Tag Archives: Bible Study

Justified

15 Feb

 

In this episode of MoodyTalks, I break down a small but weighty verse in Romans 10:9-10 and touches on the topics of Salvation and being justified. Don’t you love a simple but powerful gospel!

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Lessons from Asa

28 Jan

Pride

In my last post, I spoke about the principles we can learn from Asa which helped gain favour and strength from God. However, in Asa’s last years, he abandoned these principles as he grew in strength. There are practical lessons we can learn from Asa to help us remain focused and steadfast in God’s presence and hope.

Asa grew in stature, strength and favour. He rebuilt the city of Judah for God. However, Asa grow in confidence in himself and began to take matters in his own hands. He drew away from God’s strength and looked to build alliances with other armies to appear stronger (without inquiring of the Lord). In doing so, a seer came to Asa and told Asa that he had done a foolish thing for Asa wasn’t trusting in God as he used to. Instead of responding to these words with humility. Asa became angry and put the seer in prison, oppressed some of his people and also became afflicted with a foot disease. Even then, Asa did not ask God for healing and instead trusted in physicians. He eventually died, leaving a bitter taste in our memory of Asa.

We can discover two important lessons in this story.

  1. We need to remain steadfast in God, especially when we gain favour

This is so critical. We can press into God, gain favour in our family, church, career, work and in everything we do because we are faithful, and sincere with God. The challenge is to remain with an attitude of gratitude; rather than letting it get to your head and becoming prideful. It is a true challenge because when you gain strong success in your area, it is easy to start claiming credit and taking matters in your own hands. This is what happened to Asa. A strong way to counteract this is to continue to know where you would have been without God. I often tell myself I would be dead if it were not for God, if not dead, I would be blind (True story for another time!). I know that I wouldn’t have certain wisdom or behaviour because my wisdom comes from God. Where would you be without God? It is a great way to remain humble and to continue pursing God’s goodness for us, rather than our own.

2. Asa had a chance to respond to God

We can see that Asa had a chance, if not, two chances to correct his heart and respond to God when the seer came with words of revelation. Instead of coming to an understanding. Asa reacted angrily and this is a strong sign of the pride Asa developed in his heart. He also had a chance to turn to God for healing through repentance and being dependant on God, instead he continued to be bitter and relied on the strength of people. This is such a critical juncture; receiving words of correction/rebuke. It is never easy for a person to give rebuke or to receive rebuke but we have to understand that we may not see the things we are doing wrong and the person giving rebuke is doing so out of concern and love for us. We need to ensure that we receive words of correction and rebuke with a humble heart; knowing that God wants to continue to work in us, sharpen us and mould us. It is also better knowing that it is in our brokenness where we truly shine God’s glory. Do you need to respond to God? Do you have words of rebuke that you need to take on board? If so, do it in a humble manner and I guarantee that God will sharpen your heart and your life that allows you to glorify Him.

Let us continue to remain steadfast in God. Knowing that without Him we wouldn’t be where we are today. We wouldn’t carry the hope we have or be pursuing the great dreams he has placed in our hearts. Let us continue to be humble and trust in God. In doing so, God will continue to strengthen us and take us further on our journey with Him.

 

Asa’s Principles

25 Jan

And Asa

I loved coming across Asa who is the great-grandson of King David, in 2 Chronicles 14. Asa had taken up the role of King after the death of his father Abijah, and before that, Rehoboam and Solomon. All these Kings struggled to live out their kingly duties in the ways of God. Solomon became comfortable and distracted by life’s luxuries. Rehoboam got greedy and tried to gain more power and more influence than what he had and brought division in Israel. Abijah was quite wicked and not fully devoted to God (1 King 15:3).

The first thing we hear about Asa in this passage is “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord”. What a way to be introduced and remembered in the Bible! Especially after a history of Kings failing to live up to standard in their privileged responsibility.

I began to investigate further as to what Asa did that was good and right. Thus creating ‘Asa’s Principles’

  1. Asa removed, smashed and cut. (2 Chronicles 14:3)

Asa set out to destroy the things that were not of God. He removed foreign alters, smashed ‘sacred’ stones, and cut down Asherah poles (A goddess). This was an act to remove distractions or any obstacles in knowing the true God.

