Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

So let’s have a quick look at some of the claims of the Bible.  The Bible makes so many claims that are sometimes hard to believe so what are these claims?

1. There is only one God

2. Jesus is the Son of God

3. God created all things

4. Jesus died to bring us back into a right relationship with God

5. God consists of 3 persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in one

6. Jesus was fully God and yet fully man – he was also without sin

7. Jesus is the only way to God

8. God is all powerful, all knowing, ever present, all loving.

9. Jesus died on a cross but defeated death and rose again, he is now in heaven

10. Jesus will come again

11. If we believe and trust in Jesus He will forgive all our wrongdoings

12. Jesus healed people, cast out demons, raised people from the dead, forgave sins, calmed the sea, turned water into wine

13. God spoke to His people through the prophets

14. One day those who have put their trust in Jesus will live with God in heaven

15. Jesus was born of a virgin

Now these are just the first 15 claims that came to mind, there are hundreds of others on almost every page of the Bible. I can’t prove to you that any of these claims are true.  I can’t produce evidence that shows that there is truth in any of them.  However, in the time since the Bible was written no-one has been able to disprove any of the claims.  Don’t you find that quite remarkable?  That a book written by over 40 people spanning thousands of years, some being simple people, some had great learning, all claiming outrageous things, but all unable to be proven wrong even thousands of years later.

In fact as our learning has increased, as technology has developed more things are being discovered that substantiate the claims not contradict them.  For example the Bible claims that most of the New Testament was written by Jesus’ disciples.  However, many people have disregarded this and have said that the New testament was written 60 or 70 years after the death of Christ therefore making it unlikely that they were written by the disciples.  However, it is now agreed by many scholars that the New testament was written much earlier than first thought and well within the lifetime of Jesus’ disciples. This not only backs up the claims of the Bile but it also brings something very important into play – the reliability of the New Testament content.

If I write a book about events that happened hundreds of years beforehand – especially if it is on a subject not written about before – there may be some murmurings about the reliability of the facts but it would be fairly hard to disprove them.  Even if the facts sounded completely wrong it would be very hard to collect evidence to speak against them.  However, if I were to write about something that took place last year things would be very different.  If my facts about an event were wrong people who were there would speak out against them.  People who wanted to investigate could ask people who were involved, produce witnesses and put together a case.  So if the disciples of Jesus had decided to make up these stories people would have spoken out.  Even if Jesus’ disciples had been so deluded as to really believe these things had taken place, others would have spoken out about them. Christianity in it’s early existence would have been snuffed out. Yet you had thousands of people who were willing to die for these claims.  If the disciples had spent three years with Jesus could they have been that taken in by him that they would rather die than renounce their faith?  If they had made it all up would they have died in order to keep a hoax going? If the disciples of Jesus had written the new testament only a short time after it had happened and the events and things written about hadn’t taken place huge numbers of people would have spoken out about it.  The disciples would have become a laughing stock and the Christian faith would have died on it’s feet.

We’ll have a look at more of the claims in part three.

Why bother to even look into the claims of the Bible?

So you’re sat at the breakfast table when you hear the familiar plop of the morning post arriving on your door mat.  You get up and stagger, in your still half asleep state, to pick up the post which you reckon will be mostly bills. You sort through them and find one that jumps out at you.  It has the familiar embossing of your family solicitors in the corner.  It worries you at first but you open it and there inside is a letter stating that you’ve come into some money. However it’s not just a few hundred dollars it’s is $2 million.  You rub your eyes!!  You read on and discover that someone has left it to you in their will.  You read the newly deceased lady’s name several times. No, you are quite sure you’ve never heard of her before in your life.  There must be some mistake!  Strangers don’t die and leave people millions of dollars.  Especially not to you!!!  The letter states that you need to come into the local office to verify who you are and to receive the check.  But you know it must be a mistake!! You don’t know the lady!! Never heard of her!!  The claim of the letter just simply can’t be true!  So you put the letter in the bin and think nothing more of it?  The claim just can’t be true can it?  Things like this don’t happen to people like you, do they?  Wouldn’t you be just a little curious?  Wouldn’t it be worth making a quick phone call just to put the mistake right? Wouldn’t it be worth popping in to the solicitors just in case there is the smallest possibility that in might be true?  But perhaps you don’t need $2 million?  Perhaps you don’t want a bit of security for the future?  Let’s face it we live in a world where we could all do with a bit of good news.  If the claim is good enough, and let’s face it most of us would check it out for a lot less than $2 million , it’s worth checking out!!

The Bible makes some outrageous claims!!  It claims the answers to many of the things that people are seeking today.  If advertising is anything to go by we are all looking to live longer, feel better, be at peace, be more content, find the perfect person and get richer.  The Bible, believe it or not, claims to have the answer all of these things!  For centuries people have searched for the Holy Grail, the key to everlasting life.  Books have been written about it, legends built on it, films made about it and lives lost seeking it. Yet the Bible claims to hold the keys to Eternal life and not only any old eternal life, eternal life lived in perfection.  I don’t know about you but eternal life in this world may sound good but to me 100 years is looking like a very very long time!!!  The Bible claims that the eternal life it offers comes without pain or suffering or tears or sadness or hatred or loss.  Now that is some claim!!  Is that not worth checking out?

Many of us spend time in the gym to keep ourselves fit and help us to live longer.  Isn’t is worth spending a few hours investigating the claim of eternal life and so much more besides.  The Bible not only claims to offer “pie in the sky when you die“, it almost claims to offer “Steak on your plate while you wait!!”  if the claim is great enough it is surely worth checking out. Next time (in two Wednesdays time) we’ll look more at what theses claims are and why they’re worth checking out!

I have asked around to see what questions people would like to see answered through this blog. So, this is the first in a series of the questions that people have asked to have answered.

This question can be taken on a number of levels so I hope I can cover most of the angles. My first reaction was that I believe that religion is a human construct. Religion to me, along with many others has negative associations and connotations. To me religion is man’s reaction to the belief that God exists. If you strip Christianity down to it’s essentials all the bells and shackles fall away and you are left with a simple relationship between you and God through Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit. You don’t need rituals and doctrines, church buildings and church meetings. You don’t need the bells and smells, the lectionaries and holy days. Now, this is not to say that all these things are not helpful to people in their relationship with God, but they are not essential. In fact sometimes the trimmings of Christianity can get in the way of the relationship which needs to be at the centre. Christianity is less about religion and more about relationship.

So, I don’t need irrefutable proof that religion is man-made because I already believe that it is. Having said all that I know that that reading of the question was not what was meant. So, let me rephrase the question to hopefully bring about a little clarity for myself. What if the idea of the existence of God is a purely made up concept by man? What if irrefutable proof were found that God didn’t exist but was just a man-made idea?”

I have found this question quite a difficult one to get my head around. In some respects, for me, it’s been like trying to think of a new colour – a concept that is almost impossible to do. The piece I struggle with is the concept of finding irrefutable proof. Where would it come from? What would it look like? Would everyone accept it as irrefutable? In general terms it is far easier to prove that something exists than doesn’t exist. Photographs, film, footprints and I guess ultimately a body would prove to most people of the existence of the Abominable Snowman. However, what proof could there ever be that it didn’t exist?

