by religious frauds and liars.’[4] Crazy people are crazy whatever their worldview, but, in the interest of truth, sanity, and the un-blackening of the name of John Calvin, Francis Nigel Lee sets the record straight,

'Servetus had blasphemously described the most blessed Trinity as a three-headed dog and a monster from hell! Yet even at a time when the Catholic Inquisition was seeking to slay Servetus and every Protestant city in Europe had expelled him or condemned him, Calvin corresponded with him and sent him a copy of his Institutes. For Calvin sought to win Servetus to Christ!

'Knowing full well that Calvin favoured the punishment of exile for heretics and the death penalty for blasphemers, the wretched Servetus arrogantly made his way to Geneva planning to overthrow Calvin and de-christianize the city. Put on trial by the civil magistrates of Geneva (and not by Calvin who was neither a judge nor a citizen of that city) Servetus was found guilty of blasphemy and sedition and sentenced to death by burning. Calvin unsuccessfully tried to get Servetus to recant his errors. When Servetus would not recant, Calvin pleaded for a milder form of punishment. And later still, Calvin also pleaded with Servetus in his death cell to get right with God and accept the Divine Christ as his Lord and Master!

'Rarely in the annals of history has so much evangelical concern ever been shown to such a monstrous miscreant, as Calvin showed to Michael Servetus, enemy of Christ and Christianity and of public law and order! Even during that highly intolerant age, the gentle Calvin tenderly yet firmly presented Christ and His salvation to the very man who had sought to destroy him!'[5]
See also Doug Phillips’ article John Calvin, Founding Father in Washington Post
 
 

[1] Michel Onfray, The Atheist Manifesto – The Case Against Christianity, Judaism and Islam, Melbourne University Press, 2007, (Translated from the French by Jeremy Leggatt) p. 219.
[2] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3:25:2, 1559.
[3] Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great, How religion poisons everything, Allen & Ulwin, 2007, p. 233.
[4] Ibid. p. 271.
[5] Francis Nigel Lee, John Calvin True Presbyterian, Jesus Lives Series, pp. 17-18. http://www.dr-fnlee.org/

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

TEN MILLION PIECES OF EVIDENCE FOR DESIGN DISMISSED!

By the astounding claims of one of its chief proponents and apologists there is now irrefutable evidence that Evolutionism is beginning to collapse on account of a faulty design built upon a faulty premise. The Neo-Darwinist Richard Dawkins (also a biologist), in answer to the argument that design in creation necessarily implies a designer, alleges (in the face of the mass of evidence to the contrary!), that

'We live on a planet where we are surrounded by perhaps ten million species, each one of which independently displays a powerful illusion of apparent design.’[1]

Wow! Don't rush past this. Think about it. Here we have a biologist dismissing ten million pieces of evidence of design because the body of evidence does not fit with his theory! What’s happening here? Ultimately Dawkins’ argument begins and ends with that which he believes beforehand, which is to say that his argument is based upon his own set of neo-Darwinian presuppositions. These presuppositions may be summarised by something like the following ‘I believe in the Theory of Evolution. And I believe that Natural Selection is the mechanism by which contemporary man has ‘evolved’ to his present state. Therefore I will do all I can to defend my belief-system – even to the point of claiming that all design in creation is simply ‘apparent’ and therefore is illusory. And by so doing I refuse the God of Christianity, i.e., the alleged Designer of creation and all therein, even a foot in the door.’

To this the Christian replies as the Christian has replied for centuries:

'I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, Who was conceived of the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; The third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.'[2]

Rather than beginning and ending with contemporary man Christian cosmology holds up the eternal transcendent Triune God who has revealed Himself in the Bible as the great originator of all things (i.e., the universe, life, man etc.) And because Christian cosmology begins with God it holds that contemporary man is not identical to man as God created him in the beginning. Contemporary man is fallen man.

[1] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Bantam Press 2006, p. 139.
[2] This, the so-called ‘Apostles’ Creed’, articulates the basic teaching of the Bible and therefore what all Christians believe. Christians other than the Apostles wrote the Apostles’ Creed in the early centuries after Christ.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

DAWKINS DESIGN DEBATE!

Click on the following to see New Zealander Renton MacLachlan interview himself, which is to say that he interviews himself as "Richard Dawkins." It's brilliant!

Warning: One needs to have evolved at least half a brain to follow "Dawkins'" non-argument!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2RMU9_7jSY

Dawkins' cowardly refusal (the big fearty!) to debate Creationists about design is no problemo for Renton!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

THE SPIRIT OF NEWNESS

‘Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest.’ Isaiah 32:15. A thirsty land. A shower of God. A forest of people.

‘My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.’ Psalm 143:6b. ‘Jesus stood and cried out saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.’ John 7:37b-39a. Thirsty souls. Rivers of God. Spirit-filled people.

‘Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beasts of the field will honour Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen. This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise.’ Isaiah 43:19-21. Transformed deserts. A word from God. Transformed people.

‘Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.’ Ezekiel 36:25-27. Cleansed souls. Blessings from God. Obedient people.

‘John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and all were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins… And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”’ Mark 1:4,5,7. Penitent souls. Poured out water. Promised Spirit.

‘While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.’ Acts 10:44-48a. Souls magnifying the Lord. Promise poured out. Covenant signed and sealed.

Is your soul like a shrivelled walnut? Have you withered on the vine? Is your heart dry as dust? Is your tongue of praise sticking to the roof of your mouth? Is a guilty conscience sapping away all your strength? Then hear what Jehovah-Jesus says, ‘Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without price. Why do you spend money on what is not bread, and your wages on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear to Me, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you – the sure mercies of David.’ Isaiah 55:1-3.

A desert in bloom is a picture of a land renewed and a soul restored. ‘The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.’ Psalm 23:1-3.

As Peter says, ‘Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.’ 2 Peter 3:13. And John says, ‘Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold! I make all things new.”’ Revelation 21:1a, 5a. Not only does the Spirit renew the individual and cause deserts to bloom, He even renews the whole cosmos!

To join with all creation in its praise of the wonderful and gracious Creator bow the knee before Jesus Christ and call on Him. ‘For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Romans 10:13. ‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.’ 2 Corinthians 5:17.