Category: Doctrines

A Post-Truth Society

A Post-Truth Society

If you have been closely following Pope Francis in the news and on YouTube, you must have noticed how he is going further and further away from biblical truth. Yet, people do not seem to care. Are we now living in a post-truth society? Whatever happened to objective truth?

Recently, Pope Francis said that Christians should not evangelize and tell others the Gospel. 

Well, I’d say that is very unbiblical considering what Jesus has spoken to His disciples before He ascended into heaven.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Is the Truth still Absolute?

I think it is interesting that depression and suicide rates are at record highs. Why do so many people feel like life is pointless and hopeless? One other thing, I think it is also interesting that every other religion is accepted except Christianity in our relativistic society.

If all religions are relative, isn’t that an absolute statement itself? How can we say that there is evil in the world if there is no absolute standard of right and wrong? There are too many contradictions between the world religions. How can they all lead to heaven?

Why should we say the Holocaust and War are bad if there is no standard of good and evil? What makes your feelings any more right than anyone else’s?

Jesus said in John 14:6 that only He could satisfy the requirements for anyone to reach God. We all are sinners whether we like it or not and God is holy. Nothing we could ever do or say will make us worthy of salvation. As Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Clearly, we cannot earn our salvation. That is why Jesus had to be God and Man, virgin-born, live a sinless life, die and shed his blood to pay for our sin debt, and rise again bodily so that we might have eternal life.

That is the gospel, and the truth for today and forever.

Sharing the Gospel

Contrary to what Pope Francis said I am going to evangelize the lost because they need the truth. I will not stand by and watch sinners die and end up in hell without hearing the truth that God loves them.

Have you accepted God’s free gift of salvation from your sin and desire to change your direction? If not, why not do it right now? “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Jesus is coming soon. In fact, He might be coming sooner than we are expecting. Are you ready to meet Him in the air?

Some may say, “Well, I’ve heard preachers say that Jesus is coming again a long time ago and He hasn’t come yet. Perhaps He is not coming back at all.” I completely understand this argument. But 2 Peter 3:9 says this:

2 Peter 3:9

Closing Thoughts

Do not be deceived. Be careful not to be sucked into this post-truth society that we see today. Receive Jesus Christ now as your Lord and Savior, and then go out there to share this good news to the lost. Contrary to what Pope Francis said, Christians must share the Gospel with urgency because they have been commissioned by none other than the Lord Himself.

Christian, will you commit to God that you will give the gospel to those that God puts in your path?

Biblical Truths for Christians Today

Biblical Truths for Christians Today

As Christians, we want to make sure we are living in accordance to the will of God, which is why we go the Word of God, study it and draw from it the principles we should apply for holy, Christian living.

One thing we need to understand is that all of God’s principles are based on His character and His laws. So, in this short devotional post, I would like to share certain biblical truths that God has impressed upon my heart.

The Truth for Today

“Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth.” – Psalm 119:142

God’s Law, Righteousness and Truth are all eternal because God is eternal unlike us. We have broken His Law, which makes us unrighteous and liars. This world is broken because all people have broken God’s Law.

As Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

We are not able to save ourselves as so many religions want to tell you. That is why these principles are impossible in our own human abilities.

Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

No person on earth is able to be good enough to be like God. There would be no point to be living even a moral life if we can’t be good. Jesus said in Matthew 19:17, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

God is the Standard of Good

Honest people know that there is an objective standard of good. That conscience is evidence of an eternal God that is the objective standard of good. That conscience also tells us we cannot maintain that standard in real life.

That is why Jesus, the God-Man, came to earth to save us from the punishment of our sin as 1 Timothy 1:15 says.

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

God is the Absolute Standard of Good

Because He was God, He did not have sin that required His death and yet He laid down His life for you and me because He loves us.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Some might ask how can Jesus give life if He is dead? Good question.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 answers that question.

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Yes, Jesus died and rose again bodily to save you and me. His righteousness is given to us when we get saved as promised in Romans 4:24-25.

“But also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

Living According to the Truth

Because of that glorious salvation and imputed righteousness, Jesus enables us to live Life According to the Truth. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

With God’s enabling power found in the Holy Spirit, you and I can live out these principles in our everyday lives. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He specifically instructed His disciples to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon them before they go about witnessing for Him in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:4, 8).

Salvation by Faith and Confession

Are you sure you are saved? Have you received God’s gift of eternal life? Can you claim to be living a victorious Christian life? If you know in your heart that you are not right with God, why not get right with God now by confessing with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead.

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” (See Romans 10:9-11.)

Closing Words

God wants your heart so that He can change you from the inside out. These principles are not just a list of rules that He pushes on us. He changes who we are as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Has that change occurred in you? If not, why not ask Him to save you today?


Here’s a beautiful song entitled, “Change my Heart Oh God.” You can sing along and make it your personal prayer to the Lord.

 

Answering Tough Questions About the Bible (Part Two)

Answering Tough Questions About the Bible (Part Two)

In part one of this article, we answered questions that have to do with the origin of the Bible, its nature, the authors, and how they got their message from God. As we continue with the tough questions about the Bible, we will be answering questions about the inspiration and authority of the Bible, its reliability and the reliability of the biblical witnesses.

The Inspiration of the Bible

What do we mean when we say that the Bible is inspired? 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV) declares that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Combine this truth with 2 Peter 1:20-21, which affirms that the Scriptures were given by men who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” and we see that inspiration as a whole is the process by which Spirit-moved writers produced God-breathed writings.

Are the very words of the Bible inspired by God, or only the ideas?

Numerous Scriptures make it evident that the locus of revelation and inspiration is the written Word – the Scriptures (Greek gapha) – not simply the idea or even the writer, but his actual writing.

Notice the reference to revealed or divinely inspired “Scripture” (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21), “words taught by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13), “the Book” (2 Chronicles 34:14), “His (God’s) word” (2 Samuel 23:2), “My (God’s) words” (Isaiah 59:21), and “the words that the Lord Almighty had sent” (Zechariah 7:12).

When referring to the Old Testament as the authoritative Word of God, the New Testament most often (more than ninety times) uses the phrase “it is written” (eg. Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). Jesus described this written word as that which “comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

So important were the exact words of God that Jeremiah was told, “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command you to speak to them. Do not diminish a word” (Jeremiah 26:2).

What does it mean when we say that the Bible is Inspired

So, it was not simply that men were free to state God’s word in their own words, the very choice of words was from God. Exodus 24:4 records, “And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord.”

In Deuteronomy 18:18, Moses writes, “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.”

Sometimes God chose to emphasize even the tenses of verbs.

Jesus said, “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-32). Paul based his argument on a singular versus a plural noun in Galatians 3:16, insisting, “Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.”

Even one letter (the letter s, for example) can make a big difference. Jesus went so far as to declare that even parts of letters are inspired. In English, if a t is not crossed, it looked like an i. Thus, Jesus said, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).

Does the Bible claim to be inspired on all topics or just spiritual ones?

Inspiration does guarantee the truth of everything the Bible teaches, implies, or entails (spiritually of factually). Paul affirmed that all Scripture, not just some, is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). Peter declared that no prophecy of Scripture comes from man but it all comes from God (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Jesus told His disciples, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). In this same discourse He added, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

The church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). And the early church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42), recorded for us in the pages of the New Testament, which was considered to be sacred Scripture along with the Old Testament.

The inspiration of God, then, extends to every part of Scripture. It includes everything God affirmed (or denied) about any topic included in Scripture. It is inclusive of not only what the Bible teaches explicitly but also what it teaches implicitly. It covers not only spiritual matters but factual ones as well.

The all-knowing God cannot be wrong about anything He teaches or implies. Jesus verified historical and scientific matters, including the creation of Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4-5), the flood during Noah’s time (Matthew 24:37-39), and even Jona being swallowed by a great fish (Matthew 12:40-42).

Indeed, Jesus said, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things” (John 3:12)?

Why do some people misunderstand what is meant by the inspiration of the Bible?

The Bible is inspired by God with regard to everything it teaches. There are, however, a number of common misunderstandings:

  • That every part of a parable has to convey a fact rather than help the parable illustrate its point (see Luke 18:2).
  • That everything it records is true rather than something merely taught or implied (Genesis 3:4).
  • That no exaggerations (hyperboles) are used (Psalm 6:6; Luke 14:26).
  • That all statements about God and creation are purely literal (Job 38:7; Hebrews 4:13).
  • That all factual assertions are technically precise by modern standards as opposed to a common observational standpoint (Joshua 10:12).
  • That all citations of Scripture must be verbatim as opposed to faithful to the meaning (Psalm 2:1 and Acts 4:25).
  • That all citations of Scripture must have the same application as the original (Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15) rather than the same interpretation (meaning).
  • That the same truth can be said in only one way as opposed to many ways, as it is in the Gospels.
  • That whatever a writer personally believed, as opposed to merely what he actually affirmed in Scripture, is true (Matthew 15:26).
  • That truth is exhaustively revealed or treated as opposed to adequately presented in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:12).
  • That quotations imply the truth of everything in the source it is citing rather than just the part cited (Titus 1:12).
  • That a particular grammatical construction will always be the customary one rather than an adequate one to convey the truth.

How do we know these misunderstandings aren’t part of what inspiration covers?

What the Bible says must be understood in view of what the Bible shows. What it preaches must be read in view of what it practices. The doctrine of Scripture is to be understood in light of the data of Scripture.

For instance, the Bible uses round numbers. Thus, when the Bible claims to be true, it does not mean to exclude the use of round numbers (2 Chronicles 4:1-22). The same is true of hyperboles, figures of speech, observational language, and literary genre (as poetry, parable, and the like).

In short, everything the Bible affirms is true, but what is meant by truth must be understood in the light of the phenomena or data of Scripture.

The Authority of the Bible

Does the Bible claim to have divine authority? The Bible uses many other words or phrases to describe itself in ways that validate its divine authority. Jesus said that the Bible is indestructible (Matthew 5:18); it is infallible (or completely reliable and authoritative) or “unbreakable” (see John 10:35); it has final and decisive authority (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10), and it is sufficient for faith and practice.

Jesus spoke of the sufficiency of the Jewish Scriptures, “‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). Paul added this: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

How far does this divine authority extend?

The extent of divine authority in Scripture includes all that is written, even the very words – including even the smallest parts of words and the tenses of verbs. Even though the Bible was not verbally dictated by God to humans, nonetheless, the result is just as perfect as if it had been.

