Parting Words: The Crucifixion

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 

~Luke 23:33

Imagine the scene unfolding, the Pharisees had seized the opportunity they sought. Jesus was finally receiving the repercussions for his blasphemous statements– at least that is how they viewed it. His disciples initially scattered both scared and confused. Of those within his intimate sphere we find recorded in the gospel at the foot of the cross, only his mother, John, and the women that had followed him left to observe the murder of their Lord. Considering that there are four gospel recordings of the events at the crucifixion, I believe it is likely that there were other disciples who were eye witnesses of the events of that day, although those disciples are not named specifically within the gospel accounts.

The people that had listened to his teachings and followed the murmuring in the streets and temple most likely watched the events unfold, but center stage were the Pharisees, the Roman soldiers, and the religious rulers mocking, “if you are the Son of God, then save yourself!” Were these crowds of onlookers the same Jews who had feasted at the feeding of the five thousand?Or the miraculously healed?  If so, it would seem they had forgotten the Lord’s words and works as quickly as their stomachs had digested the fish and bread. Or, perhaps they stood as followers of Christ, helpless to save their Savior, and broken over the plight of their beloved teacher.

Parting Words: Jesus at the Crucifixion

Finally, envision the criminals on his right and his left. These men had the birds-eye-view of all that unfolded from the time the nails bore into Jesus’ flesh and the spear pierced His side. As Jesus stretched out His arms for the nails to be driven into his wrists, He could not escape the reality, nor can we, that He was dying for the sins of wretched, but dearly beloved people, separated from God by rebellious hearts.

As the Roman soldiers nailed him to the cross, Jesus said,

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

Then the soldiers cast lots for his garments and proceeded, business as usual, unknowingly slaughtering the Son of God.

The minutes and hours tick by and Jesus next takes care of His mother leaving her in the care of John. Quintessentially posturing Mary at the foot of the cross for the rest of history (See hereJesus says to Mary:

“Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

Next we see the dichotomy of man’s response to Jesus for the rest of temporal time. A mocking rejection of the Lord, and a proclamation of  Jesus as the sinless Son, Savior, and LORD:

“Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

Following, we see a return to the ever present reality that Jesus was fully human and had physical needs even as He was divine. Additionally, we see the fulfilling of scripture as prophesied in Psalm 69:21,

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” (John 19:28-30)

The hyssop branch is perhaps reminiscent of the blood dipped on hyssop to frame the door posts of the Israelites (Exodus 12:21-27) to preserve them from the wrath of God–from the destroyer that would kill those not covered by the blood of the sacrificial lambs. The final sacrifice for all who believe had been made, the final blood needed for the forgiveness of sins had been spilled and therefore, as recorded in three of the gospels, Jesus cried out with a loud voice:

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” Which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” And having said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)

This final act commenced an eternal reaction and a physical response from the earth and observers,

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:38-39)

The parting words of Jesus finalize the sacrifice needed for the forgiveness of our sins and remind us that it is through Christ alone that we find salvation. It is not fellow followers of Christ, his mother, nor any works that save us. His parting words remind us that it is in Christ alone we are forgiven. Amen and amen!

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Shades of Regret

Shades of Regret

When you are a mother of two small children, you spend a lot of time in public restrooms. It was my fourth trip to a public restroom in the last two hours, and I didn’t want to make another trip once our movie started.While waiting on my daughter to come out of the stall, an older woman was washing her hands and offered,

I just watched 50 Shades of Grey. I didn’t’ need that. My curiosity got the better of me.

She shakes her head and wrings her hands with soap. I nod and wonder what on earth I can tell this woman. What hope should I offer in a few seconds in the bathroom? It seemed she simply wanted to confess to me. She continued as I listened and nodded,

You know the man is just messed up.  Save your eight dollars and go get Chinese instead.

