How can I experience eternal satisfaction? Part 2

“It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” John 6:45

In his book, Desiring God, John Piper states that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” God gets the most glory when we receive the most satisfaction from our relationship with Him. But God is dishonored and hurt when we seek ultimate satisfaction outside of our relationship with Him. When we seek ultimate satisfaction in our jobs, relationships, possessions, and positions, it dishonors the Lord and it leaves us empty and unfulfilled.

Like never before, I believe there is a growing dissatisfaction among people in America. People are dissatisfied with a church, so they transfer to another one. They are dissatisfied with a marriage, so they go find another one. They are dissatisfied with a job, so they search for another. They are dissatisfied with the home they have, so they go deeper into debt and buy a bigger one. They are dissatisfied with their lives, so they try to make others miserable through rioting and intimidation.

Last time we discovered that the first way I can experience eternal satisfaction is to COMPREHEND THAT JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD (John 6:41-42). Only God can meet our deepest needs and satisfy us eternally. But how do people come to see that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the second way I can experience eternal satisfaction… COME TO JESUS THROUGH THE WORD (John 6:43-46). 43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, ‘Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.’ ” (John 6:43-44). No one can come to faith in Christ unless God the Father first draws him. The word “draws” (helkō) means to draw or persuade by inward power and attraction. It conveys the image of a lover wooing his beloved.  

The length of drawing can vary. God may draw a person for eighty years or eight days. But this drawing is resistible. For instance, Judas resisted intense drawing for over three years with Jesus. All who die without Christ have rejected God’s drawing in their life. It is possible that God may stop drawing an unbeliever who hardens his heart. But Jesus’s point in verse 44 is that it is impossible for lost people to come to Christ without the help of God. God must work in their hearts.

God may be drawing some of you. Maybe you have started reading the Bible or going to church. The fact that you are reading this article shows that God is moving in your life. This is an indication that God is working in your heart to draw you to His Son. How does God draw a person to Jesus?

Jesus then says, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” (John 6:45). God draws people to Himself through the Scriptures. This verse from the Old Testament (cf. Isaiah 54:13 or possibly Jeremiah 31:34) teaches universal drawing. Everyone who listens and learns from God will come to Christ in faith. But you must being willing to receive instruction from the Lord. If you close your heart off to what God is saying, His drawing in your life may stop.

God’s drawing does not eliminate human responsibility. It is still your choice to believe in Christ. This is why we want to keep God’s Word at the center of everything we do at our church or in our Christian lives. We want to keep inviting people to believe or trust in Christ alone for His gift of salvation because it is their choice to believe in Him. So not only can I experience eternal satisfaction by comprehending that Jesus is the Son of God, but I can also experience eternal satisfaction by coming to Jesus through the Bible, God’s Word.

Prayer: Father God, I praise You for pursuing me when I was lost and perishing without Jesus Christ in my life. Even though I lived a life of rebellion when I was a non-Christian, You still loved me and pursued a personal relationship with me. Thank You for wooing me into a love relationship with You through the Bible. I am so grateful for the people who shared Your Word with me when I was an unbeliever. Each verse prepared my heart and mind to come to faith in Jesus, the Messiah-God, for His gift of everlasting life. Please use Your Word in my life and ministry to draw millions to Your Son, Jesus Christ, Who alone can give them everlasting life. In Jesus’s name. Amen.  

A Look into the Future – Part 7 (Video)

This is the seventh in a series of videos about the future as recorded in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. This video focuses on the New Heaven and New Earth.

The Revelation Art is used by permission of Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992. To order art prints visit her “Revelation Illustrated” site, http://www.revelationillustrated.com.  Other digital images are used with permission from Good News Productions International and College Press Publishing (www.FreeBibleimages.org) and GoodSalt (www.goodsalt.com). The music and video scenes in this video are used with permission from the producers of the video entitled “The Free Gift.”

Who are the witnesses who back up Christ’s claim to be equal with God? Part 4

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” John 5:39

The fourth witness Jesus called upon to back up His claim to be equal with God is THE SCRIPTURES themselves (John 5:39-44). Jesus said to the Jewish religious leaders who surrounded Him, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (John 5:39). These men devoted their whole lives studying and memorizing the Old Testament because they thought the knowledge of Scripture would give them eternal life.

There are people like this today, students and scholars who search the Bible, but never find Jesus. Yet Jesus Himself declares, “They… [the Scriptures] testify of Me.” Jesus is the main subject of the Old Testament! You will find Him on every page appearing as a type or shadow of things to come. For example, the animal sacrifices pictured Jesus’ death. What an amazing claim this is, “They… testify of Me.”