For the biblical authors claimed that God is the source of the very words of Scripture, since He supernaturally superintended the process by which they wrote, using their own vocabulary and style to record God’s message (2 Peter 1:20-21).

The Reliability of the Bible

Evangelicals affirm the reliability of the biblical text from God to us. Can we trust the Bible historically? Is it really a reliable record?

Since the historical reliability of the Bible is a crucial link in knowing that the Bible is the Word of God, it is important to address these questions.

Answering Tough Questions About the Bible

Does the Bible have errors in it?

The original text of the Bible does not teach any error. The logic of the Bible’s errorlessness is straightforward:

1) God cannot err (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).

2) The Bible is God’s Word (John 10:34-35).

3) Therefore, the Bible cannot contain errors.

Since the Scriptures are breathed out by God and God cannot breathe out falsehood, it follows that the Bible cannot contain any falsehood.

Are there errors in Bible Manuscripts and translations?

There are some minor copyist errors in the Bible manuscripts. A couple of examples will suffice. The Masoretic Text of 2 Chronicles 22:2 says Ahaziah was forty-two, yet 2 Kings 8:26 asserts that Ahaziah was twenty-two. He could not have been forty-two (a copyist error), or he would have been older than his father.

Also, 2 Chronicles 9:25 affirms that Solomon had four thousand horse stalls, but the Masoretic Text of 1 Kings 4:26 says he had forty thousand horse stalls, which would have been way more than needed for the twelve thousand horsemen he had.

It is important to keep these things in mind with regard to these copyist errors:

  • No original manuscript has ever been found with an error in it.
  • They are relatively rare.
  • In most cased we know which one is wrong from the context or the material found in parallel passages.
  • In no case is the doctrine of Scripture affected.
  • They vouch for the accuracy of the copying process since the scribes who copied them knew there were errors in the manuscripts but they were duty-bound to copy what the text said.
  • They don’t affect the central message of the Bible.

Someone, may, in fact, receive a message with errors in it, yet have 100 percent of the message come through clearly. For example, suppose you received a message from Western Union that read as follows: “Y#u have won 20 million dollars.”

No doubt you would gladly pick up your money. And if the telegram read in any of the ways that follow, you would have no doubt at all:

  • “Yo# have won 20 million dollars.”
  • “You #ave won 20 million dollars.”
  • You h#ve won 20 million dollars.”

Why would we be surer if there are more errors? Because each error is in a different place, and with it, we get another confirmation of every other letter in the original message.

Three things are important to note. First, even with one line, error and all, 100 percent of the message comes through. Second, the more lines, the more errors – but the more errors, the surer we are of what the intended message really was.

Finally, there are hundreds of times more Bible manuscripts than there are lines in the above example. And there is a greater percentage of error in this telegram than in all the collated biblical manuscripts.

Are the copies of the Bible reliable?

The biblical scribes were meticulous in how they copied Scripture. The overall reliability has been measured in several ways.

First, with regard to any major doctrine in the Bible, there has been no loss whatsoever. Every important truth of Scripture from the original text has been preserved intact in the Old Testament Hebrew and the New Testament Greek manuscripts.

Second, errors that exist in the copies are in minor matters, such as numbers that affect no major or minor doctrinal matter in the Bible. In fact, in most of these, we know either from the common sense of the text, the context, or other passages which ones are correct.

Third, not only is 100 percent of all the major truths and the vast majority of minor truth of Scripture preserved in the manuscripts we have (and in the translations based on them), but more than 99 percent of the original text can be reconstructed from the manuscripts we possess.

The reason is twofold: (1) we have thousands of manuscripts, and (2) we have early manuscripts. The proximity to the original text and the multiplicity of the manuscripts enable textual scholars to accurately reconstruct the original text with more than 99 percent accuracy.

Renowned Greek scholar Sir Frederic Kenyon affirmed that all manuscripts agree on the essential correctness of 99 percent of the verses in the New Testament. Another noted Greek scholar, A. T. Robertson, said the real concerns of textual criticism are on “a thousand part of the entire text” (making the New Testament 99.9 percent pure).

The Reliability of the Biblical Witnesses

Were the biblical witnesses reliable? Yes, they were very reliable for many reasons.

First, the writers of Scripture were by and large contemporaries of the events. Moses was a witness of the events in Exodus through Deuteronomy (see Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 31:24). Joshua was a witness of the happenings reported in his book (Joshua 24:26), as were Samuel (1 Samuel 10:25, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah after him.

The same is true in the New Testament. Matthew was a disciple of Jesus. Mark was a contemporary and associate of the apostle Peter (1 Peter 5:13). Luke was a contemporary who knew the eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4). And John was a disciple of Jesus and eyewitness of the events (1 John 1:1-2).

Second, in the case of the New Testament writers, all eight (or nine?) of them were either apostles or associated with the apostles as eyewitnesses and/or contemporaries: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, and Jude. These were all men who held the highest standards of ethics and were willing to die for their beliefs, as most of them did.

Third, these writers were credible as indicated by:

1. Their tendency to doubt whether Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28:17; Mark 16:3; Luke 24:11; John 20:24-29).

2. The inclusion of material that reflected badly on themselves (see Matthew 16:23; Mark 14:47).

3. The multiple accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, etc.) that establish their words by two or three witnesses as the court required (Deuteronomy 17:6).

4. The divergence in accounts that reveals they were not in collusion (see Matthew 28:5; John 20:12).

5. Confirmation of the accounts through hundreds of archaeological finds.

6. The evidence for early dates for the basic material about Jesus’ death and resurrection by A.D. 55-60.

Noted historian Colin Hemer confirmed that Luke wrote Acts by A.D. 62. But Luke wrote the gospel of Luke, which says the same basic things about Jesus that Matthew and Mark say before he wrote Acts (say, by A.D. 60)

Further, Bible critics admit that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15:1-9, which tells of the death and resurrection of Jesus, by about A.D. 55. This was only twenty-two years after Jesus’ death, while more than 250 witnesses of His resurrection were still alive (see 1 Corinthians 15:6).

Would the New Testament witnesses have stood up in a court of law?

Simon Greenleaf, one of history’s greatest legal minds, former Harvard law professor, and author of a book on legal evidence, carefully applied the rules of legal evidence to the Gospel accounts in his book The Testimony of the Evangelists.

Greenleaf argued that if the Gospels were submitted to the scrutiny of a court of law, “then it is believed that every honest and impartial man will act consistently with that result, by receiving their testimony in all the extent of its import.”

He added, “Let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding facts and circumstances; and let their testimony be sifted, as if it were given in a court justice, on the side of the adverse party, the witness being subjected to rigorous cross-examination. The result, it is confidently believed, will be an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth.”

Here’s a 3-minute video presentation by Daniel B. Wallace explaining why we can still trust the New Testament even when the original manuscripts are different.

Conclusion

The Bible both claims and proves to be the Word of God. Both the internal and external evidence overwhelmingly reveal the accuracy of the Bible.

Having examined its origin, nature, and reliability, we may confidently assert that the Scriptures came from God through men of God who recorded it in the Word of God.

Here’ part one of Answering Tough Questions About the Bible.


*Reference:  Who Made God? (Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith)

*Recommended Resource: From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible
By Norman L. Geisler & William E. Nix

The Bible was written in multiple languages by dozens of authors whose lives spanned a period of more than fifteen hundred years. How did it all come together?

Best-selling authors Norman Geisler and William Nix thoroughly answer this question and many more in this revised and expanded edition of a classic which has sold more than 78,000 copies. Helpful charts, photos, and indices have been added, rendering this book ideally suited for Bible students, pastors, and professors.

Major topics addressed include: theories of inspiration, the process of canonization, major manuscripts and recent discoveries, textual criticism, Greek and Latin translations, and modern English translations. The entire field of general biblical introduction is covered.

This is a long-trusted resource for understanding why we can trust the Scriptures really are God’s word.

The Place for Christmas

The Place for Christmas

Although many Christians today say that Jesus Christ is the reason for the season, He is still out of place for many people in all the days of their lives and even during Christmas time. It’s just sad that Christmas is supposed to be all about Jesus, yet people neglect Him because of many concerns, especially for the occasion.

Jesus is knocking into our life but we do not have any room for Him because we are too preoccupied with the things of life. People’s thoughts are full of anxieties, parties, wishes of new material things, food and many other more. But God wants to dwell in us.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

Luke 2:1-7 (ESV)

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.” 

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Background of the Passage

It was the time when Caesar Augustus wrote a decree that the people should be counted-in in a form of registration, not to where they dwell but rather each to his own home town. At that time, Joseph and Mary were living in Galilee in Nazareth which is about 132km away from Joseph’s hometown, Bethlehem in Judea.

Although Mary was on the verge of delivering baby Jesus, they had to travel in compliance with the decree. There could not be a good reason for the couple to travel to Bethlehem at this point in time, especially when Mary was about to deliver the baby apart from mandatorily complying with the decree

However, this is all in fulfillment of what was prophesied hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus that the ruler of Israel shall come from the clans of Judah in Bethlehem.

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2 ESV).

At that time, many people were traveling back to Bethlehem to register and given that Mary was pregnant, they might have taken a slower pace. We could assume that most of the people arrived earlier than they did, such that all the guest rooms in the houses were already crowded with people when they finally arrived.

Why Was Jesus Born in a Manger?

The Bible does not give much detail on the circumstances of the birth of Jesus, perhaps for us to give more attention to the Savior Jesus Christ who was born that night. As to why Mary ended up having baby Jesus laid in a manger rather than on a comfortable warm crib or bed was not explicitly mentioned in the passage.

After all, were they not in Joseph’s hometown where he would have close relatives to welcome and help them out? Did the people just stand from afar watching Mary give birth without extending a helping hand? There are different versions of the Christmas story that we have heard from our childhood which are still popular today.

One version is that they arrived in Bethlehem and no “inn-keeper” was ready to take them in because all rooms were already occupied. No one was ready to give up their own space for an ordinary-looking couple.

Not a single “inn-keeper” was willing to eject anyone in favor of the pregnant couple and so when it was time for Mary to deliver the baby, there was no option other than the place where the animals are kept. Since the birthing place is a stable, then the manger seems to be a reasonable place to lay down the baby.

