Category: APOLOGETICS


THE TERROR OF GOD

Sometimes God really is “terrible”. In fact, in some ways He’s the ultimate terrorist…

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Don’t worry, fellow believer, I’m not about to intentionally engage in any kind of blasphemy. I’m sure it’s true that, God is light; in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5 NIV).

However, in contrast the Bible warns us that:

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10 : 31 KJV).

How can God be said in his own book to be all “light” and yet at the same time cause fear? We have in the Scriptures what is either a serious contradiction, or a strange paradox which we need to come to terms with. In the latter case, which I’ll demonstrate is the correct alternative, the fact that God is “light” doesn’t exclude the reality of his fearful attributes: the terrible, fearful side of God’s nature does not equate to “darkness”.

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I noted in a recent post* that Richard Dawkins stated in his book, “THE GOD DELUSION” a number of extremely derogatory and insulting terms to describe the God of the Bible. I commented that none of his assertions were valid. However, in some fairness to the God-hating professor, I must say that anyone who’s done any serious thinking about life, the universe and everything, and anyone who’s lived for any length of time, and anyone who’s honest, will have questioned the goodness of God at some point in their life. If there is a God (and I’m convinced there is) and if he’s good and loving as the Bible claims he is, then why do so many terrible things happen in our lives and in our world?

More than that, anyone who’s read a sizable portion of the Old Testament couldn’t fail to notice some very heavy-handed dealings by God with his people and those around them. As an example, consider the punishment of Korah, his family and all who rebelled against Moses with him:

“…the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all who belonged to Korah…and the earth closed over them…And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up”. And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men offering the insense…” (Numbers 17:31-35 ESV).

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Now, that’s terrorism in its purest form. If we only had a very shallow knowledge of the God of the Bible, we might read that passage and conclude that God is a mean, terrifying ogre. But I’d like to here reiterate a regular theme of mine, which is that if God is God-our creator and our sustainer-he has every right to do what he wants with his creation just as surely as a potter has every right to remake a buckled vessel on his wheel. Were he really a mean ogre, he would have every right to be so. We in contrast and in comparison have no rights and no way of enforcing any claims to rights.

God in the Old Testament was aware of his potential to inflict terror even on his own people, and made a habit of passing out warnings in advance, against any behavior which would lead to his anger flaring up. Think of the warning He gave to the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai, telling them not to set foot on the mountain:

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to look and many of them perish…” (Exodus 19:21)

It’s as though God was telling the people, “Please don’t come too close to me, because I won’t be able to help myself, and I don’t want to make you suffer or to destroy you…”

Our problem in this age is that we’ve forgotten about the holiness of God. He is perfect, he is infinite, he is mighty, and he must be multi-dimensional-if dimensions can be applied at all to an eternal, omnipresent being. We in contrast are imperfect, flawed, weak and very limited in our capacities, particularly our spiritual capacity. We can no more stand next to God and chat with him-in our natural state-than we can stand next to the sun: it’s impossible. And we can no more ignore and neglect the characteristics of God than we can ignore the properties of the sun: travelling at night to land a space ship on the sun to avoid the heat would be a futile, foolish operation.

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We believers tend to metaphorically brush under the carpets of our minds the numerous “B.C.” events such as the crushing of Korah’s rebellion, choosing instead to focus on the God of the New Testament and his loving, merciful attributes. My own dad, an otherwise godly man in every way, could not accept much of what was written in the Old Testament, and made the decision that God had been misrepresented by its authors, because God clearly wouldn’t condone the killing of anyone let alone thousands of men, women and children. It was the New Testament, in his eyes and the eyes of many others, which is the inspired Word of God: not the Old.

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The problem with that approach is that by dismissing the OT you are also bringing into question the entire New Testament. You can’t read any one of the gospels without finding numerous examples of Jesus Christ quoting the Old Testament as though he believed it were true, and the letters are similarly packed with references to it. In fact, putting the Pharisees on the spot as he loved to do, Jesus said:

For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me (John 5:46 NASB).

You can’t have one without the other, said Jesus: the Old Testament and his words go together.

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus who were talking to Jesus without knowing it were given a Bible study (Luke 24:13-35). He demonstrated from what we call the Old Testament-there was no written New Testament at that time- that the prophesied Christ had to suffer and be raised. Why would he have reasoned from the Old Testament if it’s not to be accepted or believed?

So what about my outrageous assertion-coming as it does from a believer-that God is terrible? Am I now attempting to insult the Lord Almighty in a similar vein to the renowned and exalted prof.? Am I sowing seeds of dissent and rebellion? No. I’m using the word “terrible” in the context of being “dreadful”, “unspeakable” and “awesome”. I’m simply facing up to the reality of God’s nature.