People for thousands of years have tried to prove that God doesn’t exist. With all man’s intelligence, resources and theories no-one has even come close. In many ways Christians and Atheists are in the same boat. They both have strongly held beliefs that have no proof. They are either as wise or as stupid as each other. Both have weighed up the evidence and have drawn different, opposing, conclusions. The main difference, as I see it, is this. Some of you will have read this analogy before, but please bear with me.

When it comes to belief and faith I like to use the analogy of a chair. It’s perhaps because I’m quite a big guy so it is more relevant to me than others, but I hope you’ll understand the gist if it. When it comes to the question of belief in God billions of people around the world would say they believed in Him. Yet for only a much smaller percentage of the world’s population does that belief have any real meaning. Billions of people believe in God but far fewer have faith or trust in Him. Here is where the chair comes in. When it comes to a chair or a stool or anything you can sit on, when considering sitting on it we have to believe that it will take our weight. We don’t want to end up in a pile on the floor along with the remains of a chair that didn’t quite do the job. As a bigger than average chap I have to consider this more than most, especially when it comes to camping chairs or chairs that look less than robust. I can pick a chair up, examine it from every angle, pull it about, check the joints and even read the label for it’s weight limit. I can come to a stage where I can look at the chair and wholeheartedly believe that it will hold my weight. It is not, however, until I sit in the chair that I can be said to have moved from that belief in the strength of the chair to having faith that it will hold my weight. So it is with many people’s belief in God. They believe in His existence but have not yet moved to faith in Him. It is one thing to believe in God but another thing to put that belief into action by having faith in Him.

So with the Atheist they look at the chair, examine the chair, test it a little, read the safety label and come to the conclusion that the chair won’t hold their weight. With the Christian they also examine the chair, test it, read the safety label and come to the conclusion that the chair may well take their weight. However, for the engaged Christian they then take that belief a step further and sit down on the chair. It might feel a little wobbly, for a while they may feel uncertain that the chair will hold their weight but eventually the proof is in the sitting. Either the chair holds or it doesn’t. So, although in the testing of the chair the potential atheist and potential Christian are in the same boat it is when the Atheist walks away and the Christian sits that the difference occurs. The Atheist doesn’t continue his journey finding more and more proof for the non-existence of God. They don’t even continue, in a meaningful way, to experience the non-existence of God. However, for the Christian as they sit on the chair they start a journey where they begin to see God at work. They see prayers answered, they see prophesy fulfilled, they see things recorded in the Bible coming true, they experience the touch of God. Lots of little things that happen build up into an overall belief that God is real and working in their lives. Now, the atheist, quite understandably, will put this down to psychological factors, delusion, hype, hysteria and many other factors. However, to a Christian they are the same feelings as love, pain and fear. Things that you can’t always understand but are as real to you as anything you experience in the physical world.

Therefore, it is extremely hard to imagine irrefutable proof existing. It would be like finding irrefutable proof that pain or love didn’t exist. Once you have experienced something it is almost impossible to imagine not having experienced it. So, having said all that let me imagine that a proof did come forward that proved, without any shadow of a doubt, that God did not exist and that he was just a construct of the human imagination.

How does anyone react to something so huge? Something that was the centre of your life, that informed your thinking and your actions suddenly being swiped from under you. I guess you’ll get a much more objective answer now than if it really did happen. In the short term there would be a mixture of disbelief, confusion, anger, fear, despair, disappointment and so on. There would then follow a slow process of realignment where I’d have to get used to a new world view. However, in the long term I guess that not too much in my life would change on a day to day level. So why is that?

Many people who believe there is no God or just don’t know see religion as this big evil that suppresses the masses, spreads lies and is general a bad thing. However, and I’m speaking solely for Christianity here, I believe that the teachings of the Christian faith are basically an excellent way in which to live. If the Bible were proven to be a man written, man inspired, totally human creation I would still have to say that whoever wrote it was an extremely wise and informed person. I believe that if people followed the teaching of the Bible, whether they believed in the God behind it or not, the world would be a much better place. I have always found it hard to understand how someone, or indeed a society, with no faith can decide on the nature of right and wrong, just and unjust. This is not a criticism or saying that people with faith are better moral people. In fact the opposite is true. Christians have the perfect reason and motive to do good and yet we still do wrong. If you live in a society with no faith, no moral compass what is it that stops you living solely for yourself? How do you decide that it’s wrong to be cruel to animals but OK to eat them. What makes a civilised country civilised? How would a faithless society make laws and why would people abide by them? Most people would agree that they have within them a sense of decency, of right and wrong, good and bad etc. but where does that come from? Who is to say person A’s sense of right is better than person B’s when they differ? Having come to terms with there being no God these are the things that I would really struggle with.

So, I think my everyday actions (apart from dropping the Church services!!) would change very little. I would still believe that it was better to give than receive, love than hate, live at peace not war, care rather than ignore, treat people as I would like to be treated. I would still hold onto the teaching that it is a good thing not to murder, steal, lie, covet, commit adultery etc.

However, I believe that there would be a huge gap in my understanding of this world if I knew God did not exist. I do not believe science holds all the answers. The questions of Why am I here? What’s the point? Why bother? Why believe this? Why not live entirely for myself? What is my purpose? Why don’t we all just end it here? How do I decide what is moral and not? All of these questions and so many more would keep coming back to me again and again. Christianity doesn’t give you all the answers, far from it. However, the non-existence of God would create far far more. So I guess, at least in the short to mid-term I would feel lost, aimless and maybe even purposeless. I would need to find a point of reference from somewhere else. Things that I took for granted as being important because the Bible says they are such as family, honesty, other people, integrity, our planet, leaders and so on would have a huge question mark over them. Are these things important just because we’ve grown up being told that they are? What tells me what is important, moral, ethical or not? A government who changes it’s mind from year to year? The majority? Those who shout the loudest?

At the end of the day I believe that there will never be irrefutable proof that God doesn’t exist. For thousands of years people have been seeking for that proof it without success, who is to say that that won’t change. I also believe that proof will not be found (in this life) of the existence of God. Living as a Christian, I believe, takes nothing away from my life but in facts adds to it. I don’t sit around longing to do things that I’m not allowed to but I have had my life enriched by the Christian journey, by people I’ve met, experiences I’ve had and the comfort, peace and hope that my faith has given me. I personally believe that it is better to live with hope than live with no hope. Even, at the end of the day, if it is false hope.

I guess I must finish with the reverse of the question. What if irrefutable evidence existed that God did exist? How would that change your life? I suppose at the end of time or the end of our lives we will all get an answer. Either God exists in some form or other or He doesn’t. If the Christian is wrong and the Atheist is right then I guess the end of the story lies in a wooden box and a hole in the ground where the Christian and the Atheist lay side by side. Both having lead, more or less, the life that they wanted to. If the reverse is true though and the Christian is right and the Atheist is wrong then at death the story is much different. I don’t believe in God just so that if it just happens to be true I will go to heaven. Belief in God is not my insurance policy. I believe in God because all I have read, heard, seen, and experience point to the existence of God. I have seen the chair, tested it and have finally sat in it. It took my weight and I have continued to sit in it. I don’t believe in God to keep me from hell or from rotting in the ground, but it sure does make me think!!