Another version is that they were already in Bethlehem days before Mary’s time to deliver the baby and since Joseph’s clan (the lineage of David) comes from Bethlehem, they were hosted in a guest room of one of Joseph’s relative’s house.

But because so many people were already there who came before them, the guest room was so crowded that there was not enough space to comfortably deliver the baby with a bit of privacy. This leaves them no other option but the place where the animals are kept. Thus, once again, the stable being the birthing place, makes laying down the baby in a manger reasonable.

There could be so many other versions of the Christmas story within man’s creative imagination but all of them would only agree on what the bible says  “No place”  in the inn and the baby laid in a manger.” The house is full! There was no special treatment, not enough space for Him.

This led to where the delivery could take place other than the comforts and privacy of a room. The birth taking place where the animals are kept makes the manger the safest place for a mother to lay down her baby wrapped in swaddling cloth. What a pitiful sight! Baby Jesus who was and is the Savior of us all, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the beloved Son of God was out of place at the time of His birth. 

The circumstances of Jesus’ birth are not worthy of the Son of God! But all these took place in perfect alignment to the will of God.

God Wants to Dwell in Us

What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make My dwelling among them and walk among them and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore, go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18 ESV).

The best place that we could offer to the Lord is our heart. But what kind of heart does the Lord want to dwell in?

A Humble Heart

But He gives more grace. Therefore, it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 ESV).

There could never be anything better than having the grace of God dwell in the lowly heart so His promised salvation will be received. Because of God’s grace, the blessing will not only be spiritual but material prosperity in this life.

Our prideful aspirations in life cause us more trouble than light. We can never be self-sufficient for it is only by grace, the undeserving favor we receive from God that all circumstances in our life get into the right place.

Jesus Himself had a humble beginning as we just read in the story of His birth. It is not because He deserves all those things but that He wanted to experience the things that most of us go through; the pain the most of us go through. King as He is, with all humility, He submitted Himself to the Father’s will.

The Place for Christmas

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV).

Being a carpenter’s son, Jesus’ family here on earth may not have been rich materially. But because of His great love for us, He gave up His richness as God by setting aside His glory and was born in flesh as an ordinary man so that through His poverty we can become rich.

Paul here does not only mean our spiritual richness but he was also talking about our prosperity in all things, here on earth! We don’t need to wait until we get to heaven to have a glorious life.

We “might” become rich means we may experience God’s provisions; not only what we need but more so that we will have plenty to share with others (2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT).

“Therefore, it was necessary for Him to be made in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17 NLT).

The incarnation was Jesus’ humble way of getting His mission accomplished here on earth. And if we were to be like Christ, we need to have a humble heart for Him to dwell in.

An Empty Heart

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 ESV).

We must be empty so we can be filled! We need to provide a room for Him in our hearts so he can fit in! Our hearts are so populated and polluted by so many things in this life. God and sin cannot co-exist in our hearts. We, therefore, need to empty our hearts of all the heavy loads of sins and invite Jesus to dwell in it.

We need to empty our hearts with our uncleanliness, our filthiness, our anxieties, our worries, our pride, and all the things not pleasing to God. If God can only dwell in a clean heart, let it then always be our prayer and desire that a pure heart be created in us. A clean heart with clean thoughts and good deeds.

No one can do that except through the washing of our sins with the most precious blood of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in us!

In the same way that God and sin cannot be together, we cannot be cold and warm at the same time. Or else, God won’t reject us (Revelation 3:16 NIV).

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8 ESV).

Only those with a pure heart will see and enter the kingdom of God. Having a pure heart means having pure thoughts, pure intentions. Yes, we sin but we do not dwell in sin. We pass through it but we should choose not to stay in it.

“In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:20-21 NLT).

Let us, therefore, get rid of our old heart and keep a pure heart so Jesus can dwell in us and use us for His glory.

An Available Heart

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land (Isaiah 18-19 ESV).

God wants us to respond to His invitation: “Come now and let us talk…let us be clear to one another”. He came to forgive us sins and wash us clean no matter what our past is.

Willingness + Obedience = Availability

God can never use us unless we make our hearts available. All we need is to have an available heart and come to Him. However, we can never escape from God’s call.

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NLT).

Just the same, God invites us to come to Him. So, let us not make excuses and beg off some other time. Let us have an available heart so that Jesus can dwell in us!

“God does not look at your ability; He looks at your availability!”

A Repentant Heart

I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent” (Luke 5:32 NLT).

Jesus did not come to save the righteous, for no one is righteous. We all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We only become righteous through faith because of Christ (Romans 5:1). He came to save the sinners … and that means everyone who comes to Him in repentance.

We cannot be friends with God unless we repent and in order to repent, we must, first of all, accept that we have sinned, confess our sins and turn away from them.

God offers forgiveness to those who come to Him with a repentant heart. We have to confess our sins and come with a repentant heart so we can find mercy and that He can dwell in us.

We should not also hide our sins from God (Proverbs 28:13) for He is an omniscient (all-knowing) God. He loves us and He disciplines those whom He loves (Revelation 3:19 NIV).

A Trusting Heart

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT).

Jesus is just waiting for us to open up our hearts and put our trust in Him so He can show us which direction we should go. He is looking for a trusting heart so He may dwell in. Seeking His will means submitting our life with a trusting heart. We seek His will to be more like Him and let Him put our life in order.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV).

Trusting is obeying without doubting even if you do not know the reason for it. Faith is believing in something that we do not see. A trusting heart is the best place we can offer Jesus to dwell in not only this Christmas but all the days of our lives.

Summary

The place for Christmas, the best place for Christ to dwell is our H – E – A – R – T.

H – humble Heart

E – empty Heart

A – available Heart

R – repentant Heart

T – trusting Heart

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20 ESV).


Here’s a beautiful Christmas worship song by Paul Baloche called The Newborn King, enjoy singing along!

Answering Tough Questions About The Bible (Part One)

Answering Tough Questions About The Bible (Part One)

In today’s age of increasing cultism, agnosticism, and skepticism, Christians are called on all the more to get answers to the questions being asked about faith, God, and the Bible.

Admittedly, most church members (and even many pastors) are not formally trained in defending the faith and hence cannot always answer tough questions they’re asked. Nevertheless, Christians are commanded to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear,” (1 Peter 3:15) and also to “let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).

These are commands not just to Christian leaders but to all believers as well. That is why the apostle Paul insisted that church leaders must “hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

The Origin of the Bible

One of the areas that are mostly under attack is our belief in the Bible as God’s Word. And so, in this post, we will look at some of the tough questions being asked and give brief answers to them.

How and Where Did We Get the Bible?

How and Where Did We Get the Bible?

We believe that the Scriptures came from God through men of God who wrote down the very words of God. That is, the Bible has a divine origin, even though it was produced through human instrumentality. But this belief occasions many questions from our culture. How and where did we get the Bible?

The Bible claims to have come from God. Speaking of the whole Old Testament, Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Even the New Testament is called Scripture. Paul cited the gospel as Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18 and Peter referred to Paul’s epistles as Scripture in 2 Peter 3:15-16. So, both the entire Old and New Testaments, both Gospels, and Epistles are said to be writings that are “breathed out” by God.

Jesus used a similar expression when He referred to the Word of God coming out of the “mouth of God,” saying to the tempter, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Who Wrote the Bible?

Not only does the Bible claim to be a God-breathed writing, but it comes from Spirit-moved writers. Peter referred to the Old Testament prophets as men who were “carried along” by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). David added, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2).

So, the Bible claims to have come from God through men of God.

The Bible was written by prophets of God. The ultimate source of the Bible is God, but men of God called prophets were the instruments God used to record His words. The role of biblical prophets was unique. They were the mouthpieces of God, commissioned to speak His words, nothing more and nothing less (Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19).

The whole Old Testament was written by prophets, of which some of them were prophets by office, like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15), who wrote the first five books of the Bible known as the Torah in Hebrew or Pentateuch in Greek.

Other Old Testament writers were prophets by gift, that is, they did not belong to the group or company of prophets. But God spoke to them and gave them a message to deliver to the people (Amos 7:14-15).

For instance, Daniel was a prince by profession (Daniel 1:3-6), but he became a prophet by calling and gift. Jesus Himself called him “the prophet Daniel” (Matthew 24:15). David was a shepherd boy, but God spoke to him (2 Samuel 23:2). Even Solomon, the author of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs, received revelations from God as a prophet does (1 Kings 3:5).

Likewise, all the New Testament writers were “apostles and prophets,” since the church was built on this foundation (Ephesians 2:20). They, too, claimed to receive their message from God. Paul, who wrote about half of the New Testament books, was considered to have written inspired Scripture in the same category as the Old Testament.

Matthew and John were among those Jesus promised to lead into “all truth” and bring to their remembrance whatever He taught them (John 16:13, 14, 26) while Peter, who was one of the chief apostles, wrote two books based on his credentials as an apostle and eyewitness of Jesus (1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1, 16).

The rest of the New Testament writers were associates of the apostles and prophets by gift since God spoke through these servants of Jesus as well (James 1:1; Jude 1 – 3).

Biblical Authors: Mere Secretaries of the Holy Spirit?

How and Where Did We Get the Bible?
Photo Credits: Pinterest.co.uk

The authors of the Bible did not simply take dictation from God. They were not mere secretaries or automatons, but they were faithful to proclaim the whole message from God without adding to it or taking away from it (Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19).

God used the individual personalities, vocabularies, literary styles, and conscious desires of the biblical authors to produce the Bible. Thus, while being completely from God, the words of Scripture are also human words in particular human languages expressed in distinctive human literary forms.

Nonetheless, the final product is exactly as God-ordained and providentially superintended it to be – the divinely authoritative, infallible, and inerrant Word of God. For the Scripture “cannot be broken” (John 10:35) or “disappear” (Matthew 5:18).

The Word of God is the “truth” (John 17:17) that comes from a God for whom “it is impossible … to lie (Hebrews 6:18. In short, it is without error in whatever it affirms, not only on spiritual matters but also on science (Matthew 19:12; John 3:12) and history (Matthew 12:40-42; 24:37).

In short, the writers of the Bible were humans that God chose to be His mouthpiece through the use of human language and literary forms.

How Did the Prophets Get their Message from God?

The prophets received their message from God in various ways. Some received them in dreams (Genesis 37:1-11), others in visions (Daniel 7:1-28), and some even by audible voice (1 Samuel 3:1-14) or an inner voice (Hosea 1:1-11; Joel 1:1-20).

