Remembering My Creator: Volume 2, Number 2, July 14, 2012

Remembering My Creator

Volume 2, Number 2

Theme: Evidences for My Faith – Unity and Historical Accuracy of the Bible, Fulfilled Prophecy, and Testimony of Jesus

 

In This Issue:

  • “The Bible’s Historical Accuracy as Evidence for My Faith” by Randy Sexton
  • “The Unity of the Bible as Evidence for My Faith” by David Deuster
  • “Fulfilled Prophecy as Evidence for My Faith” by Jordan Shouse
  • “The Testimony of Jesus as Evidence for My Faith” by Sean Cavender

 

 

“The Bible’s Historical Accuracy as Evidence for My Faith”

By

Randy Sexton

As I have worked with young people over the years, one of my goals has been to help them to understand the tremendous evidence that exists to support a faith in God. If you are a young person and reading these words, I want you to know that God has provided evidence of His existence and of His concern for you! Be convinced of this beyond any shadow of a doubt. God, who created the universe and who holds the power to bring everything into existence and to destroy it at the twinkling of an eye, has deposited evidence everywhere you look!

Just as certain is the fact that the Bible is under attack today! David Banning says, “I suppose there was a time in the past when most folks believed in the Bible. Even if they were not careful to follow what it said, most everyone believed that there was something special about it. They believed it was the word of God. Those strong convictions do not seem to be as common today.” (The Bible 101: Getting the Facts About The Most Important Book You Will Ever Read, p. 11). I highly recommend Brother Banning’s book for its examination of the attacks of the critics and how to answer those attacks.

Consider that God’s book has survived all attempts to destroy it. God’s providence as it relates to the Bible is on display for those who will examine it. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away (Mk. 13:31 NKJV). Josh McDowell in The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (p. 10) quotes Bernard Ramm , when he says, “The Bible has withstood vicious attacks by its enemies. Many have tried to burn it, ban it and ‘outlaw it from the days of Roman emperors to present-day Communist-dominated countries.” (Protestant Christian Evidences, Moody Press, 1953, p. 232).

Now let us focus, during the rest of this article, on addressing one of the questions that critics of the Bible today ask, “Is the Bible historically reliable? It has been said that the Bible is neither a history book nor a science book, but it is both historically and scientifically accurate and reliable. Consider the first case below as an example of how Bible believers are put on the defensive by critics. Note the negative approach taken by critics to what the Bible says. The seeming difficulties have not yet been resolved from archaeological evidence. But in the remaining examples, archaeology has confirmed the historical accuracy of the Bible accounts.

Alliance Between Elam and Shinar (Genesis 14)

This narrative tells of an alliance between the Kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, and Golim to make war against a coalition lead by the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zebolim and Bela (also known as Zoar).

This list of names and nations presents some difficulties to the Bible student. The note in the ESV Study Bible says, “The kings mentioned here have not yet been identified in sources outside the Bible, but their names correspond with known names or name types appropriate to the regions from which they may have come. Shinar is Babylonia (see 10:10). The location of Ellasar is uncertain, although the king’s name, Arioch, is found in texts from the ancient cities of Mari and Nuzi; this might suggest that Ellasar is in northern Mesopotamia. Elam was an ancient state lying to the east of southern Babylonia. Tidal is possibly a Hittite name. Goim in Hebrew means “nations.” Zoar probably lay at the southern edge of the Valley of Jericho (see 19:22-23).” Roland Kenneth Harrison deals extensively with this in his Introduction to the Old Testament (pp.560 – 563), if you would like to do further study.

The Exodus Narrative

Pithom was discovered by Professor Naville in 1883 and the ruins were examined by Professor Kyle in 1908. Kyle describes the brick in the buildings as found in Exodus: brick with straw, brick with stubble, and brick with neither. It was the city built by the Israelites (Archaelogy and Bible History by Joseph P. Free, pp. 85-86)

Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

The Bible account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah has been rejected by critics as fanciful creations and not a historical event. In fact, the History Channel recently aired a video in the “Histories Mysteries” series titled “Sodom and Gomorrah.” During the airing of the video, the narrator said, “Contributing to the belief that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah may be more fable than fact is the predominance of similar tales from folklore…. After close study of the Sodom and Gomorrah story, in Genesis, many scholars have come to doubt its true intent was to condemn sexual deviance.”