She shook her head, flung up her hand, and walked out the door while I meagerly offered a few remarks. This woman was clearly disturbed by the sadomasochistic movie that is sweeping the nation and was first within the grasp of teens, moms, and people of all ages at major chains such as Walmart, Target, and all bookstores and e-readers since 2011. It is reported to have sold 100 million copies in 52 languages worldwide.

An estimated 900 teens in Orlando (see here) stormed a movie theater in attempts to watch the rated R movie earlier this week.

The Christian community has not remained silent on this topic. Consider Dannah Gresh’s book, Pulling Back the Shades. (Read about it here.) Or, this thought provoking article by Dr. Russell Moore, Women Stop Submitting to Men? (click here). However, in the case that you have missed these, I want to warn you: flee the temptation to see what all the hype is about!

Men and women of the Church, do not use this as an opportunity to research pop culture. Consider this a call to be in the world and not of it. Protect your minds and relationships from this obvious working of evil. Many times we can fall into a spiritual pit of despair and sin we were not seeking, but consider this your warning that the pit is within your vision and the choice to descend is up to you.

Sex is so perverted in our fallen state post garden– post forbidden fruit. The good gift that God created from the time He introduced Adam and Eve has been polluted by the sins of this world. We worship the created act of sex above the Creator and pervert the original gift of sex within marriage. 50 Shades of Grey is another proof of this fact.

Don’t let curiosity rob you of your peace of mind and spirit. Heed the lesson from the woman I met, and warn your friends likewise.

Fight the good fight of faith and finish the race having won the battle over curiosities that God’s Word blatantly speaks over as evil and destructive.

Did I miss an opportunity to share Christ with this woman? Perhaps. I pray that she will seek out, or already knows the truth for herself. However, I didn’t miss an opportunity to pray for her. Further, I don’t think that it was any accident that I was in the right place at the right time to hear her confession and tell her story to you.  I can see her distraught look even now. I pray that the shades of regret will not be mirrored on your face.

Choose life.

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Getting Ready as in the Days of Noah

Getting Ready Noah

The Bible tells us–even more specifically Jesus tells us–that in the last days it will be as in the time of Noah:

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. (Luke 17:26-33, ESV)

God determined to destroy His creation and created because of the rampant sin on the earth.

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (Genesis 6:5-8)

The sins of our day are not unlike the sins of Noah’s day; in fact, sin has been the same since the days of Adam and Eve after the fall. Murder, lying, adultery, covetousness, sexual immorality, and idolatry to name a few. The sins of our times are not unique to our times; they are, however, more rampant and championed–like the days of Noah.

Once God gave Noah the command to build the Ark, Noah knew that the time men had to repent and turn to God was limited. Scripture leads me to believe that Noah preached repentance and faith in God to save those who would listen. The people of his day decided they would mock Noah and his God and not heed the warning of impending doom.

God protected and preserved human life and animal life on the Ark in his abundant grace. God provided a way out–a wooden ark. Today, God continues to provide a way out of damnation and judgment: Jesus Christ. Just as the Ark provided the only way to survive God’s judgment of sin by water, Jesus provides the only way to salvation when we face God’s  judgment of fire. (See 1 Corinthians 3:13 for the believers, and 2 Peter 3:10 for the destruction of the earth by fire.)

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:3-5)

I believe we are living once again in the days of Noah. I believe that everything we are seeing on a national and international stage is preparing the way of the Lord as in the days of John the Baptist. That is why it is so very important for us to know the Scriptures so that we are wise unto salvation and prepared to heed the coming of the Lord Jesus. Noah’s Ark may seem archaic, or like a children’s story, but in reality it is a pivotal picture of what is to come.

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What’s the Flood Got to Do With It?

What's the Flood Got to Do With It

You most likely remember the 1984 Tina Turner hit song, What’s Love Got to Do With It? Not sure what Ms. Turner decided about love, but, for the next few posts we are going to consider a brief overview of the Noetic Flood account (Genesis 6-9) and determine, What’s the Flood Got to Do With It? (You can thank me later for planting that song in your head for the rest of the day!)  I think we will find that the world-wide flood of Noah’s time has everything to do with the world we see today, and the condition of the world we will see in the end-times prior to Jesus return.