Others received revelations from angels (Genesis 19:1-29), some by way of miracles (Exodus 3:1-22), and others by way of the lot (Proverbs 16:33). The high priest used jewels known as the Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30). And still, God spoke to others as they meditated on His revelation in nature (Psalm 8:1-9; 19:1-6).

Whatever the means, as the author of Hebrews put it, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1).

Could Prophets Change or Add to God’s Message?

No, they were forbidden to do so. Biblical prophets were not to add, subtract or tamper with the text of sacred Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2; Jeremiah 26:2; Proverbs 30:5-6). God dealt severely with anyone who attempted to change His words (Jeremiah 36:28).

The nature of a biblical prophet guaranteed that he would not add his thoughts to God’s message, for he is one who speaks “everything the Lord has said” (Exodus 4:30). The very nature of a prophet also demanded that a prophetic writing is exactly what God wants to say to mankind.

And since the Bible is presented as a prophetic writing from beginning to end (Matthew 5:17-18; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Revelation 22:9), it follows that the written record of the prophets was considered inspired by God.

Take John’s warning about the words of prophecy in Revelation 22:18-19. This didn’t mean that they could not receive new revelations, but that they could not tamper with old ones.

The Nature of the Bible

Since the Bible claims to come from God, it asserts a divine authority. It claims to be the very word of God (John 10:34-35). But since the Bible was also written by human beings, what does it mean when we call it “God’s Word?”

What Does it Mean that the Bible is the Word of God?

Since God is the source of the Bible, it is appropriate to call it His Word. But since human writers composed every word in the Bible, it is also true that it is their word. Hence, one way to describe what is meant when the Bible claims to be “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) is this: “What the Bible says, God says.”

This is manifested in the fact that often an Old Testament passage will claim that God said it, yet when this same text is cited in the New Testament, it asserts the “the Scripture(s)” said it. Consider these comparisons:

What God says          The Bible says

Genesis 12:3               Galatians 3:8

Exodus 9:13, 16          Romans 9:17


In Genesis 12:1-3, it is God speaking. But when this is cited in Galatians 3:8, it says it is the Scripture… preached the gospel to Abraham.”

Also, in Exodus 9:13-16, it is the Lord speaking. However, when the New Testament quotes this passage, it says, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth’” (Romans 9:17).

At times the reverse is true. For instance, in the Old Testament, it is the Bible that records it, but the New Testament declares that it was God who said it.

What the Bible says     God says

Genesis 2:24                  Matthew 19:4-5

Psalm 2:1                        Acts 4:24-25

Isaiah 55:3                     Acts 13:34

Psalm 16:10                   Acts 13:35

Psalm 2:7                       Hebrews 1:5


In Genesis 2:24, the Bible says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” But when this was cited by Jesus in the New Testament, He said, “Have you not read that He (God) who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’” (Matthew 19:4-5)?

Noted theologian B. B. Warfield made this observation:

“In one of these classes of passages the Scriptures are spoken of as if they were God; in the other, God is spoken of as if He were the Scriptures. In the two taken together, God and the Scriptures are brought into such conjunction as to show that in point of the directness of authority no distinction was made between them.”

How Else Does the Bible Claim to be the Word of God?

The Scriptures claim to come from God by means of phrases such as “says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:11, 18), “declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 2:3, 9), “God said” (Genesis 1:3, 6), “this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD” (Jeremiah 34:1), and “The word of the LORD came to me” (Ezekiel 30:1).

Such phrases are found hundreds of times in Scripture and reveal beyond question that the writer is affirming that he records the very word of God. In the book of Leviticus alone there are some sixty-six occurrences of phrases like “the LORD said to Moses” (Leviticus 4:1; 5:14; 6:1, 8, 19; 7:22).

*Related Article: The Different Forms of the Word of God

Ezekiel also records countless times phrases like “I saw visions” or “the word of the LORD came to me.” Five times in twenty-eight verses of chapter 12, Ezekiel says, “The word of the LORD came to me” (Ezekiel 12:1, 8, 17, 21, 26), and four times he writes, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says” (Ezekiel 12:10, 19, 23, 28).

And in verse 28 he uses the combination, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says” and “declares the Sovereign LORD.”

Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1, 11, 18, 24; 2:1), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:2; 13; 2:1, 3, 5), and other prophets make similar statements. The overall impression leaves no doubt as to the confessed source in God Himself of the messages of the prophets.

Does the Bible Actually Claim to be the “WORD of GOD” in so Many Words?

Yes, it does! Many times, the Bible claims to be the “Word of God” in these very words or their equivalent Jesus told some of the Jewish leaders of His day, “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matthew 15:6 NIV).

Paul speaks of the Scriptures as “the very words of God” in Romans 3:2 (NIV). Peter declares, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). And the writer of Hebrews affirms, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Jesus used the phrase “word of God” as equivalent to the Law (Torah) and Scriptures, asserting, “Is it not written in your Law … to whom the word of God came and Scripture cannot be set aside” (John 10:34-35).

Isn’t the Bible also a Human Book?

Yes, it is. In fact, one hundred percent human. The Bible was written by human authors, including Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, a number of other prophets, Ezra, Nehemiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, and others.

#1. The Bible was composed in human languages (Hebrew in the Old Testament and Greek in the New Testament). It is expressed in human literary styles including the exalted poetry of Isaiah, the mournful lamentations of Jeremiah, the parables of Jesus recorded in the Gospels, and the didactic presentation of Paul.

#2. The Bible uses different human literary forms, including the narrative of Samuel and Kings, the poetry of Job and Psalms, the parables of the synoptic Gospels, some allegory as in Galatians 4, the use of symbols as in Revelation, the metaphors and similes of James, satire (Matthew 19:24), and hyperbole (Psalms 6:6; Luke 14:26).

Like other human writing, the Bible uses a wide range of literary forms to convey its meaning.

#3. The Bible reflects different human perspectives. These include a shepherd’s perspective (David in Psalm 23:1-6), a prophetic vantage point in Kings, a priestly perspective in Chronicles, the historical interest of Luke and Acts (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1), and the pastoral concerns of Paul (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus).

And unlike a modern book on astronomy, biblical writers speak from an observer’s perspective when they write of the sun rising or setting (Joshua 1:15; 10:13).

#4. The Bible reflects different human thought patterns. These include almost every dimension of finite thinking patterns, from a tightly-knit logical treatise like Romans to the polemics of Galatians, to the expression of a brief memory lapse in 1 Corinthians 1:14-16.

How and Where Did We Get the Bible?

#5. The Bible reveals different human emotions. The apostle Paul expresses great sorrow over Israel (Romans 9:2), great anger over the error of the Galatians (Galatians 3:1), melancholy and loneliness over his imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:9-16), depression over hardships (2 Corinthians 1:8), joy over victories (Philippians 1:4), and much more.

#6. The Bible manifests specific human interests. Luke had a medical interest, as indicated by his use of medical terms. Hosea had a distinct rural interest, as did Amos, the shepherd from Tekoa (Amos 1:1). James’ writing betrays an interest in nature (see James 1:6, 10-11).

The interests of shepherds (John 10:1-16), athletes (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), and farmers (Matthew13:1-43) are also reflected in the Bible.

#7. The Bible expresses human culture. As a Semitic book, the Bible is filled with expression and practices of its Hebrew culture, such as the common means of greeting by kissing (1 Thessalonians 5:26) and a woman’s use of a veil as a sign of respect for her husband (1 Corinthians 11:5)

Washing one’s feet upon entering a home (John 1:3), shaking off the dust of one’s feet as a sign of condemnation (Luke 10:11), and reclining (not sitting) at meals (John 13:23) are only a few of numerous other examples of human culture.

#8. The Bible utilizes other written human sources. The book of Jashar (Joshua 10:13) and the Books of the Wars of the LORD (Number 21:14) are examples. The records of Samuel the seer, the records of Nathan the prophet and the records of Gad the seer (1 Chronicles 29:29) may also fit in this category.

Luke referred to written sources about Jesus available to him (Luke 1:1-4). Paul quoted non-Christian poets three times (Acts 17:28; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Titus 1:12). Jude cited material from the non-canonical books, The Testament of Moses and the book of Enoch (Jude 9, 14).

These citations do not guarantee the truthfulness of everything in the source but only what is cited. Of course, ultimately all truth comes from God, whatever the immediate source maybe.

How Can the Bible be both God’s Word and Man’s Words?

The Bible is both the word of God and the words of man because God (the source) utilized human beings to convey His word. So, there is a concurrence between what the human authors wrote and what God prompted them to write.

The Bible is both divine and human at the same time in a way similar to the way Christians believe Jesus Christ is both divine and human at the same time.

Of course, as in any analogy, there are some differences. Unlike Jesus Christ who is God, the Bible is not God, and hence it should not be worshiped.


In part two of this article, we will answer questions in regard to the inspiration of the Bible, its authority and reliability as well as the reliability of the biblical witnesses. 

*Read part two here: Answering Tough Questions About the Bible (Part Two)


*Reference:  Who Made God? (Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith)

*Recommended Resource: From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible
By Norman L. Geisler & William E. Nix

The Bible was written in multiple languages by dozens of authors whose lives spanned a period of more than fifteen hundred years. How did it all come together?

Best-selling authors Norman Geisler and William Nix thoroughly answer this question and many more in this revised and expanded edition of a classic which has sold more than 78,000 copies. Helpful charts, photos, and indices have been added, rendering this book ideally suited for Bible students, pastors, and professors.

Major topics addressed include: theories of inspiration, the process of canonization, major manuscripts and recent discoveries, textual criticism, Greek and Latin translations, and modern English translations. The entire field of general biblical introduction is covered.

This is a long-trusted resource for understanding why we can trust the Scriptures really are God’s word.

What’s the Book of Revelation About?

What’s the Book of Revelation About?

With the increasing anti-Christian sentiment and the decline of economic and social stability, many Christians today are anxious about the future. In times like these, people tend to look even more closely at the book of Revelation because it encourages Christians to keep hope alive.

Background of the Book of Revelation

The apostle John wrote his great book while he was banished to Patmos – a small, rocky island in the Aegean Sea. While he was shut out from the world, he was shut in to God and received the most extensive revelation of future events shown to any writer of the New Testament.

