Articles that discuss the empirical proof for the authenticity of the Christian faith

Do Intelligent People Tend to Not Believe in God?

32368A recent article in Christianity Today entitled “Why Intelligent People Are Less Likely to Be Religious” does a great job of quantifying that headline so the reader walks away with a perspective that accommodates the truth that it’s not just a matter of intelligence, there are other factor at play. Here’s some additional observations:

It’s not a matter of intelligence. Some of today’s most brilliant minds are people of faith. It’s not intelligence, it’s a toxic kind of pride that says the universe and the complexities of the human experience can be wholly explained according to the number of letters you have after your name.

The fact is, the term “atheist” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not that an atheist doesn’t believe in God as much as they believe that they’re looking at him every time they see their reflection in a mirror. They define their morality as well as the common good. They regulate the origin of the cosmos to a theory, that while completely devoid of substance, is nevertheless defined as “science” and they justify their perspective by believing that one day “they’ll figure it out.” They take Romans 1:20 and substitute themselves and their idea that human knowledge is, in and of itself, divine.

A good example of this is Creation. Most evolutionary theories are predicated on the preexistence of natural laws. Gravity, biological reactions, chemical properties, mathematical equations and even the existence of time are all assumed. Yet, these are all orderly systems that didn’t spring up out of nowhere. And however ethereal it may sound, any kind of “law” has to proceed from a law giver. It’s not just the notion that two particles fortuitously collided and precipitated a chemical reaction that resulted in the beginning of a planet that would then have the capacity to “evolve” and produce a single cell amoeba which would, over the course of billions of years, become a fingernail. You first have to have gravity and you have to chemical and physical laws. If you start with the cosmological equivalent to the null set, you have a zero with a slash through it. You don’t just have an empty space, you don’t even have a space.

I heard a speaker once refer to Genesis 1:1 as a “trinity of trinities…”

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…”

  • Beginning (time) -> past, present and future
  • Heavens (space) -> height, width and depth
  • Earth (matter) -> liquid, gas, solid

And all of this had to happen simultaneously. You can’t create something unless you’ve got a space to put it in and a moment for it to exist.

While it boggles the mind, it simultaneously reveals those who flash their intelligence and academic credentials as being outrageously arrogant. It’s not that you can’t learn and observe and become wise. But you have to begin with a philosophical paradigm that says there is a profound organization that characterizes the created order, and this ordered system had an Architect. Remove the Architect and you’ve got a senseless chaos that cannot be rationally observed because, by definition, it has no rational basis.

It’s not about intelligence, it’s about pride.

The $20,000 Question: Did Jesus Rise?


The $20,000.00 question is, and always will be, “Did Jesus die and come back to life?”

To your right, you see a screenshot of Bishop John Shelby Spong. He’s an Episcopal bishop who’s made a name for himself by condemning much of what evangelical believers subscribe to as basic tenants of their creed; the Resurrection and the inerrancy of Scripture being among them.

Speaking about the Resurrection, he says:

At its very core the story of Easter has nothing to do with angelic announcements or empty tombs. It has nothing to do with time periods, whether three days, forty days, or fifty days. It has nothing to do with resuscitated bodies that appear and disappear or that finally exit this world in a heavenly ascension.1

In his book, “Resurrection: Myth or Reality,” he says:

If the resurrection of Jesus cannot be believed except by assenting to the fantastic descriptions included in the Gospels, then Christianity is doomed. For that view of resurrection is not believable, and if that is all there is, then Christianity, which depends upon the truth and authenticity of Jesus’ resurrection, also is not believable.2

Couple those statements with the substance of the interview featured in the youtube video to the right, and you’ve got a version of Christianity devoid of the virgin birth, the Resurrection of Christ and much of the miraculous dynamics communicated in Scripture.

What Bishop Spong wants to suggest is that the vast majority of Scripture is fiction which includes the whole gospel narrative. In short, Jesus’ Resurrection never happened.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the grave, then all religions are basically the same in that you’ve got your one principal character and a collection of various behaviors and expectations. They may differ to some extent, but it boils down to pretty much the same kind of thing.


If Christ did rise and come back to life, then He validated everything He ever said as being absolutely True and everything the Bible articulates in terms of sin, grace and redemption are now religious tenets that are as distinctive as they are unchanging.

This is why not all religions are the same. As a matter of fact, should you talk to an orthodox Muslim, they’ll let you know in no uncertain terms that Christianity is especially heinous because of the way they believe that Christ was another prophet and anyone who subscribes to the idea that He died and rose again is cursed.

“The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!” (sura 9:30) (see also Coexist…/)

So, again, if the Resurrection did happen, then that’s a gamechanger and you can’t logically subscribe to the idea that everyone’s headed in the same spiritual direction, they’re just using different maps. Either Christ is Who He claimed to be and proved it by dying and coming back to life or He didn’t. If He didn’t, then it doesn’t matter. But if He did, then nothing else matters.

…and that includes bogus doctrine coming from the mouths of guys like this. Look, if hell doesn’t exist then there’s really no need for Judgment (Heb 9:27). And if there’s no Judgment, then what’s the problem with sin? And if sin isn’t an issue, you certainly don’t need grace and if grace is off the screen then why did Christ die?

Granted, we weren’t there to take selfies of us standing next to Jesus as He emerged from the empty tomb. We’ve got to base our faith on 2,000 years worth of art, architecture, archeology, literature and history along with two millemiums of dramatically changed lives. All of that, of course, is based on Truth of Scripture. This gentleman doesn’t subscribe to the inerrancy of God’s Word. If He sees it as Inspired at all, he’ll assert that’s it’s been corrupted over the years, hence the substance of his argument.

Here’s the thing: If God went to the trouble of initiating all the content in Scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17), do you really think He would allow it to be dilluted or compromised? Do you really think He would be that careless? And if you want to believe that it’s just a big marketing campaign used by religious authorities to fool the masses, than it’s one pathetic recruiting tool. I mean, who wants to “deny themselves” (Lk 9:23)?

The Bible is the best and most well attested work of antiquity in all of ancient literature. When you hold a Bible in your hands, you can be confident that you’re holding the Word of God as it was dictated to the various authors over the centuries it was compiled. Whether you’re looking at the Old Testament and considering the extreme degree of diligence that was used to copy and preserve the text or the criteria used to identify the credibility of an apostle in the New Testament – taken together, it is truly phenomenal the way the Bible was written, preserved and championed. To read more about this see “The Accuracy of Scripture | Part One: The Old Testament” and “The Accuracy of Scripture | Part Two: The New Testament.

All this to say, the “gospel” is a word that literally means, “good news.” It’s awesome! It’s not about guilt, it’s about grace. The emphasis is not so much the penalty of sin as much as it’s the fact that the penalty’s been paid. Do you smell that? That’s the aroma of something incredible! But it fails to resonate as such as long as you’ve got guys like this who want to reduce hell, heaven, grace, the crucifixion and the sobering realities of God’s Wrath to something that doesn’t exist. If it wasn’t real, then the whole point of Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection is moot.

But He was born, He did live, He did die, and He did rise!

Bring it!

1. Bishop John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality? (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1994), p. 12.

2. Ibid, p. 238.

For more info about John Spong, click here.

Too Good to be True

yieldFor Someone Who’s Got a Lot of Baggage in Their Life, Salvation isn’t an Easy Pill to Swallow

However attractive it is, even after accepting the Truth of God’s Grace, there’s still, in some instances, a debilitating weight of guilt and regret that prevents them from forgiving themselves. Hence, God’s Forgiveness is never really embraced. It may resonate from a theological standpoint, but when it comes to a legitimate release of all that translates into a perpetual state of depression, that never really happens and while they can quote Scripture there’s a conditional element they subconsciously attach to it and in the end, God’s grace is a temporary medication and not a permanent transformation.

It makes sense to a certain extent. From a human perspective, forgiveness is harder to give and even more difficult to accept the more heinous the infraction is. And while restitution affords a person the opportunity to go the extra mile and truly “make things right,” some things can’t be undone and accepted apologies, while healthy, can’t turn back time and remove from one’s memory their failures and the consequences of their sin. So, while John 3:16 is processed as an impetus to get right with God and act differently towards others, the True Package of God’s Grace is exchanged for something that is conditional and contingent upon a person’s performance and attitude.

The internal argument says, “Since I’m not really deserving of forgiveness and I’m acutely aware of my propensity to fall short of God’s Standard, Grace is received in direct proportion to my measuring up to what I define as a godly disposition.” Again, it’s medicinal and not transformational. Everything about what God offers is filtered through what they know to be true about themselves, hence, Salvation is not a permanent fixture. It can be lost and, though I’m forgiven, I’m still tainted and the joy that is referenced in Scripture is reserved for people who’ve not made the kind of mistakes I’m guilty of.

It may be that the person who doubts the enduring certainty of their salvation doesn’t struggle with feelings of guilt as much as they maintain in their minds the notion that there’s a standard of “goodness” that must be in place for Salvation to apply. A collection of behaviors, regimens and attitudes are assembled and it’s according to this list of prerequisites that God’s grace is doled out. Whatever the situation, the theological disposition is that while grace can’t be earned, it can nevertheless be maintained and if a person falls short of an adequate performance, they can lose their salvation.

But how good it good enough? This is where the pointless fallacy of this argument is revealed. If you fail to obey even a singular aspect of God’s Law, you’re guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). There are no “cheap seats” in Heaven, God doesn’t grade on a curve and even at your best, you cannot merit God’s mercy. You are saved by God’s grace and you are kept in that redeemed state by that same grace. Any attempt to assert a human effort as a sufficient means by which God’s involvement in your life can be earned or justified is to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the obvious insufficiency represented by the human condition (see 1 Thess 5:23; Phil 1:6;  1 Pet 1:5).

