Tom: Thanks, Gary. Dave, I’m getting right into the first question, okay? We’re not messing around this time. “I recently read two books, Witness of the Stars by E. W. Bullinger, and The Gospel in the Stars by Joseph A. Seiss. They were interesting, but something about them troubled me. Is it true that the gospel is really in the stars and that ancient man, even before the flood, had this witness and knew what it meant?”
Dave: Tom, I don’t understand how this idea persists. No, it is not true of the gospel.
Tom: Well, Dave, I thought, well, it was an interesting question, and I thought, “Why would anybody even have an idea that this may have impacted people?” And then I went to Job, chapter 9, verse 9. It says: “…which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south”; Job:38:31: “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?” And then, Dave, in Amos, just to show you that Job wasn’t the only one dealing with this—Amos, chapter 5, verse 8: “Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is his name.” So, at least there are references to these, which I would like you to explain. Why would there be references to these?
Dave: Well, because from ancient times people had noticed certain configurations in the stars, and they had been given these common names.
Tom: Like we say, the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper.
Dave: Right. It was just a common parlance of people everywhere, but what does that have to do with the gospel? The gospel is “how Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes it,” and this is the gospel. Now, find that in the stars. It simply isn’t there, and why anyone would persist in this myth? You have to go to astrology, you know—they even go to the signs of the zodiac, and so forth, which come from the stars. But all that Job is saying, all that the Bible is saying, is there is some influence of Pleiades, I don’t understand what it is, but it has some gravitational or some kind of play in the scheme of things.
Tom: Just as the moon does—affects the earth.
Dave: Right, but that has nothing to do with the gospel. The Bible says…
Tom: And it has nothing to do with determining who you are and where you are going to end up, and decisions that you’re going to make and things that happen in your life.
Dave: No. Psalm 19 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” But what is it that you hear? Well, Paul tells you in Romans, chapter 1, that the power and godhead of God—in other words, His creative power, His wisdom, His ability to create the universe—is clearly seen by the things that He has made. It never tells us that the gospel is seen. So, from creation, we know that God exists. We know it didn’t happen by chance. We know this for sure. But what else do you get from the stars? Even—you could say, “Well, the Southern Cross….”
Tom: Yeah, I was going to mention that. Constantine saw a cross in the skies.
Dave: But that wasn’t in the stars.
Tom: And we don’t even know if that happened.
Dave: No. That’s…Eusebius says so. There are certain others, who tell that he heard a voice, or he saw a cross—it didn’t happen to be the same cross like we have. It was a Mithraic cross. He put it on the shields. He had a lot of soldiers in his army who worshipped the god Mithrus.
But anyway, I’ve been in the Southern Hemisphere a number of times, and I’ve seen the Southern Cross—but what would that tell you? Would that tell you that Christ would be crucified? That one day, God would come to this earth, be born of a virgin, and that He would be hated and rejected, He would be crucified on a cross, and the third day He would rise again? That He would pay the penalty for the sins of the world? Even this cross—what would that mean to someone 5,000 years ago or 2,000 years ago or even today? What would that mean to someone in the South Pacific, someone in the jungle of Africa, or wherever?
Come on! The gospel in the stars is—it’s a myth! It’s, in fact, I was going to say “well-intentioned,” but how can it be well-intentioned when you are trying to say that the stars, from which man has taken astrology and so forth, and all kinds of superstitions, that this carries the gospel?
Now, what they say is that there was some kind of an oral tradition that went along with this, that came from way back there. Well, wait a minute! The Bible tells us that the gospel first began to be preached in the New Testament: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ….” I think Mark starts out like that. So how could it be in the stars way back there? Well, it’s not in the stars, obviously, so there was some kind of an oral tradition that went along with it. How would this oral tradition get around to everybody in the world? And why would it be associated with the stars, where you can’t even be sure of what did some of these…?
Tom: Well, Dave, we’ve heard it said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Why is that? Well, if you’ve got a hundred people, you’ve got a hundred different ideas about it. It’s incredibly subjective. The gospel, on the other hand, is objective. We have God’s Word, God’s truth, that spells out in particular.
Dave: Never do I find the apostles pointing to the stars; never do I find anyone in the Bible pointing to the stars. I mean, if the gospel was in the stars, why didn’t they just say so? Why didn’t Paul just say, “You all know the gospel is in the stars. Take a look up there—this is the gospel that saves.” No, it doesn’t, and it isn’t.
Let’s take Virgo, the virgin, so-called, and child. Now, even if you could make this out—I mean, it takes a lot of imagination—but let’s say, “Well, yeah, I can see that well enough there, and I can see that child—Oh, well, this is a virgin! ‘And behold a virgin will conceive and bring forth a child; his name shall be called Immanuel’ Oh, I get all of that by looking at the stars, and I can tell that this babe would be born in Bethlehem—and what do you know? This is God manifest in the flesh, ‘and his name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and of his kingdom and peace there will be no end.’”