What if I said to you, “I have been reading through the Old Testament and I find that the whole book is talking about me. I am the subject of the Old Testament!”? I’m sure most of you would think this guy is insane! Some of you would probably phone for the men in white coats to come and get me! We would call anybody who made that claim, crazy. Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, who studied the Old Testament, never claimed that it witnessed to him. Buddha knew some of the Old Testament, yet he never claimed it was a witness to him. Gandhi, a modern-day Buddha, never claimed that Scripture talked about him. But when Jesus makes that claim no one calls Him crazy. There is an acknowledgment of the justice of His claim, there is evidence in support of it.

It is possible to study the Bible, to even give your whole life to it, and never see Jesus. Like many people today, these religious leaders thought that knowledge is power, education is life, and if you get knowledge of what God does you will have eternal life. What is the problem? How can people hear and see the truth, study the truth all their lives, yet never come to Christ?

Jesus explains when He says to them, “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:40). The problem is the will. The reason they don’t find Christ in their study of the Bible is because they choose not to do so. He goes on to tell us why. 41 I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?” (John 5:41-44).Why would someone read the truth, know it to be truth, know that it speaks of Jesus, know Him to be who He claims to be, and still refuse to come to Him in faith? Jesus says the answer is because you are looking for your own advancement. You are out to please yourself and to please other people, but you are not willing to please God.

This philosophy is a denial that you have a Father who loves you, that Someone else is ready to work on your behalf if you will trust in Him. When you are committed to such a philosophy, how can you trust in Jesus? These religious leaders were willing to receive other men, but not Christ because Jesus confronted them with their own sin. God the Son put them in their place and they were too proud to admit their need for Him.

There are two ways to study the Bible: (like the Pharisees) you can study it with your mind made up or (like Jesus’s disciples) you can study it to let it make up your mind. The choice is yours. You may know the Bible but do you know the Author of the Bible?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the testimony of the Scripture which reveals so much about You. All the Old Testament animal sacrifices point to You as the innocent Lamb of God who took our place when You died for our sins on a cross. Thank You for opening my eyes and heart to see You throughout the Bible the moment I believed in You. Yet my heart is deeply burdened by the many people who fail to see You in the testimony of the Bible because they are not willing to come to You on Your terms. They are not willing to humble themselves before You and admit their own sinfulness and need for Your saving grace. I pray the Holy Spirit will remove the blinders that keep them from seeing You as You truly are – the true God and eternal life Who longs to save those who are on the path to eternal destruction. Thank You for hearing my prayer, my Lord and my God. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Who are the witnesses who back up Christ’s claim to be equal with God? Part 2

The second witness that Jesus calls upon to back up His claim to be equal with God is JOHN THE BAPTIST. Christ said to the Jews who gathered around him, “You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.” (John 5:33).  When John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness, the religious leaders sent a delegation to listen to Him. John the Baptist said three specific things about Jesus: First, John announced to his own disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus is the Lamb of God, the innocent Substitute who would take our place and punishment upon Himself so God could give us eternal life.

Second, John announced Jesus to be “He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” (John 1:33). He is the One who will permanently quench the thirst of peoples’ hearts for eternal life. His Holy Spirit transforms lives from the inside out.

Third, John declared Jesus to be “the Son of God.” (John 1:34). He is God Himself, Lord of heaven and earth who became man. Here in 5:33, Jesus declares that all that John said about Him is true! Jesus then goes on to say something that sounds a little strange to us. “Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved.” (John 5:34). Although Jesus doesn’t need human testimony to confirm what He already knows from God, He speaks of John’s witness so they could be saved.

We often see this in our own culture where men and women will not pay attention to the Bible directly, but they will often listen closely to someone who tells what his experience with God has been.

The Bible, of course, is the Word of God. It is the most widely distributed book ever – having been translated into more languages than any other book. Yet I find it strange how few people ever open the Bible to see what God has said. But they will listen instead to what some man or woman says about what God has said! That’s what Jesus is talking about here: “For your sake I call attention to the witness of John, in order that you might be saved.” Do you see how compassionate Jesus is? He is willing to use different approaches as long as people will listen to what God is saying. This is one reason why I love to incorporate testimonies or faith stories into sermons. People will remember your stories about God’s work in your life far longer than any sermon they hear.

Jesus says of John the Baptist, “He was the burning and shining lamp.” (John 5:35a). John was the lamp, Jesus is the Light. John was the container, Jesus was the Content. The Jews were attracted to John like moths to a candle. They were attracted to his brightness, not his warmth.

Would you like to be a shining lamp? Let me tell you how to do it. Burn! Let the truth of God fuel your heart until it begins to burn brightly for Christ. When you understand and experience the life-giving Word of God, your heart will begin to burn, and then you will start to shine. We often sing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” Here is how to do it: Burn! Let Jesus help you understand the Bible and apply it to your life so you can burn brightly for Him in our declining society.