What do we need to remove, smash or cut in our lives? Is it a devotion to something else? An addiction that we indulge in? A limitation we have placed on ourselves? A stronghold in our life? Remove, smash and cut what is not of God.

2. Asa set the standard (2 Chronicles 14:4)

Asa commanded his community to seek God. After removing everything not of God, his next action was to make everything of God the foundation of the community. He also commanded them to obey the commandments and live in the ways of God. This was the standard Asa placed on himself and his community.

What are you laying down as the standard, the priority or the commandment in your life? Is it to seek God? Is it to follow His ways? or is it simply to attend Church on a Sunday Morning? When you set the standard of seeking God daily and living in His ways, your lives will be transformed greatly and richly blessed with His presence and love

3. Asa built up (2 Chronicles 14:6-7)

After Asa had rid of everything not of God, set the foundation of knowing God and seeking Him, Asa built the city up. He fortified the city, armed the men because he knew that the city and people were standing on the solid rock of God’s promises.

When we establish God as the foundation of our lives, we are able to build upwards and allow God to truly work in us and as a result, outwork through us. God begins to reveal promises, develop fruits in our lives and lead the way for us to follow.

These are Asa’s principles. I pray that you will be richly blessed in reading this and reflect upon your own life as to where you could apply any of these aspects. If you feel you are disqualified because of the things you have done, remember that these principles came into place because of the mistakes the previous Kings made; this didn’t disqualify Israel but rather enabled someone to come in and make the necessary changes after responding to God’s love and mercy. I pray that you will be a person that can be introduced as someone who “did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord”

 

Friendly Wounds

6 Jan

open rebuke

I was reading Proverbs 27 this morning and there were many references that it is better to having a true friend bring a harsh word, than it is an enemy praising you.

Proverbs 27:5-6  – An open rebuke
    is better than hidden love!

Wounds from a sincere friend
    are better than many kisses from an enemy.

Proverbs 27:9 – The heartfelt counsel of a friend
    is as sweet as perfume and incense

True friends are for you, and understanding they are for you; they offer you the challenging word motivated from a heart of love. They are willing to risk offending you for the reward of seeing you grow. They bring open rebuke when you stray of the path because they want to see you walk in abundance in God and not continue down the life of disaster. They are there to bring wise and heartfelt counsel when you are struggling to carry your load.

This may be a small example compared to many others I could share but nonetheless the same principle and one people often let slide. I had a good friend pull me aside to talk about my ‘fragrance’ and that it wasn’t as good as it could be. He mentioned my clothes smelt damp and that it wasn’t appealing. I was so thankful that he had the confidence I would take this ‘criticism’ well. I spent the next few weeks improving my fragrance. I changed my washing method, improved my quality of drying clothes, ensured I had a good cologne with me. After these small changes, this friend actually came up to me and noticed the changes. He was absolutely ecstatic for me because I had displayed a more appealing fragrance and I am much more aware today of what fragrance I give off. It was because of his open rebuke that today I am improved.

It is as important to learn how to absorb these rebukes as much as to give it to another person; if not more important!

My challenge for you today is do you have friends around you that value you enough you offer you rebuke, criticism and counsel? Do you have friends that love you for who you are but love you too much to keep you where you are? Do you have friends that are wanting to help you build, construct and grow today? And are you that friend for people around you?

Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron,
    so a friend sharpens a friend.

It is so important for us to have a bit of transparency for others, as it creates trust and intimacy within our relationships. (Note: we do have to be careful to balance praise and constructive feedback, not to overuse rebuking. There needs to be a foundation of a strong friendship and confidence in each other underneath it all)

In sharing all this, the best way to approach rebuke and counsel is to speak to the friend privately, speak from a loving heart, to ensure that the friend understands why you are giving the rebuke/counsel (i.e. because I want to see you grow, I’m concerned etc) and lastly to follow up and encourage the person.