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“But…” you may protest…”God is different in the New Testament!”

Is he really? I agree that Jesus Christ was and is “meek and mild”, and merciful, though a time is coming when the other side of his nature will be seen. Leaving that aside for the moment, I want to stress that God is “the same yesterday, today and forever…” Consider the words of New Testament writers, who spoke not only of God’s mercy but of his fearful side:

…let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28 KJV).

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God… (Hebrews 10:31 NIV)

Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off (Romans 11:22 ESV)

If this were not enough evidence of the disciples’ awareness of the terrible nature of God we can read in the Revelation and the words of Jesus himself about how the entire world is going to be judged-by his holy standards and not ours-the same kind of holy standards that we see in the Old Testament. Paul wrote:

This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 NIV). 

The terror of God will fall on imperfect mankind. But there is hope. Part two of my article will offer you the good news: the way of escape from the terror of God.

Thanks for reading this far!

This post in both its parts serves as an introduction to my forthcoming series on the subject of suffering as it relates to the God of the Bible, titled “Why Do We Suffer?”

* https://nickyfisher.com/2017/04/29/wrath-and-mercy/

Some people who loosely associate themselves with the Christian faith but deny its power, and those who want us all to dilute or deny our convictions are becoming easily convinced that Jehovah and Allah are one. So what about it-is the Judeo-Christian God the same as the god of Islam?

The truth which is so conveniently covered over is that Islam vehemently (and in many parts of the world violently) asserts that Allah has no son:

“Allah is only one God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son…” Quran [004.171 ]

“They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them”. Quran [005.073]

In contrast as stark as it could be, the Bible (written centuries before), declared Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. More than that, those who deny the Son are “anti-christ”:

“Such a man is the antichrist-he denies the father and the Son. No-one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:22-23).

Jesus’ relationship to the Father was a clear teaching of Jesus Christ to his disciples:

“…before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58 ESV).

Deny the Son, and you are denying the Father also, and two contradictory statements cannot both be true.

 

WRATH AND MERCY

Sometimes God gets some pretty bad press. Sometimes God is accused of some pretty bad things. In fact, it may be true to say that God has probably taken just about every criticism that could be made about anyone, not to mention the slander, mockery and blasphemy…

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If you’re a follower of the Biblical God, have you ever found yourself questioning God, getting upset with God because you think he’s failed his obligations, or even accusing God of something? I wrote an article once titled, “How to Shout at God and Get Away with it”, in which I confessed to having done all of the above, and suggested that God is big enough to take it.

I predict that if you haven’t done the same, once you’ve been a believer for some time a situation will arrive in which you will find yourself doing one or all of the same. I’m not saying that I hope this will happen to you, but that while life is full of trials in which our faith is tested and honed, such situations are bound-even-designed to test our faith. Don’t believe me? Try reading the book of Job.

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Perhaps you’ve pointed a finger at God even if you aren’t a follower. It’s amazing how much time and effort some people go to to mock and berate a God they don’t even believe exists. Take Richard Dawkins, for example, who said:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

(Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion)

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I could go into a lengthy answer to disprove every single one of Dawkins’ accusations: our God is none of the above, and anyone who can suggest that he is doesn’t know him at all, and is clearly manifesting a deep hatred for him. By the way, how can you know that God does not exist, unless you yourself know everything there is to know about the universe, both seen and unseen? And if you did, you yourself would be God.

There’s no doubt that the Biblical God is indeed “a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28). He is a terror to his enemies who will have no chance of resisting him or of changing his mind. But let’s give the great professor a little slack, and just pretend that God is one of those things that Dawkins accuses him of being: let’s pretend that God is genocidal. The important thing to consider is that God would have every right to be genocidal, if that’s his wish, because he is God. God is God, and we are not. God made all things, and sustains all things. He can do whatever he wants, and we have no right at all to question him. Neither do we have any ability to stop him. He does what he wants, when he wants, for his own reasons.

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Our only reasonable response, therefore, is not to attack and malign our Creator, or to become hateful of him, or to reject him and put him out of our minds. Because if he is all he claims to be, and one look into the night sky tells us that he is, it is an inescapable fact that we will one day have to face up to who he is in all his power and glory. We will have to give an account for how we’ve treated him, how we’ve spoken about him, and what we’ve thought about him.

The miracle of the gospel is that despite the fact that God is that “consuming fire”, as seen in the Old Testament, he has provided a way for us to escape his perfect, terrible justice. By associating ourselves with his son Jesus Christ we pass from being objects of God’s wrath to being objects of his love and mercy:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24 ESV).