Jesus continues. “And you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.” (John 5:35b).People were attracted to this light for a while but then they grew tired of John. They listened for a while and then they went on to other things – jogging, dieting, video games – whatever. John was just a passing fad. That is what truth about Christ is to many people today – something that comes and goes, and when it has gone something else takes its place. Don’t take this personally if you have people lose interest in learning about Christ. Focus on those who are receptive and want to grow in their relationship with the Lord.

Prayer: Precious Lord Jesus, thank You for pointing me to the witness of John the Baptist concerning Your Person and Work. John knew that You were God and that You had come to pay the penalty for the sins of the world in full. He proclaimed this to a lost world even though it would cost him his life. His heart burned passionately for You, Lord Jesus, and I long for my own heart to do this. Please remove anything in my life that keeps You from lighting a fire in my heart that will burn brightly for You. Open the eyes of my heart to discover the transforming truths of Your Word. Like John, I want to be a burning lamp for You so that people will be drawn to the light of Your salvation. By Your grace, help me to keep burning for You, Jesus, even though our society is sinking to deeper levels of darkness. Please lead me to those Whom You have prepared to hear and believe in You. Thank You my Lord and my God. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

How can we treat believers better who differ with us about Christian liberty?

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 5Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus.” Romans 15:4-5

In Romans 14, the apostle Paul admonished the Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome to accept and love one another despite their differences concerning their Christian liberty. Beginning in chapter 15, he tells the stronger Christian whose faith permits him to eat all foods and observe every day the same, to “bear with the scruples” or weaknesses of believers whose faith did not permit him to exercise his Christian liberty to the same extent (15:1). Instead of pleasing himself, he was to put the welfare of others before himself like Jesus did (15:2-3a). Paul then quotes King David whose commitment to building up the physical house of God is to be displayed by Christians in their commitment to building up God’s spiritual house (15:3b; cf. Psalm 69:9). 

Notice that when Paul seeks to motivate his readers to treat one another better, he does not refer to some seminar or some promo on Facebook. He refers to the Bible in verse 3 when he quotes King David (cf. Psalm 69:9). By referring to the Old Testament, Paul was showing that Christians can receive from the Bible the instruction (“learning”), perseverance (“patience”),“comfort,” and “hope” they need to bear with one another despite their differences regarding their Christian liberty (15:4). But he does not stop there. 

The reason the Bible can give us everything we need to bear with one another in the family of God is because of the Person behind the Bible: Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus” (15:5). Knowing the Bible is not enough to treat one another better. We must know the Author of the Bible if we are going to treat one another better (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). The more we know God who is love, the more loving we will become toward one another (cf. I John 4:7-8). 

Do you have teenage girls? They must be very careful with internet chat rooms. Teenage girls can fall in love with evil men on the internet because the words they read have a person behind them. As she hangs out with this man on the internet for days and weeks, he eventually says,“Can we meet at the park this Saturday at five o’clock?” She has been trained all these years not to hang out with strangers, yet now she goes to meet this stranger. Why? Because she has fallen in love with someone she has never seen. The reason she has fallen in love with someone she has never seen is because of the power of the written word. Why? Because behind that written word is a real person. If an evil man can take the words of a computer and transform a teenage girl so that she will go meet him in private at a park somewhere and risk her life because she has been overwhelmed with the word, then how much more can the God of the Bible overwhelm us with His written Word so that we change from what we might normally do because we have been overwhelmed with a love relationship with Someone we have never seen.

Do not underestimate what the God of the Bible can do in our lives when we sit down to hear His voice as we read and apply the Bible to our lives. Spending time with Him in His Word can transform us so that we treat other believers better who may differ with us concerning Christian liberty. 

Are there any errors in the Bible?

By Norman L. Geisler

The Bible cannot err, since it is God’s Word, and God cannot err. This does not mean there are no difficulties in the Bible. But the difficulties are not due to God’s perfect revelation, but to our imperfect understanding of it. The history of Bible criticism reveals that the Bible has no errors, but the critics do. Most problems fall into one of the following categories.

ASSUMING THE UNEXPLAINED IS UNEXPLAINABLE

When a scientist comes upon an anomaly in nature, he does not give up further scientific exploration. Rather, the unexplained motivates further study. Scientists once could not explain meteors, eclipses, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Until recently, scientists did not know how the bumblebee could fly. All of these mysteries have yielded their secrets to relentless patience. Scientists do not now know how life can grow on thermo-vents in the depths of the sea. But no scientist throws in the towel and cries “contradiction!” Likewise, the true biblical scholar approaches the Bible with the same presumption that there are answers to the unexplained. Critics once proposed that Moses could not have written the first five books of the Bible because Moses’ culture was preliterate. Now we know that writing had existed thousands of years before Moses. Also, critics once believed that Bible references to the Hittite people were totally fictional. Such a people by that name had never existed. Now the Hittites’ national library has been found in Turkey. Thus, we have reason to believe that other unexplained phenomena in Scripture will be explained later.

