Friday, September 30, 2011

Christianity 101 - Bible

The Bible is the most important document ever written. More copies of it have been sold then any other book in history. However many still question its validity. While hundreds of books have been written to prove the Bible to be true. Over the next 2 blogs I will give you some evidence to back the accuracy of the Bible.

Everything else we talk about in Christianity 101 is going to be based on the Bible so we need to begin this journey of knowing what we believe with the Bible

How do we know the Bible is true?

1) The Bible says it is true

2 Timothy 3:16,17

16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Matthew 24:35 Jesus words

35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

In the Old Testament God said this about the stability and consistency of His word.

Isaiah 59:21

21“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

But it is kind of rough to say the scripture is true because it says that it is! If you are a believer that is enough but what do we say to our skeptic friends? What do you say when you are having a hard time believing scripture?

2) Manuscript evidence

-these are recorded written items that prove the Bible

First, there are 5,366 copies of assorted manuscripts of our New Testament. Dating from as early as the 2nd century all the way until the 5th century, of which there is a 99.5% accurate to the original. Those inaccuracies are nothing that would affect the original intent (mainly things like misspellings of names and places and word order i.e. Jesus Christ is the savior of the whole world, Christ Jesus is the savior of the whole world, Jesus Christ the savior of the whole world)

That is more manuscript evidence than there is for any other ancient document.

Which includes even things like the writings of Plato (7 manuscripts), Homer’s Iliad (643 manuscripts), the stories of Cesar (10 manuscripts) and Alexander the great. It is also more manuscript evidence than we have for the declaration of Independence.

In addition if we took the writings of just 7 of the early church fathers

Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Eusebius.

These men were alive between 150 and 200 AD. 86,000 exact verse quotations from the New Testament were in their writings. (there are only roughly 8000 verses in the New Testament)

In fact even if we did not have all of the manuscript evidence we could reconstruct the New Testament with all but 11 verses just based on the information from these early church Fathers.

Information that verifies the Bible was spoken of and recorded in the writings of non-Christian writers of the era

1. Flavius Josephus (AD 37?-101?, a Jewish historian) mentions John the Baptist and Herod - Antiquities, Book 18, ch. 5, par. 2
A. "Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness."

2. Flavius Josephus (AD 37?-101?) mentions Jesus - Antiquities, Book 18, ch. 3, par. 3.
A. Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, (9) those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; (10) as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

3. Flavius Josephus (AD 37?-101?) mentions James, the brother of Jesus - Antiquities, Book 20, ch. 9.

4. Flavius Josephus (AD 37?-101?) mentions Ananias the High Priest who was mentioned in Acts 23:2

5. Tacitus (A.D. c.55-A.D. c.117, Roman historian) mentions "Christus" who is Jesus - Annals 15.44
A. "Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular."
i. Ref. from

6. Thallus (Circa AD 52, eclipse of the sun) Thallus wrote a history of the Eastern Mediterranean world from the Trojan War to his own time. His writings are only found as citations by others. Julius Africanus, who wrote about AD 221, mentioned Thallus' account of an eclipse of the sun that had taken place at Jesus crucifixtion.
A. "On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun."
i. Is this a reference to the eclipse at the crucifixion? Luke 23:44-45, "And it was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 the sun being obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two."

7. The oddity is that Jesus' crucifixion occurred at the Passover which was a full moon. It is not possible for a solar eclipse to occur at a full moon. Note that Julius Africanus draws the conclusion that Thallus' mentioning of the eclipse was describing the one at Jesus' crucifixion.

8. Pliny the Younger mentioned Christ. Pliny was governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. Pliny wrote ten books. The tenth around AD 112.
A. "They (the Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food but food of an ordinary and innocent kind."

9. The Talmud
A. "On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, "He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf." But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!"
i. Gal. 3:13, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."
ii. Luke 22:1-2, "Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. 2And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people."
iii. This quotation was taken from the reading in The Babylonian Talmud, transl. by I. Epstein (London: Soncino, 1935), vol. III, Sanhedrin 43a, p. 281 as cited in Habermas, Gary R., The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ, (Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company) 1996.

