My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

why do you believe? prayers for a sick frog

I'm out of advil and my throat still hurts. *end of whine*
Alexis' frog swallowed a pebble and he isn't doing well. She asks for prayer for her frog. Because I am committed to praying for these children and their EVERY need, I ask that you agree with me in prayer for the frog. I'm serious. This is a child in need of something to trust and believe in .... if she can believe in the power of prayer to heal a sick frog... it's a great start.

I've spent a lot of time reading today... watching CNN and FoxNews... absorbing... resting. I don't know if I have strep or not but I am definitely feeling run down. Oops. That was another whine. *end of whine again, I mean it*

I joined a facebook group called, "The Bible" and there was an interesting bulletin board post about why believe the Bible. It is long but really fascinating if you, like me, sometimes struggle to explain why you believe what you do. People who are without faith cannot understand faith. That would be like someone who is color blind understanding the color red. It's long and deep but it's good stuff, y'all!

Now, I was raised to believe the Bible, but that’s not the reason I believe it. The best reason to believe the Bible can best be said in the words of a pastor named Voddie Baucham, Jr., which goes like this:

“I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents, written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies, and they claim to be divine rather than human in origin.”

Now let’s all look at II Peter 1:16-21:(16) For not following fables which had been cleverly devised, but having become eyewitnesses of the majesty of Jesus Christ, we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord.(17) For receiving honor and glory from God the Father such a voice being borne to Him from the magnificent glory, "This is My Son, the Beloved, in whom I have been delighted,"(18) even we heard this voice being borne out of Heaven, being with Him in the holy mountain,(19) and we have the more established prophetic Word, in which you do well to take heed, as to a lamp shining in a murky place, until day dawns and the Light-bearing One rises in your hearts;(20) knowing this first, that every prophecy of Scripture did not come into being of its own interpretation;(21) for prophecy was not at any time borne by the will of man, but being borne along by the Holy Spirit, holy men of God spoke.

First point: The Bible is a reliable collection of historical documents. (vs. 16)In other words, the people writing the Bible were not just making things up completely on their own.Luke 1:1-4(1) Since many took in hand to draw up an account concerning the matters having been borne out among us,(2) as those from the beginning delivered to us, becoming eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word,(3) it seemed good also to me, having traced out all things accurately from the first, to write in order to you, most excellent Theophilus,(4) that you may know the certainty concerning the words which you were taught.Notice that it says, “know the certainty”, not “know by blind faith”. The Bible isn’t a work of mythology like the Iliad or the Odyssey, but is multiple recordings of actual historic events that were recorded down by eyewitnesses for us to read about.

Here are some historical facts straight from the Bible. The Bible mentions a people group called the Hittites 36 times. Atheists and scoffers used to laugh at Christians because no evidence for a Hittite civilization had ever been found. But then in 1884, archaeologists found proof that the Hittites were a major ancient civilizationThe same story applies to the biblical cities of Ur, Sodom, and Gomorrah. People laughed at the Bible until the 1960’s, when what are known as the Elba tablets were found in Syria, bearing reference to all those cities. Also, scoffers used to say that Moses couldn’t have written the Pentateuch because writing had not been invented yet. But these Elba tablets are dated to have been written a thousand years before Moses! So the Bible time and time again has been proven historically accurate.

1 John 1:1-3(1) What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld, and what our hands touched, as regards the Word of Life.(2) And the Life was revealed, and we have seen, and we bear witness, and we announce to you the everlasting Life which was with the Father, and was revealed to us.(3) We announce to you what we have seen, and what we have heard, that you also may have fellowship with us. And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.Not only were they written by eyewitnesses, but while other eyewitnesses were still alive.

I Corinthians 15 says that after Jesus was resurrected, he was seen by Peter, than by the rest of the disciples, and then appeared to over 500 believers at once, most of which were still living when Paul was writing that letter. If you do the proper research, you will find that when I Corinthians was written, about 300 of the original witnesses of Jesus after His resurrection were still alive at that time.