 

  

Here’s the long-awaited third part of my series, “Why I Believe in God”, outlining some of the supporting reasoning behind my faith. There are some believers who think you should “just believe”. Looking for evidence, they say, is “not of faith”, therefore it’s sin. With respect, I disagree…

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Didn’t Jesus reason with his disciples on the road to Emmaus, when he “interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27 ESV)? God created an orderly universe in which facts can be established. Truth is verifiable, and since God is Truth, truth cannot be sinful. Faith and reason go hand in hand.

So here’s my third acronym, designed while I’m in good shape, as a hedge against the days when I will not be. The third acronym, like the second, specifically concerns the God of the Bible.

66 JELL WAST-MUSH! Is it an insect repellant, a conducting lubricant, or hippy face paint? Is it a video game based on Darth Sidious’ ascent to power? No!

66!

The opening part of my acronym is borrowed from the introduction to Chuck Missler’s radio show (“66/40”), since it succinctly and eloquently captures a profound truth missed by those who ignore the possibility of divine authorship of the Bible:

The Bible contains sixty-six books written by forty different authors over thousands of years, and yet it’s an “integrated message system” from beyond our own time domain.

The Bible wasn’t contrived by one man sitting down on a boring Sunday afternoon, wondering how he could start a new religion and fool everyone. It was experienced, contributed to and recorded by many generations of people from different backgrounds, yet it tells one incredible story: the story of the Messiah and the nation he entered the world in. The Bible claims in many places to be inspired by God himself, and authenticates that claim in ways such as those I’ve outlined in all parts of this series.

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J!

J IS FOR JUSTICE. Biblical justice works beautifully, when it’s applied.

Yes, astute reader, the word “justice” was in my first acronym, but there it referred to the fact that we can only have an innate sense of justice if we are more than animals, and if we’ve been designed and created to love truth and fairness. Here the word “justice” refers more specifically to the Biblical model. God is given a bad rap these days by those who want us all to forget about Him. They say he’s vengeful, hateful, misogynous, and a whole host of other derogatory terms which really do not stand up to honest scrutiny. They ignore the fact that since God is the creator and sustainer of all things, he has every right to do as he pleases: we have no rights but only his mercy and kindness, and we are entirely at his mercy. I’ll outline a few examples.

First, those who claim that God must be vengeful and hateful to have told the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites aren’t looking at the whole picture. God reluctantly commanded the eradication of the Canaanites only after hundreds of years of mercy and patience towards them (Genesis 15:16) because they had descended to such degrading practices as burning their own children as sacrifices to their idols. The time had come for their evil to be stopped, and God has every right to judge.

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Biblical justice is said to be hard in the Old Testament-the time of the Law, and soft in the New: this is seen as a contradiction. The truth is that the “Old Testament God” while setting hard and fast guide lines, showed his mercy in many ways. For example, the establishing of “cities of refuge” (Numbers 35:6-34), where people who had either accidentally killed someone in a fight or an accident, or who were accused of murder falsely, could go to be immune from vengeance. God sent a prophet to a decadent and violent Nineveh because he did not want to judge the city (Jonah 4:10-11), and when Cain killed Abel and feared retribution from his brothers, God put his seal of protection on Cain as an act of love and mercy (Genesis 4:15).

The “New Testament God” actually warns of the same ultimate judgment upon his enemies as the OT God did, but extends his mercy to its greatest extent by making a way for anyone willing to respond to escape that ultimate judgment, through the sacrificial death of his own Son. Jesus forgave the adulteress, the thief on the cross, and Paul who had persecuted Christians to the death.

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Through the gospel of Jesus Christ God’s love and mercy are clearly seen to be available to all of us-until the final Judgment. The same love is supposed to be seen in his followers, by way of forgiveness, mercy, kindness, compassion and so on, without negating the fact that wrong is still wrong and must be corrected, disciplined or even judged if not repented of. Love and mercy come first-consequences only follow if there is no change in our hearts. This is real love and fairness. I would say it’s fairer that any human system of judgment. If the police catch you breaking into a bank once, you’re going to prison, and the judge isn’t going to forget your crime even if you say you’re sorry and that you won’t do it again.

However, our judicial system is based on the Biblical notion that some things are wrong and that other people are to be protected from criminals: you pay for your crime. How many other “animals” have such a system?

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The Bible adequately Explains the meaning of Life, and the origin and reason for evil, suffering and death. Without claiming to have all the answers (I do not), I wrote about these extensively in a recent post, “The Meaning of Death” and in an eight part series I wrote called “Why Do We Suffer?”

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L is for Literature. The Bible has been seen by millions over many centuries as the apex of all literature, and more copies of it have been printed and sold than any other book despite the endless attempts to eradicate it. Again, it claims to be the inspired Word of God: his message to humanity. So many examples could be picked, but here’s a well-known one:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

He leadeth me beside still waters.