As we begin to unfold the events of Genesis 6-9, lets commence with a few facts concerning the Noetic flood:

1. From the time God closed the door of the Ark, to the day Noah’s family and the animals departed, was 371 days.

2. The flood had to be global in scope for the following to be necessary:

  • The need for the Ark: Why not simply mass exodus with family and animals during the 120 years from God’s command to build the Ark and Noah’s family entering it?
  • The size of the Ark: The gross tonnage was about 13,960 tons placing it within the category of large metal ocean-going vessels today.
  • All the high mountains were covered. (Genesis 7:19-20) The flood would have had to be global in scope for the waters to cover even one high mountain…let alone all the high mountains. Water seeks its’ own level therefore the water would have had to cover the entire earth to cover one high mountain.

(The Genesis Flood, Whitcomb and Morris, p. 10)

3.  It is imperative that we understand the flood condensation did not come from water found in the cloud coverage. “If all the water in the earth’s atmosphere were to condense, only an average of one inch of rain would fall.” (In the Beginning, Walt Brown, p. 362) However, if we flattened the mountain ranges and lifted the ocean basins then there would be enough water to cover the earth over two miles high.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. (Genesis 7:11-12)

  • “Fountains of the greet deep” refer to subterranean water chambers 10 miles underneath the earth’s surface.
  • The opening of the great deep left a permanent scar on the earth called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. (Click here for Google Images.)
  • The scar, Mid-Atlantic Ridge,  is composed of basalt rock which is found in the interior of the earth.
  • See full explanation of Dr. Walt Brown’s Hydro-Plate Theory at www.creationscience.com.

Perhaps you, like me, didn’t give the Flood Account a second thought in reference to the scientific and geologic ramifications of such a catastrophe. Perhaps, you focused instead on the animals going in two-by-two and the picturesque rainbow scene thereafter. However, once we look at Noah’s Flood in such a way, it will change our view of the earth and the scientific information of our secular society. Additionally, our understanding of multiple texts we encounter when reading the Bible will be further enlightened and read with added meaning.

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Theistic Evolution, Genesis Gap, or Six Literal Days?

Origin of Man

Many differing camps within the church exists which try to squeeze millions of years into the Bible in efforts to allow for the claims of evolution. Two such theories are Theistic Evolution and the Gap Theory. We will look at a brief summary of both of them today.

Two questions we might consider together: When did the literal interpretation of the Genesis creation account come into question? How long ago did man, and/or the church, question the belief in a Creator who made all that we see?

It wasn’t until the later decades of the 18th century that scientists started to develop and pursue the idea of an older earth. Geology (the study of rocks and fossils) became its own separate field of science during the 19th century (or ~200 years ago). In the infancy of uniformitarianism (doctrine that believes change has occurred at a constant rate in the geologic record) vs. catastrophism (doctrine that physical changes in the geologic reccord can be explained by catastrophic events i.e. the Flood which happened in the past) debates, many believers embraced the newly developing theory of an old earth and immediately began squeezing millions of years into the only place possible: Genesis 1 and 2.

Namely, Thomas Chalmers (Presbyterian) in 1814 with his Gap Theory and George Stanley Faber (Anglican theologian) promoting the Day/Age view (see here).

Even the highly respected and often quoted pastor, Charles Spurgeon, of England, accepted the old-earth geological theory:

Years ago we thought the beginning of this world was when Adam came upon it; but we have discovered that thousands of years before that God was preparing chaotic matter to make it a fit abode for man, putting races of creatures upon it, who might die and leave behind the marks of his handiwork and marvelous skill, before he tried his hand on man.