Archaeological evidence, however, has revealed that “all five of the cities mentioned in the in the Bible were in fact cities of commerce in the area and were geographically situated as the Scriptures describe…. Evidence points to earthquake activity and that the various layers of the earth were disrupted and hurled high into the air. Bitumen is plentiful there, and an accurate description would be that brimstone (bituminous pitch) was hurled down on those cities that had rejected God. There is evidence that the layers of sedimentary rock have been molded together by intense heat.” (Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics by Norman L Geisler, pp. 50-51).

Conclusion

These are but three of the many examples that could be cited. My hope is that perhaps you have been motivated to do more reading and thinking about this feature of the Scriptures. It is but one way that you can remember your creator in the days of your youth “before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Now consider the unity of the Bible that Brother David tells us about below.

 

“The Unity of the Bible as Evidence for My Faith”

By

David Deuster

The Bible is the most widely printed and published book in the world. It is the source of the Christian religion and contains what Christians need to know about God, Jesus, salvation and the Christian life. One of the most important questions asked by non-Christians as they look into Christianity is whether or not the Bible is trustworthy. Can the Bible be trusted? If it has been corrupted then we cannot trust what is attributed to Jesus’ words and deeds. So, is the Bible reliable or not?

The Bible is a unity of sixty-six books: 39 in the OT and 27 in the NT. The Bible took about 1600 years to write. It was written in 3 languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, & Greek) by about 40 authors utilizing different genres, symbols, themes, diction and even syntax, yet is internally consistent throughout. To say that the writers of the Bible were diverse would be an understatement. Yet, though their educational and cultural backgrounds varied extensively, and though many of them were separated by several centuries, the cannon of Scripture is unified. To achieve such a feat by employing mere human ingenuity and wisdom would be impossible. In fact, it would be impossible from a human standpoint to gather the writings of 40 men from the same culture, with the same educational background, during the same time period, and get anything close to the unity that is evident in the Bible. The Bible’s unity proves its own divine origin.

The Bible attests to its Divine origin inter-textually. In other words, the Bible internally attests to its Divine origin. One text not only declares that it is God’s Word, it affirms another which in turn attests to its Divine origin, and these two affirm yet another, and so on. The book of Acts attests to the status of the four Gospels. The apostle Paul attests to the status of Luke through Acts. The apostle Peter attests to the status of the writings of Paul. The book of Acts attests to the status of Peter’s writing, and so on.

In its original documents the Bible is God-breathed, that it is a divine product, and, because it is divine, the original documents are inerrant. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Paul who wrote this epistle was obviously referring to the entirety of the Old Testament as being inspired. The word “inspired” is literally “God-breathed.” This is an interesting phrase since it implies that the Scriptures are from the mouth of God. Likewise, Peter says in 2 Peter 1:21, “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” Notice that Peter is stating that prophecy is not the product of human will. Instead, prophecy occurs by those moved by the Holy Spirit.

Consider for example the narrative surrounding the events of the global flood as recorded in Genesis 6-9. Moses records this event, yet the flood had destroyed every creature save those who were in the Ark. Moses wrote centuries later around 1,450 B.C. As strange as it may appear to some, when you consider those circumstances, Moses is not alone in affirming the events that took place in the Days of Noah. In 1 Chronicles, the text suggests that Noah’s three sons were Shem, Ham, and Japheth, exactly as Genesis 7:13 records (1:1). The prophet Isaiah also referred to Noah (chapter 54). In that text, the prophet recorded the words God spoke to the Israelites of Isaiah’s day: “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you” (54:9). The oath to which Isaiah referred is found in Genesis 9:11, where God said to Noah: “Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Remarkably, Isaiah’s comment exhibits a perfect understanding and awareness of God’s statement to Noah, yet the prophet’s writings were separated from Moses’ writing of the Pentateuch by more than 600 years. In addition, the prophet Ezekiel acknowledged the story of Noah when he recorded God’s Word to the Israelites of his day: “‘Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness’” (14:19-20).

The consistent unity of the account of the flood finds itself in the New Testament as well. The words of Jesus in Matthew 24 find agreement with Moses in Genesis 6-9. “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (24:36-39). Luke’s account of this statement by the Lord exhibits additional unity with Genesis in that he recorded Noah’s son as Shem (Luke 17:26-27; 3:36). The same consistent unity is found in the writings of Hebrews 11 as well in the words of Peter as he stated, “…when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20). He also said: “[I]f God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5).