Not too many people would argue against the existence of Jesus. There seems to be reasonable evidence outside of the teaching of the Bible to prove that He existed in the time frame that the Bible suggests that He did. Even the Islamic faith acknowledges His existence and they regard Him as an important prophet. Even many agnostics and atheists acknowledge his existence and even go as far as to say that He was a good moral teacher. However, this makes no sense to me. Of all the things that you could accuse Jesus of, just being a good moral teacher just doesn’t add up. That is not to say that I don’t believe that Jesus taught good morals and gave us good ways to live our lives but what if He were just a good moral teacher. To my mind you either have to accept the whole package or reject it. I don’t believe that Jesus left us with any middle ground. Either Jesus was God, performed miracles, healed the sick, was perfect, was a good moral teacher, died on the cross for the sins of all people and rose again conquering death or He didn’t. You can’t just pull out the good moral teacher bit and run with that. Either Jesus was who he said He was or He wasn’t. Either Jesus was who He said He was or He was a complete mad man who should be completely discredited. If someone rode into town today and started giving out a new moral code but took drugs, slept around outside his marriage, stole, raped and was generally offensive he wouldn’t get the reputation of a good moral teacher. His actions would over-ride his teachings. If the people who knew Jesus best didn’t truly believe that Jesus was who He said He was His actions would soon discredit His teachings.

 

Now, you might say that it is easy to fool a few people and therefore create a hype that might spread. Yes, you would be right. We only have to look at the effects that cults have on a small number of people who have been taken in, brain-washed or deceived. So, could this have been what happened. Well, I guess anything is possible but it’s pretty unlikely. Jesus grew up and lived amongst the people who eventually followed Him. Mary, His own mother believed in what He taught. She knew everything about Him. She knew His character, His history, she saw Him every step of the way. His brothers knew Him well, some thought that He was mad to start with but then things added up and they too believed. He could have fooled His 12 disciples but what about the 500 close believers, what about the 3000 men and then 5000 men who followed Him? You also have to remember that Jesus was being scrutinised by a whole host of Religious people who were just waiting for Him to slip up. They couldn’t wait for His actions and His teaching to contradict. They waited for His disciples to claim a healing or miracle that hadn’t happened and they were ready to spread the news like wildfire. Jesus taught in a cynical and sceptical arena. Everything He said and did was tested and scrutinised. Someone may have been able to fool a few people but on the scale Jesus did? It is very unlikely!

 

So, were the disciples in on it as well? Did this group of thirteen con-artists set out to create this new-religion, this mass following? Together they could have put together quite a case. They could have convinced friends and family of what Jesus has said and done. If they has all stuck to the same story they could have made quite a case – caused quite a stir. It is possible that mass hysteria could have been created and used to draw people into their circle of belief. Now, it is possible. It’s amazing what people can achieve when they work together. However, here are a few questions that would need to be asked. Why would they do it? They didn’t gain financially by doing it, although they could have done if they had been after money. They didn’t really gain fame in the short term and in fact got a lot on negative, presumably, undesirable attention from many quarters. If it was all just a made up new religion they wouldn’t have been prepared to die for it. People will die for that which they are passionate about, but not if they know it to be a lie. Of these 13 people 12 ended up dying for this fabrication? It doesn’t make sense. How would they have kept the whole charade going when the miracles always failed to work, no-one got healed and when their main-man Jesus failed to come back to life following the resurrection.

 

For hundreds of years it was thought that the gospels were written by people in the 2nd Century. They were accounts that had been passed down through families or churches or groups of people. They were thought to be very much second hand accounts. It was thought that when they were written down the people that had been involved in the events were long since dead. You couldn’t have gone to them to verify the facts. You couldn’t have proved or disproved what was being written. However outrageous it seemed there was no proof to be had, no-one to argue against it. No-one to say, hand on a second I was there and it didn’t happen like that!! However, later research suggests that the gospels were all very likely written before the year A.D.70. So it also seems likely that they were first hand accounts of what happened. It seems very likely that it was the disciples themselves that wrote down the accounts that took place. Many of the first people to read these accounts would have known the people involved and may well have been at the events that were written about. They could have checked out if the stories were true. The writers wouldn’t have been able to pull the wool over the eyes of people that had been around at the time. If the Bible were written within the lifetime of the events it would soon have become obvious if they were no more than lies or exaggerations. People would not have been prepared to suffer and die for what others were calling blatant lies. The whole idea of Christianity would have been extinguished before it even got started. There are no accounts of people calling into question the reliability of the Gospel accounts.

 

So, either Jesus was who he claimed to be or He was a lair, con-artist or lunatic. There really is no middle ground. So, if Jesus was a liar, even a very good one would his lies not have eventually have been exposed? Could he really have convinced all these people that He was God without any evidence. Convinced them to the extent that thousands of them would have been persecuted and killed rather than renounce their faith? If Jesus were a lunatic, again, how would He have convinced people to such an extent? Even if he were so convinced Himself that He were God how could he possibly convince so many people and why would some of these people then go on to make up stories that they knew were false and then get away with it when thousands of others would know the truth.

 

So, over to you – what conclusion can be drawn? Is it not highly likely that Jesus was who he claimed to be? If not how were so many early Christians convinced to the point of death? What explanations that I haven’t explored could there be?

The disciples of Jesus asked Him how they should pray, in His reply He teaches them what we now know as the Lords Prayer. So, what is this teaching all about? These disciples ask Jesus how to pray and what they get in return is one prayer? Or do they get a template on how to pray? So what do we have? He had been in close communion with His Father and he knew the right way to approach and communicate with Him. The Lord’s prayer is a template on how to commune with the Father. So, let’s have a look…

Our Father

Approach Him with respect recognising the right relationship between God and us.

In heaven

Let’s make no mistake who we’re talking to here, we are approaching the creator God of Heaven who made all that exists. Heaven is out of sight, and a world of spirits, therefore our conversation with God in prayer must be spiritual; it is on high, therefore in prayer we must rise above the world, and lift up our hearts.

Hallowed be your name

Hallowed – to make holy. Holy be your name, Holy is your name. A statement of Worship and statement of Praise. Psalm 100 tells us that we

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. “

Basically worship, praise, thanksgiving draws us into the presence of God. If we want to get God’s attention there is no better way than to praise Him.

Let Your Kingdom come

Let your rule, your reign, commence. Have your way with me. I am your servant. I am willing to be submissive to all you want to do in and through me. I acknowledge you are the King and ruler of my life.

Let your will be done

Not my will Lord, not my agenda, but yours. I want to know your will. I want to pray that Your will in all situations, whether I like it or not, be done. Now, I think this is a massively important point and one we continually pass over. We are so busy telling God what we want Him to do for us and those we know we miss what He might be wanting to do. We come with our shopping lists asking God to heal this person and help that person and give this person money and that person a job etc. etc. and we don’t stop to ask God what he would like to do in any given situation. We need to step back, say God this is the situation, what do YOU want to do in it? Seek God for His will and then ask Him to do it. When we find God’s will and then pray that into a situation we suddenly find God answers. Funny that!!