You can measure the love of a friend by how transparent they are with you, not by how much they flatter you…

Saul Lessons

24 Jun
King Saul pondering next action in distress while future king, David plays the harp for soothing.

King Saul pondering next action in distress while future king, David plays the harp for soothing.

*I really hope you got my amazingly bad pun in ‘Saul Lessons’, with Saul replacing Soul*

I finished reading 1 Samuel in depth and King Saul’s life is a very fascinating and ultimately an upsetting one, in regards to the ending.

King Saul was the first appointed King for a united Israel as it had previously been divided in tribes. A King was demanded by the people of Israel, even though the prophet Samuel warned them to wait for a King first. Due to the immense demand by the people, God anointed Saul to be King. He had all the attributes that everyone could aspire to, he was the people’s King. Saul was tall, handsome, strong, rich and powerful. As King Saul’s life was chronicled, we witness key defining aspects that attributed to the fall of King Saul.

FOUNDATION

King Saul was anointed by God to become a King. All one needs is an anointing to know that they are in the right place. That anointing was appointed by God. King Saul knew that. However, he failed to continue building his foundation in God.

“Saul tried to please God by spurts of religiosity but real spirituality takes a lifetime of consistent obedience. Heroic spiritual lives are built on top of the other. Like a brick, each obedient act is small in itself, but in time the acts will pile up, and a huge wall of strong character will be built – a great defense against temptation. We should strive for consistent obedience each day” (Life Application Study Bible).

Saul seemed to treat God as a go-to-genie when things are not going his way or he is in trouble. This caused Saul to neglect building a relationship with God and genuinely allow God to lead the way. Samuel is a perfect example of someone who had a foundation in God and allowed God to lead the way. When God called Samuel, he said “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9), whereas Saul replied to God (who was speaking through Samuel) “Why do you say such a thing to me” (9:21). There was a lack of foundational trust in God. Saul was more dedicated to himself.

1. What is our foundation?

INTERIOR vs EXTERIOR

Speaking of being dedicated to himself, It was mentioned that Saul was tall, strong, handsome, rich and powerful, but all this wasn’t enough. On the exterior, he looked the goods; but the interior showed otherwise. Saul was big physically, but small in God’s eyes. He was handsome, but his sin showed his ugliness. He was strong, but lack of faith made him weak. He was rich, but spiritually poor. He looked good on the outside, but inside he was decaying.

2. How is our interior being?

REACTING vs RESPONDING 

King Saul became jealous of David because David was winning the respect and admiration of his people, This spurred King Saul to react, attempting to pursue and kill David. Saul was ravaged by bitterness, jealousy and rage because he was charged by emotion, anxiety and distress. In all these moments, King Saul failed to truly reflect, repent and respond. Everything he did was a reaction to circumstances that sent King Saul further tumbling down. The most heartbreaking moment for me in the story of King Saul, was King Saul, in his last moments of despair, killed himself by dropping onto his own sword. In the same day, he lost all his sons, his armor-bearer and ultimately, his own life. That should never be the ending of a man who was anointed by God. “Saul faced death the same way he faced life. He took matters into his own hands without thinking of God or asking for His guidance. If our lives aren’t the way we would like them to be now, we can’t assume that change will come more easily later. When nearing death, we will respond to God the same way we have been responding all along” (Life Application Study Bible). When facing situations, we need to reflect and think about what is happening? how am I feeling? and we need to repent if we have wronged God. Repent means to make a 180 degree turn; in other words, turn to God and surrender it all to him. After all this, we can respond with the wisdom and peace of God, no matter what distress we are facing.

3. Are we reacting or responding?

As you read through the chronicles of King Saul’s life in depth, it brings many practical insights and lessons that we can learn, especially lessons for the soul. These three questions are ones that I want to highlight from this story and you to reflect on.

1. What is our foundation?

2. How is our interior being?

3. Are we reacting or responding?

Let’s allow God to spearhead our lives, especially when we receive the anointing to do what God has appointed us to do. With God, we can do all things, it is up to us how we respond and how we build the foundation and ourselves. Doing the right thing effectively positions us for God to do great things within us and through us!

