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Archive for the ‘Biblical History’ Category

from Got Questions:

It is a fairly well-established fact that Jesus Christ was publicly executed in Judea in the 1st Century A.D., under Pontius Pilate, by means of crucifixion, at the behest of the Jewish Sanhedrin. The non-Christian historical accounts of Flavius Josephus, Cornelius Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, Maimonides and even the Jewish Sanhedrin corroborate the early Christian eyewitness accounts of these important historical aspects of the death of Jesus Christ.

As for His resurrection, there are several lines of evidence which make for a compelling case. The late jurisprudential prodigy and international statesman Sir Lionel Luckhoo (of The Guinness Book of World Records fame for his unprecedented 245 consecutive defense murder trial acquittals) epitomized Christian enthusiasm and confidence in the strength of the case for the resurrection when he wrote, “I have spent more than 42 years as a defense trial lawyer appearing in many parts of the world and am still in active practice. I have been fortunate to secure a number of successes in jury trials and I say unequivocally the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.”

The secular community’s response to the same evidence has been predictably apathetic in accordance with their steadfast commitment to methodological naturalism. For those unfamiliar with the term, methodological naturalism is the human endeavor of explaining everything in terms of natural causes and natural causes only. If an alleged historical event defies natural explanation (e.g., a miraculous resurrection), secular scholars generally treat it with overwhelming skepticism, regardless of the evidence, no matter how favorable and compelling it may be.

In our view, such an unwavering allegiance to natural causes regardless of substantive evidence to the contrary is not conducive to an impartial (and therefore adequate) investigation of the evidence. We agree with Dr. Wernher von Braun and numerous others who still believe that forcing a popular philosophical predisposition upon the evidence hinders objectivity. Or in the words of Dr. von Braun, “To be forced to believe only one conclusion… would violate the very objectivity of science itself.”

Having said that, let us now examine several lines of evidence for Christ’s resurrection.

The First Line of Evidence for Christ’s resurrection

To begin with, we have demonstrably sincere eyewitness testimony. Early Christian apologists cited hundreds of eyewitnesses, some of whom documented their own alleged experiences. Many of these eyewitnesses willfully and resolutely endured prolonged torture and death rather than repudiate their testimony. This fact attests to their sincerity, ruling out deception on their part. According to the historical record (The Book of Acts 4:1-17; Pliny’s Letters to Trajan X, 97, etc) most Christians could end their suffering simply by renouncing the faith. Instead, it seems that most opted to endure the suffering and proclaim Christ’s resurrection unto death.

Granted, while martyrdom is remarkable, it is not necessarily compelling. It does not validate a belief so much as it authenticates a believer (by demonstrating his or her sincerity in a tangible way). What makes the earliest Christian martyrs remarkable is that they knew whether or not what they were professing was true. They either saw Jesus Christ alive-and-well after His death or they did not. This is extraordinary. If it was all just a lie, why would so many perpetuate it given their circumstances? Why would they all knowingly cling to such an unprofitable lie in the face of persecution, imprisonment, torture, and death?

While the September 11, 2001, suicide hijackers undoubtedly believed what they professed (as evidenced by their willingness to die for it), they could not and did not know if it was true. They put their faith in traditions passed down to them over many generations. In contrast, the early Christian martyrs were the first generation. Either they saw what they claimed to see, or they did not.

Among the most illustrious of the professed eyewitnesses were the Apostles. They collectively underwent an undeniable change following the alleged post-resurrection appearances of Christ. Immediately following His crucifixion, they hid in fear for their lives. Following the resurrection they took to the streets, boldly proclaiming the resurrection despite intensifying persecution. What accounts for their sudden and dramatic change? It certainly was not financial gain. The Apostles gave up everything they had to preach the resurrection, including their lives.

The Second Line of Evidence for Christ’s resurrection

A second line of evidence concerns the conversion of certain key skeptics, most notably Paul and James. Paul was of his own admission a violent persecutor of the early Church. After what he described as an encounter with the resurrected Christ, Paul underwent an immediate and drastic change from a vicious persecutor of the Church to one of its most prolific and selfless defenders. Like many early Christians, Paul suffered impoverishment, persecution, beatings, imprisonment, and execution for his steadfast commitment to Christ’s resurrection.