In short, it’s too good to be True.

I) Can You Lose Your Salvation?

In some ways, it’s a foolish question. Why would you want to lose your salvation? But in the mind of someone who might’ve been grown up in the church and then subordinated their faith to a host of immoral decisions for an extended period of time, salvation is not a fixture, it’s a mood. It’s a spike of religious activity. And if I can choose to abandon my faith and live my life in a way that is completely contrary to what God would command, then it makes sense that if I can choose to be saved, I can just as easily un-choose to be saved.

A number of brilliant minds have wrestled with this question, including William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. In their doctrinal statement they say:

Continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.1

It’s not an uncommon doctrinal stance and it makes for some interesting conversations. But this is more than just a theological crossword puzzle – especially for those whose faith has been less than consistent. Bear in mind, we’re not talking about being frustrated with God for a short period of time or falling short in the context of being less than truthful or thinking something vulgar in a moment of weakness. What we’re talking about here is a season of prolonged rebellion with no sense of conviction or remorse – a complete and utter disdain for the Word of God as far as being resolved to ignore it and the One Who authored it.

So, let’s take this apart and see what’s there.

II) You Can’t Lose What You Didn’t Have to Begin With

Look at what it says in Matthew 7:21-23:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt 7:21-23 [see also 1 Jn 2:19])

In other words, you can pose all day long, but in the end, God’s looking at your heart and you’re not fooling Him by saying one thing yet believing another.

And it’s not just “believing” that God exists and the whole death and resurrection of Christ actually happened. The demons believe that Christ died and came back to life (Jas 2:19). The difference between them and an authentic believer is the fact that the believer embraces the lordship of Christ and the Spirit of God lives within them whereas the demons combat God’s Authority and the Holy Spirit is kept outside the parameters of their inner being.

To “believe in your heart” means that your belief translates to more than an intellectual philosophy or a theological concept. It’s a Truth that plays out both practically and completely because it is something that you subscribe to with all that defines you. That’s what it means to believe something with your whole heart.  Obedience is not something you do in an effort to conceal who you are. Rather, it’s something you do as an expression of who you are because you have the Spirit of God working in and through you (Phil 2:12-13). He lives in you, He guides you and it’s the Presence of His Spirit that defines you as one of His own (Rom 8:9). 

It’s a Truth that plays out both practically and completely because it is something that you subscribe to with all that defines you.

III) Christ Himself Maintains Your Blameless Status Before God

Now, if you belong to Christ – if you are certified as someone who is genuinely born again based on His Spirit living in you – then it’s Christ Himself Who maintains your blameless status before God:

37All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (Jn 6:37-40)

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (Jn 10:27-28)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil 1:6)

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (1 Thess 5:23-24)

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)

III) Salvation is a Crescendo, Not a Fermata

In music, a crescendo is something that builds and builds and gets louder and more intense till it finally culminates in a dramatic resolution. A fermata, on the other hand, is just a note that is meant to hold indefinitely until the conductor cuts you off. Some want to think of their Salvation as a fermata. It’s just a noble status that remains in place until they either die or God calls them home. But Salvation is actually a crescendo. It’s an ongoing process that builds right up to the point where the orchestra concludes with a massive, Holy Ghost exclamation point (see Rom 8:23). Dr. John MacArthur elaborates on this in the context of Romans 8 by making the point that salvation is engineered to be something that targets an end result and not just a “current status.” And the only way we can be guaranteed a successful finish is if the journey to that final destination is guaranteed as well.

Then he spells out what that means (referring to Paul). Verse 29, “For those whom He foreknew, He predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” This is the heart and soul of predestination. Before time began God predestines the elect to be conformed to the image of Christ. Not to start, not to go part of the way but to go all the way to conformity to Christ. The doctrine of election is not election to salvation, it is election to glorification. If you understand that, then you understand the security of salvation. Those who were chosen before the foundation of the world were not chosen to believe the gospel only, they were chosen to be eternally glorified. The doctrine of election speaks to the end, not the process. Yes, He foreknew them, that is He predetermined to know them in an intimate way. He therefore predestined them to become conformed to the image of His Son. And then the process is broken down in verse 30, “Whom He predestined, He called.” That’s the saving call. “Whom He called He justified and whom He justified He glorified.” That is unalterable, verse 31. “What shall we then say to these things, if God is for us, who is against us? No one can thwart the purposes of God,” that takes you back to verse 28 again, that’s why all things work together for good. 2

The bottom line to all this is that it is God Himself Who facilitates every aspect of the Salvation Solution.

IV) The Roman Chain

You can see all of what Salvation results in by tracing the logic represented in Romans 5-8. You can envision it as a “Roman chain” and it looks like this:

  • Peace with God
  • Sanding in Grace
  • Hope of Glory
  • Assurance of Love
  • Certainly of Deliverance
  • Joy in God

The first link is “Peace with God.”

    A) Peace with God

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…(Rom 5:1)

The “peace” that’s being referred to here is not “psychological tranquility.” It’s not a feeling as much as it means the opposite of “war.”

In your unregenerate state, you are an enemy of God. Consider the following passages:

And My wrath shall wax hot and I will kill you with the sword and your wives shall be widows and your children fatherless. (Ex 22:24)

When you have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God which He commanded you and have gone and served other gods and bowed yourself to them, then shall the anger of the Lord be kindled against you and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which He hath given you. (Josh 22:18)

Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us because our fathers have not hearkened to the words of this book to do according to all that is written concerning us. (2 Kings 22:13 [see also Dt 32; Ps 7:11; Is 5:25; 13:9; Rom 1:18; Eph 5:6])

I John 1:7 literally reads, “The blood of Jesus His Son keeps cleansing us from all sin.” In other words, the peace we have is an ongoing peace and not something that is conditional and therefore transient.3

While we tend to gloss over the significance of sin, it isn’t lost on God. While we might say, “I’m not at war with God,” your sin is a choice. And if by making that choice you are removing God from His throne and replacing Him with yourself, you are making yourself an enemy of God and your destiny is eternal destruction.

That’s what makes Romans 5:1 so significant! The fact that we now have “peace” with God means that God Himself as called a permanent truce because of the saving work Christ did on the cross. So, what was an all-out war a moment ago, is now a lasting peace and that, in and of itself, is a miracle!

This is link #1 but you should already be able to tell that, given the massive, lethal and impossible barrier that existed between you and God that is now gone…

Your greatest problem has been solved and everything short of that is nothing in comparison!

That’s pretty motivating!

     B) The Grace in Which We Stand

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. (Rom 5:1-2)

Our salvation is not dependent on anything we’ve done or anything we can do. It’s all through Christ! And because it’s through Him and not because of us, we can base our assurance of salvation on His Perfection and Consistency as opposed to our performance and obedience.

The second link, as far as what constitutes the permanence of our salvation is the “grace in which we stand.” In some ways, this is an elaboration of what was already discussed as far as the way in which our sinless status before God is maintained by God Himself (see “Christ Himself Maintains Your Blameless Status Before God”). We’re not moving in and out of a Divine Zone of God’s Grace and Favor. We’re “standing” in it. How are we able to stand? Through Christ. The very first part of the second verse shows that it’s “through Christ” and, if you think about it, everything is through Him. That’s why Salvation works the way that it does. It’s not because of anything we’ve done or anything we can do. It’s all by and through Him.

Another word to ponder is the word, “access.” In the Old Testament, the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies only once a year. God’s Holiness is that sacred and that unapproachable. But through Christ, we now have access to Him…

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb 10:19-22)

“Let us draw near…”

That’s “access!” And, again, it’s not dependent on anything we’ve done or anything we can do. It’s all through Christ! And because it’s through Him and not because of us, we can base our assurance of salvation on His Perfection and Consistency as opposed to our performance and obedience.

That’s awesome!

     C) The Hope of Glory

  • Link #1: Peace with God
  • Link #2: Standing in Grace
  • Link #3: Hope of Glory

The “Hope of Glory.” That’s the third link and you can see it in the final portion of Romans 5:2…

through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. (Rom 5:2)

Salvation is not just a “status,” it’s a deposit – it’s a process that will culminate when we stand before Him in Heaven. You see this referenced in Ephesians:

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Eph 1:11-14)

Dr John MacArthur elaborates:

When you were saved you were saved in hope, anticipating eternal heaven.  When you were saved, you were fulfilling a predestined plan by which God had predetermined to bring you to eternal glory.  That pledge was guaranteed to you at your salvation because you were given the Holy Spirit, who took up residence in your heart as the down payment, the arrabōn, the engagement ring, the first installment of your eternal glory and the Holy Spirit is given to every believer to guarantee the future fulfillment of God’s promised inheritance.  That’s all a part of our salvation.  That’s all a part of what it is to come to Christ. When you are told about the gospel and believing in Christ it is with the hope of heaven, the hope of eternal joy and bliss and blessedness and glory and perfection and you are secured in that hope by the purpose of God.  You are secured in that hope by the intercession of Christ.  You are secured in that hope by the indwelling seal of the Holy Spirit of promise.4

And it’s not just another aspect of salvation, it’s another core Truth that reinforces the permanence of your salvation. Dr MacArthur references it when he mentions how we are “secured” in the hope of glory by virtue of God’s Spirit living in us.

That’s the Hope of Glory!

     D) Assurance of Love

The fourth link is the Reality of God’s Love.