Now, the popular argument goes that there were certain individuals who just made the Bible up. Well, let’s think about that. Many of the writers of the New Testament were martyred for their faith. “Martyred” is not the same thing as radical Muslims blowing themselves up. The New Testament authors were mostly killed by people who accused them of spreading lies.

Here are some examples
Paul and James – decapitated
Matthew – nailed to the ground and decapitated
Jude – beaten to death
Peter – crucified upside-down
John Mark – dragged through city streets
Luke – hanged
Timothy – beaten by a mob

If these men were just making stuff up, would they have honestly suffered such horrific deaths for something they knew was a lie?

Others say that the Bible has been translated and changed so many times that it’s completely different from what was originally written. One popular theory on secular college campuses (and even a few Christian colleges ) is that overzealous monks changed the Bible so that it matched up with their own personal beliefs AND WE HAVE NO COPIES OF THE ORIGINALS!

Well, if bunch of monks wanted to do that, there’s three things they would have had to do. The first thing is to change the manuscripts. Taking just the New Testament, there are over 24,000 existing copies. They may not sound like much, but consider this:

Julius Caesar’s account of the Gallic Wars has about 10 existing copies
Aristotle’s writings have about 5 existing copies
The writings of Herodotus and Homer each have less than 10 existing copies
The New Testament has 24,000 existing copies and partial copies

Now, some say we still don’t have any copies of the originals, but here’s some more statistics to consider:

The oldest existing copy of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars was written 1000 years after the original
The oldest existing copy of Aristotle’s writings was written 1400 years after the original (but no college professor says we can’t trust them to be accurate)
The oldest existing copies of the New Testament were written 25 years after the original

So if these monks wanted to change the Bible, they would have to find over 24,000 manuscripts, change every single one of them, not show their ink work, get them all back to where they stole them from, hope that nobody notices the differences, and that’s just the first step.

Step Number 2 – within the first few centuries after Christ, the Bible was translated into Syriac, Coptic and Latin. So now on top of changing 24,000 Greek manuscripts, these monks now have to find all of the Syriac, Coptic and Latin copies, change those to match the changes they wrote in another language, get all of those back to where they were stolen from, and that’s just the second step.

Step Number 3 – the early church fathers wrote a lot of commentaries on the New Testament. So much so that you could produce 95% of the New Testament just from their writings. So now these monks have to find over 24,000 manuscripts and partial manuscripts, steal them, change them, not show any ink work, get them back without letting anyone finding out, find all of the translated copies, change those to match the changes they made in the originals, get those back to where they came from, and then find all of the writings of all of the early church fathers, change those to match the lies they made in the original manuscripts, get those back to where they came from, hope that nobody notices the differences on any of the aforementioned counterfeits, and never ever get caught. Help you if you believe that!

Not only is the Bible a good history book, but also it has a recording of supernatural events (vs. 17 & 18)“Supernatural” is not the same as “superhuman”. These are things than mankind will never get good enough to do. Things like a 90-year-old woman becoming pregnant, an entire body of water dividing itself to make a pathway, fire falling from the skies, a man single-handedly killing an army with a donkey’s jawbone, and three men being thrown into a giant furnace and come out completely unharmed. But that’s not all. We got a virgin becoming pregnant, people blind, deaf, lame and mute from birth healed instantly, lepers and paralytics healed instantly, feeding 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish, and walking on water. But the greatest supernatural event is this – dead on Friday, risen on Sunday.

The Bible is also filled with prophecies. This isn’t stuff like Nostradamus. I Kings 13:2 prophesized that one of Judah’s kings would be named Josiah, and 300 years later that’s exactly what happened. Isaiah 44:28 prophesized that a king named Cyrus would release the Jews from captivity. 150 years later, that’s exactly what happened.Also, read in the book of Daniel, chapter 8 verses 21 and 22, it talks about the kingdom of Greece being divided into four separate kingdoms. Daniel gave this prophecy in the time of the Babylonian Empire, which existed 200 years before the Alexander the Great created the Greek Empire, and after his death his empire split into four separate kingdoms.

Only God could have said things like that because only God knows everything past, present and future.

