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Sunday, October 06 2019

“The Bible was written by bronze-age goat herders.” Even if goat herders were the writers of the Bible, that does not discredit the Bible. Personally, I am impressed that such “uneducated” writers of the Bible can even read, write, and think theologically. The Bible did come from somewhere. People can see that the Bible existed generations ago. The substance of the Book attests to its identity and source.

            How should people respond to the most influential book in history? The Bible is a collection of 66 books written over 1,600 years by more than 40 named writers? The Bible is the most diverse book in history consisting of various genres and repeated themes. The Bible is united in its theology, which is its teaching about God. The writers didn’t introduce new gods. They built on the Abrahamic faith in one God as the Creator of the universe and the Source of all good (Exod 34:6–7).

            Some assert, “You can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible.” Yes, I can — because the Bible came by various people in different periods writing about the same God. Older parts of the Bible set the foundation and even predict future events confirmed in later scriptures while the newer texts attest to the authenticity of past scriptures. Jesus used previously written Scripture to demonstrate that He is the Son of Man — the Messianic King (John 5:46–47).

            By trusting Jesus, Christians trust the Bible. By seeking to do God’s will, Jesus taught that those who consider His words will know whether His teaching is from God or not (John 7:17). Faith in Jesus according to the Gospels attests to the whole of the Bible because Jesus quoted from past scriptures in the Old Testament and He would send His Spirit to guide His apostles and prophets into all truth and produce the New Testament Scriptures (John 14:26; 16:12–13).

            Believers can trust that God has preserved the Bible as He desired. They can know this by faith in Jesus as the Christ. Jesus revealed, “My words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31). Jesus also taught that Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35). In further external support, 5,800 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament Scriptures and almost another 20,000 in other languages including Latin and Coptic confirm that the Bible has not changed over 1500 years from the 1st to the 15th century. Strata of various church writers cite and quote from the New Testament starting immediately after the apostles and prophets wrote the New Testament (cf. Eph 3:3–5). The detailed early Christian commentators in the 2nd and 3rd centuries address every book of the New Testament.

            Those who disbelieve the Bible choose to view the world from an agnostic, negative, and distorted view of God and the Bible. They see contradictions because they want to see contradictions. For believers, the Bible is perfectly harmonious and unified. Much of the doubts concerning the Bible come from a person’s perspective when someone refuses to view God by the wisdom of God (cf. 1 Cor 1:21).

            Thank God for the Bible! You believe that Jesus loves you and died for you, then read His words. You believe that Jesus resurrected from the dead to give you eternal life, then study the Scriptures. View the world through God’s revelation to humanity and so see the truth of God’s Word in the Bible.

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, October 05 2019

“God sacrificed Himself to Himself to save us from Himself.” Critics say this in mocking, but it’s quite right. The perfectly just God, Creator of the universe, and Source of all goodness came in the flesh, died, and resurrected to save humanity from the death and eternal condemnation that everyone earned by rebelling against the perfectly just God (Rom 3:19–26). As the apostle Paul observed, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8 ESV).
            Everyone’s perception of the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross is shaped by that person’s view of God’s justice and love in addition to one’s perception of Jesus as the Christ and the exact imprint of God. As in the first century, it is true today that Christ being crucified is a stumbling block for Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (1 Cor 1:22–23). Paul noted, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).

            The world does not know God through its own wisdom (1 Cor 1:21). God has made foolish the wisdom of the world by sending Jesus Christ. The wisdom of Christ being crucified bypasses all axioms of philosophy that humankind has discovered and realized. That is why the preaching of the gospel is so powerful and often frustrating for its enemies. Jesus bypasses the wisdom of the world and He points directly to God. What is the wisdom of the world as compared to God’s wisdom? It is nothing. No scholar or debater can stand before God (1 Cor 1:20). The Scriptures teach that all wisdom and knowledge are in Jesus Christ (Col 2:3). Christians need to know this so as not to be deluded by persuasive arguments (Col 2:4, 8).

          Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God for those who are called by God (1 Cor 1:24). The gospel of Christ is wisdom from the Holy Spirit and the power of God for salvation (1 Cor 2:4; cf. Rom 1:16). Those rejecting Christ are hard-hearted and their perception of reality is blind. They refuse to consider reality by the wisdom of God. If they would look through the lens of the gospel and see the power of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection, then they could perceive the love and justness of God. The world lacks the wisdom of God, but Christians have God's wisdom in Christ to proclaim and enlighten those who would hear.