ASSUMING THE BIBLE IS GUILTY OF ERROR UNLESS PROVEN INNOCENT

Many critics assume the Bible is wrong until something proves it right. However, like an American citizen charged with an offense, the Bible should be read with at least the same presumption of accuracy given to other literature that claims to be nonfiction. This is the way we approach all human communications. If we did not, life would not be possible. If we assumed that road signs and traffic signals were not telling the truth, we would probably be dead before we could prove otherwise. If we assumed food packages are mislabeled, we would have to open up all cans and packages before buying. Likewise, the Bible, like any other book, should be presumed to be telling us what the authors said, experienced, and heard. But, negative critics begin with just the opposite presumption. Little wonder they conclude the Bible is riddled with error.

CONFUSING OUR FALLIBLE INTERPRETATIONS WITH GOD’S INFALLIBLE REVELATION

Jesus affirmed that the “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35, NASB). As an infallible book, the Bible is also irrevocable. Jesus declared, “Truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished” (Matt. 5:18; Luke 16:17, NASB). The Scriptures also have final authority, being the last word on all it discusses. Jesus employed the Bible to resist the tempter (see Matt. 4:4, 7, 10), to settle doctrinal disputes (see Matt. 21:42), and to vindicate his authority (see Mark 11:17). Sometimes a biblical teaching rests on a small historical detail (see Heb. 7:4-10), a word or phrase (see Acts 15:13-17), or the difference between the singular and the plural (see Gal. 3:16). But, while the Bible is infallible, human interpretations are not. Even though God’s Word is perfect (see Ps. 19:7), as long as imperfect human beings exist, there will be misinterpretations of God’s Word and false views about his world. In view of this, one should not be hasty in assuming that a currently dominant assumption in science is the final word. Some of yesterday’s irrefutable laws are considered errors by today’s scientists. So, contradictions between popular opinions in science and widely accepted interpretations of the Bible can be expected. But this falls short of proving there is a real contradiction.

FAILURE TO UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

The most common mistake of all Bible interpreters, including some critical scholars, is to read a text outside its proper context. As the adage goes, “A text out of context is a pretext.” One can prove anything from the Bible by this mistaken procedure. The Bible says, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1, NASB). Of course, the context is: “The fool has said in his heart ‘There is no God.’ ” One may claim that Jesus admonished us not to resist evil (see Matt. 5:39), but the antiretaliatory context in which he cast this statement must not be ignored. Many read Jesus’ statement to “Give to him who asks you,” as though one had an obligation to give a gun to a small child. Failure to note that meaning is determined by context is a chief sin of those who find fault with the Bible.

INTERPRETING THE DIFFICULT BY THE CLEAR

Some passages are hard to understand or appear to contradict some other part of Scripture. James appears to be saying that salvation is by works (see James 2:14-26), whereas Paul teaches that it is by grace. Paul says Christians are “saved through faith; and that not of yourselves. It is a gift of God: Not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 4:5, KJV). But the contexts reveal that Paul is speaking about justification before God (by faith alone), whereas James is referring to justification before others (who only see what we do). And James and Paul both speak of the fruitfulness that always comes in the life of one who loves God.

FORGETTING THE BIBLE’S HUMAN CHARACTERISTICS

With the exception of small sections such as the Ten Commandments, which were “written by the finger of God” (Ex. 31:18, NASB), the Bible was not verbally dictated. The writers were not secretaries of the Holy Spirit. They were human composers employing their own literary styles and idiosyncrasies. These human authors sometimes used human sources for their material (see Josh. 10:13; Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 15:33; Titus 1:12). In fact, every book of the Bible is the composition of a human writer-about forty of them in all. The Bible also manifests different human literary styles. Writers speak from an observer’s standpoint when they write of the sun rising or setting (see Josh. 1:15). They also reveal human thought patterns, including memory lapses (see 1 Cor. 1:14-16), as well as human emotions (see Gal. 4:14). The Bible discloses specific human interests. Hosea has a rural interest, Luke a medical concern, and James a love of nature. Like Christ, the Bible is completely human, yet without error. Forgetting the humanity of Scripture can lead to falsely impugning its integrity by expecting a level of expression higher than that which is customary to a human document. This will become more obvious as we discuss the next mistakes of the critics.

ASSUMING A PARTIAL REPORT IS A FALSE REPORT

Critics often jump to the conclusion that a partial report is false. However, this is not so. If it were, most of what has ever been said would be false, since seldom does time or space permit an absolutely complete report.  For example, Peter’s famous confession in the Gospels:

Matthew: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (16:16, NASB).

Mark: “You are the Christ” (8:29, NASB).