God very well may have allowed John’s banishment so he could be alone with Him and receive this monumental vision of the future. Sometimes the work God has for us requires removal from our normal environment. Abraham’s call, Joseph’s slavery, Moses’ flight from Egypt, and Daniel’s captivity are some instances.

What’s the Book of Revelation About

Many writers isolate themselves by getting away to a mountain retreat or stay in a hotel room so they can concentrate fully on their task. I tend to focus more on my thinking, planning and, writing when left alone in a quiet or remote place.

It becomes quickly apparent as we open the book of Revelation that we are about to encounter a message with a high purpose. Though it bears certain similarities to prophetic passages in Daniel, Ezekiel, and Matthew, Revelation is unique.

What Kind of Book is Revelation?

The book of Revelation tells us what kind of book it is in the first few paragraphs.

A Prophetic Book

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants – things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His servant John” (Revelation 1:1).

Revelation 1:1 displays the prophetic nature of what John wrote through the use of one keyword and one key phrase. The keyword is revelation, which is the translation of the Greek word apokalypsis or “apocalypse.” In the Greek New Testament, this is the first word of the entire book.

What comes to mind when you hear the word apocalypse? Horrible disasters associated with the end of the world, right? But in the Greek, the word simply means “an uncovering; an unveiling; a manifestation of.”

While most people believe that the primary purpose of the book of Revelation is to paint a picture of the end times, although it does do that, it was written primarily to unveil, or uncover, the majesty and power of Jesus Christ. This book is neither a puzzle nor an enigma but a disclosure of who Jesus is.

The key prophetic phrase used in Revelation 1:1 is translated “must shortly take place,” which describes something that suddenly comes to pass. It indicates rapid progression after something commences. The idea is not that the event may occur soon but that when it does, it will occur suddenly.

It’s more like an earthquake; we don’t know when the next will come, but we know that it will. And it will come suddenly and without warning.

A Personal Book

“John … bore witness to the end of the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw” (Revelation 1:2).

The book of Revelation is cosmic and far-reaching in its scope, yet it is also very personal. This is a message that John received personally from the Lord (Revelation 1:1-2) and he writes to those with whom he is intimately acquainted, referring to himself as a “brother and companion” in tribulation (Revelation 1:9).

The Lord said to John, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea” (Revelation 1:11). The seven letters we find in chapters 2 and 3 were personal letters written to actual congregations in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) at the end of the first century AD.

Theologian John Stott said this, “The seven cities mentioned form an irregular circle, and are listed in the order in which a messenger might visit them if commissioned to deliver the letters. Sailing from the island of Patmos … he would arrive at Ephesus. He would then travel north to Smyrna and Pergamum, south-east to Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia, and finish his journey at Laodicea.”

Notice how each of the letters begins with the phrase, “I know your works,” and each contains a promise to the one “who overcomes.” But each message between these bookend phrases was personally tailored to the needs of the church to which it was addressed. As such, the letters must be read in their own context.

However, let us not take these letters for granted as there are applications for us today. John may have written these letters with first-century churches in mind, but they accurately identify the kinds of Christians who show up in church in every age – including today.

Anyone who reads the letters will likely think of individuals or churches that fit some of the descriptions. I believe the Lord’s recommendations to these seven churches could solve all the problems modern churches face. The fact that all seven letters were contained in a single parchment meant that each of the churches was required to read the letters written to the others.

A Pictorial Book

“He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw” (Revelation 1:1a-2).

John indicated, on thirty-nine occasions, that he was recording things he saw. His word paint vivid pictures to reveal the future through memorable images and symbols.

Symbols occur throughout Scripture as vehicles for divine revelation, but this book contains more than any other. Sometimes the symbols represent people, such as in the first chapter where Jesus is seen as a judge with a two-edged sword coming out of His mouth.

The Antichrist is presented as a beast coming out of the sea, and the false prophet as a beast originating from the earth, in chapter 13.

You may ask, “Why is there so much symbolism in the book of Revelation?”

First of all, symbolism is not weakened by time. Well-chosen symbols span the centuries and allow us to apply them not only to ancient or future times but also to our own. They create a compelling drama that encourages persecuted and suffering saints throughout the ages.

Second, symbols impart values and arouse emotions. To call a tyrant a beast evokes a primal fear that the word dictator misses. It is also more colorful to refer to the corrupted world system as Babylon the Great than to dull it with a mundane list of descriptions.

This is what Eugene Peterson said about how the imagery in Revelation affects him: “The truth of the gospel is already complete, revealed in Jesus Christ. There is nothing new to say on the subject. But there is a new way to say it. I read the book of Revelation not to get more information but to revive my imagination.”

Last but not least, these symbols functioned as a kind of spiritual code that was generally understood by believers but not by outsiders. John’s book was circulated to the churches during the reign of Domitian (AD 81-96). If it had been written in more direct, prosaic language to fall into the hands of the Romans, those associated with the book would have been executed.

Reasons to Study the Book of Revelation

A Profitable Book

Revelation is the only book in the Bible that motivates its readers by promising a blessing for those who will read and obey it. The promise is made at the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:3 and Revelation 22:7).

*Related Article: The 7 Blessings in the Book of Revelation

You may be surprised to know that the word blessed as used in the above-mentioned verses means joyous, blissful or happy. So it may seem strange to associate joys with the sometimes chilling drama of the book of Revelation.

But as Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones explained, “Revelation was written in order that God’s people who were passing through terrible persecutions and terrible adversity might still be able to go on rejoicing. This book was written to help men and women who are in trouble by showing them the ultimate victory of the Lord over Satan and all the forces of evil.”

1. Profitable for Personal Application

It often appears that the enemy is winning but the book of Revelation puts everything into perspective. It tells us of God’s plan for the future and assures us that we are on the winning side. Satan may win some present battles, but the outcome of the war has already been determined.

Knowing that this truth gives us the courage to press on and persevere through the downturns.

2. Profitable for Public Assembly

Public reading and exhortation were an integral part of gatherings in the early church. Paul told young Timothy, for example, to “give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13).

The first-century church met in one place on the first day of the week and memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets were read as long as time permits. When the reader has finished, the president would urge and invite the people to imitate the noble things read.

3. Profitable for Prophetic Anticipation

Revelation 1:3 ends with the phrase “the time is near,” and Revelation 22:10 declares that “the time is at hand.”

The expression, “the time is near” does not necessarily mean the event will occur immediately. It does indicate nearness from the standpoint of prophetic revelation, which operates according to its own timetable. These events were near when John recorded them as they were the next major event on the calendar. And they are even closer today.

Prophecy is God’s way of giving us a fair warning so we can prepare our hearts and minds to be ready for what is ahead.

A Practical Book

More than a century ago, a book entitled, Jesus is Coming: God’s Hope for a Restless World written by William E. Blackstone was published, and interestingly, it had a significant impact on the Christian world that it spurred much of today’s interest in the study of prophecy.

In his book, Blackstone devotes an entire chapter to the practical benefits of studying Bible prophecy, which he calls the true incentive to a holy life. He writes, “No other doctrine in the Word of God presents a deeper motive for crucifying the flesh, for separation to God, to work for souls, and as our hope and joy and crown of rejoicing than this does.”

Three practical benefits that come to us from studying prophecy, especially the book of Revelation:

1. Studying prophecy motivates us to live productive lives.

Contrary to what some people think that a keen awareness of the second coming of Christ will turn us into lazy souls who stand around gazing upward in some kind of useless trance, knowing that Jesus is coming any minute will motivate us, even more, to work for Him to do the Father’s business in these last days.

2. Studying prophecy motivates us to live positive lives.

The book of Revelation promotes a positive mindset that as we study it; we begin to realize that everything that’s happening in our world today is heading somewhere. In Revelation, we see God’s sovereign hand upon affairs of the world, as in no other book, and we see Him in control even though so much here on earth seems out of control.

As the conditions of our world worsen, instead of hanging our heads on depression or shake our heads in confusion, we are to lift up our heads in expectation, for our redemption draws near (Luke 21:28).

3. Studying prophecy motivates us to live pure lives.

The third benefit of studying Revelation is that it fosters purity in our lives. The Bible says, “… when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

A Purposeful Book

Revelation 1:7-8 presents the twofold purpose of the entire book, which is to affirm Christ’s return and His ultimate reign over the earth.

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7).

Daniel predicted that the Messiah would come through the clouds (Daniel 7:13). In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus spoke of His coming in similar terms (Matthew 24:30). John expanded on Jesus’ words to describe what every person will experience at His second coming (Revelation 1:7).

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet that point not only to the eternity of Christ but also to His all-inclusive power.

As the Alpha and Omega, Christ precedes the beginning of Creation and survives the end of humanity’s day. He is the eternal, omnipotent God. And when the time was right, Jesus began His campaign to regain His rightful sovereignty over the earth.

The book of Revelation is the account of that campaign. It tells of His appointment by the Father to the throne, His battle against the forces of evil, His final victory, and His relationship with the redeemed.

As a result of Christ’s triumph, His people are presented as overcomers. The simple meaning of the word overcome is “to conquer” or “to win the victory.” The promise of victory is certain, but its final reality awaits the return of Jesus Christ the King.

What’s the Book of Revelation About

Closing Words

It is in the heart of every believer to join with the saints of old in longing for that day as did John when he completed his scroll: “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). Yet while we wait, let us remember that we still need the revelation that John received from Jesus.

In a world where we see Christian’s martyred for their faith each year, the church remaining terribly flawed, we need the Revelation which Jesus gave to John – a Revelation which changes everything; a Revelation that God is still on the throne working out His strategies from the control room of heaven.


*Reference: Agents of the Apocalypse SC (A Riveting Look at the Key Players of the End Times)

By Dr. David Jeremiah

Are we living in the end times? Are the villains and saints in the Book of Revelation walking among us? Would we recognize them? Focusing on Revelation’s key players – the exiled; martyrs; elders; king; judge; 144,000 witnesses; false prophet; and beast – Jeremiah examines their motives and provides critical clues to help us identify their presence in today’s world. 

How to Know the Will of God in Our Lives

How to Know the Will of God in Our Lives

As Christians, knowing the will of God in our lives is very important as it will determine the way we think, act and plan our future. No wonder then that I often get the question: “How do I know the will of God in my life?”

I was told that the best way to study a certain subject is by making a clear definition of that subject. So, what do we mean by the will of God? The will of God is that holy and stated purpose of the Father to make His dear children as much like Christ as possible.

