Late physicist Stephen Hawking’s final book was published Tuesday, and he doesn’t fail to take on the big issues, including the existence of God. briefanswershawking Enlarge Image

Stephen Hawking’s final book was published Oct. 16, just seven months after his death in March. Penguin Random House

“Do I have faith?” he writes in Brief Answers to the Big Questions. “We are each free to believe what we want, and it’s my view that the simplest explanation is that there is no God. No one created the universe, and no one directs our fate.”

Hawking goes on to say that this realization made him decide belief in an afterlife was just “wishful thinking” and that “when we die, we return to dust.”

But Hawking, who died in March at age 76, also saw a silver lining in what to some could be a bleak view. Humans live on in their influence, and in their children, he wrote.

Even though Hawking said he didn’t believe in a personal God, if there was one, the scientist said, he had a question for Him.

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Resource with John Piper Topic: Diet & Exercise

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

What do you say to those who claim drinking is OK because Jesus drank wine?

You say, “I think you meant to add just a word or two to that sentence, like ‘drinking can be OK’ … OK?” The statement “It’s OK” may or may not carry in their mind a pattern of life that’s healthy.

I would say some drinking is definitely not OK, like drinking to drunkenness. That’s clear in the Bible. Another one that’s not OK is drinking with a person who is manifestly having their conscience wounded and being tempted or drawn into something that they just spent six years trying through Teen Challenge and AA to get free from. And now you’re drawing them right in to what killed them! And it kills millions of people in this culture. It’s killing marriages, it’s killing jobs. Alcohol is deadly in this culture.

Now I don’t know how deadly it was in Jesus’ culture. Drunkenness was real. Clearly the Bible condemns it. How real and deadly it was though, I don’t know. I just know what I’m dealing with when I go to talk at Teen Challenge or when I pray with a man like I did after church last Sunday who said, “When I’m done here, I’m going out and getting drunk, because I’m done. I think I’m apostate, and I’m beyond help and forgiveness. And I’ve been through treatment so many times it’s hopeless.” I just know that is so prevalent. People that are cavalier about this thing called alcohol make no sense to me.

So, I’m just saying, “Add a word to that sentence.”

Of course you can’t defend teetotalism in any absolute way from the Bible. It’s clear that wine is a blessing in the Bible.

If you make the choice, like me, that I’m going to be a teetotaler, it’s just not based on the condemnation of the evil of wine. That’s just not it at all! It’s the context in which I live. It’s my children and my grandchildren. It’s my addictive personality. I can’t even buy a pack of gum without going through it in an hour.

I sense a lot of young guys who don’t want to be legalistic and want to spread their wings and know gospel freedom are just not very realistic about the world in which we live.

So that’s a little warning. And I know the pushback would be real strong from a lot of people I admire greatly that I could easily fall into a trap of ruling out for everybody what God has given as a precious gift. John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, and most recently Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship.

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Article by Marshall Segal

Staff writer, desiringGod.org

Alcohol has been called the great truth serum. If you want to get to the bottom of yourself — to truly know yourself better — grab a bottle.

People drink for lots of reasons. Many drink to experience freedom, an unrestrained, unchecked, and uninhibited “me.” What comes out when you’re drunk — in person, over the phone, on social media, or in text messages — is supposed to be the real you, what you really think and feel under all the put-together masks you wear. The promise on tap is that excessive alcohol will unlock you to yourself and all your friends. It’s liberation by libation.

But the Bible presents a different picture of freedom. “For freedom Christ has set us free . . . Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:1, 13). Freedom, then, is not the selfish, reckless wielding of cravings and opinions. Freedom, rather, is the sober, calculated, sacrificial laying down of our lives for the good of others.

If that doesn’t sound like freedom to us — and it won’t to most of us — then we may have had a few too many glasses of what the world is serving. Sobriety About Drunkenness

“Drunkenness may expose things deep inside of you, but it doesn’t have any good news for the darkness that emerges.” Tweet Share on Facebook

Is drunk you the real you? It’s true, alcohol does not bring anything out of a person that was not already there. The heart is always the tapped keg of any anger, lust, or profanity that pours out (Matthew 12:34). Therefore, who you are when you’re drunk is you.

That person is you, but it’s a small, pitiful, broken, and incomplete you — a you marred by sin, consumed with self, blind to truth, and therefore numb to reality. He or she is not the you God created you to be, not the you that’s most in tune with real life, and not the fullest and happiest you. Drunkenness may expose and unleash things deep inside of you, but it doesn’t have any good news for the darkness that emerges. It will show you all of you, and then soothingly promise that laughing at what you see will make it all better.

