“The Lord says . . .”

bible3.jpgIs the Bible the Word of God?

The Bible directly quotes God roughly 3,000 times and the New Testament writers quote the Old Testament as the word of God 320 times.  Keep in mind that some of those references covered passages of scripture and not just one verse.

Also, Jesus claimed to be God, so all the “red letters” would be Biblical claims to be the Word of God.  And roughly 10% of the red letters quote the black letters.  As noted in “What did Jesus think of the Old Testament,” the references Jesus made to the Old Testament were varied and often cited the most controversial parts – Satan, Noah, Jonah, Sodom, etc.  Jesus made zero corrections to the Old Testament, and He quoted from the Pentateuch (the first five books), Psalms, Jonah and others.  He even said:

Matthew 5:17-18 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

I did some searches in my Bible software on a few phrases to see how many times they occurred.  There were so many that I got tired after a while.  Watch for them when you read the Bible.  It is really quite amazing.

  • The Lord says 198
  • The Lord said 301
  • The word of the Lord 239
  •  . . . declares the Lord 266
  •  . . . oracle 47
  • I am the Lord 158
  • Lord instructed 3
  • Lord commanded 117
  • Lord had commanded 24
  • the Lord gave this command 1
  • Lord gave 42
  • Lord told 10
  • Lord has told 4
  • Says the Lord 103
  • The Lord almighty says 47
  • Says the Lord almighty 31
  • The Lord almighty, the God of Israel says 1
  • Lord spoke 25
  • Lord revealed 1
  • Lord then said 1
  • Lord answered 23
  • God said 54
  • Lord had said 31
  • Lord replied 11
  • Holy one of Israel says 2
  • Lord called 14

Then, of course, there is 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (Yes, I know some people think that doesn’t apply to the New Testament.  I’ll address that in another post.)  And Peter referred to Paul’s writings as scripture.

So the Bible makes an extraordinary amount of claims to be the Word of God and that it was transmitted to us accurately.

What’s the point?

Now before any skeptics or Liberal Theologians choke on their own rage yelling, “circular reference!,” let me point out that I’m not referring to these as my only proof that the Bible is God’s Word.  I understand that claiming that the Bible is God’s Word because it says it is God’s Word wouldn’t be an adequate argument.  We have other evidence for it being God’s Word.

Still, there are a couple important points one can draw from this huge amount of references.

If the Bible is God’s Word then wouldn’t you expect it to make that claim?  In fact, if it didn’t make that claim wouldn’t you view that as a reason for it not being God’s word?  And if it said it wasn’t God’s word then it obviously wouldn’t be God’s word.  So the claims to be God’s word are a sort of necessary occurrence.

The second and main point of this post is only for Christians who claim the Bible isn’t all inspired by God, or that it was just what the Jews and Christians thought God was saying, or that it is somehow incomplete.

If you really think the Bible has upwards of 3,000 errors / lies in it, why pick it up?

How do you discern which parts belong there and which do not?  You appear to believe in Leopard Theology, where the Bible is only inspired in spots and that you are inspired to spot the spots, or Advanced Leopard Theology, where God is also changing spots and adding/removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.

Why should I trust your “inspiration” more than I trust the writings of the Apostles or their close companions, especially considering that every word they wrote has been scrutinized by believers and non-believers for 2,000 years?  Why should I trust your views when you deny many of the essentials of the faith and often claim that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection aren’t necessary for people to be reconciled to God or to go to Heaven?

The Gospels and the rest of the New Testament make multiple warnings about sound doctrine and Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their false doctrines.  And sound doctrine is found in the Word of God.  Otherwise, what doctrines were the writers referring to?

From beginning to end, the Bible claims to be the Word of God.  Is believing that a requirement for salvation?  No.  The criminal on the cross wasn’t a Bible scholar but he went to Heaven because he put his faith in Jesus.

But how even marginally educated Christians can hold a view other than the Bible being the Word of God is beyond me.  The educated theological liberals who deny God’s word tip their hands that their beliefs are really just politics disguised as religion.  I love Charles Spurgeon’s comment about these types and how he has “no more faith in their mercy than in their accuracy.”

Authentic believers are expected to trust that it is the word of God:

1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

Read it and enjoy it, knowing that the original writings turned out just as God and the human writers desired and that they have been accurately transmitted to us.  It will accomplish all that God promised it would.

Isaiah 55:10-11 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Ahab repented. Jezebel didn’t.