Luke: “The Christ of God” (9:20, NASB).

Even the Ten Commandments, which were “written by the finger of God” (Deut. 9:10), are stated with variations the second time they are recorded (see Ex. 20:8-11 with Deut. 5:12-15). There are many differences between the books of Kings and Chronicles in their description of identical events, yet they harbor no contradiction in the events they narrate.

ASSUMING NEW TESTAMENT CITATIONS OF THE OLD TESTAMENTS MUST BE VERBATIM

Critics often point to variations in the New Testament use of Old Testament Scriptures as a proof of error. They forget that every citation need not be an exact quotation. Sometimes we use indirect and sometimes direct quotations. It was then (and is today) perfectly acceptable literary style to give the essence of a statement without using precisely the same words. The same meaning can be conveyed without using the same verbal expressions.

Variations in the New Testament citations of the Old Testament fall into different categories. Sometimes they are because there is a change of speaker. For example, Zechariah records the Lord as saying, “they will look on me whom they have pierced” (12:10, NASB). When this is cited in the New Testament, John, not God, is speaking. So it is changed to “They shall look on him whom they pierced” (John 19:37, NASB).

At other times, writers cite only part of the Old Testament text. Jesus did this at His home synagogue in Nazareth (see Luke 4:18-19 citing Isa. 61:1-2). In fact, He stopped in the middle of a sentence. Had He gone any farther, He could not have made His central point from the text, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (vs. 21). The very next phrase, “And the day of vengeance of our God,” (see Isa. 61:1-2) refers to His second coming.

Sometimes the New Testament paraphrases or summarizes the Old Testament text (see Matt. 2:6). Others blend two texts into one (see Matt. 27:9-10). Occasionally a general truth is mentioned, without citing a specific text. For example, Matthew said Jesus moved to Nazareth “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matt. 2:23, KJV). Notice, Matthew quotes no given prophet, but rather “prophet” in general. Several texts speak of the Messiah’s lowliness. To be from Nazareth, a Nazarene, was a byword for low status in the Israel of Jesus’ day.

ASSUMING DIVERGENT ACCOUNTS ARE FALSE

Because two or more accounts of the same event differ, does not mean they are mutually exclusive. Matthew 28:5 says there was one angel at the tomb after the resurrection; whereas John informs us there were two (see 20:12). But these are not contradictory reports. An infallible mathematical rule easily explains this problem: Where there are two, there is always one. Matthew did not say there was only one angel. There may also have been one angel at the tomb at one point on this confusing morning and two at another. One has to add the word “only” to Matthew’s account to make it contradict John’s. But if the critic comes to the texts to show they err, then the error is not in the Bible, but in the critic.

Likewise, Matthew (see 27:5) informs us that Judas hanged himself. But Luke says that “he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out” (Acts 1:18, NASB). Once more, these accounts are not mutually exclusive. If Judas hanged himself from a tree over the edge of a cliff or gully in this rocky area, and his body fell on sharp rocks below, then his entrails would gush out just as Luke vividly describes.

PRESUMING THAT THE BIBLE APPROVES OF ALL IT RECORDS

It is a mistake to assume that everything contained in the Bible is commended by the Bible. The whole Bible is true (see John 17:17), but it records some lies, for example, Satan’s (see Gen. 3:4; John 8:44) and Rahab’s (see Josh. 2:4). Inspiration encompasses the Bible fully in the sense that it records accurately and truthfully even the lies and errors of sinful beings. The truth of Scripture is found in what the Bible reveals, not in everything it records. Unless this distinction is held, it may be incorrectly concluded that the Bible teaches immorality because it narrates David’s sin (see 2 Sam. 11:4), that it promotes polygamy because it records Solomon’s (see 1 Kings 11:3), or that it affirms atheism because it quotes the fool as saying “there is no God” (Ps. 14:1, NASB).

FORGETTING THAT THE BIBLE IS NONTECHNICAL

To be true, something does not have to use scholarly, technical, or so-called “scientific” language. The Bible is written for the common person of every generation, and it therefore uses common, everyday language. The use of observational, nonscientific language is not unscientific, it is merely prescientific. The Scriptures were written in ancient times by ancient standards, and it would be anachronistic to superimpose modern scientific standards upon them. However, it is no more unscientific to speak of the sun standing still (see Josh. 10:12) than to refer to the sun “rising” (see Josh. 1:16). Meteorologists still refer to the times of “sunrise” and “sunset.”

ASSUMING ROUND NUMBERS ARE FALSE

Like ordinary speech, the Bible uses round numbers (see Josh. 3:4; 4:13). It refers to the diameter as being about one-third of the circumference of something (see 1 Chron. 19:18; 21:5). While this technically is only an approximation (see Lindsell, 165-66); it may be imprecise from the standpoint of a technological society to speak of 3.14159265 as “3,” but it is not incorrect. It is sufficient for a “cast metal sea” (see 2 Chron. 4:2) in an ancient Hebrew temple, even though it would not suffice for a computer in a modern rocket. One should not expect to see actors referring to a wristwatch in a Shakespearean play, nor people in a prescientific age to use precise numbers.