James was skeptical, though not as hostile as Paul. A purported post-resurrection encounter with Christ turned him into an inimitable believer, a leader of the Church in Jerusalem. We still have what scholars generally accept to be one of his letters to the early Church. Like Paul, James willingly suffered and died for his testimony, a fact which attests to the sincerity of his belief (see The Book of Acts and Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews XX, ix, 1).

The Third and Fourth Lines of Evidence for Christ’s resurrection

A third line and fourth line of evidence concern enemy attestation to the empty tomb and the fact that faith in the resurrection took root in Jerusalem. Jesus was publicly executed and buried in Jerusalem. It would have been impossible for faith in His resurrection to take root in Jerusalem while His body was still in the tomb where the Sanhedrin could exhume it, put it on public display, and thereby expose the hoax. Instead, the Sanhedrin accused the disciples of stealing the body, apparently in an effort to explain its disappearance (and therefore an empty tomb). How do we explain the fact of the empty tomb? Here are the three most common explanations:

First, the disciples stole the body. If this were the case, they would have known the resurrection was a hoax. They would not therefore have been so willing to suffer and die for it. (See the first line of evidence concerning demonstrably sincere eyewitness testimony.) All of the professed eyewitnesses would have known that they hadn’t really seen Christ and were therefore lying. With so many conspirators, surely someone would have confessed, if not to end his own suffering then at least to end the suffering of his friends and family. The first generation of Christians were absolutely brutalized, especially following the conflagration in Rome in A.D. 64 (a fire which Nero allegedly ordered to make room for the expansion of his palace, but which he blamed on the Christians in Rome in an effort to exculpate himself). As the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus recounted in his Annals of Imperial Rome (published just a generation after the fire):

“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 Judaea, 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. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.” (Annals, XV, 44)

Nero illuminated his garden parties with Christians whom he burnt alive. Surely someone would have confessed the truth under the threat of such terrible pain. The fact is, however, we have no record of any early Christian denouncing the faith to end his suffering. Instead, we have multiple accounts of post-resurrection appearances and hundreds of eyewitnesses willing to suffer and die for it.

If the disciples didn’t steal the body, how else do we explain the empty tomb? Some have suggested that Christ faked His death and later escaped from the tomb. This is patently absurd. According to the eyewitness testimony, Christ was beaten, tortured, lacerated, and stabbed. He suffered internal damage, massive blood loss, asphyxiation, and a spear through His heart. There is no good reason to believe that Jesus Christ (or any other man for that matter) could survive such an ordeal, fake His death, sit in a tomb for three days and nights without medical attention, food or water, remove the massive stone which sealed His tomb, escape undetected (without leaving behind a trail of blood), convince hundreds of eyewitnesses that He was resurrected from the death and in good health, and then disappear without a trace. Such a notion is ridiculous.

The Fifth Line of Evidence for Christ’s resurrection

Finally, a fifth line of evidence concerns a peculiarity of the eyewitness testimony. In all of the major resurrection narratives, women are credited as the first and primary eyewitnesses. This would be an odd invention since in both the ancient Jewish and Roman cultures women were severely disesteemed. Their testimony was regarded as insubstantial and dismissible. Given this fact, it is highly unlikely that any perpetrators of a hoax in 1st Century Judea would elect women to be their primary witnesses. Of all the male disciples who claimed to see Jesus resurrected, if they all were lying and the resurrection was a scam, why did they pick the most ill-perceived, distrusted witnesses they could find?

Dr. William Lane Craig explains, “When you understand the role of women in first-century Jewish society, what’s really extraordinary is that this empty tomb story should feature women as the discoverers of the empty tomb in the first place. Women were on a very low rung of the social ladder in first-century Israel. There are old rabbinical sayings that said, ‘Let the words of Law be burned rather than delivered to women’ and ‘blessed is he whose children are male, but woe to him whose children are female.’ Women’s testimony was regarded as so worthless that they weren’t even allowed to serve as legal witnesses in a Jewish court of Law. In light of this, it’s absolutely remarkable that the chief witnesses to the empty tomb are these women… Any later legendary account would have certainly portrayed male disciples as discovering the tomb – Peter or John, for example. The fact that women are the first witnesses to the empty tomb is most plausibly explained by the reality that – like it or not – they were the discoverers of the empty tomb! This shows that the Gospel writers faithfully recorded what happened, even if it was embarrassing. This bespeaks the historicity of this tradition rather than its legendary status.” (Dr. William Lane Craig, quoted by Lee Strobel, The Case For Christ, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998, p. 293)