Romans 5:5 says:

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirt, whom he has given us. (Rom 5:5)

You see the love of God described in Ephesians by Paul as something that is nothing short of overwhelming:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:17-19)

And what’s truly amazing is that He loved us when we were yet sinners (Rom 5:8). Imagine how much easier it is to love someone who is now fully redeemed. And all of this is rooted in His Character and His Perfection! That’s why it’s immutable!

It’s worthwhile to park here for a moment and underscore the faithfulness of God. God is not capable of fluctuating. Look at Numbers 23:19:

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Num 23:19)

While we default more towards words like “trustworthy” and “consistent,” it’s the word, “faithful” that really captures the idea of true consistency. That’s our King! When He strikes an agreement, when He makes a promise, when He enters into a contract, you can rest assured that, because of His Character, there will be no change of heart. Again, this is why our salvation is secure. If it were a matter of us conducting ourselves in a way that merited His favor, be it in the context of obtaining His Grace or even sustaining it, we wouldn’t be able to do it. That’s why it’s so needful that our Redemption is built around a permanent and ongoing forgiveness based on the faithfulness of God. If it were founded on any kind of human effort or resolve, it would be an epic fail in every sense of the word.

     E) The Certainty of Deliverance

Let’s recap for a minute…

“You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”5

Jonathan Edwards said that years ago and he’s absolutely right.

We can’t earn our salvation. There’s nothing we can do to merit it because it requires a Divine dynamic. We can’t facilitate remedy to a problem that has eternal repercussions. God has to do it. And not only can we not obtain it, we can’t maintain a sinless status on our own either even with the Holy Spirit residing in our hearts.

1 Peter 1:5 says:

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Pet 1:5 [KJV])

 God is faithful. That’s the bottom line. When He makes a promise, He doesn’t renege on it (Num 23:19). And, like we’ve already discussed, salvation isn’t just a status that applies to the present, it’s a process that culminates when we stand before Him. Again, we can’t facilitate something that includes an eternal dynamic. That’s what makes 1 Thessalonians 5:23 so significant:

 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess 5:23 [see also Phil 1:6])

 We are “kept” blameless. And that’s not to say we don’t sin as much as it means that where sin increase, grace increases all the more (Rom 5:20).

We’re now looking at the fifth link in the “chain” illustration that Dr. John MacArthur uses to illustrate and elaborate on the permanence of our salvation. The fifth link is “Deliverance.”

Deliverance, in this case, is referring to the fact that, despite the fact that all of humanity is going to be judged (Hebrews 9:27; Rev 20:15) and many will be thrown into the lake of fire because of their refusal to accept God’s gift of grace and now stand before Him forever condemned, that’s not something we have to worry about.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 describes Jesus as the one “who rescues us from the coming wrath.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says:

 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess 5:9)

 And how does God rescue us from His coming wrath? By His blood:

 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Rom 5:9)

 Romans 5 reads like a symphony of Truth that continues to crescendo, We start by having peace with God, then we stand perpetually blameless before Him in a state of constant grace, we then enjoy a sense of hope because of what God has in store for us in Heaven. Then we have this love that defies any kind of description. All of this leads to…



There’s a time coming when all of the humanity will have to answer for the way in which belligerently approached God and told Him to get out of His seat so they could dismiss any and all Absolutes save the absolute of themselves. It’s insanely inappropriate and worthy of a guilty verdict. But we stand justified before Him and in that way we are “delivered!”

That’s an awesome Truth, right there!

     F) Joy in God

Six links. We’ve talked about five and now we get to the finale. Peace -> Grace -> Hope -> Love -> Deliverance and now…


Joy is not an irresponsible kind of happiness that ignores things that are serious and justify a sober and solemn disposition. It’s a positive dynamic that’s not founded on circumstances as much as it’s founded on the One your circumstances answer to.

Look at the way Paul builds all of this in Romans 5:

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Rom 5:8-11 [KJV])

“Much more…” “much more,” “And not only so…”

But we also have “joy…”.

Salvation is an amazing thing. You can’t study it without being overwhelmed by the goodness, the Power and the Character of God. Everything about the salvation we have is dripping with Divine Substance and Immutability. Not because of anything we’ve done or anything we could do, but because of Who God is and His love for us. It truly is “amazing grace” and while it is an occasion for inexpressible gratitude it also inspires unbridled joy.

Whereas before we were eternally condemned and practically aimless without any enduring sense of satisfaction or fulfillment, now we’ve got a guaranteed future after we’ve breathed our last, a true Purpose that infuses an element of meaning into every waking moment of our lives, a Power that moves and inspires beyond anything we could manufacture on our own and a Peace that persists regardless of our circumstances.

Every aspect of our lives has now been transformed and dramatically improved. And it’s a Divine Status that applies according to the Consistency and the Irrevocable Nature of His Character as opposed to the fallibility and the inevitable shortcomings represented by our performance.

From a human standpoint, it is to good to be true. There’s absolutely nothing any sort of human enterprise can do or become that which can satisfy the debt that is owed as a result of our moral and spiritual failures. Nor is there anything we can offer in the context of resolve or effort that can maintain a perpetual sinless condition. Any attempts to assert a human mechanism into the equation that yields a forgiven result renders the entire platform moot and utterly worthless.

On the other hand…

If it’s God Himself Who redeems, if it’s God Himself Who Sustains, if it’s God Himself Who dies, pays, conquers, reigns and restores…

Then it works! And that’s why Paul is coming out of his seat as he concludes his thought in Romans 5 with the incandescent exclamation point of pure joy!

You can’t obtain it, you can’t retain it and you can’t attain it.

“O For a Thousand Tongues” is an old hymn and while it may not get sung as often as it used to, it’s an appropriate way to end this series.

O for a thousand tongues to sing, my great Redeemer’s praise.
The glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace.
My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim,
to spread through all the earth abroad the honors of Thy name.

Jesus, the name that charms our fears, That bids our sorrows cease,
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears, to life and health and peace.
He speaks and listening to His voice new life the dead receive
the mournful broken hearts rejoice, the humble poor believe.

He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free,
His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me.
Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb, your loosened tongues employ,
ye blind behold your Savior come and leap ye lame


1. “The Salvation Army is a Worldwide Church. We Believe:”,, accessed October 17, 2017

2. “The Divine Guarantee of an Eternal Salvation, Part 2”, Dr. John MacArthur,, accessed November 20, 2017

3. “If We Confess Our Sins” John MacArthur,, accessed October 19, 20173. “Links in the Chain of Security: Hope”,, accessed November 1, 2017

4. “Links in the Chain of Security: Hope”, “Grace to You,” Dr John MacArthur,, accessed November 6, 2017

5. Goodreads, Jonathan Edwards,, accessed October 20, 2017

A great deal of this content comes from Dr. John MacArthur who does a great job of connecting the practical and profound dots found in the book of Romans and throughout the whole of Scripture. I have those links referenced below as well as several other resources that serve as a great compliment to Dr. MacArthur’s sermon series.

Half Truths and Loaded Questions | Part I – Why Doesn’t God Do Something?


I) Intro – If You Ask the Wrong Questions…

If you ask the wrong questions, you inevitably arrive at the wrong conclusions and the accuracy of your answers is in direct proportion to the accuracy of your perspective.

To the right you see a series of accusations coming from the mindset of an indignant unbeliever. On the surface, one might stumble a little bit as they attempt to articulate a response. After all, some people who professed Christ as their Savior have justified some heinous acts and perspectives according to a quasi biblical sounding rationale. How do you respond and is it possible to effectively refute the indictments leveled against Christ by unbelievers who are looking to justify their lack of reverence for God?


Everyone of these questions / indictments can easily be dismantled by recognizing that they’re all designed to shift the burden of responsibility from man to God and in that way insist that God is to be held accountable for the sinful actions of the persons involved.

This is a technique that is fairly common. You see it in other scenarios as well. They’re not legitimate objections as much as they are clever strategies. Consider the following:

Question: How can a loving God send someone to hell?

Answer: How can a rational person say “No” to a loving God?

Question: How can God wipe out an entire people group including women and children?

Answer: How vile was that community that they would warrant God’s wrath to that degree?

Question: Do you think you’re better than me?

Answer: It’s not whether or not I’m a better human being, it’s about whether or not your current situation could be dramatically improved by making different choices.

Question: Doesn’t the Bible say you’re not supposed to judge?

Answer: Doesn’t the Bible say that what you’re doing is wrong?

Question: Do I not have the right to be happy?

Answer: Do you not have the responsibility to be moral?

In each instance you have a tactic being deployed where the focus is redirected from the person being evaluated – be it their character or their actions – to the person doing the evaluation. It’s a brilliant scheme in that, not only are you able to minimize the substance of the offense, but by judiciously selecting your verbiage the accused is now the victim and everyone else that would be critical is now the villain.

This is where you get the intellectual sounding justification for the phrase “hate speech.” This is how unbelievers seek to, not only justify their atheism, but diminish the Presence of God in the marketplace in general. This is how the critics of the gospel are able to remove prayer from schools, manger scenes from public spaces and our nation’s Christian heritage from academic textbooks.

What makes this issue so crucial is that even the most casual Christian has as their philosophical starting point a respect for the reality and the necessity of Absolutes: The rule of law, a respect for a person’s office, an approach to morality that’s founded on something that transcends cultural norms…

The very essence of our country is based on the fact that we are “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable, human rights.” We justified our independence by appealing to the Absolute of the Divine Imprint that is stamped on each one of us as individuals. When you remove God from the equation, the only absolute that remains is the notion that there are no absolutes and therefore no moral barrier to stand between you and your definition of what is best and reasonable.

