Why is the Bible true whether you believe it or not?

Why is the Bible true whether you believe it or not?

The Apostle Paul, wrote to Timothy, a missionary partner who, at the time, was the leading pastor in the Asia Minor city of Ephesus. In his letter, Paul was providing guidance for leadership and reminded Timothy of the importance of The Bible as God’s inspired Word.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16,17

Because God is the source of all truths, and it is His inspired Word, the Bible is true whether you believe it or not. You can look at it this way. The law of gravity is true. Your belief in that truth will not change how gravity affects you and everything else in the universe. Gravity does not depend upon your belief to make it true. 

The Apostle John describes Jesus as the living Word of God just as Paul explained that the Bible was the written Word of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5

One’s personal belief does not alter the truth. Jesus, God’s son, makes a claim about truth that requires every man, woman and child to make an existential, eternal decision. Jesus said:

“I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” 

John 14:6

Further proof that the Bible is true is that it contains prophecies about the future which have turned out in every case to be true. How is that possible you might ask? Consider the fact that God exists outside of time and space and therefore sees human history as if it’s already complete. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament there are prophecies about future events which have or will come true. So the question for you to answer is, “Do you believe that the Bible is true and will you put your trust in its author, God, and accept His offer of grace, redemption and salvation in Jesus Christ?

When you genuinely seek God’s truth from his inspired living Word, the Bible, you will know the truth that will set you free to be all God created you to be. If you haven’t already taken advantage of the true gift of life that God offers, we encourage you to read our blogpost: How does one become a Christian?

We trust that you will make this decision today since no one knows if they will have tomorrow.

Did God create everything?

Did God create everything?

A youngster asked this question recently at Vacation Bible School. The teacher passed it along to us. The question is simple, the answer is far more complex. Here, the definition of “everything” is all-important. So let’s start at the beginning. Out of nothing, God created the universe and all the matter that is within it. From that matter, God created every atom, every molecule of everything that exists, from galaxies and solar systems to sub-atomic particles. From microscopic viruses to the Antarctica blue whale that can weigh as much as 33 elephants.

God also created the mechanisms for the creative process to continue. Genetics is the study of just such a creative process whereby life is perpetuated. Wind and water continuously sculpt our planet creating beatuiful vistas and provide waterways that allow our planet to fluorish. But it is in mankind that we see the greatest of God’s creation. The Bible tells us that God made man in His image. Philosophers and theologians have discussed and debated what that means for millennia, but as God has revealed himself in the Bible we get a pretty good understanding of what this means.

God the father lives in perfect communion with Jesus (God’s son) and the Holy Spirit. In that relationship we see boundless love, unbridled creativity, and unity of purpose. That purpose is to create relationships in which all men and women live in harmony with one another and with God himself. Love is the glue that binds those relationships. Creativity is what allows men to build houses and cars and computers. It’s what has allowed men to light up the night, control indoor climates, reduce the burdens of work, improve communications, and develop systems and programs to pass along knowledge and wisdom.

So, did God create everything? Indirectly, yes. But from the time he created men and women, he has equipped them to carry on the creative process. Have they always used that creativity for the betterment of this world? unfortunately, not. As humans we have often squandered our creative inclinations, creating instruments of war, despoiling the very earth over which man was given dominion, and destroying relationships with our cleverness, self-centeredness, deceit, and lack of self-control.

God created a perfect world and one day he will return to restore that perfection. When he does, there will be a reckoning because sin cannot coexist with perfection. Are you prepared to have an encounter with the creator of everything? If not, you may want to read our May 5th blogpost: How does one become a Christian?

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Why are there so many versions or translations of the Bible? If it’s God’s word, why not only one?

Why are there so many versions or translations of the Bible? If it’s God’s word, why not only one?

  The Bible is made up of 66 writings (called books) penned by men over a span of many hundreds of years. Theologians and historians affirm that God inspired the writers and that what we read today is what God wants us to know about Him, his personality, his creation, and his plan for the world. It is also about his love of humans He made in His image, and His plan for redemption for the billions of men and women, who, through the millennia have turned their backs on God. So, is the Bible the Word of God? Yes and No.