In Summary

These lines of evidence: the demonstrable sincerity of the eyewitnesses (and in the Apostles’ case, compelling, inexplicable change), the conversion and demonstrable sincerity of key antagonists- and skeptics-turned-martyrs, the fact of the empty tomb, enemy attestation to the empty tomb, the fact that all of this took place in Jerusalem where faith in the resurrection began and thrived, the testimony of the women, the significance of such testimony given the historical context; all of these strongly attest to the historicity of the resurrection. We encourage our readers to thoughtfully consider these evidences. What do they suggest to you? Having pondered them ourselves, we resolutely affirm Sir Lionel’s declaration:

“The evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.”

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from Got Questions:

There is a lot of confusion regarding what Easter Sunday is all about. For some, Easter Sunday is about the Easter Bunny, colorfully decorated Easter eggs, and Easter egg hunts. Most people understand that Easter Sunday has something to do with the resurrection of Jesus, but are confused as to how the resurrection is related to the Easter eggs and the Easter bunny.

Biblically speaking, there is absolutely no connection between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the common modern traditions related to Easter Sunday. As a background, please read our article on the origins of Easter. Essentially, what occurred is that in order to make Christianity more attractive to non-Christians, the ancient Roman Catholic Church mixed the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection with celebrations that involved spring fertility rituals. These spring fertility rituals are the source of the egg and bunny traditions.

The Bible makes it clear that Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week, Sunday (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,19). Jesus’ resurrection is most worthy of being celebrated (see 1 Corinthians 15). While it is appropriate for Jesus’ resurrection to be celebrated on a Sunday, the day on which Jesus’ resurrection is celebrated should not be referred to as Easter. Easter has nothing to do with Jesus’ resurrection on a Sunday.

As a result, many Christians feel strongly that the day on which we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection should not be referred to as “Easter Sunday.” Rather, something like “Resurrection Sunday” would be far more appropriate and biblical. For the Christian, it is unthinkable that we would allow the silliness of Easter eggs and the Easter bunny to be the focus of the day instead of Jesus’ resurrection.

By all means, celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday. Christ’s resurrection is something that should be celebrated every day, not just once a year. At the same time, if we choose to celebrate Easter Sunday, we should not allow the fun and games to distract our attention from what the day should truly be all about—the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and that His resurrection demonstrates that we can indeed be promised an eternal home in Heaven by receiving Jesus as our Savior.

To learn more about how Jesus’ death and resurrection provided for our salvation, please read the following article: What does it mean to accept Jesus as your personal Savior?

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from Got Questions:

Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, one week before His resurrection (Matthew 21:1–11). As Jesus entered the holy city, He neared the culmination of a long journey toward Golgotha. He had come to save the lost (Luke 19:10), and now was the time—this was the place—to secure that salvation. Palm Sunday marked the start of what is often called “Passion Week,” the final seven days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Palm Sunday was the “beginning of the end” of Jesus’ work on earth.

Palm Sunday began with Jesus and His disciples traveling over the Mount of Olives. The Lord sent two disciples ahead into the village of Bethphage to find an animal to ride. They found the unbroken colt of a donkey, just as Jesus had said they would (Luke 19:29–30). When they untied the colt, the owners began to question them. The disciples responded with the answer Jesus had provided: “The Lord needs it” (Luke 19:31–34). Amazingly, the owners were satisfied with that answer and let the disciples go. “They brought [the donkey] to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it” (Luke 19:35).

As Jesus ascended toward Jerusalem, a large multitude gathered around Him. This crowd understood that Jesus was the Messiah; what they did not understand was that it wasn’t time to set up the kingdom yet—although Jesus had tried to tell them so (Luke 19:11–12). The crowd’s actions along the road give rise to the name “Palm Sunday”: “A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road” (Matthew 21:8). In strewing their cloaks on the road, the people were giving Jesus the royal treatment—King Jehu was given similar honor at his coronation (2 Kings 9:13). John records the detail that the branches they cut were from palm trees (John 12:13).

On that first Palm Sunday, the people also honored Jesus verbally: “The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ / ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ / ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’” (Matthew 21:9). In their praise of Jesus, the Jewish crowds were quoting Psalm 118:25–26, an acknowledged prophecy of the Christ. The allusion to a Messianic psalm drew resentment from the religious leaders present: “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’” (Luke 19:39). However, Jesus saw no need to rebuke those who told the truth. He replied, “I tell you . . . if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40).