What evidence do we have that the Gospels are reliable?

10 Jun

the four gospels

Apologetics – What evidence do we have that the Gospels are reliable?

(Apologetics Definition: reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Four Gospels and One Jesus

3. Archaeological discoveries

4. Extra-Biblical and Non-Christian Sources

5. Quantity and Quality of the Manuscripts

6. Oral Transmission

7. Conclusion

8. Bibliography

End Notes

 

Introduction

The Gospels in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, has come under huge scrutiny for its reliability as a historical document or as a source of knowledge about the life of Jesus. However, one can claim that the Gospel has been unfairly scrutinized in comparison to other ancient documents. Popular opinion of the Gospel according to the secular world can be summed up as “they are not reliable. They were composed long after the events they purport to describe – by writers strongly biased in his favour…The writers fed back into the Jesus-events their own developed beliefs and prejudices, turning the simple figure of the Galilean teacher into a miracle-working God-man” (Bridge, 1996, p17). As it comes to analysing the authenticity and credibility of the Bible, especially the Gospel, one needs to ensure they follow where the evidence leads them. Scholars can subconsciously bring personal bias or prejudices when it comes to researching the reliability of the Gospel. Putting these aside, one can find there is incredible evidence that cements the accuracy and trustworthiness of the Gospel. You can find specific evidence through these certain aspects: the fact that there are four different gospels/eye-witnesses about Jesus, archaeological discoveries, extra-biblical and non-Christian sources confirming the existence of Jesus, the quality and quantity of manuscripts and the methods in which people passed on the story and message of Jesus Christ. It is our role and responsibility that we look at the evidence, which has come to light, subjectively; as one would do for a secular writing/theory. Knowing this, there is incredible evidence that points to the reliability of the Gospel. It certainly outweighs the arguments against the reliability of the Gospels.

Four Gospels and One Jesus

Having four gospels about one Jesus can raise some eyebrows. There are emerging points that having four gospels is unreliable because they are different and seem to contradict each other. However, it is the opposite effect. “The four Gospels give us a complementary, not a contradictory, account” (Zukeran, 2014). If you were a judge and you had four different eye-witnesses for a court case, imagine if they all said the same story; right down to the very specific details. You would be very suspicious. There are four different perspectives about Jesus because each author of the gospels had different audiences they intended to reach. Along with this, it is believed the Gospels were written at different times and locations. Zukeran shares how Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience and includes many teachings of Christ, while including references for the Old Testament prophecies to build creditability. Mark reached out to the Gentile audience and set out to prove that Jesus is the Son of God; so he focused on sharing events of Jesus’ life, demonstrating his Kingship over all. Luke wrote from a historical perspective, looking to write accurately the account of Jesus’ life. John wrote the last gospel as a reflection of his experience walking with God and writes the most theological gospel of all” (Zukeran, 2014). As you can see, there are different details and perspectives of the life of Jesus and the Gospel, the underlying truth and overall message is still the same. This presents the Gospels’ case for truthfulness and accuracy which strengthens the eyewitnesses’ testimony. Putting together all four Gospels, it provides a comprehensive picture of the person, teaching, miracles and life of Jesus Christ. The argument of having four gospels of Jesus, through the perspectives of different eye-witness; while presenting the same message further cements the reliability of the Gospels’ as an insight of the life of Jesus Christ.

Archaeological discoveries

Archaeological discoveries have often been ignored in the past as a source of evidence for biblical reliability and accuracy. However, such evidence needs to be presented alongside other evidence without any prejudice. “Archaeology has in many cases refuted the views of modern critics. It has shown…that these views rest on false assumptions and unreal, artificial schemes of historical development. This is a real contribution and not to be minimized” (Burrows, 1956, p1). There have been many archaeological discoveries that can build the creditability of the Bible. “In general terms, archaeology confirms the Gospel background and even pinpoints some of the places. John’s Gospel in particular reads almost like a guidebook to Jerusalem between AD 20 and 70” (Bridge, 1996, p23). Such archaeological discoveries include towns mentioned, inscriptions written or specific architecture confirmed in the Bible. “Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history” (Albright as cited by McDowell, 1979, p65). A professor, Urban C. Von Waldhe, who focuses hugely in the Gospel of John; points out many incredible discoveries that validate the trustworthiness of John’s writings.