On Earth as it is in Heaven

We long for Christ to return and for God’s perfect rule to begin. Until then we are told that the Kingdom of God is at hand and we want to experience as much of that reality as possible. We are in the world but not of the world. We live here but are not under its rule. We want to usher in the Kingdom of God, we believe it starts in the here and now and we want that Kingdom on earth to expand.

Give us today our daily bread

So much can be taken from this one little line, in fact you can take it word by word.

Give

We are asking for the kindness of God. We’re not asking for a loan or for something we deserve or have earned we are asking for an unmerited gift from God.

Us

It is a term of inclusion. We’re not just asking for ourselves but for those around us. For those we love and care for.

Today

Here is our sense of urgency. As a new day is upon us we recognise the need for God’s provision. We need God’s provision for each day of our lives whether we recognise it or not.

Our

Here we recognise that we want God’s provision for us – we do not want the bread coming from others or due for others. We acknowledge that there is enough to go round and we don‘t want more than our share. We’re asking God to help us not to be selfish or greedy but to want what God wants to give us.

Daily

Thinking not of tomorrow, but trusting God for that, we ask for what is needed for today. We are aligning ourselves with our parts of the Bible that urge us not to worry about tomorrow but to stay focused on the here and now.

Bread

Here we are asking God for what is needed. Nothing fancy, simply bread. Yes, food to sustain us but also other everyday needs. God knows what we need and He is more than willing to provide that – we don’t need to spell out all our needs we simply need to acknowledge our need of God’s provision.

Forgive us our debts

An acknowledgement of our fallen, sinful nature; that we can be forgiven, redeemed and that God is the one who can forgive us. Taken in conjunction with the previous section the implication being that this is a daily request to continuously and constantly be forgiven. When this is prayed our slate is wiped clean once again.

As we also have forgiven our debtors

A call to duty. What good is it for us if we are forgiven but cannot forgive those who have wronged us? It is a great call to hope that if we can find it in our hearts to forgive those that have done wrong to us – how much more will God, whose forgiveness is perfect, readily forgive us.

And lead us not into temptation

We’ve admitted our sin, asked and received forgiveness and so it is natural that having a clean slate we ask for God’s help to keep it clean and not to err again. We are not saying that we believe God leads us into temptation but acknowledging the guiding hand and power of the spirit to lead us away from situations that may cause us to sin.

But deliver us from evil

We’ve asked for God to guide us away from situations that may cause us to sin. Now we are asking Him for His protection from the one who hounds us, the devil and all his agents. We are also asking for his deliverance from sin itself.

For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever Amen

And so we return to praise and adoration. Telling God what He has already told us. Affirming our hope that God can do all that we have asked of Him and so much more besides.

So Jesus was asked by His disciples how to pray and he gave them the Lord’s prayer. Now I don’t for one minute think that this was something that he came up with on the spare of the moment. We’re not told but my guess is that Jesus had been perfecting this prayer for years. Moulding it, perfecting it and using it as His own.

If you look at each petition they are all petitions that will receive a YES from God. Does God want to give us what we need – YES. Does God want to forgive us – YES. Does God want to deliver us for the devil – YES. God will always answer our prayers. However He will not always answer them in the way we would want. God will usually answer with a yes, a no or a wait! The Bible teaches us that God will give us what we need and whatever we ask, according to His will He will give us. Now, many people translate this as God will give us whatever we ask. So when they pray for a Ferrari and don’t get one they become disappointed and disillusioned. Their translation misses out the important part “according to His will”. The Lord’s prayer gives us a template to use in prayer helping us to pray according to the will of God. When we sincerely pray the Lord’s Prayer God will answer us in the affirmative. God is a God who provides for our needs but not necessarily for our desires. So when we pray we need to bear in mind our needs, not our wants and also have in mind what God may will for a situation.

In any situation that we face, in any situation that we pray about it is always worth praying first to try and discover God’s will for that situation. It is all too easy for us to try to force our will on God when His will is what really matters. If we can discover God’s will for a situation we can then go on to pray with confidence and certainty that He will answer us in the affirmative. Next week we’ll look at this in a little more depth but I just want to leave you with an example to help illustrate what I’m talking about…

 Your best friend gets very ill. Now, it’s our natural reaction to pray for healing. However, God knows the end from the beginning. He knows what is going to happen and what He wants to do in this situation. If it is not God’s will to heal your friend no amount of prayer for healing is going to change his mind. Therefore, it is better to seek God’s will for your friend and pray accordingly. It might be that God will is for your friend to learn something through this experience before God heals Him. Our prayers can help our friend learn that thing quicker and then God can bring about his healing. It may be for some reason or other that healing won’t take place immediately and what your friend really needs are prayers for patience, energy, peace etc. and not prayers for healing. It may be that God, in His wisdom, knows that your friend will not be healed and will in fact die (let’s face it we all die sometime). God’s will may be for you to pray for a strengthening of their faith or for a peace of mind or for their family in this difficult time. There is no point in us continuing to pray for healing when it is not God’s intention to heal. We are just banging our head against a wall which will never move. All it will serve to do is make us disappointed and disillusioned with God. However, if we can discover His will and pray accordingly we will see wonderful results and be encouraged and strengthened in our faith.

Faith is always a difficult thing to understand. Many people believe that faith in God is a blind faith i.e. believing against all the evidence. However, it is far from that. Blind faith is throwing yourself out of an aeroplane at 20 000ft and hoping to land safely. Faith is throwing yourself out of an aeroplane at 20 000ft with a parachute which you’ve packed yourself, checked and double checked and hoping to land safely.

I’ve talked about faith and belief using the analogy of the chair. You may test out the chair before you have faith enough to sit in it. The same is true with belief in God. You don’t just blindly decide one day that you’re going to move from a place of vague belief to a strong faith in God. As with the chair you test it, look at it from all angles and assess it in every way possible. Faith in God is not something you blindly walk into – if it is going to be a real, genuine, living faith you have to go into it with your eyes well and truly wide open.

So, how can I test this belief to see if it will hold my weight? There are many ways that a belief in God can be explored, tested, challenged and built upon. Here are just a handful of ideas…

Find a friend

Do you have a friend who is a faithful Christian? If so I’m sure they will help you explore the whole area of faith. They may not have all the answers but I’m sure they’d be willing to help you find them. Talk to them about their faith – how they made the move from not believing to believing or from a belief to a stronger faith. Ask them about things to do with faith that you don’t understand. Ask them what it means for them to be a Christian. Some Christians love to be asked about their faith, some however don’t like it as they are worried about giving the wrong answer or worried that they might not have an answer at all. If your friend is worried about answering your questions ask them if there is someone in their church who you can ask.

You may want to ask your friend to pray for you as you explore the whole area of faith. Get them to pray that god would help you understand and reveal Himself to you.


Read all about it!