            Faith rests on hearing the gospel (1 Cor 1:21; cf. Rom 10:14–17). Study Romans 3 and 5 to tell people about the effective purpose of Jesus’s sacrificial death and resurrection. Study to tell others how to unite with Christ in death by repentance, burial by baptism, and resurrection by a new life and hope of eternal life (Rom 6:1–7). No argument can stand against the wisdom of God.
          Do you know the power and wisdom of God? We should teach the wisdom of God to our family and friends so they see why they do not understand Christ's sacrifice and the Creator of the universe (1 Cor 2:14). They don’t know the wisdom of God. People deceive themselves when they deny the wisdom of God (1 Cor 3:18). They are agnostic of God and of Christ. Those rejecting God are suppressing the truth about God by unrighteousness (Rom 1:18). However, this is no excuse because God has plainly revealed Himself to everyone (Rom 1:19–20). Furthermore, God is not far from anyone (Acts 17:26–27; cf. Matt 7:7). Everyone will be judged by the gospel (Rom 2:16; cf. 6:23). For this reason, we persuade others (2 Cor 5:11).

          Thank God for He has given us His wisdom in the powerful message of Christ crucified.

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, October 03 2019

“Jesus is a myth.” Some atheists have made this claim of “mythicism” on the internet. No historian or scholar holds the view that Jesus was a myth. However, many atheistic scholars are skeptical and see Jesus as a legendary figure meaning that Jesus was a real person but His followers exaggerated His life. Such academics seek to apply the critical-historical method to uncover the historical Jesus.

            Christians can have full confidence in the historicity of Jesus’s life. By character judgment, many believe the Bible today because they find Jesus and His apostles as honest, genuine, and compelling teachers of God’s purpose for humankind (John 7:17). Furthermore, the proofs of the Christian faith stand strong on every front especially the historical evidence for Jesus’s resurrection.

            The Christian stands and is saved by the gospel of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor 15:1–2). Historians affirm that the gospel of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:3–8 is the most ancient creed of the Christian faith. Paul received the gospel a few years after Jesus’s death, and he confirmed the gospel by Jesus’s apostle Peter, Jesus’s brother James, and eventually among all the apostles (Gal 1:11–2:10).            

            The legal-historical method of attesting to factual events by two or more witnesses affirms that various people experienced Jesus resurrected from the dead. The Gospels exist as eyewitness testimonies that confirm the predictions of ancient scripture describing the Messiah and His resurrection (Ps 16:10; 22; Isa 53:8–10). After Jesus ascended, Peter and later Paul preached these scriptures among the many proofs of Jesus’s resurrection for Jews and proselytes to believe (Acts 2:14–26; 13:26–41; cf. 1:3).

            Critical scholars recognize the historicity of Paul and Jesus’s brothers including James as hostile converts to the Christian faith by experiencing appearances of Jesus having resurrected bodily. These hostile witnesses all became proclaimers of the gospel of Jesus’s resurrection (1 Cor 9:5; 15:5–11). Furthermore, hostile source material is embedded in the Bible that attests to Jesus predicting His resurrection on the third day and that guards sealed and protected the tomb that they found empty (Matt 28:11–15; cf. Mark 8:31; 9:31). Critical scholars see these accounts as mere experiences and revert to agnosticism in the face of these facts. Eerdmans Dictionary of Bible is a critical-historical source that records the skeptical perspective.

            Jesus’s resurrection is the cornerstone and capstone of the Christian faith. The apostle Paul taught, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15:14 ESV). Jesus’s victory over death was by bodily resurrecting providing a way for His followers to resurrect bodily on the last day (John 6:40; Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 6:14). Jesus became the first fruits of the resurrection to come for the faithful (1 Cor 15:20–23). The application of Jesus’s resurrection makes the gospel even more compelling as Christians look forward to resurrecting in the flesh like Christ and putting on the immortal nature to enter the eternal kingdom of God (1 Cor 15:50–53; 2 Cor 5:4; cf. Luke 24:39).

            The church exists and began in the first century because various people experienced appearances of Jesus risen from the dead and they told the world. Now, Christ has passed that gospel through the apostles and generations of Christians to us. What will we do with it? Thank God that we stand and will live eternally by the gospel of Jesus’s resurrection!


Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email