“…of the 20 Johannine sites, 16 have been identified with certainty: Bethsaida; Cana, Capernaum, the harbor, the synagogue, Jacob’s well, Mount Gerizim, the location of Sychar, the Sheep Gate, the pool(s) of Bethesda; Tiberias; the pool of Siloam; Bethany, near Jerusalem; Ephraim; the Kidron Valley; the Praetorium; Golgotha; and the tomb of Jesus[1]” (Von Wahlde, as cited by Charlesworth, 2006 p523).

When you piece together all the archaeology discoveries so far today and give respect the evidence demands, there is clearly more archaeological evidence that proves the authenticity of the four gospels than it does deny. “Archaeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the Scriptural record; “more than one archaeologist has found his respect for the Bible increased by the experience of excavation in Palestine” (Burrows, 1956, p1).

 

Extra-Biblical and Non-Christian Sources

To further push the case of the reliability of the Gospels, there are extra-biblical and Non-Christian sources that were written around the time of Jesus, and they confirm the life of Jesus. The argument that the writers of the Gospels are biased toward Jesus is a valid point. To rebut this point, one cannot ignore the external sources of writings that were written during the time of Jesus Christ. These sources actually confirm that Jesus existed and these authors were not biased. This cements that at the least that Jesus lived in this world and had influence. “In light of these non-Christian references, the theory that Jesus never existed is completely unreasonable. How could non-Christian writers collectively reveal a storyline congruent with the New Testament if Jesus never existed?” (Geisler & Turek, 2004, p223). It is hard to ignore that the writers of the Jesus era knew of Jesus even though they did not follow him; they knew that there was a change happening. In some of the writings, there are mentions of Jesus doing some supernatural work, or that the followers of Jesus are living accordingly to the teachings of Jesus Christ. “The external evidence for the Gospel traditions reinforces the confidence in their historical reliability, which the internal evidence has been building up in previous chapters” (Blomberg, 2007, p295). Regarding Non-Christian sources, Gleghorn looks at strong evidence that point to the existence of Jesus. Gleghorn shares writings from Tacitus, a Roman Historian; Pliny the Younger, a Roman Governor; Josephus, 1st Century Jewish Historian; the Babylonian Talmud, a collection of Jewish rabbinical writings; and Lucian of Samosata, 2nd Century Greek satirist (Gleghorn, 2014). Josephus further confirms the truth within the Gospels incidentally; “Josephus also provides more indirect corroboration of the Gospel narratives about Jesus…He also makes reference to John the Baptist, with testimony about John’s message, ministry and execution that is potentially compatible with the Gospel’s accounts” (Blomberg, 2007, p256). Pliny the Younger, shares certain behaviours that he noticed from the early followers of Jesus.

“They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food–but food of an ordinary and innocent kind” (Pliny, cited by Habermas, 1996, p199).

Piecing together these sources and more, you begin to form the central message and purpose of the gospel. “The historical sources outside the Gospels confirm their core content[2], but not the details” (Roberts, 2007, p150). But this alone, at least, validates the basic premise of the gospel. The purpose of the gospel is to bring the insight and details of the message of Jesus and the external sources of that age authenticates this basic message. Regarding the confirmation of authorship, Kirby shares a source from Irenaeus, an Early Church Father and apologist, who specifically mentions Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as the authors of the gospel in his book, In Against Heresies[3]  (Kirby, 2001).

Quantity and Quality of the Manuscripts

One of the valid arguments against the reliability of the gospel that circles around today is that Scripture today has been translated too many times and has too many variations. This is true to an extent for we do not have the original scriptures. However, there is no other ancient book in comparison that is more reliable than the New Testament.