Some people love to read and some hate it. If you like to read there are so many good books out there to help you think through the whole area of faith. Your local Christian Bookshop manager should be able to direct you to the right book or books for you. It is very difficult to recommend books generally as there are so many out there, some not internationally available and you all have differing preferences. However, I would consider suggesting most books by Nicky Gumbel, Lee Strobel and Ralph O. Muncaster. They are writers with well thought out arguments to help you build a foundation of faith.

What better place to start than with the Bible

The Bible may seem like a very daunting place to start, but it needed be. Whatever you don’t sit down and start reading the Bible from the beginning with the idea of reading it like a novel. You’ll find it as difficult as reading a dictionary!!! What I would suggest is starting with the book of Mark, it can be found near the back of the Bible and is the second book in the New Testament. It tells the story of the life of Jesus and is an excellent place to start. As you’re reading it you may want to make notes. Especially of things that you don’t understand. If you do have things you don’t understand you can ask a Christian friend or you are more than welcome to contact us here using the contact tab above. We are always happy to answer questions and receive people’s feedback.

A Short course in Christianity

Many churches offer short courses in exploring the Christian faith. These are relaxed times of learning where you can ask questions and explore with others in a similar position about the Christian faith. There are courses such as ALPHA, Christianity Explored and many others run by individual churches. Many churches have posters outside advertising these courses or you could give your local church a ring and even if they are not running one they would be able to find out your nearest venue.

Attend a church service

Any church would love to see you. If you have a Christian friend why not ask if you can go along with them one Sunday to a service – they’d be delighted to take you. You may find the service a bit strange, especially if you’ve never been to church before. Don’t worry they’re not going to get you to do anything you don’t want to do but a bit like going to a bookmakers or Royal Garden party you won;t know exactly what is going on or what to do – if in doubt just follow what everyone else is doing!! You should find the church very welcoming and friendly – after all they’re just a bunch of fairly normal people meeting together to give their thanks to God and draw encouragement from each other – in its most basic sense that is what church is all about.

Finally how about speaking to God?

Praying – basically having a conversation with God – can seem pretty weird to start with. However, let’s face it – if God does exist then it’s the most natural thing in the world to do – if god doesn’t exist all we’re going is talking to ourselves which is good therapy anyway!!! I jest a little but you get my point. If God created you, loves you and wants the best for you there is nothing He like better than to communicate with you, to hear your worries and concerns and to help out. The whole subject of prayer is a huge subject, especially when talking about faith and belief. Next week we’ll take a further look at the subject and delve a little deeper.

What If… Belief is not enough?

Posted: May 11, 2011 by Nathan in What If...
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I believe in God! You may well believe in God. If we did a survey of people around the world a huge percentage of people would say that they believed in God. Now, I wouldn’t want, in any way, to belittle that belief – but what does belief in God really mean?

I believe in God! However, I also believe in a lot of other things. I believe the sun will rise tomorrow, I believe that Australia exists, I believe that fish finger sandwiches are great and I also believe that grass is normally green. However, what good do these beliefs do me? Whether I believe that Australia exists or not has no bearing on my life. Until, that is, I decide to put my belief into action and go there. Then my belief changes into faith and trust.

Now belief, faith and trust may all sound like the same thing. I guess in some ways we are just talking about semantics. However, the idea behind the semantics belies a very important difference. I like to use the analogy of a chair to try and show the difference. Being a bigger than average person it probably resonates with me more than most but I hope you’ll understand what I’m talking about. When you come across a less than sturdy chair and need to sit on it you sub-consciously may do an assessment on it. Will this chair take my weight? Will it be comfortable? We can look at the chair, wobble it, press down on it and check it’s joints. We may come to a decision that we believe that it will take our weight. It is not, however, until we sit on the chair that our belief that it will take our weight is transformed into trust that it will or faith that it will. Trust and faith are active, involving, doing words. A drowning man may believe that the lifebelt thrown to him from the riverbank will save his life but it is not until he puts his faith in it and reaches out for it that it does him any good at all.

So it is with God. Just believing in God is not enough! Our belief needs to become active, it needs to turn into faith and trust. I used to have a strong belief in God. I even went to church. However, this belief that I had that God existed, that He created the world, that He sent His son to earth in the form of Jesus and the whole host of other things I believed about God had no real connection with my life. I believed in God, but had no trust in Him, put no faith in Him. It took me years to connect this belief to a real faith. I must have walked round and round that chair for years and tested it in every conceivable way before I finally decided that I could trust it to hold my weight and finally sit down. I now see that if you believe in God, if you believe in the God of the Bible it’s an all or nothing situation.

Now, how do I explain this? Most of us believe ( I hope) that in order to keep living we need to eat and drink. The amount that we eat and drink will vary a lot depending on who we are, what kind of week it is and so on. However, we firmly embrace the belief that unless we eat and drink regularly we will make ourselves ill and eventually die. We can’t believe that this is true and then go off and decide not to eat for a month or two – it just doesn’t work that way. Unless we put the belief that we need to eat and drink in order to continue living into action pretty much every day of our lives we will eventually die and the belief would mean nothing. The same is true with a belief in God. If we believe in Him but do nothing about it, it makes our belief meaningless. If we believe that the Bible is God’s tool for revealing himself to us but ignore what it means to our everyday life it makes our belief meaningless. It would be like believing in the rules of the road as laid out by our governments and then completely ignoring them when getting into our car. Not only is it meaningless but also dangerous.

If God exists, if He created this universe and everything in it, doesn’t that deserve more than a notional belief in Him. In many ways believing in God makes no sense unless you are going to take that belief further. If you believe God exists, that He created you and the world you live in, if He is a God of love and not of hate, isn’t it logical to try and learn all you can about Him. If you discover you have a long lost Uncle who wants to share his vast riches with you and so much more besides are you saying that you would believe that he exists but do nothing about it. Either God exists as outlined in the Bible or He doesn’t! There are no other options. Either the Bible is true or it is not! If God exists and the Bible is true God has not only created us but given us a revelation of Himself and what He knows is the best for us. Isn’t that worth looking into? Unless we put our belief into action we are still drowning, still standing up when we could be sitting in comfort or even worse we could be starving ourselves when the solution is at hand.

Next week we’ll take a look at What If… I put my belief into action?

What if God isn’t who you think He is?

Posted: April 13, 2011 by Nathan in What If...
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No-one can have perfect idea of who God is? Much as we would like to we can’t put God in a box and know everything about him. However, when we dig a little we can know quite a lot about His personality and His nature.

History, myth, art and the church have painted us many pictures of God but how accurate are those pictures? We have the picture of God in human form, flowing white hair, white beard and full-length white robes. He’s sitting on a cloud with angels all around him playing harps.

Then there’s the picture of God sitting as judge sending people to hell whilst letting a chosen few into heaven.

There’s God as the law maker and fun stopper. Making rules to keep us in check and to tell us how bad we are. Don’t do this or that or the other.

There is God who is disinterested. He may have created the world. But now He has given up. How could he still be involved when so many people suffer, wars abound, crime is rife, disease kills millions and natural disasters continue to bring death and misery.