Some 450 to 500 years prior to Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, the prophet Zechariah had prophesied the event we now call Palm Sunday: “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! / Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! / See, your king comes to you, / righteous and victorious, / lowly and riding on a donkey, / on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). The prophecy was fulfilled in every particular, and it was indeed a time of rejoicing, as Jerusalem welcomed their King. Unfortunately, the celebration was not to last. The crowds looked for a Messiah who would rescue them politically and free them nationally, but Jesus had come to save them spiritually. First things first, and mankind’s primary need is spiritual, not political, cultural, or national salvation.

Even as the coatless multitudes waved the palm branches and shouted for joy, they missed the true reason for Jesus’ presence. They could neither see nor understand the cross. That’s why, “as [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies . . . will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:41–47). It is a tragic thing to see the Savior but not recognize Him for who He is. The crowds who were crying out “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday were crying out “Crucify Him!” later that week (Matthew 27:22–23).

There is coming a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10–11). The worship will be real then. Also, John records a scene in heaven that features the eternal celebration of the risen Lord: “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9, emphasis added). These palm-bearing saints will shout, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (verse 10), and who can measure sum of their joy?

Question: “What is Passion Week / Holy Week?”

Answer: Passion Week (also known as Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). Also included within Passion Week are Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Passion Week is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of His people. Passion Week is described in Matthew chapters 21-27; Mark chapters 11-15; Luke chapters 19-23; and John chapters 12-19. Passion Week begins with the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday on the back of a colt as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.

Passion Week contained several memorable events. Jesus cleansed the Temple for the second time (Luke 19:45-46), then disputed with the Pharisees regarding His authority. Then He gave His Olivet Discourse on the end times and taught many things, including the signs of His second coming. Jesus ate His Last Supper with His disciples in the upper room (Luke 22:7-38), then went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray as He waited for His hour to come. It was here that Jesus, having been betrayed by Judas, was arrested and taken to several sham trials before the chief priests, Pontius Pilate, and Herod (Luke 22:54-23:25).

Following the trials, Jesus was scourged at the hands of the Roman soldiers, then was forced to carry His own instrument of execution (the Cross) through the streets of Jerusalem along what is known as the Via Dolorosa (way of sorrows). Jesus was then crucified at Golgotha on the day before the Sabbath, was buried and remained in the tomb until Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, and then gloriously resurrected.

It is referred to as Passion Week because in that time, Jesus Christ truly revealed His passion for us in the suffering He willingly went through on our behalf. What should our attitude be during Passion Week? We should be passionate in our worship of Jesus and in our proclamation of His Gospel! As He suffered for us, so should we be willing to suffer for the cause of following Him and proclaiming the message of His death and resurrection.

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from DirtyHands

Like nearly every little boy I know; I grew up fascinated with dinosaurs. In museums, the only thing I wanted to see were the fossils and the reconstructions of life-size dinosaur skeletons. I devoured any dinosaur book I could find. I was enthralled with the Discovery Channel programs about them. The only thing that could have made my childhood fascination with dinosaurs complete was if the Lego company had come put with a line of dinosaurs. Much of their fascination came from their size and the mystery surrounding their disappearance. Was it an asteroid? Rapid climate change? Super volcano eruption? A combination of those or other unknown factors?

As I got older my fascination didn’t wane, but I became aware of a problem.The popular story surrounding dinosaurs and how long ago they lived was at odds with the account in the Bible of the world’s beginning. Even as a child I began to be aware that they couldn’t both be true and so for a time I lived with this sort of cognitive dissonance. Everything seemed to point to the fact that dinosaurs had lived millions of years ago. And yet I also believed that God created the world in six days, no where near that long ago. My struggle continued until a T-Rex came along and settled the debate.

Let me begin by saying that it was not my faith in Jesus that was destroyed by a T-Rex fossil; but my faith in science. Or, to be more precise, it was my faith in the conclusions that are drawn from solid science that were shaken. But first, some definitions.

FAITH: One of the greatest definitions of faith in the Bible comes from the book of Hebrews. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.