Knowing the Will of God through the Scriptures

Without a doubt, the most important factor in finding God’s will is the Bible itself. God speaks to us not in some loud voice, but through the Scriptures.

God’s will is certain and precise.

First, the Scriptures declare God does have a definite will for my life and yours. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” God also says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye,” in Psalm 32:8.

For other Scripture references, you can read Ephesians 2:10 and Hebrews 12:1.

It is God’s desire for us to discover His will.

Second, God desires for us to know and understand what His will in our lives really is and instructs us to not be unwise (Ephesians 5:17). This is what real wisdom is. Understanding the will of the Lord is the opposite of being unwise.

But in order for us to have a good understanding of the will of God, we need to have a good knowledge of His word. As one theologian always say, “The will of God is the Word of God.” Do you want to know the will of God in your life? Know His Word!

God’s will is continuous.

Third, the will of God as revealed in the Scriptures is continuous. It does not begin only when one reaches a certain age. Simply put, the will of God in my life does not begin when I turn thirty years old.

How do I know the Will of God in my Life?

God has a will for children, young people, adults, and even senior citizens. Isaiah 58:11 says, “The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

God’s will is specific.

Fourth, God’s will is clearly defined or identified. God always makes sure He speaks to us without ambiguity. He does not make us second-guess His will. Rather, it is given in such a way that we will not doubt whether God is the one speaking or not.

Let’s take a look at Isaiah 30:21, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” When God instructs, He does so with all clarity.

God’s will is profitable.

Fifth, God’s will is always beneficial and useful. When we choose to align our decisions, plans, and priorities with God’s, we can be sure that we will end up successful and blessed (see Psalm 1:1-3).

When the Lord spoke to Joshua after the death of Moses, He did not just instruct him to lead the children of Israel in conquering Canaan; God specifically told Joshua to “not let the Book of the Law depart from your mouth but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).

Living according to God’s word, which is His will, is a guarantee of Christian success. However, this does not mean that we will have a life without problems when we choose to heed God’s will. But God assures us that we will be able to deal with anything.

Four Aspects of the Will of God

One thing we need to understand is that the will of God differs from believer to believer. But here are four aspects in the will of God which apply to every Christian:

1. It is God’s will that we learn more about Him.

In Colossians 1:9, Paul prayed that the believers in Colossae would have a knowledge of God’s will through the wisdom and understanding that the Holy Spirit gives. But to know God and what He requires of us is our responsibility. We cannot just sit around and expect God to speak to us. We need to do our part by reading and meditating the Word of God.

2. It is God’s will that we grow in grace.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 says that the sanctification of believers is the will of God. In this text, the apostle Paul made it clear what the will of God was for the Christian – sanctification.

The basic meaning of sanctification is “separation” or “to be set apart.” In Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation), sanctification is the second phase of salvation which is the process whereby the believer moves from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity over time as he learns God’s Word (2 Peter 2:2) and chooses to live under God’s will.

In short, sanctification means spiritual growth (2 Peter 3:18); it means to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.

3. It is God’s will that we study His Word.

We find in 2 Timothy 3:14-15 an important exhortation to continue studying God’s word not only because evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13), but also because as believer in Jesus, we all need to be completed and thoroughly equipped to do God’s work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

How to Know the Will of God in Our Lives

To be complete means we are not only hearers but also doers of God’s word and to be equipped to do God’s work does not only mean preparing and delivering sermons that seek to quench people’s thirst. We are in the business of equipping the saints for the work of ministry.

4. It is God’s will that we share our faith.

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He specifically told them to wait for the Holy Spirit to empower them so that they would be His witnesses not only in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria but also to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). Jesus did not recommend His followers to share the Gospel, He plainly stated that evangelism would be the immediate result of the Holy Spirit empowering them.

It is God’s will for His disciples to share their faith with everyone who is still in darkness and God’s will for the Christians today to do the same. Because “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (Timothy 2:4).

Knowing the Will of God through Prayer and Fasting

When we read how the Israelites were tricked into signing an unscriptural peace treaty with a group of deceitful pagans after invading Canaan in the days of Joshua, because they did not seek the Lord’s counsel (Joshua 9:1-15), it becomes immediately obvious that one of the most important factors in knowing God’s will for our lives is to pray.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). See also Psalm 143:8, 10 and James 4:2. In light of these passages, it is evident that a Christian must spend time in prayer in order to know God’s will.

In other Bible verses, fasting is linked with prayer (2 Samuel 12:16; Ezra 8:21; 2 Samuel 1:12; Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:24-29; Acts 13:2-3; 14:23).

Knowing the Will of God through Submission to the Holy Spirit

The moment a repenting sinner receives Christ by faith into his heart the Holy Spirit immediately does five things for him:

  • He regenerates the believer, that is, He gives him a new nature (John 3:5; Titus 3:5).
  • He baptizes the believer into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13).
  • He indwells the believer (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19).
  • He seals the believer (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30).
  • He fills the believer (Acts 2:4; 4:8; 7:55; 13:52).

All five of these ministries often occur at conversion. The fifth ministry, however, should be asked for as needed (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:16). Actually, the word control is a better term than fill in describing the fifth ministry. It does not mean that we get more of the Spirit, but rather that He gets more of us.

How can a Christian be certain that he is indeed submitted to or controlled by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis?

First, he must consecrate his body as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1-2). The believer’s body does not belong to him but to God; it is the temple of the Holy Spirit and so he must glorify God with it (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Second, the believer must depend upon the Holy Spirit to convict him of sin. In Psalm 139:23-24, King David came to the God of perfect knowledge and not only asked Him to search and know him at the deepest levels; he also pleaded with Him to lay bare any wickedness in his heart.

How to Know the Will of God in Our Lives

To ask God to reveal to us any unknown or unperceived sin is a dangerous prayer, says Boice, because it invites painful exposures and surgery. However, Boice added that it is what every wise believer should desire. See also Psalm 19:12-14.

Finally, the believer must look to the Holy Spirit for divine power in serving Christ. We cannot say that we no longer commit sin after placing our faith in the Lord Jesus. Yes, the fruit of the Holy Spirit will start to manifest in our life as a result of submitting to Him. But because we are still in the flesh, we are still prone to be tempted and to give in to sin.

What we can do so as not to gratify the lust of the flesh is to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17). To walk in the Spirit means to be open and sensitive to the influence of the Holy Spirit and to pattern your life after the influence of the Holy Spirit.

You may ask, “How do we know if someone is walking in the Spirit?” When they look a lot like Jesus. Jesus said that the mission of the Holy Spirit would be to promote and speak of Him (John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:13-15). Someone who is walking in the Spirit listens to what the Spirit says and is guided in the path of Jesus.

A believer who is in tune with the Holy Spirit will know and discern the will of God for him

Knowing the Will of God through Circumstances and Counsel

While the Christian is to live above his circumstances, he is not to be unaware of them. God often works through circumstances in revealing His perfect will for us. Certainly, Paul’s wonderful statement, “all things work together for good to those who love God,” (Romans 8:28) takes into account our circumstances.

Below are a number of biblical accounts to illustrate this:

1. God directed Abraham to substitute a ram, whose horns had somehow become entangled in a thicket, for the life of Isaac (Genesis 22:13).

2. God arranged for Pharaoh’s daughter to be bathing in the Nile river at the exact time the baby Moses floated by in a little ark of bulrushes (Exodus 2:1-10).

3. Paul’s young nephew happened to overhear a plot to kill his famous uncle. He then reported it to the authorities, thus saving the apostle’s life (Acts 23:12-22)

Surely the above circumstances were providentially arranged. So the Christian should ask when attempting to discover God’s will, “Is the Lord showing me something through my circumstances?”

Counselors also play an important role in finding God’s will. Proverbs 24:6 says, “For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” However, three things must be kept in mind at this point:

  • Counsel must come from a godly source. The word of God warns us that “confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint (Proverbs 25:19). See also Psalm 1:1-6.
  • Sometimes even the godliest person can unknowingly give us wrong advice. Nathan the prophet did this when he encouraged David to build the temple (2 Samuel 7:1-13).
  • In the final analysis, each person is responsible for knowing God’s revealed purpose for his own life.
Knowing the Will of God through Circumstances and Counsel
Photo Credits: Bible Blender

Conclusion

In finding the will of God in our lives, we need to know that the best way to do this first and foremost is by having an intimate personal relationship with God. In some relationships, one party simply wants to be told what to do while others want to get approval from the other party before finalizing their plan.

Let’s take this analogy from a married couple. A married couple who enjoy an intimate relationship of mutual concern, trust and respect always come to a decision together that it is sometimes impossible to distinguish the parts each played in the process.

It’s the same thing with the will of God. It is not solely divine or human. When we consciously acknowledge God’s presence in our lives and rely on Him in the course of our decision-making, the choices we make are both ours and His.

Let us never forget that because God is love, He honors our choices and never attempts to overpower or force us into doing something we do not like. God guides and directs us in making important decisions when we read and meditate His Word, fast and pray, submit to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and consider our circumstances and listen to godly counselors.

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

We hear this objection all the time: Jesus never really claimed He was the Son of God, or God Himself. Instead, this belief was superimposed on the Jesus tradition by His overzealous followers years after His death. Critics claim that the real Jesus saw Himself as nothing more than a rabbi.

However, this is not what the evidence clearly shows. This truth was summarized by H. R. Macintosh, a Scottish theologian: “The self-consciousness of Jesus is the greatest fact in history.”

A research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Kevin Vanhoozer, also wrote: “Jesus understood Himself to be the beloved Son of God, chosen by God to bring about the kingdom of God and the forgiveness of sins. Our understanding of who Jesus was must correspond to Jesus’ own self-understanding. If we do not confess Jesus as the Christ, then either He was deluded about His identity or we are.”

Ten Factors Pointing to Jesus’ Claim as the Son of God

There are at least ten factors that point toward Jesus as believing He was the one and only Son of God.

1. Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of Man.”

No scholar doubts that the most common way Jesus referred to Himself was “the Son of Man,” which He applied to Himself more than four dozen times, including in the gospel of Mark, which is generally considered to be the earliest of all the four gospels.

While some critics mistakenly believe this is a mere claim of humanity, the scholarly consensus is that this is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14, where the Son of Man is ushered into the very presence of the Almighty, has “glory, authority, and sovereign power,” receives the worship of “all peoples,” and is someone whose dominion is everlasting.