He restoreth my soul:

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…” (Psalm 23: 1-4).

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WA

The Bible tells the stories of “warts-and-all” characters. If the Bible were written by men to draw converts to a club or religion its central characters would all be faultless, unfailing supermen. There is no attempt to whitewash the sins of its heroes and heroines: we hear about their weaknesses as well as their triumphs and their righteous acts.

As examples, read about God’s mercy towards Cain who killed his brother Abel. Read how Abram lied about his wife being his sister in order to save his own skin. Jacob deceived his father and essentially robbed his brother of his inheritance. Moses fell into a bad temper a few times. Elijah, the powerful and bold prophet, was afraid of a female ruler and fell into a depression. David had an innocent man killed and committed adultery. His family was “dysfunctional” because of his many relationships and, his bad example, and his inability to control his step-children.

In the New Testament Peter, the most enthusiastic disciple of Jesus, denied him in his hour of need, and Paul and Barnabas fell out during their missionary journey together.

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ST IS FOR STORIES.  Though the Bible was written by many different authors over a long period of time, it has several central themes running all the way through it, including both testaments. The most significant is the story of the Fall of man and God’s plan of redemption-his commitment to providing salvation for humans who would otherwise be beyond his perfection and holiness. The first mention of the gospel, known as the “proto-evangelion” appears immediately after the Fall (Genesis 3:15), and the gospel message continues all the way to the end of Revelation.

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M IS FOR MORALITY. The Bible’s brand of morality is hated by the secularist, the atheist, the polytheist, the pluralist, the evolutionist, the Universalist, the existentialist, and just about every other “ist”, yet it’s loved by those who’ve accepted God’s mercy. God’s standards of right and wrong were loosely followed by Western culture until the last few decades. They are the “glue” which will hold everyone together, and they worked as far as they were followed. God’s plan for human relationships reflect true love and commitment. It included love and commitment within families; faithfulness within marriage; the recognition that each life-including the unborn-is to be protected and valued; honor and dedication towards community; religion and country, and the rejection of all that threatens the moral fiber of society and all that God said he hated. How dramatically things have moved in the opposite direction.

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U IS FOR UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is one of unconditional love from God to us-available for anyone who will accept it. This is not a human idea or quality: it’s entirely divine.

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S IS FOR SIN. The Bible exposes man’s true nature. Yes, this one was in the first acronym also. But more specifically, the Bible describes the origin of sin, its effects and consequences, and its remedy. The answers the Bible gives are, for me, adequate, believable, true to life and beautiful in the light they shine on the human condition.

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H IS FOR HOPE. The Bible not only describes man’s condition but provides the answer for it. It offers hope for everyone, not just for this life, but for eternity. Please see my post on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some believers will tell you that we only get faith when we’re given it. If faith came from within us, they say, then faith would be works and not faith…

406px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_102-13018,_Maschinenmensch__Robot_I agree that the Spirit of God draws us, and helps us see the truth, but if we really are only converted and “saved” because God zaps some of us with faith, sometimes against our will, then pre-destination is a reality and there’s no choice or free will involved: Christ didn’t die for the whole world after all. I can’t go along with that.

Jesus urged his disciples frequently to “believe” and “have faith in God”. He was wasting his breath if he didn’t mean to encourage his followers to work at it. With that in mind, I would like to outline my second line of reasoning which I often fall back on in defense of my own faith in God. Last time, in “WHY I BELIEVE IN GOD” I discussed some reasons why I believe that there is a supreme, personal, almighty creator of all things: this time I’ll focus a little more on why I believe that the God of the Bible is that creator.

If (since) the Biblical God is God, there is no room for any other god, because there can only be one supreme being, and the Biblical God will not share his throne. Don’t agree? Try making Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton president at the same time and see what happens…

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Don’t forget that the Bible is strewn with statements to the effect that there is only one true God:

“I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6 NIV).

This claim found throughout scripture requires either accepting the Bible or rejecting it for being false and flawed. Consider also that the supreme being described in the Bible cannot be the same as that worshipped by Muslims or any other faith, any more than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump can be one and the same person. Different characteristics and teachings, and opposing instructions, objectives and commandments mean different personalities.

Any being capable of creating this incredibly complex and beautiful universe and life must transcend it, and must be greater than it and anything in it. There can be only one supreme God, and that supreme being cannot have conflicting characteristics as if he/she/it were some cosmic schizophrenic.

800px-Carrion_crow_in_flightAs I noted before, I recall the main points of the defense of my faith with the help of “initialisms”, or acronyms. Here’s the second one, updated and edited from the original publication. I’m sorry it’s rather long-but do you want evidence or don’t you?