There are only two religions in this world: Either God is God or man is god. While it’s possible for a person to be moral apart from God, it is nevertheless their definition of morality that they subscribe to and it is their choice whether they abide by it or not. In short, they are their own absolute.

Not all Republicans are born again and not all Democrats are unbelievers. But 69% of atheists identify themselves as Democrats which makes sense given some of the talking points that are championed by the Democrat party:

The point is that this is not a “theological” discussion. This is about the philosophical foundation upon which one builds their convictions pertaining to morality, government, finances – the human experience in general. When you pop the hood on the debates, the protests, the headlines and the political rhetoric that shapes our culture, it is one’s regard for Divine Absolutes that forms the basis for a person’s convictions.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of atheists in this country has doubled since 2014. When you look at:

  • the legislation that is being passed
  • the godless practices that are being promoted as acts of moral heroism
  • the increasing amount of violent protesters who force speaking engagements to be cancelled
  • the murder of those who march beneath the Republican banner
  • the public figures who “jokingly” advocate the assassination of the President of the United States

…this is more than just a discussion of one’s metaphysical temperament. This is a contest between those who would retool the moral and spiritual fabric of our country and those who seek to preserve the spiritual foundation upon which we’re built. And it’s no longer a conversation characterized by respectful dialogue nor is it limited to Executive Orders and the federal government. It is a war between those who insist that man is God and those who maintain that God is God. Either God is the Absolute Who we look to for both policy and salvation or man is the bottom line for this life and the next. Never before has the tension been more palpable and rarely has the sense of urgency surrounding the ability to defend one’s faith been more intense.

This is part one of a series of installments that will look at some of the half truth and loaded questions circulated by atheists in an attempt to undermine the substance and the advantages represented by the Gospel. While we will look at the questions in the introductory graphic, let’s start with one question that is often heard: “Why does God allow the innocent to suffer?”

II) Why Does God Allow the Innocent to Suffer?

According to the image you see to the right, God is cruel and indifferent. While He has the ability to step in and protect children who are being beaten by abusive fathers, He doesn’t. Instead, He ignores their pleas and allows them to be emotionally scarred and physically damaged. If God exists at all, He is worse than a joke, He’s despicable.

Going back to the observations made in the Introduction, while it’s a clever strategy it is nevertheless a pointless tactic to try and shift the blame from man to God when it comes to the sinful and heinous acts of humanity.

gods_waysThe first question should not be, “Where is God?” The first question should be why is Timmy’s dad beating his son to begin with. It’s Timmy’s father that needs to be held accountable for what’s happening in the home and not God.

Beyond that, however, C.S. Lewis once said, “There is nothing so self defeating as a question that is not fully understood when it is fully posed.” This is an example of a question that is not fully understood in that you’re saying that unless God prevents Timmy’s father from abusing his son, then God is not the Just and Powerful Deity that the Bible proclaims Him to be. He is Just and He is Powerful, but it’s up to mankind to acknowledge Him as such. God does not force man to comply, He gives him the ability to choose and it’s that freedom of choice that defines the human paradigm.

God is not oblivious to Timmy’s situation (Matt 10:29-31) and Timmy’s father will have to answer for the way in which he has treated his son (Ps 94:23; Heb 4:13).

Secondly, while Timmy is obviously being hurt, ultimately the One Who Timmy’s father is sinning against is God (Ps 51:4; Lk 15:18). Here is where the question being asked is revealed as something that goes beyond Timmy’s welfare.

As a human being, Timmy’s dad has the ability to choose whether to honor God or to rebel. It is his job to love and protect his son (Eph 6:4). It is also his choice (Josh 24:15; Gal 5:13). Protecting Timmy, in this instance, means more than God simply preventing Timmy from being hit. It means that He has to alter the terms of the contract that He has made with every human being as far as giving them the option of either loving Him or despising Him.

And that’s not going to happen (Gen 2:16-17).

On the surface, that is not an entirely satisfactory answer. Timmy still has scars. It would be great if God stepped in every time something heinous was about to occur:

  • prevent that doctor from performing that abortion
  • stop that individual from getting drunk before he gets into his car
  • change the minds of those two “consenting adults” before they commit adultery

Now you have a situation where some will attempt to qualify when God asserts Himself, but you can’t have it both ways. You’re either a human being with the ability to choose, or you’re programed organism that’s obligated to comply.

The great thing about having an option is that when you choose to love God, it is love and the things that God designed to occur within the context of that voluntary relationship between Himself and His Creation can happen (Jn 10:10). But if it’s nothing more than a prearranged affiliation, it isn’t love. There’s no relationship, there’s no interaction – there’s no pulse.

But on the other hand, in order for love to be possible, indifference and even hatred have to be viable alternatives. And the greater the distance between you and God, the more likely the thoughts and actions of one who perceives himself as his own absolute stand to become more sinister and damaging.


It’s not God’s fault that man chooses to rebel against Him. The questions atheists ask in an attempt to discredit God intentionally sidesteps the human element that is to be held accountable. And even if God were to assert Himself in order to prevent the sinful actions of humanity from occurring, He would have to alter the contract He’s made with the human race that allows love to occur in the context of a choice. Having that option, while necessary, also allows for the antithesis of reverence and obedience to flourish. In the end, it’s not, “Why doesn’t God do something?” It’s, “Why does mankind choose to loathe his Creator, his Redeemer and his King?”

If your evaluation of God assumes the presence of human flaws, then His Actions can never fully resonate as Holy let alone Just.


The Accuracy of Scripture | Part II – The New Testament

I) Introduction


We looked at prophecies that were fulfilled to the letter, the scientifically accurate observations being made by inspired individuals that were way ahead of their time and also the way in which contemporary archaeological finds have validated the claims of Scripture.

The conclusions that can be drawn from the evidence that is readily available are as certain as they are substantive. Bottom line: The Old Testament can be embraced as, literally, the Word of God.

This week we look at the New Testament using the same approach. We’ll look at its content, we’ll consider the way it was assembled and finally, examine its consistency – the way in which the manuscripts we have available to us today match up with each other thus resulting in a text we can revere as truly Inspired.

II) The New Testament

     A) Content

It’s appropriate to rehearse what it is that we’re actually trying to deduce from the evidence that is available to us, as far as, not only the accuracy of Scripture, but the reasonableness of the Bible’s claim about itself to be the Word of God:

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Num 23:19)

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. (2 Sam 22:31)

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Ps 19:7)

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (Prov 30:5)

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)

20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet 1:20-21 [2 Sam 23:2] )

Given Scripture’s Divine Audacity, as far as it refusing to accept the label of “accurate,” but instead insists on it being Inerrant, let’s start with the content of the New Testament and look at it in terms of being historically accurate.

heel       1) Archaeology

Pontius Pilate Inscription

In 1961 the archaeological world was taken back to the first century Roman province of Judea. A group of archaeologists, led by Dr. Antonio Frova were excavating an ancient Roman theater near Caesarea Maritima. Caesarea was a leading city in the first century located on the Mediterranean Sea. A limestone block was found there with a surprising inscription. The inscription, on three lines, reads:


The inscription is believed to be part of a larger inscription dedicating a temple in Caesarea to the emperor Tiberius. The inscription clearly states, “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.”1

Heel of Yehohanan

The practice of crucifixion in antiquity was brought to life as never before when the heel bones of a young man named Yehohanan were found in a Jerusalem tomb, pierced by an iron nail. The discovery shed new light on Roman crucifixion methods and began to rewrite the history of crucifixion in antiquity.2

“In the plaster of this pool were found coins that establish the date of the pool to the years before and after Jesus. There is little question that this is in fact the pool of Siloam, to which Jesus sent the blind man in John 9.”3

Pool of Siloam

In 2004, some repairs were being done on a large pipe in Jerusalem when engineers stumbled upon a series of steps that led to a first century pool. By the end of 2005, archaeologists were able to confirm that this was the Pool of Siloam referenced in John 9.

Destruction of the Temple in 70 AD

In the book of Matthew, not long before He was put to death, Jesus prophesied that the Temple would be destroyed:

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (Matt 24:1-2)

Today you can look at an area in Jerusalem that was originally unearthed in the 1838. As the area was further excavated, you could see the massive stones that had at one point been part of the Temple’s structure that had been pushed over by the Romans when they destroyed in 70 AD.

To summarize, Nelson Glueck, the renowned Jewish archaeologist, wrote: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has every controverted a biblical reference.” He continued his assertion of “the almost incredibly accurate historical memory of the Bible, and particular so when it is fortified by archaeological fact.”4

What makes the New Testament such a standout, however, is not so much the way in which it can be validated from an archaeological standpoint, as much as it’s the narrative of Christ’s death and resurrection.

          2) The Resurrection

While the Resurrection can’t be proven via footage and voice recordings of eyewitnesses, the Biblical record can be substantiated by using other historically credible resources.

Josephus was a Jewish historian that lived from 37 to 100 A.D. He was employed by the Romans and he mentions this about Jesus in his “Antiquities of the Jews”:

Site of “Robinson’s Arch,” originally discovered in 1838 where you can now see the massive stones amidst the rubble left over from the Romans’ destruction of the Temple in 70 AD

At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive.5

Another example that demonstrates the historical reality of Christ’s resurrection that comes from a secular source would be the account of Ignatius who lived from 50-115 A.D. He was the Bishop of Antioch, a native of Syria and a pupil of the apostle John. Enroute to a martyr’s death, he wrote his “Epistles,” and this is what he said of Christ:

He was crucified and died under Pontius Pilate. He really, and not merely in appearance, was crucified, and died, in the sight of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. He also rose again in three days…”6

Something else that’s interesting about the historicity of Christ’s death and resurrection is the eclipse and the earthquake that’s referenced in Luke 23:44 and Matthew 27:54.

