Christadelphians accept that all of the Bible is the wholly inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). They therefore read it carefully and regularly. A reading plan, called the Bible Companion, enables them to read the Old Testament once in a year, and the New Testament twice. Christadelphians have been worshipping in Spalding for over 100 years in a small purpose built hall.
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Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton is frequently mentioned as one of the leading lights in the 18th century as his scientific discoveries strengthened the prevailing attitude of enlightenment without the need for God. Yet Isaac Newton firmly believed in God as the Creator who set in motion the laws of the universe. A quotation from Isaac Newton sums up his attitude towards God: “He who thinks half-heartedly will not believe in God; but he who really thinks has to believe in God.”
That statement was not just a challenge to his own generation: it stands as a challenge to all generations – to think deeply about God. God created man with the ability to think, to search out things and to reason; but all searching must begin with God.
Little Known Fact
Sir Isaac Newton has been called “the greatest scientific genius the world has known” and this may be so; but not many people know that he had another love – the Bible. He was a friend of Maurice Johnson, who founded the Spalding’s Gentlemen’s Society, and was himself an honorary member. It may have been somewhat difficult for Isaac to adhere to the rules of the Gentlemen’s Society of not talking about religion! For religion was his passion. It is said that he spent less time on science than on theology. Best known for his scientific achievements, it is a little known fact that he wrote 1.3 million words on biblical subjects!
He was born in the manor house at Woolsthorpe near Grantham in Lincolnshire, now owned by the National Trust. Isaac’s father died before he was born and his mother, Hannah Ayscough, then remarried when he was three years old. He spent a lot of his childhood with his grandmother and went to the grammar school in Grantham. As an adult he studied in Cambridge, but his love of the Bible was largely evident only when an auction of his non-scientific writings was held in 1936. Newton seldom made public pronouncements regarding his theology, yet he was an avid Bible student and once wrote:
“But search the scriptures thyself and that by frequent reading and constant meditation upon what thou readest, and earnest prayer to God to enlighten thine understanding if thou desirest to find the truth".
Newton was a believer in the Second Coming of Christ and readily discussed what the Bible had to say concerning the prophecies in Daniel and the Book of Revelation. He also held his beliefs on the unity of God and carried out a great deal of research on the nature of Christ’s relationship to his Father. He did considerable work on biblical numerology and was very fond of Bible study.
Newton loved Bible prophecy so much that he would debate with other like-minded people about the date of the end of the world. In a 1704 manuscript he describes his attempts to extract scientific information from the Bible,
“This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail. Christ comes as a thief in the night, and it is not for us to know the times and seasons which God hath put into his own breast.”
Newton was referring to the return of Christ to the earth and stated that this would only happen when Israel was restored as a nation in their own land according to his Bible studies.
Isaac Newton died in 1727 and, at that time, there was no nation of Israel as the Jews had been deported from their ancient homeland and had been scattered throughout the world. But, perceptive as ever, Isaac had worked out that prophecies like this had to be fulfilled, and that the Jews were destined to return to their own land, as the purpose of God came into its final phase:
'Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock’ (Jeremiah 31:10);
Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of Me in their hearts, that they may not turn from Me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all My heart and all my soul. 'For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them' (Jeremiah 32:37–42);
Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel’ (Ezekiel 11:17).
People sometimes say that Bible readers make the prophecies fit events that have already happened, but Sir Isaac Newton was clear that an important event was awaited, and that it was going to happen when the time was right. In fact, the nation of Israel was not established again, as a nation among the nations of the world, the 14th May 1948 – 221 years after his death. He was that far ahead of his time!
God's Created World
It has been said that the Bible doctrine of Creation was the underpinning of Newton’s science. He certainly believed in the Creator who set in motion the laws of the universe and this is what he said: “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being ... This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as lord over all; and on account of His dominion He is wont to be called Lord God.” “One can never unlock the secrets of the universe until they come to realise that there was a designer of that expanse”.
His scientific achievements are still spoken of today. When Apollo 8 was returning from the moon to the earth, NASA asked which one of the astronauts was guiding the capsule. The reply was “Sir Isaac Newton”. For the laws discovered by Newton nearly three hundred years ago made space flights possible; but the real credit must go to the Lord God who put the laws there in the first place. As Newton once wrote: “Gravity explains the motions of planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion”. It is the Lord God who put the laws in place for sustaining life itself, as the Bible explains, and there are plenty of reasons why we should align ourselves with people like Sir Isaac Newton and believe in the Creator. We have to exercise our minds and develop our understanding and, as a consequence, we too can come to this conclusion, expressed by the apostle:
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible (Hebrews 11:3).
Believing in God the Creator is a good start. Believing in His Word and understanding his purpose is the next great step. Then we must prepare our lives for the great changes that lie ahead for the earth and for the new society to be established when Jesus returns. It is this promise given by the angels to the apostles, as they saw their Master ascending to heaven, that is soon to be fulfilled as God’s plan of salvation moves forward: 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.' (Acts 1:11)
Did you know.....
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