I would like to question Spurgeon’s claims with my own question, “And we know this how?” Apart from an infinite Creator imparting to man the origins of time, space, and matter, we are left with presuppositions and worldview claims as to the creation (for lack of a better term) of life as we know it. This is an area we call historical science, which differs greatly from observational (testable) science.

We assume that geologists and scientists have actual facts to back up their evolutionary age of the earth claims. However, these claims are not in fact factual, but more simply, promoted as such. Christians unquestioned acceptance of such claims deteriorates the authority of God’s Word beginning with, “In the beginning, God created.” (Genesis 1:1)

Let’s look at an overview of the thoughts behind Theistic Evolution Theory and Gap Theory.

Theistic Evolution

  • God used evolution over long ages to create the universe.
  • Supports molecules to man evolution.
  • Does not believe in a historical Adam and Eve as the Scriptures teach both in the Old and New Testaments.
  • Makes God, instead of Adam and Eve, responsible for sin and death with the thought that the sedimentary, fossil bearing layers of the (man-made) geological column were laid down over long periods of time rather than during a period of days as a result of the world-wide flood. (See Genesis 6-9)

This theory purports that God set up the conditions for life and then walked away. Further, that man was not a creation of God, but that he evolved from lesser life forms over a period of perhaps millions of years. This is problematic for several reasons, one of which is that men and women would have evolved from multiple ape-like creatures all over the earth (in line with evolutionary thinking) and not from one mother-father pair. Meaning that there would not be a literal, albeit evolved, Adam and Eve by which sin would have entered the world. Jesus was the last Adam come to save his created from their sin. Apart from a literal Adam to usher in sin, there is no other reason to believe that God was therefore not the initiator of sin. Therefore, no reason for Him to redeem that which He would have created as evil in the beginning. Certainly the Bible does not support this line of teaching.

For Christians who are content to accept salvation and the gospel message of the New Testament and neglect the Old Testament, the above line of thinking should raise many questions. Questions for which there are answers to be found. (Matthew 7:7)

Gap Theory (Ruin/Reconstruction Theory)

  • God created earth and let it sit for untold millions or billions of years.
  • Lucifer and the fallen angels fell prior to the creation week and roamed the earth with spiritless “man-like” creatures and animals.
  • Sin was so rampant that God decided to flood the earth and start over—Lucifer’s flood.
  • God began again in Genesis 1:2 and proceeded with the creation week.

The Gap Theory is weak in that the fossil record from Lucifer’s flood would have been replaced with the fossil record from Noah’s flood and would have erased all the “evidence” of an old earth and Lucifer’s flood. Most importantly, once again, where do we see this accounted for in Scripture? Finally, is it necessary? Why do we need to insert more information into the Creation Account that is not found within the Scriptures? Is it merely in an effort justify the Biblical account with the claims of an evolutionary worldview? A worldview which secular society promotes as truth, and additionally, which exists only as a necessity to explain the world apart from a deity’s involvement. If so, then we need to question evolution to determine if the claims of evolution are supported with scientific data.

If this post has peeked your interest in the origins of man and creation, then I would refer you to this post (click here) for a list of recommended resources. Thank you for seeking for the Truth with me today.

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A Gift for the Graduate in Your Life

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Last year, Ron and I were honored to be two contributors among others such as Dr. Jay Strack, Chuck Allen, Dr. Danny Akin, Brent Crowe, and Dave Edwards in Dr Jay Strack’s book, #CriticalIssues #AbsoluteAnswers. Editor, Jack Countryman,  and the team at Thomas Nelson packaged a wonderful resource for youth, parents, and youth workers to benefit from. #CriticalIssues #AbsoluteAnswers tackles 70 issues that teens face and the questions concerning them. This book provides Bible-based answers to such questions surrounding identity, self-esteem, leadership, missions, faith, pain, sex, divorce, homosexuality, and discipleship, plus much much more.

It is with humbled and excited hearts that we are proud to share this wonderful resource with you. Our teens are bombarded with the pull of the world and it is our hearts desire that they acquire biblical answers and direction to choose the narrow path towards Christ-likeness and ultimately Home.


