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Monday, July 01, 2013

How Do We Know The Bible Is True?

How do we know the Bible is true? As a Christian believer, I believe every word is true. And the more I study the Bible, the more I find out, the deeper I go, the more I learn. What were thought to be inconsistencies turns out to be very consistent after all. There is such a beautiful thread that goes through every book and every chapter... the thread of salvation that leads to a one-on-one relationship with Father God through the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf. The love that God has for us shines through every single sentence as long as you know what you are looking for. But you have to dig, study, delve, read, contemplate, take the time. I've read the Bible alone. I've read it with daily devotions. I've read it along with a book. I've read it with a workbook. I've read it in classes and at church services. All the different ways in order to learn more about God, His Plan, His way of salvation, His love, His purposes, His Word. And the more I learn, the more interesting and deep it is. It's well worth the time. Most people don't even bother to read it through much less take time to study it. I've been a Christian most of my life so I've had many years of teachings through classes and preaching, as well as my own self taught studies. Personally, I believe that every word is true. I made that assumption in faith but, over the years of study and learning, I've become more and more convinced.

But why study the Bible if you don't know if it's true? And some people will read it but they think they find inconsistencies in it. For instance, how can one of the Ten Commandments be, "Thou shalt not kill" but God directs Joshua to go into the Promised Land and kill all the people? (Deuteronomy 7) I recently did a study on that which I felt explains this "inconsistency". I hope you will check it out, it's called Giants In The Bible. It's about how demons (fallen angels) bred with human women creating halflings that were not pure human. Many of the descendants of these lived in tribes in the Promised Land. In order to insure that human beings could be saved (much later through Jesus Christ), these giants could not be allowed to live and procreate. This was one of the reasons why God directed Joshua and the Israelites to kill every man, woman and child and not to intermarry with any of those tribes. They had the Nephilim gene. They were the descendants of Ham and Canaan. God sought to destroy these superhuman hybrids, these halflings, these giants! He wanted to insure a pure human race from which Jesus, the Messiah, could be born. When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and they finally got to the Promised Land, he sent spies to see what the land was like and what they were up against. Out of the 12 spies, 10 came back scared to death. But, two, Caleb and Joshua, gave a good report saying it was a wonderful land and they could take it with God's help. Unfortunately, the people listened to the 10 spies who were afraid and they didn't trust in God.

Numbers 13:31-33 (CEV) But the other men replied, "Those people are much too strong for us." (32) Then they started spreading rumors and saying, "We won't be able to grow anything in that soil.And the people are like giants.(33) In fact, we saw the Nephilim who are the ancestors of the Anakim. They were so big that we felt as small as grasshoppers".

But a friend asked me last night, how do we know that Bible wasn't manipulated by the faulty and sinful men who wrote it? Why didn't Jesus write something? Why leave it to men who are just as sinful as the rest of us? How do we know they didn't get things wrong or put things in that were from their own fleshly ideas?

First, I believe in the Word of God as His holy Word in faith. No matter what evidence there is or is not, I believe in it. I do so in faith! "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." I believe the Holy Bible is the Word of God written for my benefit so that I may learn about my Father God, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Once I believed, God began to reveal reasons why His Word is true. The first thing was that it changed my life! I know that I know that I know it's true because I began to understand what I was reading and began to apply it to my life, changing me. NO I'M NOT PERFECT! I still have my problems, but I don't want to know how much worse I would be without Jesus's forgiveness, without my love relationship with Father God, without His Holy Spirit within me and His living Word teaching me!!!!!! Please do not look at a Christian expecting perfection because you will be sorely disappointed. We still contend with the evil human nature we were born with but we ARE forgiven and we ARE loved and we DO have a relationship with God and we DO have His Holy Spirit living within our cracked selves! I will go to Heaven.