Greek historian Phlegon wrote: “In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad, there was an eclipse of the Sun which was greater than any known before and in the sixth hour of the day it became night; so that stars appeared in the heaven; and a great Earthquake that broke out in Bithynia destroyed the greatest part of Nicaea.”7

These accounts don’t necessarily prove that the Resurrection did occur, but what they do provide is an objective and historical reinforcement of the Biblical record.

     B) Construction

          1) Apostolic Origin

Thallus is perhaps the earliest secular writer to mention Jesus and he is so ancient his writings don’t even exist anymore. But Julius Africanus, writing around 221AD does quote Thallus who previously tried to explain away the darkness occurring at Jesus’ crucifixion:
“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” (Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1)

In the last session, we showed how some doubt the content of Scripture, believing it to be a patchwork of judiciously selected writings that happened to corroborate a message that could be used to manipulate the masses. But when you look at the criteria that was used to identify the books of the Bible, the end result is a very, very short list because of the required prophetic credential as well as the necessary fulfillment of any prophecy that was articulated. The Old Testament is what it is, not because of preferences or subjective rulings, but because of the substance of the content and the proven credibility of the human author.

The New Testament is no different. The criteria used to determine what book qualified as Scriptural was whether or not it was “apostolic” in origin. So, if the book in question was either written by an apostle or with the endorsement of an apostle, it was considered Authoritative. Otherwise, it was discarded.

An “apostle,” in the broadest sense of the word, is someone who had seen Christ alive after He had been crucified. That included more than the original Twelve. Paul had his encounter on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19) and James, the brother of Jesus, saw Him alive according to 1 Corinthians 15:7. Luke, John Mark and Barnabas were close associates of Paul and Jude, being the brother of Christ, while they weren’t apostles, because of their association with those who were, were recognized as credible representations of apostolic credibility.

Given that dynamic, consider the books of the New Testament:

Book(s) / Author Bio
Matthew One of the original 12 disciples (Lk 6:15)
John Mark Close associate of Peter and Paul (2 Tim 4:11)
Luke Paul’s associate & physician (Col 4:14; Phil 1:24)
John; 1-3 John; Revelation
John One of the original 12 disciples (Matt 10:2)
Luke Paul’s associate & physician (Col 4:14; Phil 1:24)
Romans; 1-2 Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; 1-2 Thessalonians; 1-2 Timothy; Titus; Philemon
Paul Paul encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19)
Barnabas Associate of Paul and cousin to John Mark (Acts 12:25; Col 4:10)3
James Brother of Christ and referred to as an apostle by Paul (Gal 1:19).
1-2 Peter
Peter One of the original 12 disciples (Matt 10:2)
 Jude Brother of Christ (Jude 1:7 [describes himself as a brother of James, which is most likely the author of the book of James)

In A.D. 393, a Church Council was convened called the “Synod of Hippo.” “Synod,” (pronounced “SIN-ed”) comes from a Greek word that means, “assembly.” Hippo is the city of Hippo Regius, which is the ancient name of the modern city of Annaba, in Algeria. Their purpose for meeting was to officially define the books of the New Testament. You can see how most of their work had already been done simply by filtering everything through the qualifier of “apostolic origin.”

When we read the New Testament, we’re reading the Inspired words of God written by people who had either seen the risen Christ personally or were close associates of those who had. Bear in mind, too, that most gave their lives in defense of what they believed and what had been written through them.

That’s strong!

          2) Textual Criticism

The evidence to support the authenticity of the Scriptures, as far as them being an accurate rendering of what was originally written, is more than adequate.

When evaluating works of antiquity from a textual perspective, you’re looking at two things:

  • How many original manuscripts (MSS) do we have today?
  • How long was it before the first copy and the initial writing of the text in question?

The Iliad, by Homer is considered to be classic and was a standard in intellectual circles for centuries. Look at how the two works compare with one another in terms of textual integrity:

Textual Integrity of the New Testament
work when written earliest copy time span # of copies
Homer (Iliad) 900 B.C. 400 B.C. 500 years 1,757
New Testament 40-100 A.D. 125 A.D. 25 years 23,769
originally quoted from “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” and since updated according to “The Bibliographical Test Updated


Dr F.F Bruce was the Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism at Manchester University after having served in various posts where he taught Greek after having served as head of the Department of Biblical History and Literature at the University of Sheffield in 1947.He says:

 “Scholars are satisfied that they possess substantially the true text of the principal Greek and Roman writers whose works have come down to us, of Sophocles, of Thucydides, of Cicero, of Virgil; yet our knowledge of their writings depends on a mere handful of manuscripts, whereas the manuscripts of the New Testament are counted by hundreds, and even thousands.8

 Dr. Dan Wallace is Senior Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has written, co-authored, edited, or contributed to more than two dozen books and is internationally known as a Greek New Testament scholar. He says:

The wealth of material that is available for determining the wording of the original New Testament is staggering: more than fifty-seven hundred Greek New Testament manuscripts, as many as twenty thousand versions, and more than one million quotations by patristic writers. In comparison with the average ancient Greek author, the New Testament copies are well over a thousand times more plentiful. If the average-sized manuscript were two and one-half inches thick, all the copies of the works of an average Greek author would stack up four feet high, while the copies of the New Testament would stack up to over a mile high! This is indeed an embarrassment of riches.9

     C) Consistency

Dr. John MacArthur is a pastor as well as a prolific author and renowned theologian. He’s authored more the 150 books including the “MacArthur Study Bible.” He’s been the pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California since 1969 and is the current president of the Master’s University in Newhall, California as well as the Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles, California.

In one of his sermons, he said this:

What you hold in your hand right now, your Bible, I can tell you is an accurate, English translation of the original manuscripts written by the authors of the Bible. It is accurate. If I didn’t believe that we had an accurate translation of the original text of Holy Scripture, why would I endeavor to explain it verse-by-verse and word-by word? It’s very, very essential and very foundational to understand that what you have in your hand in a twentieth century, if you had the NAS, or twenty-first century if you have the ESV, English translation is an accurate translation of texts that originated thousands of years ago. And the reason that I can say that is true is because I understand the science and the history of manuscripts and the passing down of Holy Scripture. That is one of the most important things you learn in seminary because if you have any wavering in your confidence about the integrity of your translation of the Bible, it will suck the conviction right out of your heart. That is why those who attack the truth, attack first the veracity of Scripture. Because if the Bible can be shown to be inaccurate, or an inadequate translation, or wrong, then we have no assurance of anything.10

He goes on to say that there are errors were made in the copying of Scripture…

One of the scholars that I’ve studied in years past, is a man named A.T. Robertson. You’ll see his name connected to matters regarding biblical scholarship. A.T. Robertson says, “The vast array of manuscripts has enabled textual scholars to accurately reconstruct the original text with…listen to this…more than 99.9 percent accuracy.” That’s pretty good. More than 99.9 percent accuracy.

What’s so amazing about this, these are all hand copies…hand copies. Now you say, “You mean, in all of that there are no errors?” Oh, I didn’t say that. They made errors. They put in a wrong word, put in a wrong spelling, left something out, occasionally they even tried to clarify something, some of these scribes. But guess what, we have so many manuscripts, we know when they’re doing that. We know when we’re doing that. Plus, if something shows up in a later manuscript, and it’s not in any of the earlier ones, we know it was added later. It isn’t brain surgery.11

God is not only the Author of Scripture, He’s also the “preserver.” Because we have access to so many hand written manuscripts, we can easily identify where there are differences and stay on course with what represents the obvious text.

Bear in mind, we’re not talking about passages that serve as foundational Truths upon which our creed is based. You won’t find any discrepancies when it comes to the virgin birth or the Resurrection of Christ. But passages such as verses 9-20 in the last chapter of Mark are speculative. The content isn’t inconsistent with the whole of Scripture, but there are some manuscripts that don’t have those verses.

Another example is the number 666. Revelation 13:18, in the more reliable manuscripts documents it as 666, but a papyrus about the size of a postage stamp discovered recently had the number written as 616.

In the second century, Iranaeus, an early church father, wrote a commentary acknowledging his awareness of the number, but went on to say that the more reliable manuscripts had the number written as 666. That’s significant because Iraneus mentor was Polycarp who was a disciple of John.

The bottom line is: God works through seemingly commonplace processes to accomplish His Purpose. In the instance of a manuscript that documents something distinct.

III) Conclusion

The following quotes were referenced in Part I of this discussion, but they’re worth repeating:

You have searched the holy scriptures, which are true, which were given by the Holy Spirit; you know that nothing unrighteous or counterfeit is written in them. (Clement of Rome)12

The Scriptures are indeed perfect. (Iraneus)13

The Scriptures have never erred…The Scriptures cannot err. (Martin Luther)14

The statements of holy Scripture will never be discordant with truth. (Tertullian)15

The Scriptures are holy, they are truthful, they are blameless. (Augustine)16

If anyone preaches either concerning Christ or concerning his church or concerning any other matter which pertains to our faith and life; I will not say, if we, but what Paul adds, if an angel from heaven should preach to you anything besides what you have received in the Scriptures of the Law and of the Gospels, let him be anathema. (Augustine) 17

For I am sure that if I say anything which is undoubtedly contradictory to holy Scripture, it is wrong; and if I become aware of such a contradiction, I do not wish to hold that opinion. (Anselm of Canterbury)18

When one insists that the Bible is flawed, they don’t merely undermine contemporary scholarship, they refute the assertions of the early church fathers – some of whom gave their lives rather than recant their convictions.