Ron and I would love to send this wonderful resource to you! You can purchase a copy by clicking the link above for purchase via Amazon. Or via PayPal by clicking on the link below.

An excellent gift for the eighth grader entering his first year of high school or the senior running out the door to college. If you would like to make a bulk order for your youth-group or for graduation gifts, please e-mail me at Brooke.Cooney.1@gmail.com and we would love to make that happen for you.

 God bless you and the lives of the youth that you influence.

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Suffering Servant, Resurrected Lamb

Jesus Messiah

The Redeemer came to reunify the created to the Creator. Like the Good Shepherd that goes after the one lost lamb, He came so that all the lost have freedom to choose life. Life not given at first breath, but by means of faith in the One who died in our place.

But is there proof for our belief that Jesus is the Messiah and that he was resurrected from the dead?

Today, I hope to strengthen the minds of those of you who answered yes, and guide those who would answer no to the question above. We will look at one aspect of the proof of Jesus being the Messiah via the Old Testament prophecies and another for the proof of His resurrection from an eyewitness account.

First, in Isaiah 53, the prophet, Isaiah, prophesied about Jesus, the Messiah, 700 years before His birth and 733 years before His cruel death on the cross.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

Today, the response to Isaiah 53 for the Jewish and rabbinical theologians is that the Suffering Servant described in Isaiah 53 was not referring to the coming Messiah, but to the nation of Israel.  The first Jew to propose that Isaiah 53 is referring to the nation of Israel was Shlomo Yitzchaki, more familiarly known as Rashi (c. 1040-1105). According to Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek in their book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (2004),  there are at least three reasons why Isaiah 53 cannot be referring to the nation of Israel:

  • First, unlike Israel, the Servant is sinless. (53:9) If Israel is sinless, then why did God give the Jews a sacrificial system? Why did they have a Day of Atonement? Why did they constantly need prophets to warn them to stop sinning and to come back to God?
  • Second, unlike Israel, the Suffering Servant is a lamb who submits without any resistance whatsoever (53:7) History show us that Israel certainly is not a lamb–she lies down for no one.
  • Third, unlike Israel, the Suffering Servant dies as a substitutionary atonement for the sins of others (53:4-6, 8, 10-12) But Israel has not died, nor is she paying for the sins of others. No one is redeemed on account of what the nation of Israel does. Nations, and the individuals that comprise them, are punished for their own sins.

(Geisler and Turek, 2004, pp. 333-334)

Who alone in all of human history can match the description of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53? None but Christ alone.

Secondly, as we consider the claims of the disciples and apostles that Christ indeed rose from the dead, let us look at Paul. Paul is one of the primary proofs of the resurrection of Jesus. Let’s consider Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. Acts 9.

 Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? (Acts 9:4)

It is imperative that we distinguish this is Jesus addressing Paul for two reasons (verse 5). 

First, this is pertinent in the revelation that when a Christ-follower is suffering, Christ Himself suffers too. What is done to the Body of Christ, the church, is done unto Jesus Himself. The Bible clearly tells us that persecution of Christ-followers is to be expected and that we should rejoice in our suffering. Saul of Tarsus, later called Paul, was a persecutor of the early church “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” (Acts 9:1)

Secondly, it is imperative that we note this is in fact Jesus talking with Paul because he is another eyewitness of the risen Savior. More specifically, an eyewitness by a professing enemy of the gospel following the ascension of Jesus into heaven. (See Acts 26) Paul’s conversion is significant in this fact as he was a primary witness of Jesus. Paul did not come to be a Christ-follower from a secondary retelling of the gospel; rather, he encountered the risen Savior himself.

The Old Testament prepares the way, and the New Testament documents the prophecies fulfilled. Now we who remain are looking to the clouds and eagerly awaiting His second coming.