Tom, I’m sorry, it’s ludicrous—absolutely ludicrous—how sincere people, pastors, Bible teachers, can persist in this! Now, I think what they are trying to do is they are trying to do what the universe does. We can point to the universe and say, “You cannot escape it, God created this! It couldn’t happen by chance.” Now they are trying to point to the stars and say, “You see, God has put the gospel up there—that’s even more powerful.” But it isn’t in the stars.
Tom: Dave, I think of the nucleus of a cell, one cell—it has a lot of information in it, and so, on that basis, we can say, “This couldn’t have happened by chance, because information demands thought; it demands intelligence.” But, I can’t say, “Oh, well, if we just look at the nucleus of a cell, we will find the gospel.” There’s more information in that than you would find with regard to the stars.
Dave: Yeah, but they’re looking at pictures. They think there’s a picture up there. But even if you had a picture, even if you had a picture of Christ on the Cross, okay? Let’s really bring it up as clear as it could be. You look up in the sky, you see a man with a crown of thorns on his head, and he’s hanging on a cross—now what is that going to tell you?
Tom: If I have no reference, or no basis, it’s just whatever I decide it means.
Dave: Does that tell you that this is God himself, who became a man? That He is dying for the sins of the world? Not only a cross, Tom, the fact that Jesus was crucified doesn’t save anybody—that only adds to our condemnation. How is that going to tell you that this man is God, He is one with the Father, and as He hangs on that cross, it pleased Yahweh, it pleased Jehovah, to bruise Him, Isaiah 53: “Thou hast put him to grief, and thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.” Tom, there is no way that you could get that out of that, even if it was the clearest picture—like a portrait—in the sky! I’m sorry….
Tom: Dave, Joseph Seiss, the author of The Gospel in the Stars—he is very definite about this. Let me quote to you from his book: “All the great doctrines of the Christian faith were known, believed, cherished, and recorded in the stars from the earliest generations of our race, proving that God has spoken to man and verily given him a revelation of truth and hopes precisely as written in our scriptures, and so finely cherished by all Christian believers.
Dave: Tom, that’s just pure nonsense. The Bible is written in words. It takes words: “This is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” We are born again by the word of God, not by a picture, so….
Tom: And even with words, it’s difficult enough for men to come to an understanding of what it says, although God has laid it out for us.
Dave: Now, let me quote D. James Kennedy. He promotes Seiss’s thesis, and he teaches that the gospel is in the stars, but listen to what he says in—this is a sermon he preached, titled: “The Gospel in the Stars,” and here’s what he said: “You can look at the stars in Virgo until you are green in the face, and they would never look like a woman.” Well then—“but the gospel is in the stars, clear and plain, as Seiss says.”
Well, Tom, we’ve probably spent enough time on this. Why do sincere people try to help God out and promote foolish theories, which a skeptic would say, “Look, if that’s what you’ve got, that’s the best you can produce, forget it! This is nonsense.” There is no gospel in the stars at all. Anyway, someone asked this who was apparently confused and they asked this question.
Tom: Now, Dave, let me test your memory here. Do you remember, a number of years back—sort of way back—there were some women who were finding…they were unearthing the gospel by finding these geodes, and then they were cutting them in half, and they were opening them, and they were saying that in this imagery they found stories from scriptures, and so on and so forth. Well, that’s a like a Rorschach test, isn’t it? Whatever you see, that’s what you get? Do you remember that?
Dave: [chuckling] Yes, it reminds me of a guy that—he’ taking a Rorschach test, and he sees sex everywhere. And they say to him—I mean, these are inkblots—I mean they don’t look like anything, and the guy says, “You’re obsessed with sex,” and he says, “I didn’t draw it! You did!”
Well, what is it that is in the geode, or what is it that is in the stars? Tom, you would have to know the gospel and then try to look at this and try to put it in there. You would never get it out of and you would never get anything out of a Rorschach inkblot. It takes your imagination—you put into it what you are thinking about. But to say that just looking at the stars, I would come up with the gospel of Jesus Christ—some person who has never heard the gospel before would come up with it. Tom, it’s just foolish, it’s obviously not true, and I’ve lost my patience. Can we move on to something else?
Tom: Yeah, we had better move on. I don’t want you pulling out any more of your hair, Dave. That would be unsightly. Question: “Something troubles me about evangelistic crusades and church services I have attended. It seems to me that the appeal to ‘come to Christ’ is linked to deliverance from sickness, from financial problems, from unhappiness, etc. At other times, even when the true gospel has been preached, it seems that the appeal has been based more on emotion than on truth. Isn’t something wrong, or am I just too picky?”