NEGLECTING TO NOTE LITERARY DEVICES

Human language is not limited to one mode of expression. So, there is no reason to suppose that only one literary genre was used in a divinely inspired Book. The Bible reveals a number of literary devices. Whole books are written as poetry (e.g., Job, Psalms, Proverbs). The Synoptic Gospels feature parables. In Galatians 4, Paul utilizes an allegory. The New Testament abounds with metaphors (see 2 Cor. 3:2-3; James 3:6), similes (see Matt. 20:1; James 1:6), hyperbole (see John 21:25; 2 Cor. 3:2; Col. 1:23), and even poetic figures (see Job 41:1). Jesus employed satire (see Matt. 19:24; 23:24). Figures of speech are common throughout the Bible.

It is not a mistake for a biblical writer to use a figure of speech, but it is a mistake for a reader to take a figure of speech literally. Obviously when the Bible speaks of the believer resting under the shadow of God’s “wings” (see Ps. 36:7) it does not mean that God is a feathered bird. When the Bible says God “awakes” (see Ps. 44:23), as though he were sleeping, it means God is roused to action.

FORGETTING THAT ONLY THE ORIGINAL TEXT IS INERRANT

Genuine mistakes have been found-in copies of Bible text made hundreds of years after the autographs. God only uttered the original text of Scripture, not the copies. Therefore, only the original text is without error. Inspiration does not guarantee that every copy is without error, especially in copies made from copies made from copies made from copies. For example, the King James Version (KJV) of 2 Kings 8:26 gives the age of King Ahaziah as 22, whereas 2 Chronicles 22:2 says 42. The later number cannot be correct, or he would have been older than his father. This is obviously a copyist error, but it does not alter the inerrancy of the original.

First, these are errors in the copies, not the originals. Second, they are minor errors (often in names or numbers) which do not affect any teaching. Third, these copyist errors are relatively few in number. Fourth, usually by the context, or by another Scripture, we know which is in error. For example, Ahaziah must have been 22. Finally, though there is a copyist error, the entire message comes through. For example, if you received a letter with the following statement, would you assume you could collect some money?

“#OU HAVE WON $20 MILLION.”

Even though there is a mistake in the first word, the entire message comes through-you are 20 million dollars richer! And if you received another letter the next day that read like this, you would be even more sure:

“Y#U HAVE WON $20 MILLION.”

The more mistakes of this kind there are (each in a different place), the more sure you are of the original message. This is why scribal mistakes in the biblical manuscripts do not affect the basic message of the Bible.

CONFUSING GENERAL WITH UNIVERSAL STATEMENTS

Like other literature, the Bible often uses generalizations. The book of Proverbs has many of these. Proverbial sayings, by their very nature, offer general guidance, not universal assurance. They are rules for life, but rules that admit of exceptions. Proverbs 16:7, HCSB affirms that “when a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” This obviously was not intended to be a universal truth. Paul was pleasing to the Lord and his enemies stoned him (Acts 14:19). Jesus was pleasing the Lord, and his enemies crucified him. Nonetheless, it is a general truth that one who acts in a way pleasing to God can minimize his enemies’ antagonism.

Proverbs are wisdom (general guides), not law (universally binding imperatives). When the Bible declares “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:45, NASB), then there are no exceptions. Holiness, goodness, love, truth, and justice are rooted in the very nature of an unchanging God. But wisdom literature applies God’s universal truths to life’s changing circumstances. The results will not always be the same. Nonetheless, they are helpful guides.

FORGETTING THAT LATER REVELATION SUPERSEDES EARLIER ONES

Sometimes critics do not recognize progressive revelation. God does not reveal everything at once, nor does he lay down the same conditions for every period of history. Some of his later revelations will supersede his earlier statements. Bible critics sometimes confuse a change in revelation with a mistake. That a parent allows a very small child to eat with his fingers but demands that an older child use a fork and spoon, is not a contradiction. This is progressive revelation, with each command suited to the circumstance.

There was a time when God tested the human race by forbidding them to eat of a specific tree in the Garden of Eden (see Gen. 2:16-17). This command is no longer in effect, but the later revelation does not contradict this former revelation. Also, there was a period (under the Mosaic law) when God commanded that animals be sacrificed for people’s sin. However, since Christ offered the perfect sacrifice for sin (see Heb. 10:11-14), this Old Testament command is no longer in effect. There is no contradiction between the later and the former commands.

