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Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

Biblical Myths

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on February 28, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Dear doubter,

In your most recent letter the editor, you made much about the lack of any historical basis for the truths of the Bible. You implied the world would be better off if we “Christians” would not take the Bible so literal and that it can’t be the Word of God I quote “hard truth.”

My response to your criticism begins with the veracity of the scripture. We have excellent reason to believe the Bible is the Word of God. Just how accurate is the Bible when it comes to history? To begin the Bible is a collection of 66 books written over 1500 years by some 40 authors, spanning 3 continents, written in 3 languages, which addresses hundreds of controversial subjects and presents a single unfolding story. God’s redemption of man! It is by far the most challenged writing of antiquity, surviving grueling standards of testing and yet it has proven its reliability again and again. To stay brief I will review a few myths that archeology and history uncovered that sustained the reliability of the Bible. 

  1. If we compare the Gospels with other ancient manuscripts, how does it stand up in comparison?
Work When

Written

Earliest

Copy

Time Span No. of Copies
Homer 900 BC 400 BC 500 years 643
Caesar’s Gallic War 100-44 BC 800 AD 900 years 10
Plato’s Tetralogies 427-347 BC 900 AD 1200 years 7
Gospel’s 40-100 AD 125 AD 25 years 24000

 

“To be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament is to allow all of classical antiquities to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament.”

John Warwick Montgomery -is a scholarly maverick who has 11 earned degrees in multiple disciplines: philosophylibrarianshiptheology, and law. His degrees include: the A.B. with distinction in Philosophy (Cornell UniversityPhi Beta Kappa), B.L.S. and M.A. (University of California, Berkeley), B.D. and S.T.M. (Wittenberg UniversitySpringfield, Ohio), LL.B. (La Salle Extension University), M. Phil. in Law (University of Essex, England), Ph.D. (University of Chicago), Th.D Doctorat d’Universite (University of Strasbourg), LLM and LLD in canon law (Cardiff University).

There are many others at this level of education and creditability who will attest to the same statement or similar statements of authenticity.

  1. The Great Isaiah text versus the Masoretic Isaiah text: We have here two identical books from the Old Testament that are separated by 1000 years in publication. The first question that has to be answered “How different are they?” The great Isaiah text was found in 1947 as part of the Dead Sea scrolls and other major writings from 68 AD. The Masoretic test was relied upon by Jewish and Christian scholars for centuries and date from the 9th century AD. So how do they match up? The accuracy is astonishing for an ancient manuscript and is word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in 95% of the text. The 5% of variation consists in minor variations of spelling.

 

  1. Let’s visit one miracle from the New Testament the darkness described in the Gospels at the time of Jesus crucifixion. We refer to a statement from Julius Africanus writing in 221 AD who gives a skeptical explanation of the darkness that happened at Jesus’ death, denying the theological significance of the darkness at Jesus’ crucifixion but giving external corroboration that the darkness was a historical fact.

 

For the lack of space I will refer to these basic examples of the “hard truth” of the scriptures. I have several questions for “Dear doubter”. Are you absolutely sure miracles did not occur as described in the Bible? The answer would have you claiming absolute knowledge for all time eternity. Have you read the reactions of those who witnessed the miracles? Their reactions to the supernatural were uniquely human they were frightened. Who witnessed the miracles what type of people are they? As we read the scriptures we see they were ordinary fisherman down to earth types. The miracles are presented in context as realistic. How would you describe 911 from your perspective?

The real point seems to be “truth” and how can we know it? May I suggest you examine Christianity first? Of all the major world religions it has a basis that can be tested. To quote Craig Hazen “one can bring evidence to bear on it to determine if it’s likely true or false.”

The evidence supports the truth of the Bible as far the world being a better place if it were not taken seriously has a major flaw as proved by recent history. When we look at the 20th century and how philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche, John Paul Sartre claimed God is Dead while attacking the Bible.  How the world was made better with their thinking is seen in the actions of Hitler, Stalin, and others like them who have killed more people than all the previous 19 centuries put together! I would have to disagree the world would be better off without the Bible. A wise man said never judge a theology based on its abuse but on its truth claims.

In closing I want to take  just a minute to introduce the Jesus of the Bible. He claimed to be God in the flesh living on this earth as one of His creatures. God gave us His law to live by and we disobeyed it. Let’s examine just a few quickly:

Do not lie- have you ever told a lie even a white lie or a small deception? The law says we have broken it and we are liars. The judgment for lying:  (Rev 21:8 HCSB)  But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars–their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Do not covet- have you ever wanted something so bad you have and would put yourself at finical risk to have it at any means? The law says we have broken it and we are coveters. (Jas 4:2-4 HCSB)  You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure. Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.

Do not steal- have you ever taken anything that wasn’t yours no matter how small? The law says we have broken it and we are thieves. (1Co 6:9-10 HCSB)  Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.

We’ve only covered 3 of the 10 commandments and the pattern is already in place break the commands of God no matter how small and the judgment of God is in place to penalize you. Hell is a real place that real sinners go to when they die.