Another picture of faith is given in the encounter that Jesus has with one of his disciples after his resurrection. The other ten disciples had already seen Jesus in the flesh, but Thomas wasn’t there. When they delivered the incredible news that Jesus was alive Thomas didn’t believe. He refused to believe. He said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later Jesus came and stood before Thomas. Jesus said, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” To which Jesus responded, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:19-29)

SCIENCE: Now this is how Webster defines the word “science,” and it’s a pretty basic and standard definition. “Science is knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.

The problems all began with a T-Rex bone in 1991. “In 1991, [a scientist by the name of Mary] Schweitzer was trying to study thin slices of bones from a 65-million-year-old T. rex. She was having a hard time getting the slices to stick to a glass slide, so she sought help from a molecular biologist at the university. The biologist, Gayle Callis, happened to take the slides to a veterinary conference, where she set up the ancient samples for others to look at. One of the vets went up to Callis and said, ‘Do you know you have red blood cells in that bone?’ Sure enough, under a microscope, it appeared that the bone was filled with red disks. Later, Schweitzer recalls, ‘I looked at this and I looked at this and I thought, this can’t be. Red blood cells don’t preserve.’ Schweitzer showed the slide to Horner. ‘When she first found the red-blood-cell-looking structures, I said, Yep, that’s what they look like,’ her mentor recalls. He thought it was possible they were red blood cells, but he gave her some advice: ‘Now see if you can find some evidence to show that that’s not what they are.

Instead, Mary discovered collagen consistent with blood vessels along with red blood cells, in the thigh bone of that juvenile T. rex in Montana. ‘What we found was unusual, because it was still soft and still transparent and still flexible,’ she says. Her discovery excited much controversy in the evolutionary community, as it seems quite impossible that anything could preserve something so chemically ‘fragile’ for millions of years. Evolutionists date the first dinosaur in which Schweitzer found the soft tissue to 68 million years ago. Many insisted the material she had found must be microbial contamination because no known process could account for such long preservation of organic material in bone, the molecules of which tend to be readily broken down and particularly for the preservation of its pliability and elastic qualities. In ongoing studies, Schweitzer has discovered soft tissue and confirmed the presence of collagen in other dinosaur specimens alleged to be 145.5 to 199.6 million years old.” “Dinosaur Shocker,” Smithsonian Magazine, May 2006.

All of that left one large question; how could soft tissues survive for millions of years? “Schweitzer and her team noticed that iron particles are intimately associated with the soft tissues preserved in dinosaurs. But when they chelated – or removed the iron from – soft tissues taken from a T. rex and a Brachyolophosaurus, the chelated tissues reacted much more strongly to antibodies that detect the presence of protein, suggesting that the iron may be masking their presence in these preserved tissues. They then tested the preservation hypothesis by using blood vessels and cells taken from modern ostrich bone. They soaked some of these vessels in hemoglobin taken from red blood cells, while placing other vessels in water. Two years later, the hemoglobin-treated soft vessels remained intact, while those soaked in water degraded in less than a week.

“We know that iron is always present in large quantities when we find well-preserved fossils, and we have found original vascular tissues within the bones of these animals, which would be a very hemoglobin-rich environment after they died,” Schweitzer says. “We also know that iron hinders just about every technique we have to detect proteins. So iron looks like it may be both the mechanism for preservation and the reason why we’ve had problems finding and analyzing proteins that are preserved.” For more information click Here Since her initial findings soft tissue has also been observed, not just in well-preserved dinosaur bones, but in what some call “junk” fossils as well.

So, here is the problem. Many people were rightly disconcerted about the discovery of soft tissue in fossils. That discovery called into question the popular narrative that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. And so, when Mary discovered the preservative effects that iron can have on soft tissue in a lab setting over a short period of time they jumped at that life-line. But in doing so, they made an incredible leap of faith. The conclusions reached by some scientists that want to extrapolate the results of a two-year experiment into millions of years isn’t science. Its faith. Remember the definition of science is “knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.” Based on the tests performed indicating the possibility of iron acting as a preservative, at best an honest person could conclude that, under strictly controlled laboratory conditions iron has a preservative effect over the spans of a few years. To extrapolate that observable and repeatable finding, into millions of years isn’t science. Its faith. It’s the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.Perhaps those big old bones aren’t as old as we were led to believe…

An article on Mary Schweitzer’s find from the Smithsonian

Another article looking in more depth at this soft-tissue find

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While we as Christians know that most or all of the December 25th Christmas traditions do not find their origin in the Bible, nor is December 25th the actual day of Christ’s birth. One thing that all Christians can concentrate on during this Holiday is the Christ in Christmas. And what God did through Christ:

John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” The true meaning of Christmas for Christians is the celebration of this incredible act of love.

