Special Report: The Choice
Vol: 121 Issue: 22 Saturday, October 22, 2011
According to its’ many secular critics, the Bible is a dishonest record that, if scrutinized properly, reveals itself to be riddled with errors and contradictions.
Indeed, entire books have been written on the subject, pointing out such contradictions as Genesis 1:31 (God was satisfied with His creation) and Genesis 6:6 (God was grieved that He had made man on earth).
Of course, there is no contradiction. When God created man, all was good. Later, after Adam’s sin, God was grieved. One can argue all around the fact that God is omniscient and therefore knew Adam would sin, but having foreknowledge doesn’t necessarily mitigate grief.
We all knew my mother was dying of lung cancer long before she passed away. When she died, nobody was surprised. One look at her at any time during the preceding year would have made it clear that her time upon the earth was limited.
Foreknowledge certainly didn’t mitigate the grief. If anything, it made it worse — we grieved every day until she died, and after that is when the real grief set in.
The Bible is a ponderous record; first, it is not one book, but sixty-six different books, divided by two main themes recording the Covenant Promises made by God to Israel and the New Covenant Promises made by Christ to the Church.
Together, the sixty-six books of the Bible consist of 1,189 chapters, 31,173 verses containing 807,361 words. They have been scrutinized, studied, dissassembled and reassembled over the course of tens of centuries by critics seeking to “expose” it’s alleged dishonesty.
It was a fool’s errand. One of the most disconcerting things about the Bible is its honesty. Unlike most other sacred writings, the Bible doesn’t whitewash the record — it is painfully honest.
The Bible introduces us to Jacob, the father of God’s Chosen People, Israel. Jacob tricked his brother Esau into giving up his birthright as first-born, then deceived his father into giving him Esau’s blessing.
Even Jacob’s name means, “he who supplants”, meaning, “to take the place of another through force, scheming or the like.” Clearly, Jacob’s image, as the eponymous father of the Israelite people, could have used a little polishing.
But Jacob is depicted for the man that he was because the Bible is true. Because it is a true record, its heroes are not ‘heroic’ like the ancient Greek and Roman gods and demigods. They are flawed men who managed to overcome their shortcomings through the power of God.
The Bible portrays David not only as Israel’s most-loved king, general, and spiritual leader, but as a man who took another man’s wife and then, to cover his own sin, conspired to have her husband killed.
Israel, God’s Chosen People, are depicted in Scripture (Ezekiel 16:46-52) as being so evil they made Sodom and Gomorrah look good.
The Apostle Peter denied Jesus three times, and, together with most of the Apostles, abandoned Jesus and ran for their lives. The Apostle Paul is self-described as the ‘chief among sinners’ — his hands stained red with the blood of Christian martyrs.
Despite arguments from the skeptics and critics that the Bible was changed after the fact to make it appear prophetic, the Dead Sea Scrolls prove otherwise. Among the most important finds in the treasure trove of ancient documents discovered in a cave in 1947 was a complete copy of the Book of Isaiah.
It varied from the modern book of Isaiah only in matters of dialect and the use of vowels. The Bible’s preservation over the centuries is nothing short of miraculous, but, of course, that is because the Bible is a miracle in and of itself.
The Bible, particularly the New Testament, employs the use of eyewitness accounts, as well as Divine Revelation, to teach its eternal truths. Paul writes:
“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: Whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:14-17)
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians that the resurrected Jesus had been seen by more than five hundred witnesses, (1 Corinthians 15:1-6) many of whom Paul writes, were still alive at the time of his writing, in case anybody living during that period wanted to do a little fact-checking.
It is not unreasonable to assume that the of Paul’s time were just as dedicated to disproving the Resurrection story in the 1st century as they are in the 21st.
Paul provided the opportunity, but there were evidently no takers.
Many of the witnesses ended up as martyrs, not for abstract moral or spiritual convictions but for their claim that Jesus had risen from the dead.
While martyrdom is not unusual, the basis on which these people gave their lives is what IS important. Many have died for what they believed to be the truth. But people do not die for what they KNOW to be a lie.
The Bible’s composition also defies the skeptic’s contentions. Forty different authors writing over a period of 1,600 years penned the 66 books of the Bible. Four hundred silent years separated the 39 books of the Old Testament from the 27 of the New Testament.
Yet, from Genesis to Revelation, they tell one unfolding story. Each book flows seamlessly into the next, gradually unfolding, without contradiction, the progressive Revelation of God to man.
Although the Bible is made up of many books, it is really just one.
Critics throughout history have tried to make the case for Biblical errancy based on the absence of historical evidence of its accuracy. One such argument concerned the historical reality of Pontius Pilate.
Pilate, according to Scripture, was the Roman governor of Judea. The Romans kept meticulous records, but there was no record of Pontius Pilate among them.
For centuries, the historical absence of Pilate was the Bible critics’ ‘gotcha’ question.