Second, the Bible states, within it's own pages, that it's trustworthy. Here are some prime scriptures to keep in mind. I have included some different translations to make it easier for you to grab the gist of what they are saying:

Matthew 5:17-18 (King James Version) [Jesus said] "Think not that I am come to destroy the law [the Old Testament Law], or the prophets[the books of prophecy in the Old Testament] I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

Matthew 5:17-18 (Contemporary English Version) "Don't suppose that I came to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to do away with them, but to give them their full meaning. Heaven and earth may disappear. But I promise you that not even a period or comma will ever disappear from the Law. Everything written in it must happen."

John 17:13-14 (Easy To Read Version) [Jesus said] "I am coming to you now. But I pray these things while I am still in the world. I say all this so that these followers can have the true happiness that I have. I want them to be completely happy. (14) I have given them your teaching. And the world has hated them, because they don't belong to the world, just as I don't belong to the world."

2 Timothy 3:16 (King James Version) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2 Timothy 3:16 (Easy To Read Version) All Scripture is given by God. And all Scripture is useful for teaching and for showing people what is wrong in their lives. It is useful for correcting faults and teaching the right way to live.

Hebrews 4:12 (King James Version) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12 (Easy To Read Version) God's word is alive and working. It is sharper than the sharpest sword and cuts all the way into us. It cuts deep to the place where the soul and the spirit are joined. God's word cuts to the center of our joints and our bones. It judges the thoughts and feelings in our hearts.

The Bible itself testifies to it's truth. Jesus, Himself, testified that the Old Testament Laws and the prophesies are true. The first prophecy was in Genesis 3: 15 and there are prophesies in every book of the Old Testament. He also said that He gave the Disciples God's teachings. They would write these teachings down in the Four Gospels.

There are over 2,000 accurately fulfilled prophecies in the Bible including some 300 specific details and implications about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. For example, Isaiah 53 beautifully describes the life of Christ 700 years before it took place! Even the town of Jesus' birth was foretold in the Old Testament (Micah 5:2).

Both the Old and New Testaments are strongly supported by manuscript evidence in early hand written copies. The famous Dead Sea Scrolls are one example. These documents came from the “library” of a settlement founded at Qumran before 150 B.C. and abandoned about 68 A.D. Some of the manuscript copies were made during that period, and some were written earlier (third century BC) and brought to the settlement. Ignoring spelling-oriented (orthographic) changes and similar small differences, the Dead Sea Scrolls match the Hebrew text behind today’s Old Testament, in spite of the passage of over 2,000 years. Over 20,000 known manuscripts document the New Testament text. This makes the New Testament the most reliable document of antiquity. These manuscripts vary in size from a part of a page to an entire Bible (Old and New Testaments).

Archaeological discoveries have confirmed many events of the Bible. The five cities of the plain (including Sodom and Gomorrha) described in Genesis 14:2 were once thought by secular scholars to be mythical, but ancient documents have been found that list these cities as part of ancient trade routes. In archaelogical digs, layers of ash dating to the time period when God rained fire and brimstone over these cities, was found.

The first scientific investigation of the site of the ancient city of Jericho was carried out by Charles Warren in 1868, but amounted to no more than a site-survey. In 1907-09 and again in 1911 digging was carried out by two German archaeologists, Carl Watzinger and Ernest Sellin. These results were tested in 1930-36 by John Garstang. Garstang discovered the remains of a network of collapsed walls which he dated to about 1400 BC, the time he believed the Israelites were on their conquest, that had apparently fallen in a dramatic fashion as opposed to being ruined by abandonment or decay from natural forces. Kathleen Kenyon dug over 1952-1958 and traced the entire history of the city from the earliest Neolithic settlement.

Until fairly recently, there was no archaelogical evidence for the existence of King David. There were no references to him in Egyptian, Syrian or Assyrian documents of the time, no archaeological digs in the City of David turned up so much as a mention of his name. Then, on July 21, 1993, a team of archaeologists led by Prof. Avraham Biran, excavating Tel Dan in the northern Galilee, found a triangular piece of basalt rock inscribed in Aramaic. It was subsequently identified as part of a victory pillar erected by the king of Syria and later smashed by an Israelite ruler. The inscription, which dates to the ninth century AD, about a century after David was thought to have ruled Israel, includes the words Beit David ("House" or "Dynasty" of David"). The Mesha Stele from Moab, dating from approximately the same period, may also contain the name David in line 12, where the interpretation is uncertain, and in line 31, where one destroyed letter must be supplied.