In my next blog we will look at some archeological evidence. Once again these are by no means an exhaustive proof of the Bible but will give you something to think about.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Christianity 101 - God part 3

We have talked about the basics of who God is and his character but if we look further into the Bible we see how the names of God give us a better idea of his nature. So here we go with the final part of Christianity 101 - God

God has many names – Jehovah’s witnesses believe his name is only Jehovah but in truth the name Jehovah is not in the original text. YHWH is the name in the text and Jehovah is a transliteration of that name.

Some of the names of God

YHWH - YHWH is the Hebrew word for Lord used 7000 times in the Old Testament literally translated “I am”
YHWH Elohim - LORD God: (Genesis 2:4).
YHWH M'kadesh - The LORD Who Makes Holy: (Ezekiel 37:28).
YHWH Yireh - The LORD Who Sees/provides: (Genesis 22:14).
YHWH Nissi - The LORD My Banner: (Exodus 17:15).
YHWH Shalom - The LORD Of Peace: (Judges 6:24).
YHWH Tzidkaynu - The LORD Our Righteousness: (Jeremiah 33:16).
YHWH O'saynu - The LORD our Maker: (Psalm 95:6).
Elohim – used 2300 times in the Bible. The first name of God in scripture. Comes from the Hebrew root meaning "strength" or "power".
El - is the simple form arising from Elohim, and is often combined with other words for descriptive emphasis.
El HaNe'eman - The Faithful God: (Deuteronomy 7:9).
El HaGadol - The Great God: (Deuteronomy 10:17).
El HaKadosh - The Holy God: (Isaiah 5:16).
El Yisrael - The God Of Israel: (Psalm 68:35).
El HaShamayim - The God Of The Heavens: (Psalm 136:26).
El De'ot - The God Of Knowledge: (1 Samuel 2:3).
El Emet - The God Of Truth: (Psalm 31:6).
El Yeshuati - The God Of My Salvation: (Isaiah 12:2).
El Elyon - The Most High God: (Genesis 14:18).
Immanu El - God Is With Us: (Isaiah 7:14).
El Olam - The God Of Eternity (Genesis 21:33).
El Echad - The One God: (Malachi 2:10).

Some of the character traits and attributes of God according to His Word

God Is One – Deuteronomy 6:4; Triune God in one person
God is Spirit – John 4:24
God Is Light – 1 John 1:5
God Is Love – 1 John 4:8-16
God Is the Creator – Isaiah 40:12-26
God Is Infinite – Jeremiah 23:24; Psalm 147:5;
God Is Perfect – 1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 139
God is Unequaled – Isaiah 40:13-25
God Is Without Limit – 1 Kings 8:27; Jeremiah 23:23-24
God Is The Almighty One – Revelation 1:8, Revelation 4:8
God Is Most Wise – Romans 16:27; Jude 25
God Is Most Holy – Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8
God Is Gracious – Exodus 33:19; 1 Peter 2:3
God Works According To The Counsel Of His Own Will – Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28
God Is Merciful – Exodus 34:6; Psalm 67:1; James 5:11
God Hates Sin – Psalm 5:5-6; Habakkuk 1:13
God Abounds In Goodness - Psalm 31:19; Psalm 52:1; Romans 11:22
God Is Forgiving – Daniel 9:9; Ephesians 1:7; Psalm 86:5
God Rewards Those Who Diligently Seek Him – Hebrews 11:6
God Is Just In All His Judgments – Nehemiah 9:32-33; 2 Thessalonians 1:6
God Is Long-suffering – Psalm 86:15; 2 Peter 3:15
God Loves His Elect – Ephesians 1:2-8; Ephesians 2:4-9; Revelation 1:5, Revelation 21:3-4

We must understand about our Father, God that:

1) He can not be seen (that is Jesus’ job in the trinity Colossians 1:15) John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (also 1 Tim1:17) BUT MOSES saw him face to face the Hebrew implication is not the visible site of God but becoming intimately acquainted.
2) He is our Father – 223 times God is mentioned as “Father” in the new Testament. Matthew 6:9 “Our Father who is” John 14:6 -13 Jesus calls God “Father” 11 times
3) He is triune – Father, Son and Holy Spirit
4) He longs for relationship with His people – John 3:16; Jeremiah 31:3

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Christianity 101 - God part 2

This is part 2 of Christianity 101 - God explaining the basics of what we need to understand about God.