But in 1961, archaeologists found a stone inscription at the excavation of an old Roman theater located in Caesarea in Israel. This is the same theater where the Apostle Paul was tried before Herod Agrippa.
Two thousand years later, Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Courage” event in Israel kicked off from that same theater. That theater, according to the plaque uncovered in 1961, was constructed by Pilate in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, (called a Tiberieum).
It says in Latin:”TIBERIEUM (PON)TIUS PILATUS (PRAEF)ECTUSIUD” — identifying Pontius Pilate as Rome’s prefect in the time of Jesus, precisely as the Bible recorded.
The Bible names Caiaphas as the chief of the Sanhedrin who oversaw the trial of Jesus. His existence was also questioned, since the only record of his life and times is contained in the Gospels.
Until 1990, when an ossuary was discovered bearing the inscription, Caiaphas ben-Joseph was discovered in Jerusalem. The discovery of Caiaphas ben Joseph’s ossuary established — for the first time — that such a historical personage actually lived, and artifacts in the box indicated he died sometime after AD 37.
The ossuary’s discovery was announced in the Biblical Archeological Review (BAR). It is important to note that the BAR is a Jewish secular organization. They do not take a position of Biblical inerrancy. And being Jews – secular or otherwise — they have nothing to gain by proving the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.
Caiaphas’ house has since also been identified. It was the only house in first-century Jerusalem to have its own dungeon. I’ve been in that dungeon. I stood in the exact place where Jesus was chained to the dungeon wall. It’s real enough, believe me.
Jesus Christ Himself verified the accuracy of Scripture, which, while meaningless to the critics, is undeniable proof to those who know Him.
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40)
The Book of Daniel is one of the books the skeptics hate the most, since it contains details about global empires that came to power centuries after Daniel’s death.
For that reason, many advance the argument that Daniel is a forgery written sometime during the Macabean Revolt of BC 163 to encourage the revolutionaries.
But Jesus Christ verified Daniel as ‘a prophet’ and said so in no uncertain terms.
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel THE PROPHET, stand in the holy place . . ” (Matthew 24:15)
The books of Moses were written 500 years before the earliest Hindu Scriptures. Moses wrote Genesis 2,000 years before Muhammad penned the Koran. In all those generations, Godhaters and skeptics have sought to discredit its testimony.
If anybody actually ever did, Christianity would be a dead religion today. As noted earlier, who wants to die for a lie?
Despite centuries of attacks, no other book has been so consistently bought, studied, and quoted as the Bible. While millions of other titles come and go, the Bible is still the Book by which all other books are measured.
Then there is the Bible’s most undeniable evidence — its power to change lives.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon vainly searched for peace until he heard this verse quoted by a country preacher:
“Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22).
Hal Lindsey was a hard-drinking Mississippi riverboat captain before hearing God’s call. I was a cynical, hard-bitten Texas cop when the Lord changed me.
Skeptics, not understanding the concept of grace, discount the evidence of changed lives, arguing instead that such people still sin. (The preaching of the cross is foolishness to the natural man, remember?)
There will always be idiots who will focus on whether or not Solomon had four thousand horses (2nd Chronicles 9:25) or forty thousand horses (1 Kings 4:26) when what both books refer to are ‘stalls’ and not horses at all.
One passage refers to just horses and horsemen, while the other, if one looks closely, refers to horses, horsemen AND chariots.
It is a dishonest debate they seek. They don’t have an answer for why the Apostles chose death rather than deny Jesus. They don’t explain why the 1st century Christians willingly went to their deaths rather than deny Jesus.
They don’t explain how the Bible can be so brutally honest and simultaneously be corrupt, despite the historical evidence of its incorruption.
And they can’t explain away its power.
Remove the Bible from history and our social structure collapses into chaos. What happens to our laws, our police, and our judges? What happens to the weak, the defenseless, the downtrodden, the lonely, and the despairing?
There have always been self-important wannabes who seek fame by being the first one in history to conclusively disprove the Word of God. The Scripture says they will continue in their efforts until the Lord returns at the end of the Tribulation Period.
The Scriptures tell us to ‘trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding’ (Proverbs 3:5) when faced by glib-tongued Bible critics seeking to steal your victory.
As Paul awaited his own martyrdom, from a prison cell in Rome, he wrote the following words:
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2nd Timothy 4:1-4)
Finally, it is worth noting that NOBODY is neutral about the Bible. It is not possible, given its claims. The Bible claims to be the Word of God. It tells the story of the history of the human race from Adam to the antichrist.
It reveals the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God Who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son as a substitute sacrifice on the behalf of sinful mankind. It demands action on the part of its reader.
Having read its claims, particularly those about sin and redemption, a person must either accept it or reject it. Nobody can remain ambiguous about whether or not they are accountable to a living God.
That is what makes the Bible “sharper than any two-edged sword” – it cuts both ways. There is no way to ignore it. So everybody must make a choice.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 34:15)