“No other ancient book is so well authenticated. The great New Testament scholar and Princeton professor Brice Metzger estimated that the Mahabharata of Hinduism is copied with only 90 percent accuracy and Homer’s Iliad with about 95 percent, by comparison, he estimated the New Testament is about 99.5 percent accurate. Again, the 0.5 percent in question does not affect a single doctrine of Christian faith” (Geisler + Turek, 2004, p220).

The originals were copied onto the manuscripts, which provide us with our source of the teachings of the gospel. These manuscripts were carefully copied and today there is a huge amount of manuscripts. “We do not possess any of the original autographs of New Testament texts. But these originals were carefully copied and preserved, and today we possess an abundance of manuscripts – over 5,700 (from the second to the fourteenth centuries)” (Burge, Cohick & Green, 2009, p442). There is not only a huge quantity of manuscripts but the quality of the manuscripts has been carefully monitored to ensure that sanctity of the gospel and the preservation of the message “The wealth of existing manuscript evidence (not to mention all the translations and citations from rabbis and early church fathers) allow for a high degree of certainty that the original text is represented within the wealth of manuscripts we now have” (Von Kamecke, 2009, p36). Continuing the argument of the different translations, sceptics point to the different translations and variations as the undoing of the reliability of the gospels (and the Bible as a whole) under the assumption that every single copy and word needs to be the same for it to be true. However, with all the differences in each translation, it is only minor and does not affect the message of the gospel as a whole; “The vast majority of variants involve spelling, grammar, harmonization, and the like, most of which are easily identified” (Von Kamecke, 2009, p37). Another argument placed upon the unreliability of the gospel is that the time gap between the actual events of the gospel and when it was recorded causes it to be subject for error. It is assumed that the gospel could easily be forgotten, changed or misinterpreted. It is believed that the earlier a copy is written, the more reliable it is. In saying so, The New Testament, in comparison to other ancient books, is copied far earlier. Ancient text such as Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristotle, Caesar, Pliny, Tacitus, Confucius and I Ching are copied more than 750 years after the original; whereas, the New Testament is copied within the time gap of 0-300 years[4]. This shows that the New Testament ought to be considered more reliable according to this particular argument. “The length of time between the events and their recording in the gospels is not much more than two generations, even on the latest dating now proposed” (France, 2012, p291). There is insurmountable evidence of the quality and quantity of manuscripts that bring us the writings of the Gospel. One has to ensure that they treat the New Testament like any other historical document when looking to authenticate or expose the writings. “Treat the Gospels just like you would any other historical document. Subject it to the same criteria. Treat it just like Caesar’s Gallic Wars, Josephus’ Jewish Wars, or Tacitus’ Annals of Imperial Rome. If you accept them as generally accurate, on what basis would you discount the reliability of the Gospels?” (Copan, 1998). One can see that in comparison to other texts, the Gospel can be seen as most reliable.

Oral Transmission

A popular argument that is believed to impact the credibility of the gospel is the fact that in the first few centuries of the development of the Scripture, it was passed down orally before being put onto manuscripts. There is a common reference to the game ‘Telephone’ (a.k.a. Chinese Whispers); where one person shares a sentence to another, and they pass on the message to a group of people, one by one. In the end, the statement has often been changed through the process; whether it is one or two words, or even the complete sentence. This point is raised when it comes to the transmission of heavy doses of Scripture from one to another. However, one can discuss that the people in the Jesus era lived in a verbalized culture. People such as Jewish, rabbis or even Jesus followers had practice in giving and receiving knowledge orally. “During the first four centuries of our era the verbalized Torah tradition of the Jewish rabbis grew enormously, and it was still being handed down orally. If one wonders how it was possible for such a huge body of text to be preserved and passed on orally, one must consider the rabbis’ pedagogical methods and techniques employed in oral transmission” (Gerhardsson, 2001, p9). In today’s generation, we do not need to remember much because we have information stored in technology, books and under our fingertips. We can access phone numbers on our phone without memorizing it; therefore we have not exercised our full ability to store information and remembering it clearly. “The early followers of Jesus lived in an oral culture…only the wealthy had access to libraries and literature. So people needed good memories. They remembered stories, sayings, Scripture passages…Their oral culture had contexts in which crucial information, like religious stories, would be passed on faithfully” (Roberts, 2007, p73).