The Bible’s message attests to its unity. The major themes and stories from Genesis, the first book of the Bible, flow through the remaining books and their meanings and implications are developed throughout Scripture. It describes the origin of man in the Garden of Eden along with his fall into sin and out of fellowship with God. Beginning here, God promised Adam and Eve that one would come from the seed of the woman to crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). It then describes how God called out a special people to Himself, the Israelites. He promised the Israelites a future Messiah who would restore mankind’s relationship with God. The Bible is the account of the work of God in history bringing to fruition His prophetic declarations concerning Jesus. The Old Testament sacrificial system pictured the atonement to be made by Jesus for the sins of the world. The prophets foretold His birth, life, death and resurrection. Jesus was born of the Virgin, died on the cross and paid for sins, just as the Bible prophesied in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New as it reveals and explains the mysteries of this great salvation. It concludes with the fulfillment of the promise made in Genesis 3:15 ending in the book of Revelation where Jesus, the King of Kings, is pictured defeating the serpent of old who is the Devil and sending him to his everlasting punishment (Revelation 19-20).

In short, the Bible points to Jesus, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me,” (John 5:39). The unity of the Bible teaches us that forgiveness of sins is found in Jesus alone, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved,” (Acts 4:12).

Can the Bible be trusted? I believe the evidence of Scripture supports the fact that we can trust in the unified message of the Bible. It alone contains the inspired word of God that is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

 

“Fulfilled Prophecy as Evidence for My Faith”

By

Jordan Shouse

One of the great evidences towards the inspiration of the Scriptures is the fulfilled prophecy. A prophet was a spokesman for God. He simply delivered God’s words to the people. The message often held instruction concerning the need for repentance, the exposure and condemnation of sins, and hope for the future. That is the focus of this article, to focus on the messages God gave to His people concerning things which were to occur in the future, and then did. Prophecy is a great study. It is impressive to see the wisdom and foresight of God, and also gives the Bible student a grander picture of the Bible message. There are numerous examples of fulfilled prophecies, especially concerning Jesus. God fulfills His prophecies with precision and perfection. In this article I will point out a few, with the hopes that you’ll be inspired to pick up a Bible and find some on your own. Here are some prophecies about Jesus:

  • Jesus would be born of a virgin, and that His name would be Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14); fulfilled (Matthew 1:21-23)
  • Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); fulfilled (Matthew 2:1)
  • Jesus would perform miracles (Isaiah 35:4-6); fulfilled (Matthew 9:35)
  • Jesus would die a cruel death, he would be scourged (Isaiah 53:5) – fulfilled (Matthew 27:26); and pierced (Isaiah 53:5) – fulfilled (Matthew 27:35; John 20:27)

These are just a few of many prophecies concerning Jesus. We also see a different type of prophecy, where something is directly foretold like the examples above, but we see similarities between two people or two events. Here are some examples:

  • Abraham was told to kill his son Isaac
    • It was his only begotten son (Genesis 22:2) Jesus is God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16)
    • Was to sacrifice in the land of Moriah (v.2) The area of Moriah becomes Jerusalem in the future, Jesus was crucified outside of Jerusalem (Mark 15:22)
    • Abraham had Isaac carry the wood he would be sacrifice on (v.6); Jesus bore His cross to Calvary (Luke 23:26)
    • Abraham received his son back (v.12); Jesus rose from the dead
  • Jacob’s dream of a ladder
    • Jacob sees a ladder reaching to heaven, and angels were descending up and down on it (Genesis 28:13-15)
    • Jesus is the ladder – He is the access for man to God – John 1:51

There are more and more examples. If there were more time and space we could go into Jesus and the Passover lamb, the bronze serpent, the similarities between Jesus and Joseph, Elisha, and Jonah. We could point out numerous prophecies concerning events in His life. We could go back to the very beginning and look at the promises God made to Abraham about the great nation, promised land, and all the nations of the earth being blessed through his descendants (Genesis 12:1-3) and how all those promises came true in the future. The Bible is filled with these examples of prophecies. What ought to impress us is the foresight of God who planned such events to transpire in sync, and the faithfulness of our God who keeps His promises. He has never failed on His word which brings us great hope for the promises He has given to His children who trust and obey Him.

The Testimony of Jesus as Evidence for My Faith”

By Sean Cavender

A familiar passage to Bible students is: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). In discussing the nature of faith it is vital to recognize that faith is founded upon the words recorded in Scripture. The Bible records many things that are pertinent to our spiritual lives by many different examples and various teachers. The greatest example and the Master Teacher is Jesus Christ. The words and testimony of Jesus Christ leaves for us ample evidence that is sufficient to build up our faith.