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

Theologian and philosopher William Lane Craig said, “The Son of Man was a divine figure in the Old Testament book of Daniel who would come at the end of the world to judge mankind and rule forever. Thus, the claim to be the Son of Man would be in effect a claim to divinity.”

Vanhoozer adds an interesting sidelight: “The curious thing about Jesus’ use of the title … is that He linked it not only with the theme of future glory but also with the theme of suffering and death. In doing so, Jesus was teaching His disciples something new about the long-awaited Messiah, namely that, His suffering would precede His glory (Luke 9:22).

2. Jesus applied the “I am” sayings to Himself.

By applying the “I am” sayings to Himself, Jesus made a claim of divinity, at one point declaring, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58). This obvious allusion to God’s words to Moses out of the burning bush (Exodus 3:13-14) was such an unmistakable declaration of equality with God.

The Jews understood Jesus perfectly so they thought that He had committed blasphemy for ascribing the Name of God to Himself. So they promptly attempted to stone Jesus. Death by stoning was the proper death penalty for this particular sin (Leviticus 24:12-16). But Jesus had not sinned for He was truly God. He was the great I AM in person.

Other passages where Jesus applied the “I am” statements to Himself include: John 6:35 (I am the bread of life) ; John 8:12 (I am the light of the world); John 10:7 (I am the Door of the sheep); John 10:11 (I am the good Shepherd); John 11:25 (I am the Resurrection and the Life); John 14:6 (I am the Way, the Truth and the Life) and John 15:5 (I am the Vine).

3. Jesus forgave sins.

Jesus made a divine claim when He forgave the sins of the paralytic in Mark 2:5. In response, the Jews said, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God” (Mark 2:7)?

The Jews were correct for only God can forgive sins, for sin is transgression against the law and only the aggrieved person can forgive the guilty one. As theologian D. A. Carson noted, “The only person who can say that sort of thing meaningfully is God Himself, because sin, even if it is against other people, is first and foremost a defiance of God and His laws.”

In forgiving sin, Jesus either blasphemed or He was God. But Jesus was God and could forgive.

4. Jesus selected 12 disciples.

Ever wonder why Jesus selected twelve men to be His disciples? Why not eight, ten, or fifteen? Why twelve? What’s with the number twelve?

According to Ben Witherington III, author of The Christology of Jesus, there was a transcendent claim made by the way Jesus selected His disciples. “If the twelve represent a renewed Israel, where does Jesus fit in?” he asked. “He’s not just part of Israel, not merely part of the redeemed group, He’s forming the group – just as God in the Old Testament formed His people and set up the twelve tribes of Israel.

That’s definitely a clue about what Jesus thought of Himself.

Is Jesus God or the Son of God?
Photo Credits: Jesus.Net

5. Jesus taught with divine authority.

The fifth clue about Jesus’ self-understanding comes through the way He taught – with authority. Whenever Jesus teaches, He begins with the phrase, “Verily, verily, I say unto you …” or “Truly I say to you …” In effect, Jesus is saying, “I swear in advance to the truthfulness of what I’m about to say.”

“This was absolutely revolutionary,” Witherington said. He went on to explain that in Judaism, you needed the testimony of two witnesses … but Jesus witnesses to the truth of His own sayings. Instead of basing His teaching on the authority of others, He speaks on His own authority.

So here is someone who considered Himself to have authority beyond what the Old Testament prophets had. He believed He possessed not only divine inspiration, as King David did, but also divine authority and the power of direct divine utterance.

6. Jesus addressed God as “Abba.”

When relating to God, Jesus used the Aramaic term Abba, or “Father dearest.” This reflects an intimacy that was alien in ancient Judaism, in which devout Jews avoided the use of God’s personal name out of fear they may mispronounce it. Dr. Witherington made this observation:

“The significance of Abba is that Jesus is the initiator of an intimate relationship that was previously unavailable. The question is, what kind of person can initiate a new covenantal relationship with God?”

Jesus is saying that only through having a relationship with Him does this kind of prayer language – this kind of “Abba” relationship with God – becomes possible. That says volumes about how He regarded Himself.

7. Jesus received Thomas’ worship.

Another indicator of Jesus’ self-understanding can be seen in His post-resurrection encounter with the apostle Thomas in John 20. Responding to Jesus’ invitation to personally check out the evidence that He had really risen from the dead, Thomas declares, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)!

Jesus’ reply was very telling. It would have been the height of blasphemy for Him to have knowingly received Thomas’ worship unless Jesus really was God. Yet instead of rebuking him, Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Jesus’ choice to receive Thomas’ worship clearly means He believed He was God and thus worthy of that homage. Similarly, when Simon Peter answered Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus’ reaction was not to correct him but rather to affirm that this was revealed to him by the Father Himself (Matthew 16:15-17).

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

8. Salvation depends on peoples’ confession to Jesus.

Jesus clearly believed that the eternal destiny of people hinged on whether they believed in Him. He said in John 8:24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

In addition, Jesus said, “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9).

William Lane Craig put the implication this way, “Make no mistake: if Jesus were not the divine Son of God, then His claim could only be regarded as the most narrow and objectionable dogmatism. For Jesus is saying that people’s salvation is dependent upon their confession to Jesus Himself.”

9. Jesus said that He and the Father are one.

An equally overt assertion of divinity is found in John 10:30, where Jesus declared outright, “I and My Father are one.” There is no question about whether His listeners understood that Jesus was saying that He and God are one in substance. Promptly they picked up stones to stone Him “for blasphemy because You, being a man make Yourself God” (John 10:33).

10. Jesus performed miracles.

An equally important factor that should be weighed in assessing Jesus’ belief about His identity is His miracles. Jesus stressed that His feats were a sign of the coming of God’s kingdom. “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20).

Ben Witherington observed that even though others in the Bible also performed miracles, this statement showed that Jesus didn’t merely regard Himself as a wonder-worker: “He sees Himself as the one in whom and through whom the promises of God come to pass. And that’s a not-to-thinly-veiled claim of transcendence.”

British scholar James D. G. Dunn said, “Whatever the ‘facts’ were, Jesus evidently believed that He had cured cases of blindness, lameness, and deafness – indeed, there is no reason to doubt that He believed lepers had been cured under His ministry and restored the dead to life.”

Fulfilling the Attributes of God

Sure, anyone can believe that he or she is God. But Jesus didn’t just consider Himself God’s Son; He also fulfilled the attributes that are unique to God. Philippians 2:5-8 describes how Jesus emptied Himself of the independent use of His attributes – a phenomenon termed kenosis – when He was incarnated.

This explains how he didn’t always choose to exhibit the “omnis” – omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence – in His earthly existence. Even so, the New Testament confirms that all of these qualities were ultimately true of Him.

For example, in John 16:30, John affirms of Jesus, “Now we are sure that You know all things,” which is omniscience. Also in Matthew 28:20, Jesus is recorded as saying, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” which is omnipresence. And He declared, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18), which is omnipotence. 

Is Jesus the Son of God or God Himself?

Indeed, Colossians 2:9 reads, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”Jesus’ eternality is confirmed in John 1:1, which declares of Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus’ immutability is shown in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” His sinlessness is seen in John 8:29, “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.”

Hebrews 1:3 declares Jesus to be “the brightness (or radiance) of God’s glory and the express image of His person.” Colossians 1:17 says, “Jesus is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Matthew 25:31-32 affirms He will be the judge of all mankind. And in Hebrews 1:8, the Father Himself specifically makes reference to Jesus as being God.

The very names used to paint a portrait of God in the Old Testament – names such as Alpha and Omega, Lord, Savior, King, Judge, Light, Rock, Redeemer, Shepherd, Creator, giver of life, forgiver of sin, and speaker with divine authority – are also applied to Jesus in the New Testament.

*Read here: God’s Natural and Moral Attributes

Conclusion

Did Jesus claim to be the only Son of God and God Himself? Absolutely! Although we do not read Jesus saying this directly to the effects of “I am the Son of God” or “I am God, worship Me,” He did so in ways that His audience and readers during His time clearly understood.

Who did Jesus believe He was? In his book, New Approaches to Jesus and the Gospels, professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Royce Gruenler, comes to this conclusion: “It is a striking fact of modern New Testament research that the essential clues for correctly reading the implicit Christological self-understanding of Jesus are abundantly clear.”

Beyond just believing He was God, Jesus also proved it by working supernatural deeds, by fulfilling ancient prophecies against all mathematical odds, and ultimately by conquering the grave.

Who did Jesus think He was? Check out this Reasonable Faith original video on the self-understanding of Jesus!

Who Did Jesus Think He Was?

Who did Jesus think he was? Check out this Reasonable Faith original video on the self-understanding of Jesus! #Apologetics #Jesus

Posted by Reasonable Faith on Tuesday, November 26, 2019

What does the Bible say about the Laying on of Hands?

What does the Bible say about the Laying on of Hands?

The laying on of hands is an act in which one person places his hands upon the body of another person with some definite spiritual purpose.

The laying on of hands has great significance as a religious rite or ceremony in the Bible and in the history of the Christian church. As a matter of fact, it is considered one of the foundational doctrines of the church.

Purposes of the Laying on of Hands

The religious rite of laying on of hands is often associated with the bestowal of divine blessings and authority upon a person; it is also used as a special form of recognition for persons set apart for God’s service, in the Old Testament practice of sacrifice, and for healing.

To Bless and Consecrate

In the old Testament, Abraham and the other patriarchs placed hands on their descendants to confirm a birthright or to convey a special blessing, as when Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph (Genesis 48:14, 18). By this method, the possession of the covenant blessings was transferred from himself to his progeny.

Sometimes, the ceremony also implied the transfer of authority.

Purpose of the Laying On of Hands

In Numbers 27:12-14, God showed Moses the land that He promised to the nation of Israel from afar. But he won’t be able to enter it because he will be gathered to his people as a result of his rebellion at the waters of Meribah.

So Moses appointed Joshua to be his successor and laid his hands on him as the Lord commanded (Numbers 27:18-20). By this act, Moses empowered Joshua and Joshua was said to be “full of the spirit of wisdom” (Deuteronomy 34:9).

Also in Numbers 8:5-20, the Levites were given authority to serve on behalf of the Israelites, when gathered at the Tabernacle, the people placed their hands upon the heads of the Levites.