We must define what we believe about God so we are not confused by all the confused and mixed messages we receive in our culture.

The God of Hinduism, Buddhism, New age focused in the movie Avatar is all of nature, man, animals God is all and all is God. If God and man are the same then God sins when man sins. God can reveal himself through nature, (immanent) but is transcendent. In other words he is above it.
He is the creator and authored all of nature yet at will he can defy natural law (stop the sun from setting, bring water from a rock)

Isaiah 57:15 shows us both his both being above everything yet willing to be with us.
For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
“I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.

We must understand that the God of the Bible has no limitations but also chooses to have relationship with us.

God is omnipotent (all powerful) – He is all powerful there is nothing He can not do, except violate his own nature (he can not lie)

- Jeremiah 32:17, 27
17: Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,
27: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
- Luke 1:37
“For nothing will be impossible with God.”
- Matthew 19:26
And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

God is omniscient (all knowing)

- 1 John 3:19,20 - We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
- Hebrews 4:13 - And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
- Proverbs 15:3 - The eyes of the LORD are in every place,
Watching the evil and the good.

God is omnipresent (every where)

- Psalm 139:7-10 - Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
- Jeremiah 23:23,24 - “Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “And not a God far off? “Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the LORD. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD.

God is eternal – He has no beginning and He has no end – Mormons believe God is a created being, created by other gods. They believe that God is an enlightened human of flesh and bone. He is not eternal, matter is eternal and “Father God” was created by some other God from this eternal matter

- Deuteronomy 33:27 - The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
- Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
- Jeremiah10:10 But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation.

God is unchangeable – Muslim believe who can know God. He is always changing he can decide rather fickle way, who makes it into paradise and who does not. It is on his whim. Our God is consistent in nature and character and you can count on it.
- Malachi 3:6a - “For I, the LORD, do not change;
- James 1:17 - Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Christianity 101 - God

Back in the blog world!

I thought I would revisit a topic that needs to be solid in our hearts and minds in order to be a believer. This is Part 1 of Christianity 101 - God

We believe in one God, eternally existent in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These were present on the earth at one time during the baptism of Jesus.

Luke 3:22.

22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

What we believe about God defines us!
- If we believe he is vengeful and wrathful we will be afraid
- If we believe Him to be inconsistent then we will be confused
- If we believe He loves then we feel secure.
Is there a God?

Answer the question do you exist? If you exist then there are only two possibilities either you have always existed or you were created.

Things to think about

1) Our Milkyway galaxy is moving at the same relative speed as all other galaxies in the universe. All galaxies are moving relative to each other. Their movement has a very distinct pattern which causes the distance between the galaxies to get greater with every passing day. Points A, B, and C If they continue to do this the universe continues to expand. Reverse the process and what happens they all originate from the same point a beginning. If there is a beginning then there must have been a start or a creation and if there was a creation then there must be a creator. The universe is expanding more quickly each day so other theories of the universe oscillating or pulsating can not be

2) Energy to fuel the universe - the theory is that matter always has been forever eternally. Our sun compresses, every second 564 million tons of hydrogen into 560 million tons of helium leaving 4 million tons of matter released as energy. Only 2% of our sun’s energy has been exhausted. Leaving 98% still in tack for future release as energy. If you leave Belle Vernon with a full tank of gas you will run out of gas by the time you get to DC. You will have consumed all of your fuel. The same with the universe if it has been existent forever far more than 2% of the sun’s fuel should have been consumed. Lets say there are 25 quintillion stars all consuming hydrogen for eternity past don’t you think that would use a little more than 2% of all the hydrogen in the universe

3) 2nd law of thermodynamics: in a closed system, things run down. In other words everything gets old, your brand new car in 10 years is run down. According to atheist and humanist matter/energy are eternally existent and there is no loss. There is no loss so there can be no rundown, burn out. Their theory of no loss is defeated by a scientifically proven law which proves loss.