A testimony is a declaration of some fact that may be tested to be true or false. Courts will take the testimony of eyewitnesses in order to establish the facts of a case. If the facts corroborate then the testimony of witnesses is upheld and proven to be true. If there is inconsistency within the testimony, and the facts do not corroborate then the testimony is questioned at best and proven false at worst. Christ’s public teachings, or testimonies, have been preserved through the Scriptures. If the testimony of Jesus is inconsistent with other teachings in Scripture then there is doubt that is cast upon His character and teachings. However, if they are upheld and proven time and time again, will you believe it and obey His word?

Christ was the embodiment of truth. The apostle John said “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth…for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:14,17). Jesus claimed to be a teacher sent by God and a presenter of the truth. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31,32). Jesus of Nazareth claimed to teach truth. If He did not teach the truth then He was a liar and not a good man. However, if His testimony is proven time and time again then His words are not only trustworthy, but authoritative and must be obeyed.

What Jesus Testified About God

Many stumble at the teaching of the Godhead. They do not understand how there is one God, as the Bible claims (Deuteronomy 6:4), and yet three distinct, divine persons. Several have claimed that the Bible does not teach the doctrine of the Godhead. Some scoff, asking how there can be three and one at the same time. Jesus most certainly recognized a distinction of persons within the Godhead, or the divine nature. Jesus taught, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever” (John 14:16). Jesus says that He would pray unto the Father. He makes a distinction between Himself and the Father. It would be ridiculous for Christ to pray unto Himself. Obviously, there is a distinction between the Father and the Son. Also, Jesus said that He would pray for another Comforter, referring to the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not asking that God send Himself in another form, but that He would send another Comforter, or another person. The Comforter would teach the things which Jesus authorized Him to speak (John 16:13,14).

The Godhead is a truth that is upheld and affirmed by Jesus Himself. It does not mean that there are three gods acting on their own accord and by their own authority. Jesus came, not by His own authority, but by what the Father commanded Him (John 5:19). The Holy Spirit was sent by Christ from the Father; He did not come to exert His own teaching or His own authority. Rather He was sent as one under authority (John 15:26; 16:13,14). The Godhead may be difficult to understand and often a great mystery to us, but Jesus’ words provide an insight into who God is.

What Jesus Testified About God’s Word

Christ had a high esteem for the Scriptures. He viewed the Scriptures as the word of God (John 10:35). He also recognized the Scriptures as all that was necessary for man in order to have spiritual nourishment (Matthew 4:4). Also, Jesus taught that God’s word was written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36). In affirming the inspiration of the Scriptures, Christ affirmed the nature of Scripture, as the “God-breathed” message (2 Timothy 3:16). Also, recognizing the inspiration of Scripture is the recognition that the prophets were not writing their opinion and offering their own interpretations; rather, they were writing about things they often times did not understand (2 Peter 1:20,21; 1 Peter 1:10-12). Jesus testified that the word of God was authoritative in determining doctrine, and morality. Christ turned to the Scriptures when He was questioned about marriage (Matthew 19:3-6). If only all people would view the Scriptures as God’s word, self-sufficient, inspired, and authoritative then there would be fewer problems today. People try to undermine the Scriptures, searching for loopholes, or outright deny what the Scriptures plainly teach. Let us strive to view the Scriptures as Christ taught us too.

What Jesus Testified About Eternity

It is natural that questions concerning the “afterlife” are brought up from time to time. Jesus addressed and answered many of the difficult questions concerning eternity. He affirmed that the soul continues to exist (it is not annihilated) in the spiritual realm (Matthew 22:32). Jesus also taught that there will be a bodily resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous (John 5:28,29). Furthermore, He taught that there will be eternal conscious punishment (Luke 16:24,25). Contrary to popular belief, Jesus did preach about the existence of hell (Matthew 10:28).

Why did Jesus preach these truths? He taught these things so that we may be prepared for the day of judgment! That day will be when Christ’s authority will be displayed for all to submit to, and all people might recognize Him as King, Judge, and Savior. Those who rejected Jesus as the Christ and disobeyed might be thrown into everlasting punishment, but those who believed and obeyed may receive the reward of eternal life (Matthew 25:46). Are you ready for eternity?

Conclusion

The testimony of Jesus has been preserved and handed down for us through the inspired apostles and New Testament writers. What a wonderful blessing that we are able to read and understand what Jesus taught. When we study the testimony of Christ we ought to be humbled, impressed, and strengthened in faith. The words of Peter are still true today. When asked by the Lord whether he would leave the Lord’s presence, Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).