It is the story of God becoming a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ. Why did God do such a thing? Because He loves us! Why was Christmas necessary? Because we needed a Savior! Why does God love us so much? Because He is love itself (1 John 4:8). Why do we celebrate Christmas each year? Out of gratitude for what God did for us, we remember His birth, worshiping Him, and being especially conscious of the less fortunate.

The true meaning of Christmas is love. God loved His own and provided a way—the only Way—for us to spend eternity with Him. He gave His only Son to take our punishment for our sins. He paid the price in full, and we are free from condemnation when we accept that free gift of love. “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Hat tip to Got Questions

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It’s not the shopping, it’s not the gift giving, it’s not the feasting, it’s not Santa Clause, it’s about Jesus’ birth:

Jesus was born to be the Savior of the world. John 3:14-15

All men are sinners, and exposed to the wrath of God.

All men were in a hopeless condition lost in sin.

God gave his Son. Man had no claim on him; it was a gift–an undeserved gift.

He gave him up to extreme sufferings, even the bitter pains of death on the cross.

It was for all the world. He tasted “death for every man,” Heb 2:9. He “died for all,” 2 Cor 5:15. “He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world,” 1 John 2:2.

Jesus was God’s manifestation of love. “For God so loved the world.” (John 3:16) We often say to people that God loves you….and this is the proof. It does not say God loved a few special people, or just those who believe in Him, but He loved the whole world. That includes everyone here, in this nation and around the world. Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross was to pay the sin debt of all men who ever lived. If that is not true then He could not offer salvation to all men and we could not preach the Gospel.

The verse says that “He gave His only begotten Son.” The phrase only begotten has great meaning.

It says that God gave. Salvation is a free and unmerited gift. It cannot be earned. Only Christ was perfect and only He could satisfy the sin debt you and I owed.

“Only-begotten.” This term is never applied by John to any but to Jesus Christ. It is applied by him five times to the Saviour, John 1:14; 3:16,18; 1 John 4:9. It means literally an only child. Then, as an only child is peculiarly dear to a parent, it means one that is especially beloved

Only-begotten. This term is never applied by John to any but Jesus Christ. It is applied by him five times to the Saviour, John 1:14; 3:16,18; 1 John 4:9. It means literally an only child. Then, as an only child is peculiarly dear to a parent, it means one that is especially beloved. Comp. Gen. 22:2; 12:1-20; 16:1-16; Jer 6:26; Zech 12:10. On both these accounts it is bestowed on the Savior.

He was eminently the Son of God, sustaining a peculiar relation to him in his divine nature, exalted above all men and angels, and thus worthy to be called, by way of eminence, his only Son. Saints are called his sons or children, because they are born of his Spirit, or are like him; but the Lord Jesus is exalted far above all, and deserves eminently to be called his only-begotten Son. Believers are the adopted sons of God. God has only one Son and that is Jesus Christ.

The term specifies Jesus as being like the Father and refers to His deity. The phrase is (ton huion ton monogenê). Literally = “The Son the only begotten.” “the only son.” “Monogenes” Begotten, describes the absolutely unique relation of the Son to the Father in His divine nature. This verse plainly states…God has only one Son. We are adopted sons, not like THE SON. It notes that He was eminently the Son of God, sustaining a peculiar relation to Him in his divine nature, exalted above all men and angels, and thus worthy to be called, by way of eminence, his only Son. Believers are called his sons or children, because they are born of his Spirit, but the Lord Jesus is exalted far above all, and deserves eminently to be called his only-begotten Son.

D. “Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

This statement divides religion from biblical Christianity. It states plainly the means of salvation as being by belief or faith. It leaves no room for error to add or subtract from God’s clear statement.

If one believes in Jesus Christ, he will not perish, but have everlasting life.

It cannot be stated clear than in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

“Shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” There are many attacks on the Word of God and the two main ones are to say that salvation can be earned or merited and the other is to say that salvation that is received in belief can be lost.