Secular history supports the Bible. We have an historical chain of documents that refer to the original documents as being historical. These are documents date back to the early history of Christianity that quote Biblical texts and refer to to them as historically accurate accounts For example, in The Antiquities of the Jews, book 18, chapter 3, paragraph 3 the famous historian Flavius Josephus writes:
“Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”

In 115 AD, P. Cornelius Tacitus wrote the following passage that refers to Jesus (called “Christus,” which means “The Messiah”) in book 15, chapter 44 of The Annals:

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”

Pliny the Younger described the Christians as, amongst other things, worshipping Christ ‘as to a god’. These men had no love of Christians, Pliny was eager to wipe out the Christians in his region of control, and yet their words agree greatly with the Biblical presentation of the historical events. Above Tacitus mentions Pontius Pilate, that Christ died and that it happened in Judea during Tiberius Caesar’s reign.

The Four Gospels have a known history.
The Apostle John is usually credited with the authorship of the Gospel of John. First of all, the author had to have been an eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus. He would have also had a decent familiarity with Palestine before the destruction of the temple in AD 70, and would have been familiar with the Jewish way of life. John the Apostle does fit the description, but it is not exclusive to him. Early traditions help to identify the author as John. Irenaeus, a disciple of John’s disciple Polycarp, is of the earliest extant sources to associate John with the fourth Gospel. Youngest of the twelve, probably of Bethsaida upon the sea of Galilee, John, was the younger brother of James. His father was Zebedee who owned a fishing vessel, and had "hired servants". His mother was Salome who ministered to the Lord out "of her substance", and was one of the women who came with Him in His last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, and after His death bought spices to anoint His body. John had a house of his own to which he took the Virgin mother, by our Lord's dying charge. Zebedee's readiness to give up his son at Jesus' call speaks well for his religious disposition. Salome went further, and positively ministered to Jesus. Even her ambitious request that her two sons, James and John, might sit on either side of our Lord in His coming kingdom shows that she was heartily looking for that kingdom. Such a mother would would have taught her son the precious promises of Old Testament. John's first acquaintance with the Lord was when John Baptist pointed his two disciples Andrew and John to the Lamb of God. John followed Jesus to His place of sojourn. John probably accompanied Him on His homeward journey to Galilee from Jordan, and then to Jerusalem, again through Samaria to Galilee (4), and again to Jerusalem (5), for he describes as an eye witness. Peter, James, and John form the inner-most circle. They alone witnessed the raising of Jairus' daughter, Jesus' transfiguration, His agony in Gethsemane, and with the addition of Andrew heard His answer to their private inquiry as to when, and with what premonitory sign, His prediction of the overthrow of the temple should be fulfilled. He was an eye witness to Lazarus' raising from the death. He and Peter followed Jesus when apprehended, while the rest fled. While Peter remained in the porch John was in the council chamber. Peter and John were in the same abode the ensuing sabbath, and to them Mary Magdalene first runs with the tidings of the tomb being empty. John runs and is first to reach the tomb before Peter. Peter and John were often together in Acts and he was one of the first to accept Paul as an Apostle. Under Domitian (about A.D. 95) John was banished to Patmos. "I John ... your companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle ... Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." He again returned to Ephesus, where he died, probably about A.D. 98, having outlived all or nearly all the friends and companions even of his mature years. The seven churches of western Asia were under his special care. In the Acts, epistles to Ephesians, and Timothy, recording Paul's ministry in connection with Ephesus, no mention occurs of John being there. Again John does not appear in Jerusalem when Paul finally visited it A.D. 60. Probably he left Jerusalem long before settling at Ephesus, and only moved there after Paul's martyrdom, A.D. 66. Paul had foreseen the rise of Gnostic heresy in the Ephesian region. Jerome records as to his characteristic love, that when John, being too feeble through age to walk to the Christian assemblies, was carried there by young men, his only address was: "little children, love one another." When asked why he kept repeating the same words he replied, "because this is the Lord's command, and enough is done when this is done." Unless otherwise noted, all of these facts of John's life came from his Gospel, Acts and the book of Revelation. John’s Gospel is generally considered to be the last of the four canonical Gospels to be written. The majority of scholars date the Gospel in the period AD 90-100 some even as early as AD 50, though some have dated it much earlier. John specifically states his purpose in John 20:31, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Therefore the purpose of John’s Gospel is to “confirm and secure Christians in the faith.”