There is no good reason to doubt the authenticity of God’s Word – specifically in the way it presents itself as the inerrant Word of God.

Some will try to dismiss the testimony of Scripture when it comes to the way some will try to use the Bible as way to certify itself. They label it as a circular argument and therefore inadmissible in the court of public opinion.

But the Bible is not merely one book, nor is it one voice. Yes, it is the Word of God, but it’s expressed through over 40 different authors writing over a 1,500 year time span and distributed over three different continents. The Bible doesn’t represent one witness, but many witnesses scattered over several centuries.

Dr. MacArthur highlights the importance of a healthy regard for Scripture by saying:

It was A.W. Tozer who famously stated, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” The reason for this, Tozer went on to explain, is that deficient vies of God are idolatrous and ultimately damning: “Low views of God destroy the gospel for all who hold them.” And again, “Perverse notions about God soon rot the religion in which they appear…the first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its opinion of God.” As Tozer insightfully observed, the abandonment of a right view of God inevitably results in theological collapse and moral ruin.

Because God has made himself known in his Word, a commitment to a high view of Scripture is of paramount importance. The Bible both reflects and reveals the character of its Author. Consequently, those who deny its veracity do so at their peril. If the most important thing about us is how we think about God, then what we think about his self-revelation in Scripture is of the utmost consequence. Those who have a high view of Scripture will have a high view of God. And vice versa – those who treat the Word of God with disdain and contempt possess no real appreciation for the God of the Word. Put simply, it is impossible to accurately understand who God is while simultaneously rejecting the truthfulness of the Bible.19

Archeology, Science, Textual Attestation – it’s all there. There is no good reason to doubt the authenticity of the Old Testament.

Still, to accept the Bible as Divine requires more than just what can be gauged by the senses. To embrace something as supernatural, you have to deploy the same kind of intellectual extrapolation that scientists do when confronted with things such as the boundary of the cosmos or the origin of gravity. Some things we are just not capable of quantifying simply because it lies beyond the human capacity to measure or observe. That’s not to say we can’t make intelligent assessments, but there is, in some instances, an empirical certainty that exists beyond the limitations of the human paradigm. The empirical dots that can be connected are those that exist in terms of that which happened in the past. Our perspective is that of a rear view mirror. We can’t stop the car and witness those events in the present and build our convictions on having personally witnessed the parting of the Red Sea or the Resurrection. It’s in those moments when we have to place our trust in something we cannot see. The Bible calls this faith.

The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6 that without faith, it’s impossible to please God. Not because He expects you to disengage your intellect when surmising the evidence that validates His Identity and His Word, but because there are historical realities that cannot be observed today, only accepted as fact based on the evidence those events have left in their wake. In other words, we have to be willing to go forward in our convictions based on what we cannot see.

To embrace the Bible as nothing more than a fascinating text is to strip it of the Role it asserts as the Word of God. And it’s not just for the sake of information as much as it’s about the supernatural transformation that occurs when you realize that His Word is His Message to you personally (1 Cor 13:12; Jas 1:23).

God, through the Scriptures, requires a response beyond a positive intellectual endorsement. It asks for the kind of obedience that God Himself facilitates through you by His Spirit (Phil 2:13). You become the permanent home for His Holy Spirit by accepting the Message He proclaims in His Word (Rom 10:17) and that ultimately requires faith.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. (Rom 10:17)

Not a blind faith, but faith nonetheless. Faith in Him, what He can do and…

…the Integrity, the Substance and the Truth of His Inerrant Word.

Click  here  to go to “The Accuracy of Scripture: Part I – The Old Testament”

1. Credo House,–-6-pontius-pilate-inscription/, accessed April 23, 2017
2. Bible History Daily, “A Tomb in Jerusalem Reveals the History of Crucifixion and Roman Crucifixion Methods”,, accessed April 23, 2017
3. Premier Christianity, “9 Archaeology Finds that Confirm the New Testament”,, accessed April 23, 2017
4. “Evidence That Demands a Verdict”, Josh McDowell, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1979, p65
5. Ibid, p82
6. Ibid, p185
7. Astronomy Today, “Eclipses from Ancient Times – Part Three,, accessed April 23, 2017
8. “Evidence That Demands a Verdict”, Josh McDowell, Here’s Life Publishers, San Bernardino, CA, 1972, p45
9. “Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture”, J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, 2006 p82
10. “Grace To You”, “The Fitting End to Mark’s Gospel”,, accessed April 23, 2017
11. Ibid
12. “Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?”, James K. Hoffmeier and Dennis R. Magary, Crossway, Wheaton, IL, 2007, p140
13. Christian Theology, Millard J. Erickson, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI, 1998, p252
14. “Evangelical Lutheran Synod”, “Luther and the Word of God’,, accessed April 25, 2017
15. “The Inerrant Word: Biblical, Historical, Theological and Pastoral Perspectives”, John MacArthur, Crossway, Wheaton, IL, 2016, p124
16. Ibid, p125
17. Ibid, p126
18. Ibid, p125
19. Ibid, p12

The God Delusion vs The God Conclusion | Part Two – What About Prayer?

1362086416_small-dawkins_the-god-delusionDawkins 1 | God 0

Richard Dawkins, in his continued attempt to mock the legitimacy of the Christian faith, references something he refers to as “The Great Prayer Experiment.” He explains…

...the physicist Russell Standard (one of Britain’s three well-known religious scientists, as we shall see) has thrown his weight behind an initiative, funded by – of course – the Templeton Foundation, to test experimentally the proposition that praying for sick patients improves their health.

Such experiments, if done properly, have to be double blind, and this standard was strictly observed. The patients were assigned, strictly at random, to an experimental group (received prayers) or control group (received no prayers). Neither the patients, nor their doctors or caregivers, nor the experimenters were allowed to know which patients were being prayed for and which patients were controls. Those who did the experimental praying had to know the names of the individuals for whom they were praying  – otherwise, in what sense would they be praying for them rather than for somebody else? But care was taken to tell them on the first name and the initial letter of the surname. Apparently that would be enough to enable God to pinpoint the right hospital bed.

The very idea of doing such experiments is open to a generous amount of ridicule, and the project duly received it. As far as I know, Bob Newhart didn’t do a sketch about it, but I can distinctly hear his voice:

What’s that you say, Lord? You can’t cure me because I’m a member of the control group?…Oh, I see, my aunt’s prayers aren’t enough. But Lord, Mr Evans in the next door bed…What was that, Lord?…Mr Evans received a thousand prayers per day? But Lord, Mr Evans doesn’t know a thousand people…Oh, the just referred to him as John E. But Lord, how di you know they didn’t mean John Ellsworth?…Oh right, you used your omniscience to work out which John E. they meant…1

The study that Dawkins references was done in 2006. The two groups were further divided into three sub groups:

  • people that knew they were being prayed for
  • people that were being prayed for and did not know it
  • people that received no prayers and didn’t know it


The results of the study were clear cut. There was no difference between those being prayed for and those who were not. There was a difference in the amount of suffering however, in that the people who knew they were being prayed for suffered more than those who weren’t being prayed for and had no clue. Bottom line: Prayer doesn’t work, God isn’t real and to believe otherwise is either complete stupidity or an example of a blind faith that resolves to believe regardless of the quantifiable evidence that exists to refute it.

Dawkins: 1 | God: 0

A Weak Response

Dawkins cites several theologians who embarrass themselves by attempting to explain the results in the context of how God either uses suffering to accomplish His Purposes or such studies are pointless in that they attempt to quantify God – which you can’t do.

It’s not that they don’t have a point. God does use suffering to strengthen a believer’s faith (Romans 5:3-5; 2 Cor 1:3-7). But it also says that you mourn with those who mourn (Rom 12:15). It is encouraging to know that God has a Purpose and He can be trusted when you’re going through a hard time, but you telling someone they should be “happy” when something terrible has happened is not always helpful. And saying that you can plot the Reality of God on a graph or prove His existence on a calculator is no different than saying you can package love in a shoebox or reproduce peace in a test tube. God is more than a “result,” just like a person is more than a photograph. Still, you should be able to expect some kind of material evidence to support the validity of the Christian faith and when a clergyman responds to a test like this by saying people should welcome suffering or God can’t be “proven,” their responses sound pretty weak and Dawkins’ argument appears to be all the more compelling.

If God’s real, and prayer supposedly is a person asking God for something, then it follows that, in a study such as this, you should see some kind of evidence that God is at least listening.


Dawkins concludes by assuming that the “faithful” will soldier on, despite the lack of evidence and proof, and wait it out until they get the result they want.

But Wait

It’s interesting because, while the study Dawkins cites occurred in 2006, there’s an article in Newsmax magazine entitled, “Studies Prove the Healing Power of Prayer” that references several similar studies that produced much different results:

  • The American Journal of Public Health studied nearly 2,000 older Californians for five years and found that those who attended religious services were 36 percent less likely to die during that period than those who didn’t.
  • A study of nearly 4,000 older adults for the U.S. Journal of Gerontology revealed that atheists had a significantly increased chance of dying over a six-year period than the faithful.
  • Crucially, religious people lived longer than atheists even if they didn’t go regularly to a place of worship.
  • The American Society of Hypertension established in 2006 that church-goers have lower blood pressure than non-believers.
  • Scientists have also revealed believers recover from breast cancer quicker than non-believers, have better outcomes from coronary disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and are less likely to have children with meningitis.
  • Research at San Francisco General Hospital looked at the effect of prayer on 393 cardiac patients. Half were prayed for by strangers who had only the patients’ names. Those patients had fewer complications, fewer cases of pneumonia, and needed less drug treatment.They also got better quicker and left the hospital earlier.