Transfer of Sins to Sacrificial Animals

On the Day of Atonement, the high priest placed his hands on the head of a goat before releasing it into the wilderness.

Leviticus 16:21-22

“Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land, and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.”

Through this rite, the high priest symbolically transferred the sins of the people to the scapegoat. Identification of transfer of sins to sacrificial animals as a substitute for the people may also be implied in the burnt offering presented by the priests in the Old Testament times (Leviticus 1:4).

Commissioned as Representatives before God

In the New Testament, the laying on of hands is used for commissioning God’s people into the ministry. In Acts 6:6, when the church appointed seven men (Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas) to serve as official assistants to the apostles, they prayed and laid their hands on them.

The laying on of hands also served as a formal declaration of identification by the church at Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, whom they were sending out as missionaries (Acts 13:2-3).

Commissioned into God’s Service

Young Timothy was the recipient of grace for his appointed service when the elders placed their hands on him, and Paul instructed him not to neglect the gift given to him by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership (1 Timothy 4:14).

Timothy was sent off for a specific assignment with the public recognition of the church leaders not only by their words but through the visible and tangible laying on of their hands. Later on, Timothy was instructed by Paul to also do his part in commissioning others.

This charge from Paul comes in a section about elders to honor the good and discipline the bad (1 Timothy 5:17-25). So when church leaders formally lay their hands on someone for a particular ministry, they put their seal of approval on the candidate and share in the fruitfulness and failures to come.

For Healing

Placing hands on persons in need of healing has a strong biblical precedent as well. Although there had been times when Jesus healed the sick without necessarily laying His hands on them, He certainly laid His hands on many of those He healed (Mark 6:5; Mark 8:22-25; Luke 4:40; Luke 13:13).

What does the Bible say about the Laying On of Hands

Laying on of hands is one of the ordained ways to heal the sick (Mark 16:18). And Jesus promised that any believer could do this, including you. You can lay hands on the sick and see them get better. You just have to open yourself up to God and allow Him to heal through you.

*Related Article: Why Does God Not Heal Everyone Who Asks in Faith for Healing?

However, this does not mean every sick person you pray for and lay your hands on will be healed. At the end of the day, God is still God and He is sovereign. So whether God chooses to heal or not to heal is all up to Him. But it is every believer’s responsibility to pray for the sick and lay their hands on them.

To Impart the Power of the Holy Spirit

Although the impartation of the Holy Spirit does not always come through the laying on of hands such as what we read in Acts 10:44-46, there appears to be a connection between the laying on of hands and the reception of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17-19; Acts 19:1-6).

Since the days of the apostles, the laying on of hands after baptism signified the actual moment of the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion

The laying on of hands is a powerful biblical truth which the church today should embrace with knowledge and wisdom. God is still in the business of calling people into His service and equip them to be more effective and productive.

1 Timothy 4:14

However, we need to understand that the hands have no power in themselves. It is the Holy Spirit who will work in us and through us; we’ll just have to exercise faith and fully submit ourselves to God and His purpose.

The Olivet Discourse: Blueprint to the End Times

The Olivet Discourse: Blueprint to the End Times

The Olivet Discourse is a sermon that Jesus preached from the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem, three days before His crucifixion. The Olivet discourse is recorded in its most complete form in Matthew 24:1-25, and in more abbreviated forms in Mark 13 and Luke 21.

Jesus preached this sermon to a select group of His disciples in response to their question about the destruction of the Temple and the end of the age (Matthew 24:1-3). Mark 13:3 says that Jesus’ audience consisted of only four men: Peter, James, John, and Andrew. Imagine what it must have been like to hear the Savior outline the blueprint of the end times in such an intimate setting.

Christ’s Return at the End of the Age

For clarification purposes, the return of Christ at the end of the age is different from His return for the Church described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. In essence, there are two phases of the “Second Coming.”

The first phase is when Christ returns in the air to “receive the believers unto Himself” (John 14:3) and the second phase will be when Christ returns to the earth with His saints (the believers) and He will stand on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem at the end of the Tribulation period to defeat the Antichrist (Zechariah 14:4; Revelation 19:19).

Going back to the Olivet discourse, we read that before Jesus delivered this sermon, He and His disciples had been in the Temple in Jerusalem. “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down’” (Matthew 24:1-2).

As Jesus and the disciples crossed the Kidron Valley on the Mount of Olives, Jesus’ words must have been seared into the minds of the disciples. They must have wondered how this could be. When would this happen? When would the end come?

Matthew 24:1-2

So when they finally arrived at the Mount of Olives, the four men came to Him immediately for clarification (Matthew 24:3). The disciples were asking Jesus one big question with three parts. Clearly, the disciples’ question focuses on Christ’s return and the end of the age.

The disciples could not fathom the destruction of the Temple apart from the end of the age. For them, the destruction of the Temple, the coming of the Messiah, and the end of the world were tied together (Zechariah 14:1-11). This sermon, therefore, addresses the seven-year Tribulation period that will occur just before Christ returns.

While many futuristic scholars believe that a part of the Olivet discourse has already been fulfilled in 70 AD, particularly the destruction of the Temple, they say that the remainder of the discourse is yet to be fulfilled. They’re saying that Jesus began by speaking events that would be fulfilled in 70 AD, but then looked ahead to events that would be fulfilled near the end of human history.

The Olivet Discourse: The Mini Apocalypse

The Olivet discourse of Jesus is often called “The Mini Apocalypse” because it provides a concise yet comprehensive overview of the end times. In this sermon, Jesus gives us the basic blueprint for the end – a checklist of the signs of the times for Christ’s Second Advent. In twenty-seven verses, Matthew 24:4-31 moves from the beginning of the future Tribulation to the second coming of Christ.

Looking at Matthew 24:4-14, Jesus lists eight key signs He likens to birth pains that will be the signs of His coming: false Christs (v. 5); wars (vv. 6-7); famines (v. 7); earthquakes (v. 7); persecution (vv. 9-10); false prophets (v. 11); lawlessness (v. 12); and worldwide preaching of the gospel (v. 14).

The comparison with birth pains indicates that as the time of Christ’s coming draws near, the judgments will increase immensely in frequency and intensity.

In Matthew 24:15, Jesus directly appeals to the prophecies of Daniel and specifically to Daniel 9:27. Jesus goes on to describe the terrors of that time. Matthew 24:15-20 marks the midpoint of the Tribulation when the Antichrist breaks his treaty with Israel, invades the nation, and desecrates the Temple.

The Olivet Dsicourse Explained

Beginning in Matthew 24:21, the final 3 ½ years of this age are graphically outlined. The terrors will be so great that God will shorten the time for the sake of His people (Matthew 24:22). There will be people pointing here and there, claiming to have identified the Messiah, but Jesus warns against believing such claims (Matthew 24:23-26).

After the Tribulation, the second coming of Christ is presented (Matthew 24:29). He describes the signs in the heavens that will indicate that the Son of Man is coming, and finally His coming and gathering of His elect from around the world. He describes it as being “like the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37).

Jesus encourages the disciples to look for the signs, like leaves on a fig tree (Mark 13:28), even though the day of His return is unknown. Nonetheless, He encourages them to keep watch and remain faithful (Mark 13:35-36; Matthew 24:42; Luke 21:36).

The Generation that will Not Pass Away

Some scholars argue that the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 fulfilled Jesus’ predictions in Matthew 24. This view is based primarily on Matthew 24:34, which says, “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”

Proponents maintain that “this generation” must refer to the generation that originally heard the words of Jesus. The chief problem with this view is that the destruction of the Jerusalem did not fulfill all the events described in Matthew 24, so Jesus could not have been referring to that time period

In the context, “this generation” probably refers to those living during the Tribulation who will personally witness the events described in Matthew 24:4-31. Jesus is emphasizing that those who see the signs that He listed, and experience the Great Tribulation, will also witness the Second Coming.

Jesus is saying that those who are alive to see the beginning of the birth pangs will also witness the birth.

Matthew 24 is Futuristic

Reading the passage more carefully, there are two key points from the surrounding context that strongly suggest that all the conditions and characteristics in Matthew 24-4-28 are future events that will occur during the Tribulation, immediately preceding the return of Christ.

First, Jesus established the time frame for this sermon in Matthew 23:39, “For I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Jesus was telling His disciples that He was going to leave this world but that He would come again only when the Jewish people would repent and receive Him as their Messiah.

This statement is very significant as it forms the backdrop and context for what Jesus says in Matthew 24. Jewish repentance, which has never occurred and certainly didn’t occur in AD 70, is the ultimate event that will trigger His return. At the end of the Tribulation, the Jewish people will repent, and their Messiah will return to rescue them from the Antichrist (Zechariah 12:10).

Matthew 24:3

Second, when the disciples asked Jesus about the end of the world, they were thinking of when the Messiah would come to establish His glorious Kingdom in Israel. In fact, Jesus Himself used this exact terminology, “the end of the world (or age),” twice before to refer to the final judgment (Matthew 13:39, 49).

John Mac Arthur summarized it this way:

“It seems more sensible and more consistent, therefore, to take a futuristic approach with respect to the Olivet Discourse – to interpret the entire discourse as a prophetic picture of a “generation” and events that would take place long after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. These are events that will immediately precede Christ’s coming to establish His kingdom, and therefore they are events that are yet future even today.”

Conclusion

Jesus used the prophetic sermon known as the “Olivet Discourse” to outline the events that will lead up to the return of Israel’s Messiah to establish His Kingdom on earth and to call His people to faithfulness in view of that coming.

Although the events in Matthew 24 – 25 are futuristic, the parables encourage us to love Christ’s appearing, to look for His appearing and to labor faithfully until He comes. We should be watching, witnessing, and working. We may not be successful in many people’s eyes or even popular with others. But if we are faithful and profitable, we shall receive our reward.

And no matter what view of prophecy we take, we know that Jesus is coming again. As Christians, we must be alert and ready. We must not waste our opportunities. We may not have a great deal of ability or a great many gifts, but we can still be faithful in the calling God has given us.


*Reference: The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days
By Mark Hitchcock

The first comprehensive overview of biblical prophecy and the end times in more than 50 years. Presenting various eschatological viewpoints, Hitchcock offers a solid biblical foundation to guide you in exploring the essential truths surrounding this often misunderstood topic – and the earthly and celestial events that will mark Christ’s second coming.

Includes helpful charts. (520 pages, hardcover from Tyndale)