Of course, God cannot change commands that have to do with his unchangeable nature (see Mal. 3:6; Heb. 6:18). For example, since God is love (see 1 John 4:16), he cannot command that we hate him. Nor can he command what is logically impossible, for example, to both offer and not offer a sacrifice for sin at the same time and in the same sense. But these moral and logical limits notwithstanding, God can and has given noncontradictory, progressive revelations which, if taken out of its proper context and juxtaposed, can look contradictory. This is as much a mistake as to assume a parent is self-contradictory for allowing a 16-year-old to stay up later at night than a 6-year-old.

In summation, the Bible cannot err, but critics can and have. There is no error in God’s revelation, but there are errors in our understanding of it. Hence, when approaching Bible difficulties, the wisdom of St. Augustine is best: “If we are perplexed by any apparent contradiction in Scripture, it is not allowable to say, The author of this book is mistaken; but either [1] the manuscript is faulty, or [2] the translation is wrong, or [3] you have not understood.” (Augustine, City of God 11.5)

Sources:

G. L. Archer, Jr., An Encyclopedia of Biblical Difficulties

W. Arndt, Bible Difficulties

—, Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

Augustine, City of God.

Augustine, Reply to Faustus the Manichaean, in P. Schaff, ed., A Select Library of the Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church

N. L. Geisler, “The Concept of Truth in the Inerrancy Debate,” ., October-December 1980

—and T. Howe, When Critics Ask

—and W. E. Nix, General Introduction to the Bible

J. W. Haley, Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible

H. Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible

J. Orr, The Problems of the Old Testament Considered with Reference to Recent Criticism

J. R. Rice, Our God-Breathed Book-The Bible

E. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Kings of Israel

R. Tuck, ed., A Handbook of Biblical Difficulties

R. D. Wilson, A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament

How do I know the Bible is True? Part 8

8. The evidence of CHANGED lives supports that the Bible is true.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

No book has impacted the lives of people and the course of world events more than the Bible. The Bible has been translated into more languages, has influenced more thought, inspired more art, and motivated more discoveries than any other book. The Bible has always been at the top of the all-time best-seller list. Its power is surpassed by none:

The Bible is able to transform the sinner into a saint; the guilty into the forgiven; the hateful into the helpful; the promiscuous into the pure; the greedy into the generous. God’s Word changes lives. However, we must be careful not to defend the Bible from personal experience. For example, a Muslim could argue that the Qur’an has changed his life or a Mormon could argue that the Book of Mormon changed his life. People have false experiences all the time – drugs can cause hallucinations, dreams can seem real, and mental illness can alter a person’s perception. Experiences can be deceiving. All experiences, no matter how real they may seem, must be measured by some other criteria. Hence, we must understand that personal experience does not validate the Bible; the Bible validates personal experience. This is why Christians should question their own experiences if they do not line up with God’s Word. 

In conclusion,when quoting what Moses wrote in the Old Testament, Jesus referred to it as what “God said”in Matthew 15:4. Peter refers to the apostle Paul’s writings and then to“the other Scriptures,”indicating that Paul’s writings were authoritative Scripture (2 Peter 3:16). The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God”(2 Timothy 3:16).  The word “inspiration” means “God-breathed.” The writers of the New Testament claimed that the Bible is the very Word of God. If we insist that the Bible is not true, then we are saying that we know more than Moses, David, Peter, Paul and the Lord Jesus Christ did. 

Since the Bible is true, we must take time to read and apply it to our lives if we are to grow spiritually. The Bible says, 31Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ ” (John 8:31-32). In order to be Jesus’ disciple, those of us who believe in Him must “abide” or make our home in His Word. Christ promises that as we do that, we “shall know the truth” which “shall make” us free from the lies that enslave us to sin (8:32). Daily abide in Christ’s Word, the Bible, and you will grow spiritually and become more like Christ Who is “the truth” (John 14:6).

How do I know the Bible is True? Part 7

7. The evidence of SCIENCE supports that the Bible is true. 

A literal understanding of Genesis 1-11 is supported by science. For example:

a. ANTHROPOLOGY. The Bible teaches that God made the first man from dust, and that all people are descendants of one man—thus there is only one human race (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:7-25). The Bible tells us that the population that descended from Noah had one language and disobeyed God’s command to “fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1; 11:4). As a result, God confused their language, causing the population  to break up into smaller groups, which scattered over the earth (Gen. 11:8-9). Modern genetics show how, following such a break-up of a population, variations in physical appearance, such as skin color, can develop in only a few generations. Linguistic and biological evidence support the genetic closeness of all human ethnic groups, consistent with a recent origin from a small population source like that described in Genesis 1-11.  Evidence that all peoples on earth have come from Noah are found in the flood stories from many cultures around the world (see The Revised & Expanded Answers Book, 1990, pp. 28, 219-236). All of these findings are consistent with biblical creation.