If you’ve read the Old Testament — and all of you should have! — you’ll recall the pattern of the seemingly countless evil kings, especially in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel*, were over-the-top evil.  Here’s a sample:

1 Kings 16:30–33 30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. 31 And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. 32 He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. 

Then consider this message from Elijah:

1 Kings 21:20–29 (ESV) 20 Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord. 21 Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. 22 And I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin. 23 And of Jezebel the Lord also said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.’ 24 Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat.”

That sound severe, but fair (especially if you read the rest of the passages about this fun couple).  So Ahab is really going to get it, right?  Not exactly.

Ahab’s Repentance

25 (There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. 26 He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the people of Israel.)

27 And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. 28 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.”

Wait a minute — this guy is the most evil king ever, and by repenting for 15 minutes God lets him off the hook?  Where is the “mean and vengeful” Old Testament God I’ve been hearing so much about?  Note that I’m not necessarily saying that Ahab is in Heaven.  The text isn’t completely clear on that.  But God did withhold that judgment when Ahab repented.

But did Jezebel repent?  No.  She was eaten by dogs, just as predicted.

God’s grace is huge and wonderful, but you must repent.  If you haven’t done so already, I recommend doing it now.  And read all of God’s word.  You never know what you’ve been missing.

* As my youngest daughter likes to note, it is too bad that Jezebel was so spectacularly evil.  It would have made a really pretty name for a girl.

How many translations did your Bible go through?

bible5.gifOne (1). 

Really. Just one time from the original language to the language and version of your Bible.  The original writings were copied many times, but the Bible you hold was only translated once.   This is one of my favorite lessons in apologetics (defending the Christian faith) because it is such a simple and accurate explanation to a common and important objection.

Many people – including some Christians – are quick to say that the Bible has been translated and changed so many times over the centuries that we don’t know what the original writings said.  For example, I saw a video clip where Deepak Chopra (alleged religious expert) claims that the King James was the 13th iteration of the Bible.

But contrary to that myth, the books of the Bible have only been translated once and the copying process was very robust, dependable and verifiable.  This is an easy way to politely correct people on one of the most common errors they make, so please commit this response to memory.  I’ve used this to persuade agnostics and Mormons, among others, in literally a minute or so.  They didn’t concede that the writings were divinely inspired, but it was easy to correct them about the translation myth.

For example, Paul wrote in Greek, and we have Greek manuscripts to make translations from.  That is one translation.

Conventional wisdom: Tranlations from one language to another to another . . .

Greek original ==> Latin translation ==> other translations ==> King James version ==> English Standard Version, etc.

What actually happened

Greek original ==> copies of Greek original ==> Latin version

Greek original ==> copies of Greek original ==> King James version

Greek original ==> copies of Greek original ==> English Standard Version

Etc.

So the real issue is how accurate and reliable the copying process was.  The science of textual criticism shows that the copies of the New Testament are 99.5% accurate and that the differences are minor and have no impact on Christian theology.  Even atheist textual critics like Bart Ehrman, an “ex-Christian” who makes a living attacking Christianity, will concede that.

Regarding the Old Testament, here are some notes from the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry.  The existence of the Dead Sea Scrolls provided spectacular evidence to refute the myth that the Old Testament had been changed significantly.

The OT does not have as many supporting manuscripts as the NT but it is, nevertheless, remarkably reliable.

  1. The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew OT done around 250 B.C., attests to the reliability and consistency of the OT when it is compared to existing Hebrew manuscripts.
  2. The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 also verify the reliability of the OT manuscripts.
  3. The Dead Sea Scrolls were ancient documents that were hidden in a cave in Israel about 2000 years ago. The scrolls contained many OT books, one of them being Isaiah.
    1. Before the Dead Sea scrolls, the earliest existing manuscript of the OT was dated around 900 A.D. called the Masoretic Text. The Scrolls contained OT documents 1000 years earlier. A comparison between the manuscripts revealed an incredible accuracy of transmission through copying, so much so that critics were silenced.

In summary, the Bible you hold has only been translated once, and the copying process was very robust, dependable and verifiable. 

Also see Is the New Testament Text Reliable? and Hasn’t the Bible been rewritten so many times that we can’t trust it anymore?

This was a favorite updated for your reading pleasure.

 

Well, that didn’t last long.