 

Conclusion

As you piece all the evidence together, it is clear that the evidence for the reliability and authenticity of the Gospel far outweighs the evidence stating the Gospels are unreliable. Compared to its contemporary ancient writings, the Gospel is far more credible; as seen by the quality process of the copying of manuscripts and the confirmation of such corroborative eyewitnesses and archaeological findings. Most arguments that push for the Gospels to be seen as unreliable are mostly claims that have not backed up through facts. It is crucial that people look at the evidence subjectively so the evidence itself can paint a clearer picture of the question of the reliability of the Gospel; rather than personal opinion and biases. There are certainly issues that can cause the gospel to be unreliable, such as the chance of error arising from oral transmission, the fact there are no originals and that there are supposed contradictions in the four Gospels. However, these arguments can be as mere statements due to lack of facts proving there is definite error in the Scripture today. There are far more certain facts that build the trustworthiness of the Gospel, whether it is sourced from within the Bible or in external sources. Objectively, the Gospels ought to be seen as reliable due to tremendous evidence that paint this theory.

Bibliography

  1. Blomberg, C.L. (2007) The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.
  2. Bridge, D. (1996) Why the Four Gospels? Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications.
  3. Burge, G. M., Cohick, L. H., & Green, G. L. (2009). The New Testament in Antiquity: A Survey of the New Testament Within Its Cultural Context. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  4. Burrows, M. (1956) What Mean These Stones? New York: Meridian Books.
  5. Copan, P. (2001) You Can’t Trust The Gospels, They’re Unreliable, Excerpted from Copan, P. (1998) True For You, But Not For Me, Ada, MI: Bethany House Publishers (Accessed 30/05/2015: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/r14ac.html).
  6. France, R.T (2012) The Gospels as Historical Sources for Jesus, the Founder of Christianity, in Meister, C & Sweis, K.A (Ed.) Christian Apologetics: An Anthropology of Primary Sources, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  7. Geisler, N.L. and Turek, F. (2004). I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
  8. Gerhardsson, B. (2001) The Reliability of the Gospel Tradition, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
  9. Gleghorn, M. (2014) Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources, Probe Ministries (Accessed 30/05/2015: https://www.probe.org/ancient-evidence-for-jesus-from-non-christian-sources-2/#text10).
  10. Habermas, G.R. (1996) The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ Joplin MO: College Press Publishing Company.
  11. Kirby, P. (2001) Early Christian Writings: Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.1.1 – (Accessed on 27/05/2015: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/irenaeus-book3.html).
  12. McDowell, J. (1979) Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Historical Evidence for the Christian Faith, San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers.
  13. Roberts, M..D. (2007) Can We Trust the Gospels? Wheaton IL: Crossway Books.
  14. Von Wahlde, U.C. (2006) Archaeology and John’s Gospel, in Jesus and Archaeology, Charlesworth, J.H. (ed). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
  15. Von Kamecke, F. (2009) Busted: Exposing Popular Myths about Christianity, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  16. Zukeran, P. (2014) The Historical Reliability of the Gospels – An Important Apologetic for Christianity Probe Ministries (Accessed 27/05/15: https://www.probe.org/the-historical-reliability-of-the-gospels/)

END NOTES

[1]Von Wahlde’s findings with reference to verses in John’s Gospel:

Bethsaida (1:44); Cana (2:1, 11; 4:4654; 21:2); Capernaum (2:12; 4:46; 6:17, 24); the harbor (6:24, 25); the synagogue (v. 59); Jacob’s well (4:46); Mount Gerizim (4:20); the location of Sychar (4:5); the Sheep Gate (5:2); the pool(s) of Bethesda (5:2); Tiberias (6:1, 23; 21:2); the pool of Siloam (9:19); Bethany, near Jerusalem (11:117; 12:111); Ephraim (11:54); the Kidron Valley (18:1); the Praetorium (18:28, 33; 19:9); Golgotha (19:17, 18, 20, 41); and the tomb of Jesus (19:41, 42). Of the remaining four, two can be narrowed to within a relatively restricted area: the place in the temple precincts for the keeping of animals (2:1316) and the place where Pilate brought Jesus (19:13); the other two are still highly controversial: Aenon near Salim (3:23) and Bethany beyond the Jordan (1:28; 10:40).