b. ASTRONOMY. According to a literal understanding of Genesis 1 and the genealogies of the Bible (assuming there are no gaps), the week of creation took place over 6,000 years ago. Therefore, the earth, sun, moon and stars are just a few thousand years old. The media and evolutionists contest this age by pointing to the billions of years derived from rocks by radioisotope dating which is based upon questionable assumptions. What they do not tell the general public is that there are many other dating methods which indicate that the earth is much too young for evolution to occur (e.g. earth’s magnetic field, lack of helium in atmosphere, lack of salt or sediment in the ocean, lack of erosion of the continents; too much carbon 14 in deep geologic strata; high oil deposit pressure; tree rings; galaxies wind themselves up too fast;  the small number of super nova remnants; magnetic fields on “cold” planets; young short-period comets; the sun is too big; the moon is too close; recent civilizations; and population statistics all point to a young earth and universe (see Dr. Russell Humphrey’s “The Earth’s Magnetic Field Is Young”, 1994; John Morris’ The Young Earth, 1994, pp. 93-117 & The Revised & Expanded Answers Book, 1990, pp. 27, 86-88).  

c. BIOLOGY. The Bible teaches that God created distinct kinds of animals and plants to reproduce after their own kind (Gen. 1).  There are two laws of biology that support this. They state: like can only come from like, and life always gives rise to life (biogenesis). The first is obviously true – fruit flies always give rise to fruit flies and dogs always give birth to dogs and humans always have babies that are human. The Bible tells us that life always comes from pre-existing life …God is alive and from Him life was created. Each living thing reproduces after its kind, so we see that biology supports what the Bible teaches. (see The Revised & Expanded Answers Book, 1990, pp. 20, 25-26; see Dr. Jason Lisle’s “Don’t Creationists Deny the Laws of Nature?”, Aug. 2007 ).

d. GEOLOGY. The Bible informs us that death entered the world after sin (Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12). This has a bearing on geology and paleontology, as the Earth is covered with rocks full of fossils—dead things. Thus, the fossil-containing rocks could not have formed before sin. The Bible records the event of a global Flood (Gen. 6-8) —this has a great bearing on correctly interpreting the surface of the Earth and the massive quantity of sedimentary rocks, as well as explaining the formation of most fossils. Evidence for rapid deposition of geological strata as in the biblical global flood includes the lack of erosion between rock layers “supposedly” separated in layers by many millions of years; lack of disturbance of rock strata by biological activity (worms, roots, fish, plants, etc.); lack of soil layers; preservation of surface features (i.e. ripple marks, rain drop impressions, animal tracks); polystrate fossils (which traverse several rock layers vertically – these could not have stood vertically for thousands of years while they slowly got buried); soft sediment deformation whereby thick layers of “rock” are bent and folded into hairpin shapes without fracturing, indicating that the rock was all soft when bent. Evidence from Mount St. Helens tells us that canyons can be formed in a short period of time by catastrophic events (see John Morris’ The Young Earth, 1994, pp. 93-117). 

e. PALEONTOLOGY. The order and distribution of fossils in the geological record is best explained by the global flood of Noah’s day (Gen. 7-8; see The Revised & Expanded Answers Book, 1990, pg. 196; John Morris’ The Young Earth, 1994, Transparency Master). 

How do I know the Bible is True? Part 6

6. The evidence of SELF-TESTIMONY supports that the Bible is true. 

Self-testimony is valid evidence in a court of law. The Old Testament authors often made claims like, “And the Lord spoke to me, saying…”or “The word of the Lord came to me, saying…” Henry Morris in his book Many Infallible Proofs(San Diego: Creation Life, 1974, pp. 156-7) claims there are 2,600 such claims of divine inspiration in the Old Testament. The New Testament also claims to be inspired word-for-word by God. Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18). According to Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus says the Bible is accurate down to each letter of a word and each stroke of a pen. 

How do I know the Bible is True? Part 5

5. The evidence of INDESTRUCTIBILITY supports that the Bible is true.

“The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O Lord, You shall preserve them from this generation forever.”Psalm 12:6-7 

Jesus said,“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Matthew 24:35 

Skeptics have tried for centuries to destroy the authority of the Bible. For example, in the 18thcentury, the noted French infidel Voltaire forecast that within a century there would be no Bibles left on earth. Ironically, 50 years after he died, the Geneva Bible Society used his old printing press and his house to produce stacks of Bibles (The Revised & Expanded Answers Book, 1990, pg. 17). The Bible has been banned, burned, and outlawed, yet it has outlasted all of its opponents. It remains the all-time best-seller in history. The Bible continues to be scrutinized today by archaeology, science, psychology, political movements, Hollywood, and computers, etc. Yet the Bible remains undaunted. It proves Itself to be true over and over again despite these many attacks.