I’m referring to the Isralites’ celebration and obedience after they returned from their 70 year exile and re-built the wall of Jerusalem.  In Nehemiah chapter 12 they have a major celebration:

Nehemiah 12 (ESV)  38 The other choir of those who gave thanks went to the north, and I followed them with half of the people, on the wall, above the Tower of the Ovens, to the Broad Wall, 39 and above the Gate of Ephraim, and by the Gate of Yeshanah, and by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate; and they came to a halt at the Gate of the Guard. 40 So both choirs of those who gave thanks stood in the house of God, and I and half of the officials with me; 41 and the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets; 42 and Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. 43 And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

The context here is vital, and it really sticks out when you have gone through the Old Testament chronologically, as I just finished doing.  If you read the OT straight through then Nehemiah comes before the halfway point.  But if you read it chronologically then there are only 5 chapters after it (a Psalm plus the book of Micah).  So it is basically at the end.

To reach this point you had to have read about dozens and dozens of judges and kings, most of whom were bad, the cycles of rebellion by the people (Baal worship, child sacrifice, and so much more), all the prophets warning them of doom, the Northern Kingdom taken away, then 200 years later the fall of Judah and the destruction of the temple.  The people are taken away to Babylon.  The books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and more describe in detail the grisly famine, pestilence, plague and sword that killed countless Israelites along with the humiliation of being carried away to other lands.  Pretty bleak stuff.

But after 70 years in exile they get to come back, and in miraculous fashion — just like God promised.  As Ezra and Nehemiah recount, there was great drama in King Cyrus letting the people return and in helping re-build the wall.

So in Nehemiah 12 the people celebrate.  So what happens in Nehemiah 13, roughly 15 minutes later?  Rampant disobedience: Foreigners in the temple, not paying the priests, violating the Sabbath.

Nehemiah 13 (ESV)   13 On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people. And in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, for they did not meet the people of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them—yet our God turned the curse into a blessing. As soon as the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent.

Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was related to Tobiah, prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where they had previously put the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests. While this was taking place, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I went to the king. And after some time I asked leave of the king and came to Jerusalem, and I then discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, preparing for him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I gave orders, and they cleansed the chambers, and I brought back there the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

10 I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each to his field. 11 So I confronted the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their stations. 12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. 13 And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites, and as their assistant Hanan the son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, for they were considered reliable, and their duty was to distribute to their brothers. 14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service.

15 In those days I saw in Judah people treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in heaps of grain and loading them on donkeys, and also wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of loads, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them on the day when they sold food. 16 Tyrians also, who lived in the city, brought in fish and all kinds of goods and sold them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah, in Jerusalem itself! 17 Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers act in this way, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Now you are bringing more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

19 As soon as it began to grow dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I stationed some of my servants at the gates, that no load might be brought in on the Sabbath day. 20 Then the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. 21 But I warned them and said to them, “Why do you lodge outside the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you.” From that time on they did not come on the Sabbath. 22 Then I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come and guard the gates, to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember this also in my favor, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your steadfast love.

As I read about their disobedience throughout the OT my first reaction is, “Why did you do that when you knew better?  You were God’s chosen people!  You knew him like no one else.  You had direct access to his word, and you ignored it.”  Then I’m convicted that I’m the same way.  Think of how much we know about God and how easy it is to slip into sin.  It is almost as if on our own we will continue to sin no matter how hard we try, and that we need someone with the power to save us and change us . . .

P.S. People who hold to the “mean OT God / nice NT God” need to read more of both.  God’s grace towards the Israelites — and us — is profound.

Roundup

As if there weren’t enough reasons to dislike Michigan: University of Michigan Kicks Christian Club off Campus. So . . . I’m sure the Muslim groups will let a bunch of Jewish people join, elect themselves to leadership and then adopt all sorts of pro-Israel messaging. And the gay groups will let Christians come in, take over and issue proclamations noting their opposition to “same-sex marriage” and their support for God’s view of sexuality.

One of the nice things about the near-exclusive targeting of Christians by the PC-police and others is their tacit admission that we have the one true faith. They don’t get offended by false religions, because deep down they know they aren’t the enemy. But they oppose Jesus all day, every day.

Some good news: Planned Parenthood Closes Tulsa, Oklahoma Clinic After De-Funding

ABC Ignores Tim Scott’s [Republican] Senate Appointment in Dec., By Jan. Hails Mo Cowan’s [Democrat] as ‘History’ — a reminder that media bias and the racism industry work in many ways.

To recap, the first African American wasn’t news worthy enough to mention, but the second African American is history making.