Nothing is further from the truth. 1 Peter 1:5 proclaims, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”If you cannot earn your salvation by good works how can one keep it by good works. If you have truly believed with your heart as Romans 10:9-10 states….you are on your way to heaven and it is God who promises to get you there. You may fall and you will sin, but God’s provision for the believer….is to never leave or forsake you….and as sure as you are here….you will be in heaven with Him…if you have believed.

God did not send the Lord Jesus to condemn the world. John 3:17

Jesus in His first coming did not come to judge or condemn the world.

He came to save the world.

Revelation 20:11-15 refers to last judgment which is the judgment of those who rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the judgment of those who trusted in false religions, idols, and false churches for their salvation who all teach that a man came be good enough to be saved and can add his works to God’s grace and be saved. Nothing is further from the truth. Here in this passage in Revelation God tells us what will happen to all who reject God’s free gift of grace and present their works for their salvation.

The passage says they all will be cast into the eternal Lake of Fire. What a sad thing to be offered salvation freely, but reject it.

Yet, Christ came not to condemn….mankind was already condemned, but to redeem and offer salvation to all who would by faith receive it.

III. He that believes is not commended. John 3:18

This verse explains what should be clear to us all. We are sinners and being sinners we are under the condemnation of sin. Romans 6:23 says “The wages of sin is death….but the gift of God is eternal life.” That is what this verse says also….

This verse states the reason for condemnation. “but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Many teach that there are many ways to go to heaven and that one does not have to believe in Jesus Christ. Yet, in Acts 4:12 God tells us that, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Only Jesus Christ was God incarnate in the flesh the Only Begotten Son of God. There is no other savior. It was God our Creator who made the way and there is no other way. All the supposed that man has devised are the same….they have man being his on savior. Yet, other gods do not exist…there is only one God and He is our Creator and John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16 tell us that He is Jesus Christ. He is our God and Creator.

IV. This is the Condemnation. John 3:19

Both verse 18 and 19 state the reasons that some men will not go to heaven.

First they do not believe in the name of Jesus Christ. These folks put their faith in something else.

The verse says that Light….that is the Gospel, the truth of who Jesus Christ is has come into the world

In John 8:12, 9:5 Jesus said that He was the light. In John 12:46 He says, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”

Sadly, men love darkness….where the Light of God’s truth does not shine….rather than light.

What thing did Jesus do that warranted Him to be so hated that they beat Him mercilessly and then crucified Him in that terrible death? Why did they hate the Apostle Paul so much that he had to flee for his life from city after city? What made 40, of the most religious and devout Jews, Pharisees, make a vow that they would neither eat nor sleep till they had murdered him? Why was Paul beheaded, what was his crime. And Steven, Philip, and all the apostle except John?

There crime was they were doing was proclaiming God’s truth, telling people that sin destroys and ends in eternal death. Trying to turn men to Jesus Christ our God and Creator, our Savior who loves us and wants us to spend eternity in heaven with Him.

They love their sins more than heaven, and more that accomplishing their purpose for being on this earth. Sin blinds them to a false pleasure and their addition to sin….like a additive drug destroys them and they lose heaven.

Conclusion:

Why was Jesus born? What is the meaning of Christmas….? The answer is simple….you and I needed a Savior. We are lost in our sins and trespasses against God. We cannot save ourselves, because our sins have condemned us.

Jesus was born that we might be able to have life after death. He conquered death and sin for us so we could have eternal life.

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from Got Questions:

Our answer to this question will not only determine how we view the Bible and its importance to our lives, but also it will ultimately have an eternal impact on us. If the Bible is truly God’s Word, then we should cherish it, study it, obey it, and fully trust it. If the Bible is the Word of God, then to dismiss it is to dismiss God Himself.

The fact that God gave us the Bible is an evidence and illustration of His love for us. The term “revelation” simply means that God communicated to mankind what He is like and how we can have a right relationship with Him. These are things that we could not have known had God not divinely revealed them to us in the Bible. Although God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible was given progressively over approximately 1500 years, it has always contained everything man needs to know about God in order to have a right relationship with Him. If the Bible is truly the Word of God, then it is the final authority for all matters of faith, religious practice, and morals.