Something else to consider: the Old Testament is has a lot of prophecies concerning who the Messiah would be. Now, suppose you covered the entire state of Texas two feet deep in half-dollar coins and one of those coins had a red X on it. If you were to pick one coin at random, the chances of you picking that coin with the red X are the same chances of 8 ancient prophecies being fulfilled by the life of just one person. Well, Jesus fulfilled 60 ancient prophecies about the Messiah during His lifetime. There is no way something like that could have happened by chance.

Here are some verses that show the Messiah would be:
Of the tribe of Judah – Genesis 49:10
Born of a virgin – Isaiah 7:14
Born in Bethlehem – Micah 5:2
Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver – Zechariah 11:12
Pierced through the hands and feet - Psalm 22:16. The only human activiity that ever involved the piercing of the hands or feet is crucifixion, and the man who wrote Psalm 22 had never seen crucifixion before because this was written about 1000 years before it was invented. That is why II Peter verse 19 can say “we have also a more sure word of prophecy”.

Lastly, we claim that the Bible is divine rather than human in origin (vs. 20 & 21). These men claimed these were God’s words not theirs. That’s why these prophecies were fulfilled hundreds and thousands of years after they were made. Those why expressions like “Thus saith the LORD” and “The LORD spoke saying” “I am the LORD you God” appear a lot.But people don’t want to believe that the Bible is God’s Word because they know that men physically wrote it, and then they say we can’t trust anything written man because men are fallible. Oh sure, that makes perfect sense! So the next time I get an answer wrong on a test, I can say to the teacher, “You can’t mark me wrong! That answer came out of a book, and a man wrote that book! That means it’s fallible and we can’t trust it!” Just because men wrote something doesn’t mean you can’t trust it.

To see if any writing is reliable, you find out if it’s well corroborated. The Bible was written in 3 languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) on 3 continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) by over 40 different authors (most of whom never met each other) over a period of 1500 years, and yet it tells one single beginning-to-end story. Nothing gets more corroborated than that.

Then there’s my personal favorite argument – every once in a while you meet some wise guys who call themselves “men of science” and say that they can’t believe the Bible until it gets proven scientifically. That is the worst logic that I’ve ever heard. If you want to prove something scientifically, then what you’re trying to prove must be observable, measurable, and repeatable. The Bible is a collection of historical events, and historical events cannot be observed, measured, or repeated. So the Bible is no more scientifically provable than the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

If you want to prove something historically, you do what you would do for a civil court case. First, you see if there are any eyewitnesses and see if they all tell the same story. Well, I told you a while ago we got plenty of those! And they all tell the same story – dead on Friday, risen on Sunday! Second thing you check for is physical evidence, and we’ve dug up out of the ground lots of stuff that goes with the Bible!

By the way, the Bible does contain some hardcore scientific facts. Just take a look at the book of Job. Chapter 26:7 says that the earth “hangs on nothing” and verse 10 of the same chapter mentions a “circle on the face of the water at the boundary of light and darkness”, obviously implying that the earth is a sphere. Nobody believed that until Magellan! Chapter 36:27-28 describes the water cycle, which ancient people could not have known about in any way! Chapter 38:16 mentions the “springs in the sea”. Scientists didn’t even know about springs in the sea until 1977! Verse 24 of that same chapter says that wind currents are caused by sunlight! We didn’t figure that out until about the time of the Civil War! I don’t know about you, but that’s “scientific enough” for me.

Back on the main topic, there is no external evidence that disproves the Bible’s claim to be the Word of God. So the smart thing to do is to read it, believe it, and obey it.

So, when someone asks you, “Why do you believe the Bible?”, this is what you can answer back:“I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents, written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies, and they claim to be divine rather than human in origin.”There’s one more thing you can add, but it’s completely optional – I tried it and it works for me.

Research taken from:
"The Ever-Loving Truth" by Voddie Baucham, Jr.
"Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door" by Josh McDowell & Bob Hostetler
"Jesus Freaks: Volumes 1 & 2" by DC Talk & Voice of the Martyrs
"Is The Bible True?" By Dr. Roy Zuck
Everything by Lee Strobel


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