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Reliability of the Scriptures Part III

 Archaeological

What have archaeologists discovered that would lead us to believe in the historical claims of the New Testament? Thankfully, the answer to this question is, archaeology has unearthed a great deal of support for the historical accounts of the Bible. Today I will provide a springboard for further studies of the wealth of archaeological support.

  • “There are at least thirty characters in the NT who have been confirmed as historical by archaeology or non-Christian sources.” (Geisler, Norman L. and Turek, Frank, 2004)
  • The John Rylands Papyrus, discovered by Grenfeld in Egypt in 1920, provides the oldest known fragment of a New Testament Manuscript. The small scrap from John’s Gospel chapter nineteen verses thirty-one to thirty-three, and thirty-seven to thirty-eight, was one specific finding that helped to fix a date to the gospel of John. Papyrologists dated the scrap to 125 A.D., “but since it was so far south into Egypt, it successfully put an end to the then-popular attempt to late-date John’s Gospel to the second century rather than to the traditional first century date of A.D. 85–90.” (Walter C. Kaiser, 2007; Walter C. Kaiser, 2007)
  • The well-known, well-referenced Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1948 in caves at Qumran in the Judean Desert, near the northwest end of the Dead Sea. This archaeological find provided around eight-hundred manuscripts of every book (in part or the whole) of the OT except for Esther. “Prior to that, the earliest Hebrew texts dated to around A.D. 1000, but the scrolls at Qumran are generally more than one thousand years older! These Hebrew texts illustrate that a thousand years of copying had provided us with an amazingly pure text, with one of the best examples being the book of Isaiah where only three words had slight modifications. (Walter C. Kaiser, 2007)

Given the number of manuscript copies (here), the agreement between manuscripts (here), and the archaeological support of Biblical, historical characters and events, we can say with confidence that the Bible is a historically reliable text. Further, that it is the most historically reliable text of all of ancient documents.

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The Reliability of the Scriptures Part II

Textual Variants

We’ve seen how the number of manuscripts for the New Testament exceeds all other ancient texts by thousands; as well as observed the fact that the New Testament books were well referenced in historical documents outside of the NT.

Now let’s look at the variants within the manuscripts. It should be noted that the more manuscript copies available, the more variants.

A textual variant is any time the New Testament manuscripts have alternative wordings…By far the most significant category of variants is spelling differences. Spelling differences account for roughly 75 percent of all variants.(McDowell, 2005)

Spelling variants, followed by pronoun and synonym differences account for the variants we see within the manuscripts. In fact, three scholars: NT scholar Bruce Metzger, Greek scholar A. T. Robertson, and Sir Frederick Kenyon all agree that the New Testament we have today is 99.9% accurate and by far the most accurate of any known ancient text. (Geisler, 2007)

We know that the manuscripts far outnumber all other ancient documents and are accurate according to the academic and historical tests of scholars, but how did the New Testament Cannon come to be? How do we know that the books included in the Bible are meant to be there? Three criteria were deemed necessary. Meeting these criteria, the entirety of the Old Testament and the New Testament were first agreed upon at the Council of Laodicea in 363 A. D. followed by the Council of Hippo (393 A.D.) and the Council of Carthage (397 A.D.):

  1. The books must have apostolic authority—either they were written by eyewitness apostles or by followers of apostles.
  2. Conformity to the rule of faith. Was the document congruent with the basic Christian tradition that the church recognized as normative?
  3. Did the document have continuous acceptance and usage by the church at large?

(Strobel, 1998)

In 2005, former evangelical and present New Testament professor at the Universtiy of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Bart Erhman, broke from the faith and published the New York Times Bestseller, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. As recently as March of 2014, Erhman continues to lead people astray with his claims that Jesus was given deity postmortem by his disciples in his latest book, How Jesus Became God.