The question we must ask ourselves is how can we know that the Bible is the Word of God and not just a good book? What is unique about the Bible that sets it apart from all other religious books ever written? Is there any evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word? These types of questions must be seriously examined if we are to determine the validity of the Bible’s claim to be the very Word of God, divinely inspired, and totally sufficient for all matters of faith and practice. There can be no doubt that the Bible does claim to be the very Word of God. This is clearly seen in Paul’s commendation to Timothy: “… from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

There are both internal and external evidences that the Bible is truly God’s Word. The internal evidences are those things within the Bible that testify of its divine origin. One of the first internal evidences that the Bible is truly God’s Word is seen in its unity. Even though it is really sixty-six individual books, written on three continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years, by more than 40 authors who came from many walks of life, the Bible remains one unified book from beginning to end without contradiction. This unity is unique from all other books and is evidence of the divine origin of the words which God moved men to record.

Another of the internal evidences that indicates the Bible is truly God’s Word is the prophecies contained within its pages. The Bible contains hundreds of detailed prophecies relating to the future of individual nations including Israel, certain cities, and mankind. Other prophecies concern the coming of One who would be the Messiah, the Savior of all who would believe in Him. Unlike the prophecies found in other religious books or those by men such as Nostradamus, biblical prophecies are extremely detailed. There are over three hundred prophecies concerning Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Not only was it foretold where He would be born and His lineage, but also how He would die and that He would rise again. There simply is no logical way to explain the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible other than by divine origin. There is no other religious book with the extent or type of predictive prophecy that the Bible contains.

A third internal evidence of the divine origin of the Bible is its unique authority and power. While this evidence is more subjective than the first two, it is no less a powerful testimony of the divine origin of the Bible. The Bible’s authority is unlike any other book ever written. This authority and power are best seen in the way countless lives have been transformed by the supernatural power of God’s Word. Drug addicts have been cured by it, homosexuals set free by it, derelicts and deadbeats transformed by it, hardened criminals reformed by it, sinners rebuked by it, and hate turned to love by it. The Bible does possess a dynamic and transforming power that is only possible because it is truly God’s Word.

There are also external evidences that indicate the Bible is truly the Word of God. One is the historicity of the Bible. Because the Bible details historical events, its truthfulness and accuracy are subject to verification like any other historical document. Through both archaeological evidences and other writings, the historical accounts of the Bible have been proven time and time again to be accurate and true. In fact, all the archaeological and manuscript evidence supporting the Bible makes it the best-documented book from the ancient world. The fact that the Bible accurately and truthfully records historically verifiable events is a great indication of its truthfulness when dealing with religious subjects and doctrines and helps substantiate its claim to be the very Word of God.

Another external evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word is the integrity of its human authors. As mentioned earlier, God used men from many walks of life to record His words. In studying the lives of these men, we find them to be honest and sincere. The fact that they were willing to die often excruciating deaths for what they believed testifies that these ordinary yet honest men truly believed God had spoken to them. The men who wrote the New Testament and many hundreds of other believers (1 Corinthians 15:6) knew the truth of their message because they had seen and spent time with Jesus Christ after He had risen from the dead. Seeing the risen Christ had a tremendous impact on them. They went from hiding in fear to being willing to die for the message God had revealed to them. Their lives and deaths testify to the fact that the Bible truly is God’s Word.

A final external evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word is the indestructibility of the Bible. Because of its importance and its claim to be the very Word of God, the Bible has suffered more vicious attacks and attempts to destroy it than any other book in history. From early Roman Emperors like Diocletian, through communist dictators and on to modern-day atheists and agnostics, the Bible has withstood and outlasted all of its attackers and is still today the most widely published book in the world.

Throughout time, skeptics have regarded the Bible as mythological, but archeology has confirmed it as historical. Opponents have attacked its teaching as primitive and outdated, but its moral and legal concepts and teachings have had a positive influence on societies and cultures throughout the world. It continues to be attacked by pseudo-science, psychology, and political movements, yet it remains just as true and relevant today as it was when it was first written. It is a book that has transformed countless lives and cultures throughout the last 2000 years. No matter how its opponents try to attack, destroy, or discredit it, the Bible remains; its veracity and impact on lives is unmistakable. The accuracy which has been preserved despite every attempt to corrupt, attack, or destroy it is clear testimony to the fact that the Bible is truly God’s Word and is supernaturally protected by Him. It should not surprise us that, no matter how the Bible is attacked, it always comes out unchanged and unscathed. After all, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31). After looking at the evidence, one can say without a doubt that, yes, the Bible is truly God’s Word.

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