When Paul the Apostle of Jesus wrote to his disciple, Timothy, he made clear that:

All Scripture is God-breathed (or inspired) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

2 Timothy 3:16

Paul is not saying that God dictated every word, but rather that He inspired the men who wrote it and copied it that we might be able to access the inspired scriptures 2000 years after the life of Jesus. The books of the Bible contain poetry, historical records, prophecy and letters that teach, admonish and encourage believers.  These books were originally written down in ancient languages, including Hebrew and Greek, and later translated into Latin and many of the world’s languages. These original books were written down over the course of 1,900 years.  The last of the books, God’s Revelation to John near the end of the first century of the Christian Era. 

An early translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) into Greek is know as the Septuagint. It was made for Greek-speaking Jews in Egypt in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC and adopted by the early Christian Churches. As languages changed, newer versions replaced older ones to ensure that the translation accurately conveyed the message of the original language.

Today, scholars are continually researching original manuscripts, many that predate the ones used for previous translations. They also study modern language and then create translations that they believe help the reader understand what had been originally written. Since many words in Hebrew and Greek don’t have exact parallels in English, scholars try to choose the best combination of words for the translation. In addition, since Hebrew and Greek sentence structure is different from English (and many other languages), translators have to take into account how to structure the translation to best capture the meaning of the original. Finally, translators think about the people who will be reading their work and may simplify or add clarity by introducing words not in the original.

Below are two verses from the Gospel of Mark — 5:22 and 23. These give an account of a Jewish official named Jairus who approaches Jesus with a request that Jesus heal Jairus’ daughter. The first paragraph is in the original Greek with the literal translation of each word interspersed. When you read it, you will see that the English is hard to understand.

καὶ  And  ἔρχεται  comes  εἷς  one  τῶν  of the  ἀρχισυναγώγων  synagogue rulers  ὀνόματι  named  Ἰάϊρος  Jairus  καὶ  and  ἰδὼν  having seen  αὐτὸν  Him  πίπτει  falls  πρὸς  at  τοὺς  the  πόδας  feet  αὐτοῦ  of Him  καὶ  and  παρακαλεῖ  he begs   αὐτὸν  Him  πολλὰ  much λέγων  saying  ὅτι  Τὸ  The  θυγάτριόν  little daughter μου  of me  ἐσχάτως  at the end  ἔχει  is holding  ἵνα  that  ἐλθὼν  having come  ἐπιθῇς  You would lay  τὰς  the  χεῖρας  hands  αὐτῇ  on her  ἵνα  so that σωθῇ   she might be cured  καὶ  and  ζήσῃ she shall live

When an English translation was prepared at the request of King James and published in 1611, the translation was in the vernacular of the day, and as you can read, it can be a challenge to a modern reader:

And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. (King James Version)

A popular modern version of the Bible, that closely adheres to the rules of translation, helps today’s reader better understand the story. It was translated by an esteemed team of scholars:

Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” (New International Version)

Another modern translation, also done from original manuscripts by a team of highly-acclaimed Bible scholars seeks to stay true to the original text, but present it in language easily understandable to readers in the twenty-first century:

Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” (English Standard Version)

Departing from the strict rules of translation, The Message takes the ideas in the original Greek and restates them in the vernacular of the day.

One of the meeting-place leaders named Jairus came. When he saw Jesus, he fell to his knees, beside himself as he begged, “My dear daughter is at death’s door. Come and lay hands on her so she will get well and live.” (Message)

Compare that to a translation by a single scholar, Robert Young, in 1862 who created a literal word-for-word translation using language that was popular in his day, but is out of favor today:

and lo, there doth come one of the chiefs of the synagogue, by name Jairus, and having seen him, he doth fall at his feet, and he was calling upon him much, saying — `My little daughter is at the last extremity — that having come, thou mayest lay on her [thy] hands, so that she may be saved, and she shall live; (Youngs Literal Translation)

As you can see, all of the translations help us understand the encounter between Jairus and Jesus, but each has its place in communicating to specific audiences at different times and in different places. None claim to be words dictated to the authors or translators by God. All strive, however, to convey the inspired words of God contained in the original manuscripts.  

Truth, what is it? Can it be found? Are there Objective Truths?

Truth, what is it? Can it be found? Are there Objective Truths?