In speeches and writings, Erhman points out the differences in the gospel accounts of Jesus’ final words on the cross in the books of Mark and Luke. Additionally, he makes bogus claims that Jesus’ was not buried and further that the eyewitnesses of Jesus following his resurrection were merely hallucinations. As Lee Strobel conveys in his book, The Case for Christ, Dr. Gary Collins, a psychologist, explains, “Hallucinations are individual occurrences. By their very nature only one person can see a given hallucination at a time. They certainly aren’t’ something which can be seen by a group of people.” (Strobel, 1998)

Erhman’s claims can be rebutted.

These divergent, eyewitness accounts within the gospels are not barriers to our faith but are important in proving the authenticity of the texts.

Complete harmonization would indicate the accounts were all from a single source or editor. Each author of the gospels includes early and unique material that eyewitnesses can provide. (Norman L.Geisler and Frank Turek, 2004)

Further, the New Testament writers include embarrassing details, carefully distinguished between their own words and those of Christ, and refer to facts that readers of their day could either verify or repudiate. Finally, after imprisonment, beatings, and martyrdom none of the disciples recanted the gospel. The disciples either died for the truth or a known lie. As many can attest, “liars make poor martyrs.” (Habermas, 2004)

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The Reliability of the Scriptures Part 1

Proof of Historicity

Are the scriptures that we preach as truth historically accurate compared with other documents of their time and in light of archaeological finds? Can we trust that scribes accurately copied the scriptures as they were passed across the ancient world and how do we know that what comprises our Bible is what the original authors wrote? These are reasonable questions which you or someone you know may have asked and for which there are ready answers.

Today we will look at the historicity of the scriptures. 

The New Testament is comprised of twenty-seven different books written by nine different authors over a twenty to fifty year period. All New Testament books (scrolls) were written before 100 A.D. which is about seventy years after the death of Jesus. However, most books were probably written much earlier, before 70 A.D. placing the manuscripts forty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. This reasoning is due to the omission within the New Testament writings of the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem which occurred in A.D. 70. This omission would be akin to leaving out the bombing of the World Trade Centers on 9/11 when writing a text on American History.

In order to prove the reliability of any ancient text, historians look at the time gap between the original and first surviving copies of ancient documents. The New Testament manuscripts found to date were written within twenty-five years of the original documents. The next closest in years is Homer’s Iliad at five-hundred years between the original and first surviving copies.  (Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, 2004)

Next, historians look at the number of manuscripts (copies of the original documents). The Bible has an embarrassment of manuscripts. The number of manuscript copies in the Greek alone is nearly 5, 700 and add to that more than 19,000 manuscripts in other languages and the nearly 25,000 manuscripts (some total Bibles others books, pages, or portions of scripture) vastly outnumber the next closest works, the Iliad by Homer with 643 manuscripts. Most other ancient works are considered reliable with fewer than a dozen manuscripts. (Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, 2004) (McDowell J., 1999)

A closer look at the gospels and sources outside the scriptural authors on the events recorded therein, further add to the authenticity and reliability of the text. Consider:

  • The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are historical biographies written by firsthand eyewitnesses (Matthew and John) or recorded from written and oral traditions passed down and carefully documented by early apostles (Mark and Luke).
  • Early Christian leaders between 120-170 A.D. including Papias, Justin, and Irenaeus, reported that Matthew and John were two of the twelve Disciples of Christ and attribute them to writing the gospels baring their names. Further, they record that Luke was a companion to Paul and wrote the gospel we know as Luke and that Mark had written what had been told to him by his companion, Peter. (Licona, 2012)
  • Twenty-five of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament  are recorded and referred to within the writings of the early church fathers, Clement, writing from Rome (c. A.D. 95), Ignatius, writing from Smyrna in Asia Minor (c. 107) and Polycarp, writing from Smyrna in Asia Minor (c. 110). Further, including Jewish, Roman historian, Josephus, there are ten known non-Christian writers who mention Jesus within 150 years of his life.(Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, 2004)

When tested, the historicity of the Bible withstands the tests better than any other ancient document. Next we will consider the variants within the gospel accounts.

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