[2] To further clarify the core content that the author Roberts is talking about, he shares – “If we had to piece together the data about Jesus from sources outside the Gospels – from the Roman writers, from Josephus, and from Paul and the other New Testament writers…we would have Jesus, a Jew from Judea, who for some reason got in trouble with Pontius Pilate and was crucified. We could also know that something amazing happened after his death because his followers actually multiplied dramatically…This picture of Jesus is sketchy, to be sure, but it focuses on the most important aspects of the Gospel: the death and resurrection of Jesus” (Roberts, pp149-150)

[3] “Matthew also issues a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome…After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also did hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia” (Iranaeus, Book 3, Chapter 1)

[4] Notes sourced from Issues in Apologetics Unit, Lecture 33: The Nature and Origins of the Bible at Harvest Bible College, Lecturer: Dr Jon Newton

Copyright © James Moody 2015

World Religions

17 Aug

World Religions

 

A month or so ago, I elected to study the class – “World Religions and Belief Systems”, because I have always had this curiosity to learn about other religions. I wanted to know their beliefs, the causes to believe it and what the benefits are in believing in what the religion brings to one’s life. I knew that it would enhance my knowledge and enable me to think deeply about why I believe in my God. Some Christians may ‘forbid’ you to not look at other teachings for it may convert you but I don’t think we need to hold that fear if we believe we have truly discovered God. It certainly had a profound, positive impact on me and my relationship with God

It was absolutely fascinating to be able to study and write essays on those religions – namely Islam, Buddhism and Taoism; along with attending a Buddhist ceremony. Certain beliefs that I came across, I found enlightening. I believe it wasn’t the actual belief that caught my attention, but the reason people believe. It all came down to core needs and desires of a human being. Desires such as – wanting to be free, live in a peaceful world. Needs such as significance, love, provision and security. 

As I studied these beliefs and the actions of people, I became far more convicted in my own beliefs and I learnt so much for the other religions. I believe we, as Christians, can learn certain things from other religions that we have neglected in our Christian walk/fellowship. I learnt about meditation and discipline in Buddhism/Taoism. Buddhist meditate daily to transform their mind in the way their teachings have told them to. They meditate to strengthen their inner being and spiritual selves. They discipline themselves by not indulging in things that can distract their hearts and mind from finding the peace in themselves. Sometimes as Christians, we don’t discipline ourselves; we also definitely do not meditate on God’s Word as much as Christians in history used to (thanks to distraction of technology and the fast-paced society we live in). Biblical illiteracy continues to climb as each generation passes through, the gap between convicted Christians and easily-swayed Christians continue to widen.

I learnt about the impact of the need for families to teach, correct and love their children through the word of God through Islam. They have different teachings to Christianity but these Islamic families have strong influence in teaching their children and equipping them in their religion; thus raising up a convicted generation. The children grow up saturated by Islam teachings and develop their own passion and faith for their religion. These families ooze passion when speaking of their God and they don’t let anything else sway their families and beliefs. With that in mind, we need more families developing a strong unity with very Christ at the center. There are so many broken families, increasing the need for families to rely on Christ as their provider, teacher and guide. Parents have an important role, along with the church in equipping children to become faith-filled, influential and passionate followers that the world needs. If we have a purpose within our relationship in Christ, then doesn’t it become far easier to raise up children who discover God and build their own faith through the foundation that their families have set. Passion and support is needed to build strong faith in others.

There are so many things I’ve learnt that other religions value and emphasize – honor, peace, love, integrity, respect, passion, time, discipline and so on. What values do we hold in our relationship with God and what values do we neglect?

Don’t be afraid to be curious and seek God.

A thinking person is an influential person, a thinking Christian is a more convicted and influential person.