Feminist politicians and media go nuts over Sen. Bob Menendez’ use of underage prostitutes. Oh, wait, they are doing nothing. He’s a Democrat.

Mother’s world falls apart after Planned Parenthood hides humanity of her child – These cases are so sad, and they happen constantly at the nation’s largest abortion provider – and with your tax dollars! Oddly, it turns out that people who kill babies for a living aren’t bothered by telling lies.

“I never saw my ultrasound,” she says. “I was told nothing was visible, and I was told that it wouldn’t matter—you couldn’t see a heartbeat, you couldn’t see anything. . . . I wouldn’t know what I was looking at.”

Armed guard stops school shooting in Atlanta – This was posted on February 1. Did the MSM ever cover it in depth? Did they talk about it for weeks and rejoice over the many saved lives? Of course not, because it doesn’t fit in with their gun-grabbing agenda. The pro-abortion Left does not care about kids.

Why GOP Doesn’t Contest Massive Democrat Voter Fraud – this is sad. Some poor-thinking Republicans set us up for this 30 years ago. This needs to change, because the Democrats are getting more and more bold with their voter fraud.

Sandy Hook Not The Worst School Massacre – and there is no reason to think the killer wouldn’t have murdered people even if he couldn’t access guns.

William Lane Craig debates James Crossley on the resurrection of JesusThe resurrection is central to the Christian faith. Without it, we admit we’re wrong (1 Cor. 15). With it, Jesus is the only way to salvation and forgiveness of your countless sins against God. Everyone should be familiar with the arguments for the resurrection.

Baker Investigated For Refusing To Make Cake For Same Sex Couple – There have been many cases like this. They don’t happen accidentally. The baker wasn’t refusing to service lesbians, he was refused to make a cake celebrating a lesbian “wedding.” Why are we letting 2% of the people run our country?

Should Christians seek to share the Gospel with Jewish people?

Of course they should, right?  What could be more obvious to believers?

Apparently it isn’t obvious to false teachers who write things like Can We Stop Trying To Evangelize Jews Now? (And make no mistake, most theological Liberals rationalize that we shouldn’t share the Good News with Jews.)

“I would argue that it inappropriate and deeply offensive for Christians to attempt to convert Jews or to misuse the Hebrew Scriptures and claim them as Christian writings.

- Rev. Chuck Currie

That’s odd, because Jesus tried to convert Jews, as did all the early Christians, including Paul. Should we listen to Chuck or to the early church and the Bible?

Does the apostate UCC and UMC, both served by Chuck, not include the Old Testament in their Bible? That’s what Chuck appears to be saying, but it is news to me. And I’ve seen Chuck (mis)quote the OT many times. I’m not sure why he is abandoning it now.

Paul was even willing to sacrifice his own salvation if it would save all the Jews:

Romans 9:1 I am speaking the truth in Christ–I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit– 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”

Romans 10: 1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Chuck and other false teachers go wrong when they let fallacious illustrations like this trump the Bible:

Could you honestly tell a Jewish child being forced into the fires of a concentration camp that they are doomed to the fires of hell because they don’t accept Jesus as their savior?

They stack the deck by using the vague term child.  If we take that out so that we don’t muddy the waters with age-of-accountability questions, the answer is simple: Yes, I could honestly tell a Jew that they are doomed to Hell if they don’t repent and believe.  What was so hard about that? That is what the Bible teaches over and over, such as John 8:24 (“I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”).  I realize that Chuck and the other false teachers sit in judgment of God and don’t like that truth, but it is still the truth.  Just because you die a tragic and unjust death doesn’t mean you weren’t a sinner in need of a Savior.  Only a non-believer could think that (allegedly) sparing someone a little angst about Hell right before they go there for eternity is some kind of good deed.

It is only in the perverse, God-hating world of theological Liberals that it is unkind to tell people how to avoid an eternity in Hell.

It is only the truly hateful, self-loving false teachers who would consciously deny the truth to people who desperately need it — Jews included.

Should we be more like Ezekiel?

God gave an interesting command to Ezekiel, telling him to preach the truth and noting that if he didn’t, then he would be accountable for the people, but if he did, then the people would be accountable.

I’m not saying that command applies to present day Christians, but it is worth thinking about.  Do we warn others of the truth?  If we thought we’d be accountable for withholding the truth would that change things?

Ezekiel 3:16-21  And at the end of seven days, the word of the LORD came to me:”Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.  If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.  But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand.  But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.”