Mat 10:28 AMP) And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).

(Mat 13:41-43 HCSB)  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!

Food for thought and consideration:

(Mar 8:36-38 HCSB)  For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life?

What can a man give in exchange for his life? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

(Act 3:19 HCSB)  Therefore repent and turn back, that your sins may be wiped out so that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

You see the only way we can “Do unto to others as we want them to do unto us” is to know the author of love.

Christian.

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Unexpected Answers To Prayer!

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on February 6, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Daniel 9Unexpected Answers To Prayer!

This chapter contains a prayer of Daniel, and the answer to it.

The time, occasion, and manner of his prayer, or circumstances of it, are observed, Dan_9:1, the parts of it, an address unto God, under various suitable epithets and characters, Dan_9:4 confession of sin, of his own, of the inhabitants of the land, kings, princes, and people, which are largely dwelt upon and exaggerated, Dan_9:5

and petitions for mercy,Dan_9:16,

then the answer follows; the time when it was ordered and given, and the person by whom it was sent, are expressed, Dan_9:20

who delivered to him the vision of the seventy weeks to be considered by him; in which both the work of the Messiah, and the time of his coming, are clearly pointed out, Dan_9:24.

1st– Understanding from scriptures and believing God’s word has our answers.

2nd Spiritual maturity reveals itself in our ability to discern between the urgent and the important.

3rd A season of prayer a two way conversation talking is not a problem hearing is!

4th Don’t limit God to the same old same old, His answer sometimes comes before the action.

5th God does what He says, His answer guarantees His action.

1st– Understanding from scriptures and believing God’s word has our answers.

Studying the Bible involves several disciplines.

Inductive Bible Study

• What does it say?

• What does it mean?

• How does it apply to me?

  1. 1.   How can I find out for myself what the Bible says? Read it and re-read the Bible passage. Read silently some times and read aloud other times. Don’t start by reading what others have concluded about the Bible. Inductive reasoning moves from specific examples to general conclusions. Deductive reasoning moves from general examples to specific conclusions.
  2. 2.   How can I know what the Bible means?

After reading the facts, you can summarize them. Don’t jump to conclusions too fast. Read the passage several times and pray for wisdom. You will learn more and remember more if you discover what the Scriptures say yourself. Look at cross references (other verses in Scripture that relate to the verses you read).

  1. 3.   How can I apply what the Bible says to myself? The goal of Bible study is a transformed life and a deep relationship with God. Sometimes in Scripture, you will see a command to obey, an example to follow, a lesson to learn, or a sin to confess. Apply that to your life.

Other times, you will want to claim a promise, pray a prayer, forgive someone, or ask forgiveness. Listen to the “still small voice” of God. God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” As you listen and respond to God, you will be amazed at the results in your life as your relationship with him deepens. (1 Kings 19:12, Psalm 46:10)

Going Deeper in the Word!

Look for God’s Over-All Plan

The Old Testament reveals God’s loving plan of salvation, from Creation to prophecies of the future Messiah (the Savior).

The New Testament reveals God’s salvation of sinful man by the suffering, death and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and reveals the everlasting Kingdom of God.

God inspired 40 people over a period of 1600 years to write the 66 books of the Bible.

Find the Background of the Books (Five W’s and One H)

Find out who wrote the books and the reason for, or theme of, the books. Ask “Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How?” Usually this information is in the first chapter or in the introduction to the book.

GENESIS

Who: Moses

What: The Beginnings

Where: Egypt and Canaan

When: c. 1450 Bc-1 400 BC

Why: To demonstrate that God is sovereign and loves his creation.

Outline (Chapter)

• Creation, Fall, and Flood (1-11) • Abraham (11-25)

• Isaac and Jacob (25-36)

• Joseph (37-50)

Key Verse: I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. (Genesis 17:7)

JOHN

Who: John (The Beloved Disciple) What: Gospel

Where: Asia Minor

When: C. AD 85-AD 95

Why: To show Jesus as the Son of God, the Word made flesh, who provides eternal life for all who believe in him.

Outline (Chapter)

• Introduction (1)

• Ministry of Christ (2-12)

• Private Ministry (13-17)

• Death and Resurrection (18-21)

Key Verse: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

   Read Verses in Context

Read the surrounding chapters and the verses before and after the verse you are studying. Get the whole picture. Don’t study verses out of context. Look at the outline of the book.

Whole Message of God’s Word

Take the whole Bible as God’s Word. Don’t just concentrate on one verse or one idea. See if the teaching is explained more fully in other parts of the Bible. Look at the small cross references in your Bible to help you find other verses on the same subject. For example, look at the cross references and the verses around John 3:16.

Discover the Intended Meaning

As you read the Bible, look for the author’s intended meaning. What did the author want to say? What did it mean in that culture? What does it mean now? What are the main ideas? If you have questions, write them down, pray for insight, and discuss your ideas with others.