Dave: Well, Tom, in some instances, I would agree. This is not true of every gospel preacher, of course, but I have observed it too often. A good example would be Steve Hill, the evangelist at the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola. Now that excitement has died out, but I have watched hour after hour of their tapes. I have been to the “Toronto Blessing,” you know, up there, the Toronto airport, and various other places, and in churches—I have seen the evangelist so-called, working people up into an emotional state where they will buy anything you want to sell them. I’ve seen the steps, and it has troubled me deeply because that’s not what we want. We win people with the truth, and the Bible is called the Word of Truth. “This is the word of truth that we preach,” Paul said, and we need to give people a solid foundation for what they believe. Not an emotional trip that they get excited about Jesus for a period of time, but it wanes, and when they are challenged by skeptics, they don’t have the answers. That is part of the problem.
Tom: Dave, you know John:8:31-32: “If you continue in my word, you are my disciples indeed; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” How does that work, as opposed to some catharsis, or some emotional thing, that I feel moved in my heart, soul, spirit, or whatever?
Dave: Yes, and Tom, I’m not opposed to emotion. I’ve had some powerful emotional times with the Lord.
Tom: Dave, how can you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ without there being the experiential part? So we are not denying it.
Dave: Exactly. But I sometimes liken it to this, Tom. You go to a football game, NFL or whatever, or some high school or college—you’d be excited—Ohio State is playing, and you’ve got a 100,000 people in the stands, and they’re cheering their heads off, and all kinds of excitement down in the field. And then we decide, well hey, this is so much fun, let’s come back tomorrow, and we’ll do it again. You get the cheerleaders out there, they’re whipping the crowd into a frenzy, but there is no team on the playing field! Nothing is happening—it’s just in your imagination.
Without the truth of God, there is nothing to get excited about. And unfortunately, I’ve heard too many sermons that had very little truth, very little substance, in them—it was just mostly emotion. Sometimes I facetiously put it like this: Here’s a young man, runs up to Jesus and says, “Master, I’ll follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus says, “Peter, sign him up quick! John, get him in the choir! James, make a deacon out of him! I think the guy’s got some money, too, and we might get some donations out of him. We don’t want to say anything negative. That might turn him off!”
This is the way many churches operate today: “Don’t frighten them with truth. Don’t give them the facts.” But what did Jesus say? He said, “Are you sure you want to follow me? You want to know where I am going? I’m heading for a hill outside Jerusalem called Calvary. They are going to nail me to a cross. Now, if you want to follow me—you’re going to be true to me to the end—make up your mind right now, pick up your cross, and follow me, because that’s where we are going.”
You don’t hear that, Tom. You don’t hear that on television or radio—very, very seldom, at least. But this is the truth, and if we don’t confront people with the truth, Jesus said, as you quoted, “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples.” Not if you get excited. We can sing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus,” and not really love Him. That’s another problem that I have with some of the songs today. Everybody that can strum a guitar thinks he can write some gospel songs or some worship songs, so-called. And many of them are very shallow; they are empty of meaning, especially in comparison with some of the old hymns that we have that have real depth of doctrine and solid understanding and teaching.
Solomon said, “Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom, and with all thy wisdom get understanding.” And in Jeremiah:9:23: “Let not the rich glory in his riches…the wise in his wisdom, the wealthy in his riches. But let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord,” and He goes on and He explains Himself: “I am the Lord of mercy, but of justice also.” Or you could go to Matthew 13, where the first seed fell by the wayside. The birds of the air came and plucked it up, and the disciples said, “What does that mean?”
Jesus didn’t say, “Look, when you give the gospel, and you don’t get people excited and they don’t weep and they don’t come forward…,” and so forth. No, he said, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and understandeth it not, then comes that wicked one and takes from his heart the seed that was sown.” But instead of trying to bring people to a deep and clear understanding, a comprehension of the truth and the gospel, they try to work them up into some excited state where they can talk them into making a so-called “decision for Jesus,” and most of these so-called decisions don’t last.
Or, you could go to 1 John, chapter 5, where John says, “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us an emotional experience…got us all…no! …Has given us an understanding that we may know him that is true and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
Tom: Dave, in 2 Peter, Peter’s telling us about the experience—talk about experiences! Here he is on the Mount of Transfiguration, and how much more exciting and transforming could something be than that? But then, what does he say?
Dave: He says “we have a more sure word.” He doesn’t say “Because I was there on the Mount, because we heard God speak with an audible voice, because we saw Jesus transfigured—a shining garment like He’s in His kingdom—now you’ve got to believe anything we say.” No, he says you need some facts, and we have a “more sure word.” That is the word of prophecy, the prophecies from the Old Testament. Tom, they are really neglected, and I try to emphasize it a lot. This is the solid basis. Paul preached the gospel of God that He promised by His prophets and He said how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. We’ve got to get back to that, and then people will have a solid basis for their belief. They will really know the Lord, rather than just have an emotional experience that will fade.