Then there’s God as a Father. For many people this is an image that works well. However, what if your Dad wasn’t that great. What if he beat you, abused you, left you, let you down? The word “father” doesn’t conjure up the best of images for everyone. Though this image can be redeemed a little. I heard someone speak years ago and they said that you should think of the best things about your dad, God is a thousand times better than that. Now think of the worst attributes of your dad – God is the complete opposite of those!

So what is God really like – how would I describe him? If I were to paint a word picture of God based on the Bible, my experience of Him and the experience of other believers what would it look like?

Holy, love, all powerful, all knowing, merciful, giving, kind, protecting, truthful, creative, grace filled, caring, abounding in blessing, strong, righteous, generous, compassionate, understanding, forgiving, trustworthy, dependable, ever present, unchanging, ever listening, mighty, approachable, saving, providing, unselfish, humble, peaceable, just, fair, capable, sociable, fun-loving, humorous, passionate, interesting, indefinable, complex, faithful, intelligent, incorruptible, reliable, peace-loving, trusting, healing, informed, qualified, close, accepting, open, wise.

Now isn’t that the kind of person you’d like to get to know?

 

This blog is longer than my usual blogs so please bear with me. It comes in response to a PowerPoint that some of you may have seen called Why Won’t God Heal Amputees? In it a very patronising case is put forward using 10 questions that they want intelligent Christians to answer. The assumption being that if an intelligent Christian used their brains in answering these questions the only conclusion that they could come to is that there is no God. Otherwise we were just deluded and fabricating huge excuses for God. So, as a not too intelligent Christian I thought I’d have a go at answering the questions and leave it up to you to decide if I’m just fabricating huge excuses on behalf of this imaginary God of mine or whether with an open mind there is real truth if you scratch below the surface.

 

Why won’t God heal amputees?

 

I hated this question as soon as I read it. Not because it challenged my faith or anything of the sort but because it implied that amputees are somehow lacking because they have an arm or a legging removed. Am I less of a person because I can’t run fast or draw or do ballet? I comes, not from a position of caring for amputees but from a position of wanting to use them to try and prove a point. Anyway that said…

 

A useful phrase that I believe contains a lot of truth when thinking about questions like this is… “God allows in His wisdom that which he could prevent by His power.” or in this case “God does not do because of His wisdom that which He could do through His power.” It is very easy to try and reduce God or a concept of God to human thinking. If God exist it stands to reason that we will not understand His ways. God says in the Bible that

 

my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts
.”

 

I believe the question shows a misunderstanding of who God is and what he does. It takes the line that if God exist He will act in the very way that we want him to or would expect him to. You may as well ask the question “Why won’t God make the sun shine for 67 hours at a time and not the 12 or so that it does now?” God chose to create the world in this way and for very good reasons. It really isn’t our place to question it. God chooses not to heal amputees as He chooses not to intervene in many other areas of life. God chooses not to prevent all earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, murders, diseases, accidents and disasters. Just because he chooses to not intervene does not to any extent prove that he does not exist. As a father I choose not to intervene in the lives of my children all the time. I choose which battle to get involved with. I choose when to help them to their feet and when to allow them to get up themselves. All this does not mean I do not exist. It doesn’t show either that I am uncaring. It just shows that in my wisdom (even if it is flawed) I chose not to be constantly intervening.

 

Another other aspect to this question is that God is not so concerned with our physical being than our spiritual welfare. Can an amputee still lead a full and fulfilled life? Of course they can. Can they still love, learn, smile, laugh, give, receive, work, play, read, write, paint, talk, be friends, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers etc. etc. etc.? Of course they can!! Can and do amputees believe in God? Again the answer is yes and that is what God is most concerned with.

 

I finish this question with a thought… just because I don’t know of any cases where God has healed an amputee doesn’t mean that God hasn’t done it!

 

 

Why are there so many starving people in the world?

 

This is always a dangerous question to ask of God. Why? Because He can ask exactly the same question of us. There are so many starving people in the world because so many people in the world are greedy, selfish, uncaring, self-absorbed and have no conscience. We know very well that there is more than enough food to go round. God did not create us as robots – He gave us freewill and we have chosen not to respond to a mass of starving people. So, why are there so many starving people in the world, not because God doesn’t exist, but because we have chosen, as the rich and fully-fed of this world, not to share the resources God has given us.

 

 

Why does God demand the death of so many innocent people in the Bible?

 

Verses cited…

Exodus 35:2 – those who work on the Sabbath

Deuteronomy 21 – disobedient teenagers

Leviticus 20:13 – homosexuals

Deuteronomy 22 – promiscuous women who marry

 

Here we have a loaded question that condemns God without inquiry. The questioner goes on to ask why God demands the death of these innocents for such trivial matters. Here you have to ask who are innocent? Who deems them to be so? Who says which matters are trivial and which are not? As this question is asked by an atheist you have to ask where do they get their moral code from to judge some as innocent and some as not?

 

So let’s have a look at these, so called, “trivial” matters that Gods demands the death of some for. At it’s simplest God’s desire for humankind consisted of them living in family units. This is what humans were designed for. We weren’t made to live alone, we were made to reproduce and live in families. Men and women were to marry, have children and bring them up to lead Godly lives. This would then repeat and the cycle would continue. This was God’s blueprint for life. God knew that humans would be at their best living this way. Three out of the four cases above challenge that way of living. It is, perhaps, hard to see in a society where disobedience, homosexuality and promiscuity are so common why God would be so against it. However, let’s face it we live in societies where God has been pushed out of the picture. His desires for us are no longer adhered to. I wonder though if they were how different society would be. We, even Christians, see the demanding of the death of someone very harsh. However, does it not show the value God places on things. The value he puts on the family unit. On keeping ourselves separate for Him for at least one day a week. God does not make laws for His own enjoyment but for our benefit as individuals and as a society.

 

 

 

Why does the Bible contain so much anti-scientific nonsense?

 

Let me start by stating that the Bible, however you look at it, is not a science book. If you are looking for a scientific analysis of how God created, resurrected, caused things to happen then you will not find it in the Bible, nor are you meant to. Therefore, if you treat it as such you will always draw a blank – the Bible must be treated as the Word of God – to treat it in any other way will give you false results. If you treat a novel as a history book or a science book as a dictionary they will make no sense and so it is with the Bible.

 

If you look at these passages with the firm view that God does not exist then they will make no sense. However if you take an open view that God may exist and that if he is as the Bible describes Him then nothing is impossible with Him and much more sense can be made of them. Just as it would be ridiculous of me to read a book about mathematics and argue that none of it made sense because mathematicians can’t even prove that one equals one.

 

Case cited…

God did not create the world in 6 days – 6000 years ago like the Bible says

Firstly the question would have to be asked – “Show me where the Bible states that the world was created 6000 years ago?” Some Christians believe that the world is only thousands of years old while some scientists believe that the world is millions of years old. These two views may seem totally opposing. How can you fit the two together? Either one is true and the other wrong or vica-verca. However I believe that both could be right, let me try and explain why. As a Christian I believe that God created the world. I also believe that God created man-kind. God created Adam. He created him as an adult, not as a baby or an embryo. God created Adam with an age. It therefore stands to reason that God could have create the world with an age. So the world may have only been created thousands of years ago but has an age far far greater than that. I guess in simplified terms a table made out of wood, when made, would be brand new but in fact the wood could be hundreds of years old. The table in effect has two very different ages.