The gospel also exposes that secret side of you, but then it frees you from you. Instead of drowning yourself in something that numbs the pain and blurs reality, why not drown yourself in the grace that will forgive and heal what’s broken and hidden inside of you? Forfeiting and Fulfilling

Again, the Bible says,

Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:18–21)

I used to think that when the Bible told me not to do something — like not to get drunk — it was self-denial for the sake of self-denial. Forsaking “worldly” pleasures was just a way to declare I was a Christian, to set myself apart from all the bad people. In Paul’s picture, though, this kind of self-denial is not merely a loss, but a trade — not mainly a forfeiting, but a fulfilling. Forsaking drunkenness isn’t just a name tag for righteous Christians. It’s a path to becoming a more whole and happy person.

Putting on the Spirit, rehearsing the good news, exercising self-control, and serving each other within a community of believers are not ways we become less ourselves, but ways in which we rid ourselves of sin — of our old selves — in order to become more of who we were designed to be. In drunkenness, we retreat and surrender to sin inside of us, accepting that broken me is the real me I’ll always be. In the Spirit, we cleanse and advance ourselves with real truth, grace, hope, and joy, not artificial and expiring counterfeits. All Who Are Thirsty

“Alcohol only numbs the pain and blurs reality. Grace forgives and heals what’s broken inside of you.” Tweet Share on Facebook

We are denying a real desire, but we’re not sacrificing our self. The trade is gain — in satisfaction and in self-realization. We were made to be and feel free, not for our sinful impulses, but from them. We were made to be known — every part of us, even the darkest secrets — but not in ways that will be forgotten the next morning. We were made to be happy, not in some incoherent, half-conscious way, but fully aware of ourselves and the world around us. And one day, those who have said no to this world, and instead have had their fill of Christ, will find themselves even more awake to themselves, to each other, and to God in his presence (1 Corinthians 13:12).

We don’t discover ourselves by relaxing our self-control and inhibitions. No, we discover who we really are — who we are meant to be — by denying our shortsighted, selfish, sinful impulses, by embracing Jesus Christ and all of his promises through faith, and with his Spirit inside of us, by exerting his wisdom and his power and his love for the sake of others.

All who drink from his well will never thirst again (John 6:35). Marshall Segal (@marshallsegal) is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org. He’s the author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness & Dating (2017). He graduated from Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Faye, have a son and live in Minneapolis

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Question: “Why doesn’t the book of Esther mention God?”

Answer: The book of Esther is unique in several ways. One distinguishing characteristic is that it’s the only biblical book that does not mention God by name. This fact has caused some to question its place in the biblical canon, but, in reality, the absence of God’s name fits perfectly with the theme of the book.

Here are some reasons why God’s name may not have been referenced in Esther: first, one emphasis of Esther appears to be how God works behind the scenes. The book of Esther records no miracles and no direct intervention of God at all. In Esther’s story, the Lord redeems His people through the faith and courage of one strategically placed woman and her cousin. All the while, things are happening behind the scenes to bring about the final result.

Also, it is possible God is not mentioned directly in Esther because of the circumstances of its writing. Jewish tradition claims authorship by Mordecai. If Mordecai is the author, he wrote the book in Persia while serving under King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes). Instead of directly crediting God for the victory of the Jewish people, Mordecai may have written the book to better fit the polytheistic context of Susa. This would have kept him protected from harm by the king or other enemies while still communicating the account of God’s work through Queen Esther.

Another emphasis in Esther is the theme of fasting. There are six separate feasts throughout the book, and these stand in stark contrast to Esther’s choice to fast for three days before confronting the king with the matter of saving the Jewish people. She likewise asked other Jews to join her: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do” (Esther 4:16). It is understood that fasting is done before God and to request God’s help. So, even though God’s name is not directly mentioned, Esther is involved in a religious observance meant to supplicate God’s mercy.

Finally, the book of Esther may not mention God because the emphasis is on God’s providence. Mordecai states in Esther 4:14, “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” In his rhetorical question, Mordecai alludes to divine sovereignty without calling it such. The principle is that God places people in particular places at particular times to accomplish His particular plans.

The book of Esther may not directly mention God, yet it clearly reveals God at work. His name is not written in the book, but His fingerprints, as we say, are all over it. The coincidences, the amazing reversals, and the poetic justice that led to the deliverance of the Jews in Persia all proclaim the presence of God.

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