If as each of these things suggest there was a beginning then there was a creation, if there was a creation then there was a creator, God.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How do should we respond to 9/11

Everywhere you turn, being the 10th anniversary of 9/11 there are stories, discussions, and general chatter about 9/11.

How do you feel about it? When you see the images do you remember the fear and unimaginable confusion of that day? Do you remember the courage and “can do” attitude of all those who struggles to get to freedom and those who aided in their rescue?

That day I watched the first plane hit on the replay of Good Morning America then watched live, the second plane hit as they were reporting about the first. I wasn’t fearful but determined. People were going to be afraid and they needed to know that God will give us peace in the storm and hope in the hopeless situation. I went to the television station and immediately went on air with a “prayer alert”. For the next four days, I was on air almost constantly giving reports of hope and life and lifting prayers for the traumatized, wounded, and fearful. We were a communications hub for the nation; many stations both Christian and secular were carrying our signal that week looking for answers and hope in the middle of the tragedy. It was tough, it was tiring, but it was Jesus’ hands extended.

As Christians, our job is to be the calm in the storm, the light on the hill, the hope in despair. We might not have the time to focus on our personal needs because we are busy “laying our lives down for our friends”. September 11, 2001 was a very scary day, but it was not scary for God. His heart broke as men in the name of some other god, took the lives of over 3000 people that day. The Muslim clerics proclaim those that would do this have hijacked their faith. I question their sincerity of that belief; we don’t hear their voices condemning these and all the other acts of violence and terrorism done in the name of their god.

How should we react to such violence? I am afraid in some ways we have acted just like the terrorist. Abu Ghraib prison incidents, torture for information, and the dehumanization of our culture through fear and xenophobia are not the answers. The terrorists who are doing this are pawns of a much greater deception. This battle is a spiritual one of which I believe America has failed. It is the truth that sets men and women free.

We must be wise as a nation and protect our people from further attacks and I am grateful for those who have laid down their lives to do just that however our motivation must not be fear but resolve. The keys to defeating terrorism are found in the Bible.

First it is perfect love that overcomes fear, not torture and more violence. Don’t get me wrong; our government is tasked with the job, according to Romans 13, to protect the people We can’t protect or live in, fear. Because we love, we protect.

We are called to care for the poor. Many believe that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of homosexuality but Ezekiel tells us they were destroyed because of the lack of care for the poor. Many in the countries were the terrorist are based are extremely poor and they are taught that American is a selfish and whoring nation, full of all kinds of filth. We must teach them differently.

The greatest job we need to resolve to accomplish is sharing the truth. People perish for a lack of knowledge, Hosea writes. Many men, women, and children are sacrificing themselves in the name of a god who they do not know and for a cause that leads them to hopelessness. We have the truth, Jesus is the truth, and we must do a better job of sharing that truth. The truth is, Jesus Christ is Lord and God. He is alive! He is a miracle working God.

There have been times I have been grieved by the American church’s reaction. I was grieved in 2000 when Y2K was going to hit that people were hoarding food and guns to protect themselves. It is OK to set aside food for the future but bare in mind, it is all God’s so if someone comes to your table in need you give. Jesus said that, it is part of being His disciple. Muslims need to know the real Jesus, not the one their leaders have told them about. If we live in fear, perhaps their god is greater! If we hoard, perhaps their god is better, or perhaps we don’t really know our God and should get to know Him better.

Where are you with your relationship with the Lord? Are you living in fear, anxiety, anger, or bitterness? None of these are part of the fruit of God’s Spirit they are fruit of the flesh. 9/11 was a horrible day but with each storm we can bring peace for every hopeless situation we can bring hope. Allow that to be your testimony to 9/11.