Acronym 2: MASH DID PROCH!

M…MANUSCRIPT EVIDENCE

It’s my conviction that a (the) supreme being is perfectly capable and willing to create and preserve a message to his ultimate creation, mankind. Besides the message written for everyone to see in all of creation as I outlined in part one, that message is more specifically recorded in the Bible.

Why does the manuscript evidence matter? There are many reasons, among which is the fact that numerous different authors over a very long period of human history recorded their experiences which, when put together, provide one narrative, one story, and one message-an amazing message of hope and love. If that narrative has been preserved it’s because the message-giver has something very important to say to us, and he’s able to preserve it through all the many attempts over the centuries to destroy it.

Many people are convinced that the gospel, the Old Testament accounts, and essential Christian doctrines such as the divinity of Jesus Christ were all invented hundreds of years after the time of Christ’s life on earth. The truth is very different. If you find skeptical or hostile commentary on early Christian or Biblical writings and discoveries, you’re reading the untruthful bias and propaganda of someone who intends to rob you of joy and eternal life.

Ancient writings which we accept without question have an average gap between the original composition and the earliest surviving copy of hundreds or even over one thousand years, but the oldest surviving New Testament fragment dates to within one generation from its original composition: the “Rylands Fragment”:

http://www.bible-researcher.com/papyrus.52.html

Some accusations of misrepresentations of early Christian belief refer to the Gnostic gospels: these were written after the original gospels.

New Testament scholars have an enormous amount of ancient manuscript evidence. The documentary evidence for the New Testament far surpasses any other work of its time. We have over 5000 manuscripts, and many are dated within a few years of their authors’ lives.

An important manuscript is the Chester Beatty Papyri. It contains most of the N.T. writings, and is dated around A.D. 250. The Bodmer Papyri contains most of John, and dates to A.D. 200. Another is the Rylands Papyri, found in Egypt, which contains a fragment of John, and dates to A.D. 130. From this fragment we can conclude that John’s gospel was completed well before A.D. 130 because, not only did the gospel have to be written, it had to be hand copied and make its way down from Greece to Egypt. Since the vast majority of scholars agree that John is the last gospel written, we can affirm its first century date along with the other three with greater assurance.

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More evidence comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls Cave 7. Jose Callahan discovered a fragment of the Gospel of Mark and dated it to have been written in A.D. 50. He also discovered fragments of Acts and other epistles and dated them to have been written slightly after A.D. 50.

For more information see:

https://bible.org/article/historical-reliability-gospels

There are numerous writings of the Church Fathers quoting sections of Scripture, and the entire New Testament could be constructed from those alone. Millions of man-hours have been spent cross-checking them. Here are a few examples:

Clement of Rome sent a letter to the Corinthian church in A.D. 95. in which he quoted from the Gospels and other portions of the N.T. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, wrote a letter before his martyrdom in Rome in A.D. 115, quoting all the Gospels and other N.T. letters. Polycarp wrote to the Philippians in A.D. 120 and quoted from the Gospels and N.T. letters. Justin Martyr (A.D. 150) quotes John’s gospel chapter 3. Church fathers of the early second century were familiar with the apostle’s writings and quoted them as inspired Scripture.

The Dead Sea Scrolls prove the accuracy of the transmission of the Bible. In these scrolls discovered at Qumran in 1947, we have Old Testament manuscripts which date to 150 BC, about a thousand years earlier than Old Testament manuscripts previously known. They include a complete scroll of Isaiah. The significance is that when the two sets of manuscripts are compared, it’s clear that they are essentially the same, with very few changes. The 5 percent of variation consists chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling. This indicates the incredible accuracy of the Old Testament manuscripts’ transmission to us. God is able to preserve His message (1).

Lee Stroebel, with an MA in Law from Yale University, and a former award-winning investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune, in his book “The Case for Christ” interviewed a number of believing scholars such as Cambridge educated Sir Norman Anderson. Anderson was a Professor at Harvard, and lectured at Princeton. He was also the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of London. Anderson said that Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, which contains a definition of the Christian gospel as it was already being preached in his time, can be confidently dated to around 55 AD (2).

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Dr. Gary R Habermas, a New Testament historian, received his Ph D from Michigan State University and his DD from Emmanuel College, Oxford. In his book “The Historical Jesus”, Habermas discusses the creed quoted below as found in 1st Corinthians, and writes:

“That this confession is an early Christian, pre-Pauline creed is recognized by virtually all critical scholars across a wide theological spectrum” (3).

This is the gospel that Paul preached in the first century:

“Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…” (1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 8).

A…ARCHAEOLOGY

Below are just a few of the many finds made in recent decades, followed by a link to information on some of the latest finds.