So, which studies do you believe? And why does Dawkins not acknowledge other similar studies that actually reinforce the utility and the Power of prayer?

That’s a question that may not ever get a satisfactory answer, but let’s take a minute and look at Scripture.

In Jesus’ Name

First of all, God is not a vending machine. You don’t simply put in your “prayer coin,” pull a lever and expect Divine machinations come to life, spit out the result you want, in the timeframe you’re expecting. He’s God, you’re not.

The Bible makes some pretty broad sounding guarantees when it comes to prayer.

7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.8For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matt 7:7-8)

On surface, it looks like if you position your appeal just right, you’re gold! Whatever you want, whatever you need – it’s yours.

But look at John 14:

13 And I will do whatever you ask  in my name , so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything  in my name , and I will do it. (Jn 14:13-14)

 “In my Name” is more than just a poetic compliment to your prayer. “In the Name of Jesus,” or “in Jesus’ Name” invokes a dynamic that establishes the Priority and the Precedence of God. Specifically, His Will:

14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to  his will,  he hears us.15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 Jn 5:13-14)

And that’s not a “hidden clause.” That’s consistent with the kind of approach you would expect in a wise, father figure. A child can approach their Dad for anything they want, but the Dad isn’t going to respond in the affirmative if the child asks for a machine gun.

Take a look at Matthew 18:19-20:

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matt 7:9-11)

You see where this is all going? God sees you and your life laid out before Him in a way that’s not limited by the constraints of time and space. He knows what’s best from womb to tomb. Ask. Absolutely! But ask knowing that should He say, “No,” or “Wait,” it’s not Him being cruel and it’s certainly not a prompt to doubt His Reality. Rather, it’s a cue to remember His Sovereignty which is Ultimately founded on an unconditional love and an uncompromising commitment to our welfare.

You Don’t Talk to Your Father That Way

When satan was attempting to get Jesus to make some compromises, he honed in on, what would naturally be, a logical means by which Christ could recruit the attention and the admiration of those He sought to save by throwing Himself down off the top of the temple and emerge unharmed (Matt 4:5-7). Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16,  saying that you don’t put the Lord your God to the test.

That passage in Deuteronomy is referring the scenario in Exodus when the Israelites were on the march and had come to point where they were without water. Despite very recent demonstrations of God’s Power and Presence in the context of all the miracles He had done in their midst, here they are now asking, point blank, “Is God among us or not? (Ex 17:7)”

Kind of like the study Dawkins wants to use to demonstrate the Reality of God.

“You do what I want you to do, when I want you to do it, and I’ll give you a second look…”

That doesn’t sound like a reverent request as much as it sounds like a belligerent demand. It’s almost like a child approaching their Dad insisting that unless he gives them that machine gun, they’re going to throw a fit. Things like “You don’t love me!” or “You’re not my real Dad!” are shouted in response to their father’s refusal to meet their demand. Whether they’re legitimate expressions of indignation or strategic phrases deployed for the purpose of securing a specific outcome, either way, it’s wrong. Especially if what the father is withholding from his child is something that could prove harmful. Yet, that’s the approach some take with God. It’s not healthy let alone appropriate.

You don’t talk to your Father that way.

There’s a degree of audacity represented by a human being looking at God and saying, “Oh yeah? Prove it!” Yet, from Dawkins’ perspective, there’s nothing audacious about it because he views humanity as being an absolute in and of themselves. The cross is foolishness to unbelievers (1 Cor 1:18) and it makes sense. If you’re not convinced that you need forgiveness, then what’s the purpose of a Savior? If you answer to yourself and yourself alone, then the notion of a God is at once ridiculous and intrusive.

That was the mindset being addressed by Jesus when He responded to the Pharisees who were demanding a sign by saying, “wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (Matt 16:4) It’s similar to the way God responded to Job who, seemingly had every reason to be indignant with God, by saying, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” (Job 38:3)

Do you smell what’s on the stove?

Brace Yourself Like a Man

Consider the created order (Rom 1:20), contemplate the miracle of grace (Rom 5:8). Recognize who and what you are before your King and appreciate the gift that He’s given to you, as far as your ability to ask for things in prayer, (Matt 7:7-12; Heb 4:16). Park there for a minute. It’s a gift! You need to be careful to process it as something that has been given to you by God and not a license to make demands of God. You don’t talk to your Father that way and should you feel inclined to be a little indignant, remember Who set the planets in motion and initiated the pumping action of your heart. Most of all, be mindful of the fact that the One you’re getting ready to criticize is the One Who secured a “non-guilty” verdict for you by dying on the cross.

Brace yourself like a man…

A Privilege to be Revered

Perhaps the most succinct refutation of Dawkins’ outlook on prayer in that it is not a practice to be evaluated by man, rather it is a privilege to be revered by man. And to abuse it as a means to test God is to make the focus of your prayer your own arrogance. In that moment you’re not conversing with the Almighty as much as you’re just talking to hear yourself speak (Matt 6:5-15).

Perhaps that’s why He taught us to begin our conversations with Him by saying:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
YOUR kingdom come, YOUR will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:9-10 [emphasis added])

Your Kingdom, Your will, because…

You’re God.


1. “The God Delusion”, Richard Dawkins, Bantam Press, Great Britain, 2006, p86-87

The God Delusion vs The God Conclusion | Part One – FIT

1362086416_small-dawkins_the-god-delusionThere are three kinds of “data.”


“Facts” are accurate statements. Think of them as headlines. For example:

  • Headline #1: Jesus Rises From the Grave
  • Headline #2: Pharisees Accuse Christ Followers of Stealing Corpse of Christ

Both of these statements are accurate. While we know Christ did, in fact, rise, the Pharisees also paid the guards that were guarding the tomb a large sum of money to back up the story that the disciples had stolen the body (Matt 28:11-15). What’s significant is that for someone who’s just glossing over the headlines, the verbiage, albeit very brief, can still shape conclusions for those who don’t take the time to consider the full account. That leads us to the second category:


“Information” is the “facts” in the context of a limited perspective.

A journalist could build a compelling yet misleading article by strategically citing the chief priests, the guards who had been bribed and any one of a number of like minded people.

Can you see the article in your mind’s eye (click here to read “Experts Doubt the Resurrection of Christ” to see an example)?

By steering clear of any testimony that differs from the accounts of the judiciously selected individuals compiled by the hypothetical journalist, you’ve got an article that’s legitimately accurate (facts) and informative (limited perspective). But because the perspective of the article is limited, while there’s nothing directly stated, there is nevertheless an implication that says Christ is dead and unless the reader is inspired to seek out a more comprehensive perspective, assuming he’s even aware that one is available, he’s waking around sporting a very cynical outlook on the first Easter morning.

Information. Limited perspective.

Finally, the last category of “data” is…


Truth is an accurate statement that’s been elaborated on in the context of a full perspective. This is the well you want to be drawing your conclusions from. Here is where the right questions are being asked and full disclosure is the norm. In the absence of “truth,” you risk formulating convictions that are fundamentally flawed. This is why you want to ensure that you’re aggressively and intentionally seeking out the “truth,” and not just the “facts.” You don’t even want to be content with “additional information.”

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The Treaty of Tripoli

If you’re familiar with the words of the “Marines Hymn,” then you’re familiar with the phrase, “…the shores of Tripoli.” That phrase refers to the “War with the Barbary Pirates” where Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon lead an exceptionally daring assault as part of the Battle of Dema. Prior to that war President John Adams issued a statement in an effort to assure the radical Muslims that comprised the Barbary Pirates that our country should not be perceived by them as a religious target in that we were not a Christian theocracy. He said:

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen (Muslims); and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan (Mohammedan) nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries (Treaty of Tripoli).

Most of those who try to take Adams words to mean that he was declaring that the United States was not based on Christian principles are required to leave out some context that is both obvious and crucial. But that is nevertheless the methodology that is often used by the person who has something to hide more so than they have something to say.

Thomas Essel, despite being among those who seemingly do not see God as central to our nation’s founding, wrote a great piece in 2016 entitled, “Secularists, Please Stop Quoting the Treaty of Tripoli” that elaborates on how citing that statement is irresponsible both academically and practically.

Consider this quote from John Adams:

“This would be the best of all worlds if there were no religion in it!”

On the surface, you have, what appears to be, a very valid piece of evidence that says our nation’s second President and a founding father was an atheist. Or, at least, a very cynical individual when it came to religion.

John Adams did say it. It’s part of a letter he wrote to Thomas Jefferson. When you consider the statement in its proper context, you arrive at a much different conclusion:

“Twenty times in the course of my late readings, I have been on the point of breaking out, ‘This would be the best of all worlds if there were no religion in it!’ But in this exclamation I should have been as fanatical as [Adams’ former pastor Lemuel] Bryant or [his former teacher Joseph] Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company — I mean hell.”

In other words, Adams is exasperated when he ponders the way in which organized religion has resulted in so much tension. He says, tongue in cheek, that the world would be better without any “religion” in it. But then he’s very quick to say that the world would be, literally, hell on earth.

Hardly the musings of a man who views religion with a contemptuous sneer. Yet, this is the way in which atheists and progressives sometimes frame their “facts” and “information” when it comes to the religious disposition of America’s founding fathers (see also “The Treaty of Tripoli” on sidebar).