Mark is said to be the earliest gospel and by far the most vivid and dramatic in its narratives. Because of internal evidence, including a reference to the destruction of the Temple, there is a near consensus among biblical scholars that it was written about 70 CE. The author of this Gospel has been universally believed to be Mark or Marcus, designated in Acts 12:12; Acts 12:25; Acts 15:37 as John Mark, and in Acts 5; Acts 13 as John. Mark was not one of the twelve; and there is no reason to believe he was an eyewitness of the events which he recorded, but an almost unanimous testimony of the early fathers indicates Peter as the source of his information. The most important of these testimonies is that of Papias, who says, "He, the Presbyter (John), said, Mark, being the Interpreter of Peter, wrote exactly whatever he remembered, but he did not write in order the things which were spoken or done by Christ. For he was neither a hearer nor a follower of the Lord, but, as I said, afterward followed Peter, who made his discourses to suit what was required, without the view of giving a connected digest of the discourses of our Lord. Mark, therefore, made no mistakes when he wrote down circumstances as he recollected them; for he was very careful of one thing, to omit nothing of what he heard, and to say nothing false in what he related." Thus Papias writes of Mark. This was confirmed by other witnesses.

Matthew, by the unanimous testimony of the early Church, was the first to write of the early Church among the evangelists. Irenieus relates that Matthew wrote his Gospel while Peter and Paul were preaching, and founding the Church at Rome, after A.D. 61. It was published before the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 50. We could place the Gospel of Matthew between A.D. 60 and 66. That this Gospel was written by the apostle Matthew, there is no reason to doubt. Seventeen independent witnesses of the first four centuries attest its genuineness. This Gospel was probably written in Palestine for Jewish Christians. It is an historical proof that Jesus is the Messiah. Matthew was written for a Jewish audience. Matthew's original name was Levi, and his new name was probably adopted as his new apostolic name as a Jew. His father's name was Alphaeus. His home was at Capernaum. His business was the collection of dues and customs from persons and goods crossing the Sea of Galilee, or passing along the great Damascus road which ran along the shore between Bethsaida, Julius and Capernaum. As he was a customs officer, he was in the service of the tetrarch of Galilee. As such he must have had some education, and doubtless in addition to the native Aramaic must have been acquainted with the Greek. His original name was Levi, and his name, Matthew, was probably adopted as his new apostolic name as a Jew. His father was Alphaeus. He appears to have been a man of wealth, for he made a great feast in his own house, perhaps in order to introduce his former companions and friends to Jesus. Peter, James and John were already trustworthy disciples of Jesus. Unlike the first six among the apostles, Matthew did not enter the group from among the pupils of John the Baptist. He is mentioned by name once in Acts at Acts 1:15, but he must have lived many years as an apostle, since he was the author of the Gospel of Matthew which was written at least twenty years later. There is reason to believe that he remained for fifteen years at Jerusalem, after which he went as missionary to the Persians, Parthians and Medes. There is a legend that he died a martyr in Ethiopia.

Luke was the third gospel to be written and used Mark as its main source. It was possibly written at Caesarea, during St. Paul's imprisonment there, A.D. 58-60. There is evidence that Luke also relied on the writings of the Jewish military leader and historian, Josephus. This probably includes extracts from Antiquities of the Jews, published in 93 AD. Early in the second century is also possible. Luke, a disciple of Paul, is mentioned in Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:11, and called 'the physician' in Colossians 4:14; presumably a native of Antioch. Luke, seeking information from every quarter, would have sought it first from the preaching of his beloved St. Paul; and the apostle, in his turn, employed the knowledge acquired from other sources by his disciple. Luke's gospel begins with, "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron." Luke is gathering evidence, he is interviewing people to write his account. He is giving his account a historical framework, the time of Herod, king of Judea. Luke is full of little historical tidbits like this. He names governors, priests, landmarks, practices that agree with other historical materials (other histories by the Roman Tacitus and the Jew Josephus, stone inscriptions etc).