THE POOL OF SILOAM, where Jesus healed the blind man (John 9:1–11) and which critics had said never existed, was found in 2004 (4).

448px-Siloe3

THE TEL DAN INSCRIPTION. The existence of King David, from Samuel in the OT, was mocked by secular scholars until The Tel Dan inscription, or “House of David” inscription, was discovered in 1993 at the site of Tel Dan in northern Israel. Few modern Biblical archaeology discoveries have caused as much excitement as the Tel Dan inscription—writing on a ninth-century B.C. stone slab (or stela) that furnished the first historical evidence of King David from the Bible. The inscription makes reference to a military victory and corresponds to the biblical account in 2 Chronicles 22 (5).

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS

See notes on the Dead Sea Scrolls under “Manuscript Evidence”

THE CAIAPHAS OSSUARY. An ossuary is a stone or pottery box in which the remains of a deceased person are buried (an ancient casket). The Caiaphas Ossuary bears the inscription “Yeosef bar Qafa” and is dated to the second temple period. Yeosef (Joseph) was the son of Caiaphas. This verifies that there was a high priest at the time of Jesus and his name was Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the priest that presided over the false trial of Jesus (Matthew 26:57-67).

THE CRUCIFIED MAN. This is the remains of a full skeleton of a man crucified in the first century. The foot bone contains a bent crucifixion nail. There have been those that argued that the crucifixion of Christ was a hoax because that was not a form of capital punishment in Christ’s time. These remains verify that crucifixion was being done and that the crucifixion of Jesus was done exactly as outlined in the biblical narrative.

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THE KETEF HINNOM AMULETS

In 1979, two silver scrolls that were worn as amulets were found in a tomb overlooking the Hinnom Valley, where they had been placed around the 7th century B.C. It took three years to develop the delicate process of unrolling the scrolls while preventing them from disintegrating.

Brief as they are, the amulets rank as the oldest surviving texts from the Hebrew Bible. Upon unrolling the amulets, biblical archeologists found two inscriptions of significance. One is a temple priest blessing from the book of Numbers:

The Lord bless you and protect you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance to you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

The other inscription is the tetragrammaton “YHWH”, the name of the Lord, from which we get the English “Jehovah”. The amulets predate the Dead Sea Scrolls by 500 years and are the oldest known example of the Lord’s name in writing.

THE HOUSE OF GOD OSTRACON

Ostraca—writings on pottery—are common finds in archeological digs. The House of God Ostracon was found in Arad, a Canaanite city in the Negev. Over 100 pieces of ostraca were found and have been dated to the early part of the 6th Century BC. Of significance are the references to the temple in Jerusalem and to names of people that are recorded in Scripture. This not only helps to date the temple, but it verifies the existence of people listed in the biblical text.

THE WESTERN WALL

THE PILATE INSCRIPTION

A stone tablet was found in the theater of Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast and bears an inscription mentioning the name of Pontius Pilate the procurator of Judea, and also the Tiberium, which was an edifice built in honor of the Emperor Tiberius by Pilate. There has been much written to discredit the biblical narrative in regard to the existence of Pilate; this tablet clearly says that it was from “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea” and verifies that he was a person that lived during the time of Jesus, exactly as written in the biblical narrative.

THE RUINS OF SODOM — actually located in a huge mound north of the Dead Sea — show the evidence of a powerful blast that incinerated the city at well over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Nobody built on top of the ruins for some 700 years.

KING BELSHAZZER

The book of the prophet Daniel mentions King Belshazzer seeing the writing on the wall foretelling of both his and the Babylonian Kingdom’s demise [Daniel 5]. Critics would point out that the Bible was in error, because no known extra-biblical list of Babylonian Kings included Belshazzar. But an archaeological find,  the “Cylinder of Nabonidus”, revealed that Belshazzar was co-regent of the kingdom, i.e. he would be placed in charge whenever his father, King Nabonidus, was away for extended periods of time. This also explains why Belshazzar could offer only the THIRD-highest position [Daniel 5:7] in the kingdom to the interpreter of the wall writings (6).

New and recent archeological finds confirming the Bible are so numerous it’s hard to keep up with them all. To read about some, see:

http://www.bible-history.com/archaeology/news/

S…SCIENCE

Militant atheists and anti-Christian groups are on a mission to convince you and your children that science and faith do not mix. They omit to tell you that many of the great scientists of the past, such as Isaac Newton, were believers and attributed the wonders of creation and the orderliness of the universe to a Designer. Some scientists and scientifically trained people today are believers. Faith and true science do mix: faith and unbelief obviously do not.

The Bible isn’t intended to be a science manual, but it does have many things to say which reflect findings in true science (7).

