Categories
Belief in God Biblical doctrines hermeneutics

Only in Jesus is found the way, the truth and the life

In John chapter 14 Jesus tells His disciples not to be worried because He has a plan and that plan includes a place (actually a ‘residence’) in heaven prepared for them.

John 14:1-4 Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Firstly, Jesus identifies Himself as God  (verse 1). He speaks with full knowledge as only the omniscient God can. Here He speaks in absolute terms. He does not say “If you stay away from sin, or if you are good, then I will give you a mansion in heaven”. No, His language is definite. The disciples were chosen and from the moment they were saved they had this promise of eternal life in heaven. But they were not saved until later, which we read in John chapter 20. That was after Jesus’ resurrection.

John 20:21,22 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be to you: as My Father has sent Me, even so send I you. 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive you the Holy Ghost:

It was then they were born again as real Christians. Jesus breathed His Spirit into them that they might be saved and have the Holy Spirit indwell them. This was a pivotal point in the lives of the disciples as it is in the lives of those saved by God now. All saved Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives the believer an understanding of spiritual things (John 14:26). But at this time, in John 14, they did not have that understanding. Jesus said,

John 14:4,5 And where I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas said to Him, Lord, we know not where You go; and how can we know the way?

Even though Jesus spoke of preparing a place for them in heaven, they did not understand.  Jesus even said that they knew where and the way they knew also. But they didn’t have the understanding of the Holy Spirit to recognise it at that time.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him [Thomas], I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me.

Categories
astronomy Cosmology Physics

Will the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy consume us all?

The headline of an online article1 posed this question: “Will Our Black Hole Eat the Milky Way?” It is a good question to ask. Should we, here on Earth, be afraid of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Galaxy? With it acting like some sort of a super cosmic vacuum cleaner will it eventually suck up our home planet and the rest of the galaxy? The short answer is no. But let’s review why that is so, and you’ll see it is not quite the same answer that a secular astronomer would give.

Our galaxy, called the Milky Way, has a supermassive black hole at its centre. The black hole has a mass of about 4 million times the mass of the sun.2,3 The Galaxy as a whole has a mass of about 20 billion suns (assuming no dark matter4,5), which is about 5,000 times the mass of the super-massive black hole. This makes the mass of the black hole 0.02% of the mass of the whole galaxy. It’s very small but also the stars around the black hole, at the centre of the galaxy, remain in very stable orbits. Few are consumed by the black hole, and those which are, represent a very small consumption of the mass of the whole galaxy as a function of time.

So don’t worry. You have absolutely nothing to worry about. The amount of time it hypothetically would take the black hole to consume the Galaxy is practically longer than the age of the Galaxy, assuming only natural processes of decay, and collision with any nearby galaxies.

Essentially that supermassive black hole, located near Sagittarius A* (see Fig. 1), presents no problem just sitting there at the centre of the Galaxy. The orbits of the stars around it are stable.

sgrastar
Figure 1: Sagittarius A*. Credit: Chandra

Back in the 1970s, the astronomers Bruce Balick and Robert Brown realized that there was an intense source of radio emissions coming from the very center of the Milky Way, in the constellation Sagittarius. They designated it Sgr A*. The asterisk stands for exciting.1

In 2002, astronomers observed that there were stars zipping past this object, like comets on elliptical paths going around the Sun. Using Newtonian physics the mass of the central object can be calculated from the speeds of the stars orbiting, though Einstein’s relativistic physics is more accurate. So even though the central object could not be seen directly its mass could be calculated. And because of the permissible size that such a central object could be its density can be estimated. The only possible object with such density and gravity to affect the orbital speeds of the observed stars means it must be a black hole. In this case, it worked out that the black hole must have a mass several millions times the mass of our own sun. See Fig. 2.

Categories
Biblical doctrines Christianity

Did Old Testament believers have a concept of the afterlife?

The New Testament gives very specific details and revelation from God on the afterlife. Did Old Testament believers have any such notions?  There are some indications, though not so many.

18002011-BTH-Job-2-11-Job-and-his-comfortersThe book of Job is considered to be one of the oldest books in the Bible. Therefore from the earliest times on record we know that there was some knowledge of the afterlife.

Job 19:25-27 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins [heart] be consumed within me.

Job had the assurance that although he was going to die and be eaten by worms, he would receive a new body (“in my flesh”) and in that body he would see God face to face, i.e. in his conscious mind.

Categories
Belief in God Biblical doctrines

Predestination: Did God choose to save some?

by John Calvin (abridged)1,2

Eternal Election, Or God’s Predestination of Some to Salvation, and of Others to Destruction

1. The Gospel not being equally preached to all, and among those to whom it is preached not always finding the same reception, this leads us to inquire into the doctrine of God’s eternal election. In the opinion of many, this is a perplexing subject; for they consider nothing more unreasonable, than that of the common mass of mankind, some should be predestinated to salvation and others to destruction. On our part, we shall never understand fully our salvation as flowing from the fountain of God’s free mercy, until we know His eternal election. The knowledge of God’s eternal election is productive of the most delightful benefit; but ignorance of this principle detracts from the Divine glory, and diminishes real humility. According to Paul, what is so necessary to be known, can never be known, unless God, without regard to works, chooses those whom He has decreed. “At this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Romans 11:5, 6).