If there had been errors in the gospels or the letters written by Apostles (which make up the rest of the New Testament), their contemporaries would have objected. Remember, Jesus not only had His Twelve Disciples but there were hundreds of followers who followed Him and His Twelve. Then there were those who were eyewitnesses to his ministries across a varied landscape of villages, walks, towns, highways and byways. The New Testament was written from a few years after Jesus' death to less than 100 years after his death which means many witnesses would have been alive and could have objected to any errors.

Scientific Accuracies
Up until 1400's most common peoples believed the Earth was a flat disc and you could sail off the edge. But Isaiah 40:22 He who is sitting on the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are as grasshoppers, He who is stretching out as a thin thing the heavens, And spreadeth them as a tent to dwell in.
Job 26:7 Stretching out the north over desolation, Hanging the earth upon nothing,

How did the writer's of the Bible know there were mountains under the sea?
Jonah 2:5-6 I was almost drowned by the swirling waters that surrounded me. Seaweed had wrapped around my head. (6) I had sunk down below the underwater mountains; I knew that forever, I would be a prisoner there. But, you, LORD God, rescued me from that pit.

How would the writer of Genesis know that men are made from the dust of the ground? We are made up of carbon, and some 28 elements that are found in the earth.
Genesis 2:7 The LORD God took a handful of soil and made a man. God breathed life into the man, and the man started breathing.

How could a New Testament writer know that everything is made of molecules too small for the naked eye to see?
Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that time was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are invisible.

Ship builders today are well aware that the ideal dimension for ship stability is a length six times that of the width. Keep in mind, God told Noah the ideal dimensions for the ark 4,500 years ago.
Genesis 6:14-15 So make yourself an ark out of cedar, constructing compartments in it, and cover it inside and out with tar. (15) Make the ark like this: 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.

Up until 120 years ago, sick people were “bled” and many died as a result. Now we know that blood is necessary to bring life-giving nutrients to every cell in the body.
Leviticus 17:10-11 "If anyone from the house of Israel or a resident alien who lives among them eats any form of blood, I'll oppose that person who ate the blood and eliminate him from his people, (11) because the life of the flesh is in the blood itself, and I myself have given it to you all so that atonement may be made for your souls on the altar, since the blood itself makes atonement through the life that is in it.

We know now how rainbows are formed via sun reflecting on airborne water droplets acting as a prism. Before The Flood the Earth was protected by an ice or water shield and there was no rain. The Bible said that the Earth was watered by mists. Once God allowed that ice or water to fall in the rain that created The Flood, there was no longer a protection from the sun and the sun shown through water droplets creating a rainbow for the first time.
Genesis 9:12-17 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: (13) I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. (14) And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: (15) And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. (16) And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. (17) And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

Ocean currents. Matthew Maury – the father of oceanography – after reading Psalm 8, researched and discovered ocean currents, in the 19th century, that follow specific paths through the seas!
Psalm 8:8 Bird of the heavens, and fish of the sea, Passing through the paths of the seas!

I hope this has given you some things to think about. There are real reasons why Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God. We believe first by faith. But our intelligence is God-given and God does not neglect this part of us. We can use our mind. It's not Christians who don't think. So many atheists have decided they don't believe in God and just accept that without any study. They spout sentences they've heard on TV but they don't really know what it is that they don't believe in. They've never read the Bible, never studied Christian apologetics (writings which aim to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defending the faith against objections) or visited and sat in on classes or church services. They are essentially making an uninformed choice.

For more on this subject see my post The Bible. To learn more details about the historicity of the Old Testament follow this link.

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