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One example is in the first verse of the Bible, which tells us that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The view of secular scientists and thinkers until the 20th century was that the universe was infinite: Relativity and the Hubble telescope helped them to conclude that it did indeed have a “beginning”, as the Bible had said all along. The universe, they said, began with a rapid expansion of space and time from a tiny singularity, or even from nothing. Some secular scientists are now changing their minds once again and constructing theories involving eternity (how do facts change?).

The Bible, written many centuries before the findings of 20th Century  scientists, describes an expansion or a stretching of space. For example, Isaiah 40:22 teaches that God “stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” Job, an Old Testament prophet, said that God “hangs the earth on nothing” or “suspends the earth on nothing” (NIV-Job 26:7), an idea long before its time, and an idea which requires earth to be floating in space…

 

The history of the earth and life on it can be explained not only by what the Bible says about it, but by the evidence in the rocks, in genetics and others sciences which reflect or confirm passages of the Bible (8).

H…HISTORY

Secular history sources tell us that the first notable civilization was in Mesopotamia, and then came Egypt, Greece and Rome. Biblical accounts agree. Mesopotamians, say historians, were among the first to learn how to write. But these first writers, dreamers and philosophers weren’t exactly first-grade minds struggling to scrape a few symbols on a piece of rock-as some cultures have done even in the last century or two. You can read reports of the earliest libraries being found there with many thousands of finely made clay tablets on all kinds of topics:  Moses also, and his contemporaries, had no problem writing down what he experienced, as some have claimed.

Of course, they’ll also tell you that humans were around long before recorded civilization, but the first real history-not speculation-was in Mesopotamia around five thousand years ago, as even secular historians will tell you:

“Our knowledge of prehistory derives from surviving objects…” (which don’t have dates on). “History, by contrast, is based on documents” (a telling admission). “These various interconnections mean that history, civilization and writing all begin at the same time. That time is about 3100 BC.”

“In about 3200 BC the two earliest civilizations develop….” (9).

Stela_of_Iddi-Sin,_King_of_Simurrum__It_dates_back_to_the_Old-Babylonian_Perdiod__From_Qarachatan_Village,_Sulaymaniyah_Governorate,_Iraqi_Kurdistan__The

That’s interesting, because the Bible agrees, and in fact said it first. The timing perfectly fits Biblical accounts and genealogies.

The Bible has become a significant source book for secular archaeology, helping to identify such ancient figures as Sargon (Isaiah 20:1); Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:37); Horam of Gazer (Joshua 10:33); Hazar (Joshua 15:27); and the nation of the Hittites (Genesis 15:20). The biblical record, unlike other “scriptures,” is historically set, opening itself up for testing and verification.

Two of the greatest 20th-century archaeologists, William F. Albright and Nelson Glueck, both lauded the Bible (even though they were non-Christian and secular in their training and personal beliefs) as being the single most accurate source document from history. Over and over again, the Bible has been found to be accurate in its places, dates, and records of events. No other “religious” document comes even close.

The 19th-century critics used to deny the historicity of the Hittites, the Horites, the Edomites, and various other peoples, nations, and cities mentioned in the Bible. Those critics have long been silenced by the archaeologist’s spade, and few critics dare to question the geographical and ethnological reliability of the Bible.

The names of over 40 different kings of various countries mentioned in the Bible have all been found in contemporary documents and inscriptions outside of the Old Testament, and are always consistent with the times and places associated with them in the Bible. Nothing exists in ancient literature that has been even remotely as well-confirmed in accuracy as has the Bible (10).

The Biblical Flood story is corroborated by dozens of ancient flood legends from around the world, as is the record of unbiased geology (11).

I came upon one such account while reading a secular book called “The Chinese Heritage”, which notes that the Chinese recorded a huge flood which covered the land and the mountains. It also states that originally people in that land believed in one supreme God.

The New Testament is supportable with many ancient secular documents. For info see:

“The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel;

“The Historical Jesus” by Gary R. Habermas

Examples:

Tacitus, the most important Roman historian of the first century, mentioned Christ as the reingleader of a sect, and “who suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberias”;

Pliny the Younger tortured and killed Christians. He wrote in AD 111 that he killed them for “belonging to that degenerate sect”. He wrote that they chanted to Christ “as if to a god”.

DiD…DIVINE DESIGN

The scriptures contain an inexhaustible supply of encoded evidence to authenticate and confirm its divine design, in other words, evidence that Biblical Scripture is indeed “inspired by God” as it claims, and not by the rantings of ancient man attempting to control someone. The deeper you look, the more encoded evidence you can find. For a fascinating glimpse into the many amazing codes found within the Bible, see Chuck Missler’s articles on the subject, based on his books (12).