 

Case cited…

There was never a world-wide flood that covered Mount Everest like the Bible says

 

A quick look around the web shows that in fact there is a lot of evidence to suggest that there was a world-wide flood. In the late 60s and early 70s “Two American oceanographic vessels pulled from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico several long, slender cores of sediment. Included in them were the shells of tiny one-celled planktonic organisms called foraminifera. While living on the surface, these organisms lock into their shells a chemical record of the temperature and salinity of the water. When they reproduce, the shells are discarded and drop to the bottom. A cross-section of that bottom … carries a record of climates that may go back more than 100 million years. Every inch of core may represent as much as 1000 years of the earth’s past. The cores were analyzed in two separate investigations, by Cesare Emiliani of the University of Miami, and James Kennett of the University of Rhode Island and Nicholas Shackleton of Cambridge University. Both analyses indicated a dramatic change in salinity, providing compelling evidence of a vast flood of fresh water into the Gulf of Mexico. Using radiocarbon, geochemist Jerry Stripp of the University of Miami dated the flood at about 11,600 years ago. To Emiliani, all the questions and arguments are minor beside the single fact that a vast amount of fresh melt water poured into the Gulf of Mexico. ‘We know this,’ he says, ‘because the oxygen isotope ratios of the foraminifera shells show a marked temporary decrease in the salinity of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It clearly shows that there was a major period of flooding from 12,000 to 10,000 years ago…There was no question that there was a flood and there is no question that it was a universal flood.” Taken from http://www.earthage.org where much more scientific evidence is put forward.

 

 

Case cited…

 

God did not create Adam from a handful of dust like the Bible says

 

Another bizarre question for two main reasons. Firstly again it is using a misquotation. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God created man from a handful of dust. You would have thought if they were really wanting to attack the bible of scientific fact they would get their facts right!! Secondly I find it bizarre that they seem accepting that God created the world out of nothing, that God created Eve from the rib of Adam but creating Adam from dust they have a problem with?

When applying science to the Bible you will find far more evidence that things written about in the Bible concur with modern scientific explanations than discrepancies. After all, and here I’m guessing, if you examined an ancient science book it would be full of scientific nonsense and likewise today’s science FACT will be seen as nonsense in years to come. Here are a few Biblical things which have centuries later been proven to be scientifically correct.

 

The Earth floats in space

The Earth is round

Pathways or currents in the oceans

Radio-waves

Entropy

The cycle of water

The first law of Thermodynamics

Ideal ship dimensions

Meteorological laws

Air mass

Rotation of the Earth

Springs in the oceans

Properties of light

Hygiene laws

Correlation of mind and body

Immune system

Bacteria

Quarantine

Ray Comfort – Scientific facts in the Bible

 

Why is God such a huge proponent of slavery in the Bible?

 

Verses cited…

 

Exodus 21: 20 -21

Colossians 3: 22-24

Ephesians 6: 5

1 Peter 2: 18

 

Slavery as talked about in the Bible is a very different thing than that that we see slavery as today. The Bible verse that they don’t tell you about is…Exodus 21: 16

 

“He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.

 

Selling someone into slavery was seen as a despicable thing punishable by death. Now that doesn’t sound like God is a great proponent of slavery. No where in the Bible does it say that God supports slavery. However, God does support slaves and that is a very different thing. In Old testament times there was no welfare. If you could not support yourself or your family there was no fall back or safety net to provide for you. Many people sold themselves into slavery in order to have food and shelter in return for doing work. The Bible supports these people and urges that they are treated well.

 

 

Why do bad things happen to good people?

 

I suppose my answer here has to begin with “Find me a good person and I’ll show you that bad things don’t happen to them!!” Who is to say who is good and who is bad? The question also implies that bad things don;t happen to bad people which is of course nonsense. The truth is things happen!! The rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous. Would you really want to believe in a God who only protected and blessed those who believe in him. We all sin and are therefore not good and as a result of that sin bad things happen to everyone.

 

 

Why didn’t any of Jesus’ miracles in the Bible leave behind any evidence?

 

This is again a bit of a bizarre question which doesn’t seem particularly well thought out. One of the purposes of Jesus’ miracles was not to leave evidence. However, the miracles were recorded in the New testament books which weren’t challenged by others around at the time – is this not evidence? If Jesus heals a crippled man what more evidence do you require than a once crippled man walking around? If the question means that there is no evidence remaining today I would ask what possible miracle could he have performed that would have resulted in such evidence? And furthermore what would the point of this be?

 

 

How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you?

 

This is one of the strangest of the questions. Unless I’m misunderstanding it. Surely you could just as easily say – well Barrack Obama has never appeared to me therefore he doesn’t exist? NO, it’s just not on his agenda to meet with me. In fact Jesus makes it quite clear that he has gone to prepare a place for us and then and only then will he return once and for all. Having spoken to friends and they agree, I’m not sure I would want to meet Jesus face to face – I do not feel worthy.

 

 

Why would Jesus want you to eat his body and drink his blood?

 

Again this questions seems to be poorly thought out and comes form a poor or inadequate understanding of the text. Jesus does not want us to literally drink his blood and eat his flesh. He is drawing on Old Testament metaphor from the life of David to say that people must benefit from the death he has suffered. Jesus’ death has brought life to people who believe but people must believe in order to benefit. Whoever aligns themselves with Christ will benefit – those who do not will not.

 

 

Why do Christians get divorced at the same rate as non Christians?

 

This is a difficult question to answer without a lot more information about the statistics. The simple answer is that Christians get divorced as a reasonably high rate because they are human, because society no longer frowns at divorce and because the bible actually doesn’t condemn it either. As regards to the statistics you would need to ask how they define Christian, do Christians stay together longer even though it ends in divorce, are these statistics just from America or from other countries as well. One reason for the equality is probably down to the fact that non-Christians tend to live together first – marriage only then takes place once they know how they get on in a full-time environment. It stands to reason that these marriages are more likely to last.

 

Having done just a little digging into marriage statistics in the US I have found that the average divorce rate amongst non-believers is 50%. For Born-again Christians it falls to 42% and when you take a better definition of Christian (their definition of Born-again Christian is having ever made a commitment to Christ and believe they will go to heaven) as those who actually regularly attend a church then the figure falls further to 38%. So perhaps a little more work is needed on the background for this question.

 

 

In Conclusion

 

It is easy to read or read an attack on the Christian faith and find it fairly convincing. However, the Christian faith is far more defensible than many would have you believe. I’m no scholar, theologian or intellectual but I hope that even I have shown that there are credible answers to many of these attacks. These answers may not have totally convinced you and if not I urge you to question them, ask me, ask others for there are those out there with a far better grip on the bible and the wonders of Christianity than I am. I am convince having heard both sides of the argument that Christianity is true. I urge you to seek and question and explore it for yourself. I leave you with ten questions that I would like to ask an Atheist.