Let’s begin answering this three-part question by defining truth. Truth is an assertion that can be proven through measurement. It is true, for example, that a cup can hold tea. We can prove the assertion by pouring tea into a cup and noting that it stays in the cup. Truth can also be an assertion or belief that cannot be falsified or one that is supported by a preponderance of evidence. Though no one living has seen or talked with Julius Caeser, we accept as true that he lived, ruled and was murdered because we have copies of writings of people who lived at the time of Caeser. In the same way, we know about Jesus of Nazareth because of the written and oral testimony of his contemporaries.

Finding truth can be a bit more complex especially as it relates to the great questions about life and death, why we can think and feel and love and communicate, and why the world is as it is. We’re going to present several ways that you can begin to understand some of the greatest truths in the universe. Let’s begin with nature.

God uses creation to reveal two basic truths: 1) that there is a God; and 2)that He is all powerful. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul, an apostle of Jesus, wrote: “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20). He’s saying that there any observer of nature can plainly see that only God–a brilliant designer and all-powerful builder could have created it. PauI also explained that some people chose not to accept this basic truth and will “[change] the truth of God into a lie.” Romans 1:18, 26. And for that, there will be harsh consequences.

Of course, the primary way to find God’s truth is by reading the Bible. However, God is a concealer as we learn from conveyor of wisdom who penned these words more than 2500 years ago: “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” (Prov. 25:2) Why would he do that?  Typically, the truth is concealed from those persons who don’t want to listen to the truth and have hardened their hearts against it. For example, parables were used by Jesus, the Christ (Messiah or Anointed One) for the purpose of concealing truth and preventing understanding. (Matt. 13:13-15.) So, the best way to find truth is to allow the Holy Spirit to teach it to you.

The Holy Spirit will “guide” you into all truth. (John 15:26, 16:13 “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father even the Spirit of truth …When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” His guidance is not only as to Biblical truth, but to all truth. If  something is true, he will reveal it to you as being true. If something is false, he will show you that it is not true. Quietly listening to this Holy Spirit, who dwells within those who are God’s children, often brings to mind the very truths for which we are searching.

Are there objective truths? Yes. Objective truth is factual. It matches up with reality. For example, the Bible explains the location of God’s temple at the time of Christ, to be in Jerusalem. That is factual. The law of gravity is objective Truth. It is not dependent on subjective opinion. There can only be one objective truth. It can’t be “your truth” vs. “my truth.” Subjective truth, on the other hand, is rooted in the opinions of each individual and therefore may not be truth at all.

For a believer who wants to know God’s truth, he or she should start with the Bible. The Bible is a collection of 66 documents or books written through the divine inspiration of God over the course of 1500 years and preserved and translated in most of the world’s languages. Asking the Holy Spirit to open up one’s spiritual eyes, a believer will discover that Bible contains wisdom for living and an understanding of the promise of eternal life with God once he or she experiences physical death.

A believer will discover that Biblical truth is best revealed when he or she:

1.) Is spiritually healthy with no unconfessed sin;

2.) Has, to the best of his or her ability, put aside evil practices, 1Peter 2:1-2; Eph. 4:31; and Col.3:8-9; 3.)

3.) Reads with a desire to do so in order to grow up spiritually, 1Tim. 2:1; the Bible is the believer’s spiritual food: bread (Matt. 4:4), apples (Prov. 25:11), honey (Ps.19:10), meat (Heb. 5:12) and milk (1Pet. 2:2) .

4.) Prays for understanding, Ps. 119:18, 34;

5.) Trusts God to give understanding, Prov. 22:17-21 “ … written to thee … that I might make known the certainty of the Words of truth.”

6.) Believes what is read, Ps.119:160;

7.) Approaches the Word with humility; 

8.) Does not try to change what is read; For example, don’t add words to the scripture, don’t leave out words, and stay in the context;

9.) Meditates on it, think on it, day and night, Ps. 1:2, Ps. 119:15; 10.) Study it, 2Tim. 2:15; and 11.) Find from the Word itself how to understand it;

a. By comparing spiritual ideas, 1Cor. 2:12-13;

b. By dividing the Word into separate parts for further understanding, 2Tim. 2:15;

c. By determining who is speaking; for example, in the Psalms we see David speaking for himself and then David switches to speaking for the Lord, Ps. 18:20, 22-25; and

d. By studying similitudes (similarities, likeness, resemblance), Hosea 12:10; by studying contrasts (differences), Amos 3:3 .