Here is one example of those many codes:

BIBLICAL NUMEROLOGY

The heptadic structure found throughout the Bible goes far beyond the well-known examples which include the Sabbath on the seventh day; the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine in Egypt; the seven priests and seven trumpets marching around Jericho; the Sabbath Year of the land. For a look into one amazing example of the complexity of the use of numbers in Scripture, read: http://www.khouse.org/articles/1995/102/

Also read “Number in Scripture” by E W Bullinger.

TYPOLOGY

Typology is a method of biblical interpretation whereby an element found in the Old Testament is seen to prefigure one found in the New Testament. The initial one is called the type and the fulfillment is designated the antitype.

The “Typology” of the Old Testament is the “PICTURE LANGUAGE” in which the Doctrines of the New Testament, such as the Atonement, are prefigured, for example, the “Brazen Serpent” and the “Cross.” John 3:14-15.

The New Testament is in the Old concealed, and the Old Testament is in the New revealed.

Scripture itself identifies several Old Testament events as types of Christ’s redemption, including the tabernacle, the sacrificial system, and the Passover. The Old Testament tabernacle is identified as a type in Hebrews 9:8-9: “the first tabernacle . . . which was a figure for the time then present.” The high priest’s entrance into the holiest place once a year prefigured the mediation of Christ, our High Priest. Later, the veil of the tabernacle is said to be a type of Christ (Hebrews 10:19-20) in that His flesh was torn, (as the veil was when He was crucified) in order to provide entrance into God’s presence for those who are covered by His sacrifice.

There are numerous other amazing examples, demonstrating the Bible is a unit. For more, read this article:

https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/larkin/dt/28.cfm

PRO…PROPHECY

The Bible foretells future events, many of which have been fulfilled, and others which have yet to be fulfilled. For example, the Old Testament contains hundreds of predictions of the Messiah, some concerning his first coming as recorded in the New Testament, and some concerning his return. Luke’s gospel records an incident in which Jesus read part of the scroll of Isaiah, known to have been written long before the life of Jesus, for all to hear in the synagogue at Nazareth, then he said:

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:16-21).

Christ’s birth was foretold, in Isaiah 9:6-7, and his death in Isaiah chapter 53.

In our time a fulfillment of New Testament and Old Testament prophesies about Israel and particularly Jerusalem appear to be in the process of fulfillment. Prophesies relating to contention over Jerusalem in days preceding the return of Christ are particularly amazing. The world is intent on dividing Jerusalem-something it would never want for any other nation’s capital: consider Berlin, for example. The division of Jerusalem is the spark of Armaggeddon. For me, this alone is enough to convince me that my faith is in the living God. For details please see my post:

https://nickyfisher.com/2014/09/17/why-would-a-christian-want-to-support-israel/

CH…CHANGED LIVES

Millions of lives have been radically changed for the better by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Notable examples from history include the apostle Paul, a persecutor of Christians until his own conversion, at which point he devoted the rest of his life to spreading the gospel, and John Newton, a slave trader until his conversion. He subsequently wrote the famous hymn “Amazing Grace” (13).

Closer to home, my own life was radically changed for the better when I became “born again”. No-one can take away from me the knowledge of my own changed life. I’m not saying that I suddenly became a wonderful person: I’m saying that the things which had me in bondage no longer have a hold on me.

NOTES

1: For more info read Josh McDowell’s books “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” (one of the top 40 biggest-sellers of the 20th Century) and his new “God Breathed”.

http://home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/Manuscript.html

http://www.icr.org/bible-manuscripts/

2: Lee Strobel “The Case For Christ” (Pub. By Zondervan, © 1998) p. 230.

3: Gary R Habermas “The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ” (College Press Publishing Company, Joplin, Missouri, © 1996 Gary Habermas) p 153.

4: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-sites/the-siloam-pool-where-jesus-healed-the-blind-man/http://www.bibleplaces.com/poolofsiloam.htm

5: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/artifacts-and-the-bible/the-tel-dan-inscription-the-first-historical-evidence-of-the-king-david-bible-story/

6: For more info read  “The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible” by Geisler & Holden, and Logos Bible Software.

“The Stones Cry Out” by Dr. Randall Price

http://www.gotquestions.org/biblical-archaeology.html#ixzz3cPqQK5QD

7: https://answersingenesis.org/answers/books/taking-back-astronomy/the-universe-confirms-the-bible/

8: http://www.icr.org

http://www.answersingenesis.org

9: http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab25

10: http://www.icr.org/bible-history

11: https://answersingenesis.org/the-flood/flood-legends/flood-legends/

12: http://www.khouse.org/articles_cat/2015/technical/biblecodes/

13: http://www.anointedlinks.com/amazing_grace.html

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