 

 

Ten questions intelligent Atheists should ask themselves?

 

  • With all our scientific knowledge and exploration why is the theory of Evolution still no more than a theory hundreds of years after it was first proposed?

 

  • If you were walking along a beach and found a machine with flashing lights and moving parts that was self powered and capable or reproducing itself would you come to the conclusion that it was created or just came into existence through some sort of reaction or evolution

 

  • If we evolved how do you explain the human eye?

 

  • Where is evidence of the missing link?

 

  • What is the point of life? If there is no point what is the point of continuing when things are tough? If there is a point where do you get that point from?

 

  • Name one thing contained in the Bible, when read as a holy book and not a science book, that has been proved beyond reasonable doubt to be wrong?

 

  • If the universe started with a big bang, what exploded and where did it come from.

 

  • British theoretical physicist named Paul Davies has calculated the odds of the initial conditions of the origins of the universe being suitable for star formation, which the existence of life depends on, as being One; followed by a thousand, billion, billion Zero’s to One, at least. There would also need to be around fifty of these constants all in place at the same time, in order to permit life. Do they sound like good odds to you?

 

  • If we all came from primeval slime or whatever you want to call it, how did we reproduce before male and female came around?

 

  • How do you discount or explain away all the things found in the Bible which were then proven centuries later such as the roundness of the earth, the earth revolving, the correct day for circumcision, ocean currents, hygiene laws etc. etc.?

Would love to hear your comments?

 

Truth shall spring out of the earth”

Psalm 85: 11a

Archaeology is another brick in the wall of helping us to validate the claims of the Bible. Archaeology itself is not going to convince us that Jesus died and was resurrected but it goes some way to validating the background information we find in the Bible. Again, unless some archaeologist digs up the actual bones of Jesus Christ and manages somehow to prove that this was the case (not quite sure how this would be done) it is very unlikely that archaeology will disprove the claims of the Bible.

The Bible is not written in isolation. Many places, people, and buildings are mentioned. Now, proving that these places or buildings exist or even that certain people exist doesn’t make the other events written about true. Just as proving that the Louvre and Paris exist proves that Robert Langdon in the Da Vinci Code is a real person. However, the writers of the Bible weren’t setting out to entertain but to teach, inform and to report. Some were writing an historical account of what they saw around them, some were writing letters not thinking they would be published. Archaeological evidence helps to give credence to these writings. As F.F. Bruce, professor of biblical studies, says of Luke’s work: “A writer who thus relates his story to the wider context of world history is courting trouble if he is not careful; he affords his critical readers so many opportunities for testing his accuracy. Luke takes this risk, and stands the test admirably”.

For years critics have used, so called, historical facts to try to disporve the credibility of the Bible. Time after time scholars have had to backtrack from earlier statements as additional archaeological evidence has come to light. An example of this was the Hittites, for a long time known only from the biblical record and denided by many historians as having existed. “Until the discovery of the Hittite empire at the beginning of the last century, the ‘Hittites’ mentioned in Genesis 10:15 as descendants of Canaan were unknown … But in 1906 Hugo Winckler began excavating a site known as ancient Hattusha … in what we today call Turkey. As a result a people whose existence was seriously doubted previously is well documented with literally tens of thousands of clay tablets” (Walter Kaiser, The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable and Relevant? 2001, p. 102).

Again critics used to argue that Jesus could not have lived in Nazareth as it was not in habited during the times mentioned in the Bible. The conventional understanding is that Nazareth was a fairly small community, of no great historical importance, which is why it is not mentioned outside the New Testament. But there is now plenty of archaeological evidence that Nazareth existed before, during and after the time of Christ. And the latest discoveries may completely overturn the idea that it was small and insignificant. Either way, the idea that it did not exist, and therefore that Jesus could not have existed, is out of date, and not supported by contemporary evidence.

Frank Gaebelein, an eminently qualified author and general editor of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, has remarked that “the attitude of suspended judgment toward Bible difficulties … is constantly being vindicated, as archaeology has solved one Biblical problem after another, and as painstaking re-examination of discrepancies has finally led to answers” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 1979, Vol. 1, p. 31).

As eminent archaeologist Nelson Glueck concluded: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper valuation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries” (Rivers in the Desert: A History of the Negev, 1959, p. 31).

Archaeology will never convince you that God exists. It will also not convince you that Jesus was His son and walked this earth. What it may do though is help us to understand that the Bible has more validity than some would have us believe. It has an historically correct context. It fit’s in with historical evidence and repeated new findings. You would have thought that by now if these were made up accounts by lots of different people that evidence would have come to light of mistakes made in their historical context. The more we dig up from the past the more evidence is found to corroborate Biblical events not the other way around.

I leave you with a table taken from the New International Bible of major Biblical events and archaeological evidence that has been found to back them up.

Israel

Herod’s temple Jerusalem Lk 1:9
Herod’s winter palace Jericho Mt 2:4
The Herodium
(possible site of Herod’s tomb)
Near Bethlehem Mt 2:19
Masada Southwest of Dead Sea cf. Lk 21:20
Early synagogue Capernaum Mk 1:21
Pool of Siloam Jerusalem Jn 9:7
Pool of Bethesda Jerusalem Jn 5:2
Pilate inscription Caesarea Lk 3:1
Inscription:
Gentile entrance of temple sanctuary
Jerusalem Ac 21:27-29
Skeletal remains of crucified man Jerusalem Lk 23:33
Peter’s house Capernaum Mt 8:14
Jacob’s well Nablus Jn 4:5-6

Asia Minor

Derbe inscription Kerti Huyuk Ac 14:20
Sergius Paulus inscription Antioch in Pisidia Ac 13:6-7
Zeus altar (Satan’s throne?) Pergamum Rev 2:13
Fourth century BC walls Assos Ac 20:13-14
Artemis temple and altar Ephesus Ac 19:27-28
Ephesian theatre Ephesus Ac 19:29
Silversmith shops Ephesus Ac 19:24
Artemis statues Ephesus Ac 19:35

Greece

Erastus inscription Corinth Ro 16:23
Synagogue inscription Corinth Ac 18:4
Meat market inscription Corinth 1 Co 10:25
Cult dining rooms
(in Asklepius and Demeter temples)
Corinth 1 Co 8:10
Court (bema) Corinth Ac 18:12
Marketplace (bema) Philippi Ac 16:19
Starting gate for races Isthmia 1 Co 9:24, 26
Gallio inscription Delphi Ac 18:12
Egnatian Way Kavalla (Neapolis), Philippi, Apollonia, Thessalonica Cf Ac 16:11-12,17:1
Politarch inscription Thessalonica Ac 17:6

Italy

Tomb of Augustus Rome Lk 2:1
Mamertime Prison Rome 2 Ti 1:16-17, 2:9,4:6-8
Appian Way Puteoli to Rome Ac 28:13-16
Golden House of Nero Rome Cf Ac 25:10; 1 Pe 2:13
Arch of Titus Rome Cf Lk 19:43-44,21:6, 20