 God’s Truths are factual and match up with reality. Creation is one of the greatest truths of the Bible. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis1 and Romans 1:20) In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. In this case the Word refers to Jesus (John 1:1). Finally, Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life no one comes to the Father but by me.” Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus? If not, why not? He is the only way to eternal life and His Word is Truth, God’s Truth. Today is the day of decision .

What is Repentance? Why is it Important?

What is Repentance? Why is it Important?

Repentance is the desire to turn away from sin and restore one’s relationship with God. Repentance is a decision of the mind and the heart from a genuine sorrow over sin. It is an initial first step when a person decides to put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is not necessarily a one-time event. In fact, it is an ongoing process after a person has been saved or born-again and becomes a new creation in Christ.

(Romans 10:9&10) Why is this true? It is true because we still have a sin nature and do sin from time to time. So, in order to keep openness and joy in our personal relationship with Jesus and experience peace with God we need to repent. Repentance clears away any barriers that can inhibit a truthful dialogue and intimate personal conversation with God. That communication is called prayer and we offer our prayers in Jesus’ name because he is the only advocate and intercessor for humans with God.

John, one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus, expressed this clearly in a letter he wrote near the end of his life.

“If we confess our sins, Jesus is faithful to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

This confession is the way we clean our hearts and our minds before God much in the same way as we keep our bodies clean by washing them regularly. But the idea of repentance goes beyond confession. It incorporates the idea of turning around and walking in the other direction. Once we confess our sins, we also ask God to help us avoid sinning in that way again. As we continue our conversations with God (prayer) and allow His spirit to guide our paths we will discover that resisting temptation and turning from sin becomes progressively easier. In other words, sin loses its power over us. Our conscience is the best indicator of this transformation.

Conscience – Your Mind’s Partner

Your conscience is an essential component of being created in God’s image. The conscience is present in every human being from birth. It is the soul’s warning system, which allows human beings to contemplate their motives and actions and make moral decisions/evaluations of what is right and what is wrong. It allows and it enables a person to discern between good and evil, fact and fiction, truth and opinion and what is real and what is not .

The conscience is a companion of the mind and the heart in the soul of every person. The conscience must be informed to the highest moral and spiritual standard, which only happens when it is submitted to the control of the Holy Spirit through knowing God’s Word. The conscience plays an important roll in developing a Biblical worldview. God’s Holy Spirit is the agent that opens the conscience to truth .

(Source- John McArthur Bible Commentary, Page 1617)

Having clean minds and clean hearts is what God wants for all his children. Remember only those who have trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior are God’s children. Are you a child of God? If you’d like to learn more about how you can become part of God’s family, read our answer to the question: How does One Become a Christian?

What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

Unlike the fruits of the spirit such as love, joy, peace, gentleness, and goodness, which are compact, and point to examples of Christian character to be emulated, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are specialized, foundational skills that God in his infinite wisdom gifts to select children of God for whom he has a special calling. An example would be prophecy.

Guidance on these gifts and how they are given is found in first Corinthians 12:4-11.

There are a diversity of gifts. The manifestation of the Spirit given to each one for the profit or benefit of all: for one there is the word of wisdom… to another the word of knowledge… to another the gifts of healings… the working of miracles. In addition to these, there are the gifts of compassion, helps, administration, hospitality, teaching and even speaking in tongues for a few. One and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing each one individually as He wills.

Finally, the purpose of spiritual gifts is to build up the church as Christ’s body on earth. So, spiritual gifts are actually given for the common good of the church. To thrive, the church needs many attributes just like the human body requires many attributes to function effectively. God in his infinite wisdom gives different people special spiritual gifts at certain times so that the church can complete its mission before Jesus returns.

Jesus is coming back for his church. Are you ready? Do you know Him? Jesus is the only way to heaven and eternal life. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Christ-follower, check out my May 5th post: How does One become a Christian. I also encourage you to consider these passages of scripture:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

1 John 5:11-12

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