Learn the History and Geography

Use a time line to learn about the history of the Bible. Use maps to learn about the geography of where the events took place.

Figurative Language

Figures of speech are word pictures that help us understand a truth.

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” is a metaphor that helps us picture the Bible enlightening our minds and actions and giving us direction.

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for you, 0 God” is a simile that compares ideas with the words “like” or “as.” Similes occur over 175 times in the Psalms.

Jesus used personification when he said if the people did not declare the mighty works they had seen God do, the stones would cry out in praise. Hyperbole (exaggeration) is found in Matthew 5:29-30.

Forms of Literature

The Bible contains various forms of literature: History, Narrative, Poetry, Wisdom, Prophecy, Parables and Letters. Recognizing each form will help you interpret the meaning. For example, parables explain a spiritual truth by means of a story or analogy. The parable of the Prodigal Son does not refer to a specific historical person but teaches that God is a loving father who joyfully welcomes back prodigal or rebellious children who later repent and return to him.

2nd Spiritual maturity reveals itself in our ability to discern between the urgent and the important.

 (Mat 24:12 ESV)  And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

(2Pe 3:11 ESV)  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,

(2Ti 3:1-5 ESV)  But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

As the world moves closer to the terrible tribulation and the glorious return of Christ hastens we need to ask ourselves:

 “Should I be doing anything differently?”

When was the last time you felt God telling you to get a grip and see what is really important?

As you consider our times, what is the desire of your own heart?

Have we been contaminated by the virus of self gratification and self centeredness?

Serious times are upon us, but we may not be paying attention. We are challenged to fortify ourselves against corruptions of our Babylon –like culture. Spiritual maturity is rarely more obvious than in our ability to discern the urgent from the important. We are so culturally indoctrinated to be fast-paced, high-energy, self -reliant, take-charge, get it done people, we tend to think of prayer as a passive nearly do nothing reaction. We tend to pray when we don’t know what else to do. Nothing moves the heart of God like prayer. Prayer is deliberate open communication with God. We can learn how to pray from others like Daniel in chapter 9: 1-19. God seems too especially honor intercessory prayer of a fellowman. He favors those who humble themselves as fellow transgressors, not those who piously place themselves above those in pitiful need of prayer.

(Luk 18:11-12 ESV)  The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

3rd A season of prayer a two way conversation talking is not a problem hearing is!

 

Praying the Word back to God honors Him and expresses your desire in His perfect language. It also shows diligence in studying His Word where most often He will reveal Himself and His will in the Word. If we continue in prayer daily we include the Word, our confession, adoration, our supplication and the practice of our faith.

(Pro 3:5 ESV)  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

(Pro 1:23 ESV)  If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.

4th Don’t limit God to the same old same old, His answer sometimes comes before the action.

 

We see in Chapter 9 verse 20 through 23 we see that His prayer was interrupted and Gabriel was in swift flight to answer Daniel. WOW for how many years had Daniel prayed and lifted up his petitions with the same response for over 60 or 70 years!  Usually at the time of sacrifice before the destruction of the Temple was one of the times of the day Daniel prayed. “Then suddenly God”…a phrase worth remembering when we are seeking God’s answer to our prayers and petitions. While we are still in our prayers He hears.

(Isa 65:24 ESV)  Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.

(Psa 141:1-2 ESV)  A Psalm of David. O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

We see in both David and Daniel they are seeking God with all their might and interceding to God for His intervention in the affairs of men. God is anxious for us to ask and seek Him. He waits because of relationship not out of some arbitrary need but to the very core God is relational and He choose to love a contrary creature.

(Psa 31:19 ESV)  Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!

(Rom 8:24-25 ESV)  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

5th God does what He says, His answer guarantees His action.

 

Abraham comes to mind immediately as one who was promised an answer and it was years in the resulting action. Daniel was given information that would unfold thousands of years later. Some of the answer has yet to be unfolded in our time yet we see God answering Daniel immediately. Sometimes I think we tend to get our answer but because we can’t see the action immediately we think God has not answered us and worse we take matters into our own hands. We sometimes mistake our own desires and wishes for what we often call a “word from the Lord”.

(Heb 11:1-2 ESV)  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.

(1Co 6:17 ESV)  But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.

(Rom 8:9 AMP)  But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the [Holy] Spirit of God [really] dwells within you [directs and controls you]. But if anyone does not possess the [Holy] Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God]. [Rom. 8:14.]

We can anticipate the question “How do I know the difference?” Under the New Covenant (as New Testament believers) we have access to complete revelation through the Word of God. Since God has given us His written Word we see less of the supernatural communication like Daniel and the supernatural comes to us through His inspired text. We now have something the ancients could only dream of and prophecy of. God the Holy Spirit indwelling us instructing us through His written word and maintaining an intimate relationship now and forever. In our efforts to distinguish desires from an authentic word from God He reveals Himself inside us, stronger than emotions deeper than feelings and as gentile as a whisper that never counters His written word. The confidence we have is God will never contradict Himself.

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