Richard Dawkins categorizes John Adams as a cynical deist, to the point of him being used by Dawkins as evidence of a collective disdain for religion shared by virtually all the founding fathers. He quotes Adams as saying:

As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”1

But he fails to reference another statement made by Adams:

The Christian religion is, above all the Religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern Times, the Religion of Wisdom, Virtue, Equity, and humanity, let the Blackguard [Thomas] Paine say what he will; it is Resignation to God, it is Goodness itself to Man.2

Facts. Information. Truth.

You want to know the truth, you want to be aware of the facts, but more than anything else, you want to understand the truth.

A Toddler and a 285 lb Bench Press

As a quick aside, don’t allow yourself to think that being obedient to God’s commands is a laborious drudgery. It’s not.

When you’ve got the Holy Spirit living in and through you, you’re not flying solo when you’re confronted with a temptation to make compromises (1 Cor 10:13). When the lights aren’t on (aka, the Holy Spirit is not living in you), you’re approaching temptation the same way a toddler approaches a 285 pound bench press. It’s not going to end well.

But when it’s God’s Strength and His Truth that is allowed to animate your actions and your outlook, you now have more than you need to successfully negotiate the challenge that lies before you. Bear in mind, it’s a choice. You can run the red light and plow head on into traffic if you want and God grants you the freedom to make those decisions (Josh 24:2, 15; Rom 8:12-13). As someone who doesn’t have a relationship with Christ, you don’t have the Spirit of God living in you (Rom 8:9), you’re on your own and you’re that overwhelmed toddler. But when it’s God’s Spirit being deployed in the context of those situations, it’s one victory after another.

The Book of Proverbs

Scripture admonishes us to do as much. Proverbs 4:7 says:

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. (Prove 4:7)

And wisdom begins with a reverence for God. That’s the top button.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Prov 9:10)

Understand that wisdom, from a biblical standpoint, is more than just knowledge. It’s the “ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding.”3 While this “ability” is based in part on one’s discipline in the context of academic pursuits, it derives it’s true accuracy and application from an intentional pursuit of God’s Power and Perspective. In short, it’s a Divine Perspective properly applied (1 Cor 2:16; Col 1:29; Jas 1:5-8.

Here, then, is where you see the real distinction between having access to the directions and actually following the directions –  the difference between Facts, Information and Truth.  Anytime you buy something that requires some assembly, you can gloss over the instructions, believing that your intuition can more than make up for a careful study of the manufacturer’s counsel. More often than not, however, those instructions prove invaluable in being able to put your new resource together correctly. And however prudent it may be to follow the instructions in the assembly of your nephew’s new swing set, it’s absolutely crucial that you follow God’s Instructions when it comes to the whole of life (Jn 14:21; Rom 8:11).

And when you’re listening to people like Richard Dawkins, or people who think like him, use the same technique. Recognize the difference between Facts, Information and Truth. Don’t let a carefully crafted platform based on an intentionally watered down perspective replace the full perspective and the truly accurate convictions that flow from that approach.



1. “The God Delusion”, Richard Dawkins, Bantam Press, Great Britain, 2006, p65
2. John Adams, The Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L.H. Butterfield (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1962), 3:233-34
3. Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986, Nashville, TN


Why You Want to be Spiritually Ripped!

bible_armWhat’s the difference between the unsaved version of you and the saved version of you?

Beyond the fact that you’re going to Heaven and you have the option of dropping to your knees and and whispering a prayer in crisis situations, what is it that constitutes a practical advantage over that version of you that doesn’t know Christ?

Imagine this:

I) On Your Stomach

Lay down on your stomach and close your eyes. This is the perspective that you have of yourself and the world around you, as far as the unsaved version of you (Ps 19:8; 36:2; Is 6:10; Matt 13:15; 2 Cor 3:14; 4:4; Eph 4:18; Jas 4:13-14). You’re virtually “blind” to what is going on around you in terms of the spiritual realities that comprise the human experience. And before you dismiss the term, “spiritual” as some kind of ethereal mysticism that has no place in the context of a practical perspective, bear in mind that you can’t put anger in your pocket nor can you put happiness on like a ball cap. That which irritates us or makes us feel good may be a solid object of some kind, but the emotions and the psychological machinery that’s initiated by those objects aren’t things you can quantify or package. Our whole world is one big box of “spiritual” commodities that we’re constantly processing according to the way our personalities are wired. It’s what inspires our values, it’s our mood, it’s our outlook, it’s all of what make us unique as individuals – it’s that host of intangibles that we encounter and contend with everyday (Eph 6:12). When you’re spiritually dead, everything that drives the way you process yourself and the world around you is based on what you “feel,” rather than what you can truly see and know (see 2 Cor 4:4; Phil 3:19). Rather than being upright with your eyes open – and even standing on top of something so you have a good view of what’s going on -you’re in the dirt and incapable of processing the world as it truly is. We’re oblivious to what’s under the hood. We can hear the car running, maybe, but we don’t see life as anything beyond what we want and what we feel. The bigger and the more important picture is “hidden” and we tend to wear ourselves out attempting to understand and control that which cannot be managed or anticipated (Jas 4:14).

II) Do You Smell That?

On the other hand, the born-again version of you has a clue. At least, we have access to a perspective that takes into account the Reality of that which is unseen (Heb 11:1). Purpose (Eph 2:10), Peace (Gal 5:22-23) and Power (Acts 1:8) – we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16) and our eyes have been open to what constitutes the difference between light and darkness (Jn 9:39; Acts 26:18). For the sake of our illustration, we’re on our knees with our eyes now fully open. Do you smell that? That is the aroma of Divine Perfection and it lives within us (1 Cor 1:30; Col 1:27). That’s motivating!

But what does that mean? There’s no doubt, that’s True. But how does that translate to something practically advantageous?

And let’s go ahead and acknowledge the obvious perk of being able to bring our troubles before our King in prayer. That piece of it, along with the guarantee of Heaven, is a given (Jn 3:16; Phil 4:6). But what about Monday morning? How does being a follower of Christ resonate in the context of homework, bills, bad debt, dreams and car tags? What’s the difference in the way you negotiate the everyday, as far as the approach the saved version of you is going to take as opposed to the spiritually clueless version of you and the way that person is going to engage the day?

Are you ready?

Buckle up…wait for it…

Everything. Everything is different. Take a look:

III) Every Moment –  It’s Never About “What’s Happening…”

It’s never about what’s “happening,” it’s what God is doing. You are not a victim of circumstance – ever. Your triumphs, your defeats as well as all of the decision you make – both the good and the bad – are laid out before your King Who’s not limited by the constraints of time or space. In Psalm 139:16 it says, “…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Couple that with Jeremiah 29:11:

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jer 29:11)

…and Ephesians 2:10:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:10)

…and you have a life that reeks of Purpose, Significance and Substance. However this particular moment appears from a human standpoint, there is a stamp of Divine Purpose upon it and when you get your head around that, something shifts in the way you process your activity and your surroundings. It’s motivating. Even if you’re just cutting the grass, that’s a point in time that was on God’s radar long before you decided the yard needed mowing. And while knocking out some chores doesn’t reverberate as profoundly as the career you choose or the person you marry, it is nevertheless an investment of time and effort and that is therefore a part of your life – the existence that God purposefully initiated before you were even born.

And the thing is, God didn’t just haphazardly throw you together and give you a role as an “extra.” The Plan that’s in place for your life is uniquely tailored for you and the strengths He gave you. The greatest amount of fulfillment you could ever hope to experience is in the context of living out the Purpose that He created you for.

Park here for a minute because this really is a game-changer.

Years ago, I was working a job that lacked substantially in prestige. I had just gotten out of the USMC as a Staff Sergeant and I had moved to Nashville on the tail end of a very successful tour that had me thinking I was on the cusp of a successful career as a full time musician. Fast forward several months later and I’m working for a buddy that owned and operated a fast food franchise at the local food court. What started out as “temporary” thing had bloomed into a full time dynamic and I was smelling like a chicken nugget at the end of everyday.

Not happy.

But as I was making my way into the mall one particular morning, I was encouraging myself with the fact that I had yet to be asked to clean the commode. That was one task that I had not been assigned. That morning, as if by Divine Appointment, my buddy, the manger, greeted me at the door with a green scouring pad and a can of Comet. “I’ve got a job for you,” he said.

Moments later, I’m on my hands and knees scrubbing the ceramic throne and having a very frank exchange of ideas with my Heavenly Father. I was reflecting on the how I had exchanged some stripes on my sleeve for a nametag on my shirt. Where I had been interacting with a who’s who of Contemporary Christian Music artists and hearing the thunderous applause of arena sized crowds every weekend, I was now listening to disgruntled customers complaining about the availability of certain menu items. And now, here I am, scrubbing the contaminated floor surrounding the toilet in the employee restroom.

“You seein’ this?” I asked.

I’m praying as I’m scrubbin’…

I’m talking to God and I heard Him in my mind ask me a question: “What if I had been the One Who asked you to clean the commode rather than Michael? Would that have made a difference?”

“Well, sure!” I said.

Then God replied, “Well, guess what…?”

At that point, I remembered Psalm 139:16 and other verses that talk about God’s Sovereignty. Fact is, because “…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be,” He had tasked me with that job and while the clean up operation didn’t suddenly become anymore prestigious, my perspective changed dramatically.

It’s never simply a matter of “what’s happening,” it’s what God is doing. There’s a Plan in place that allows you to process even the most inconvenient and annoying occurrence as something that has Purpose. When you’re confronted with something that takes you by surprise, you can maintain an even disposition by claiming every Resource that God’s already unpacked and placed on the table because He knew this moment would come long before it happened. And when the pressure’s on and it’s up to you to turn in a truly noteworthy performance, there’s something about how God’s had this on His screen for quite some time that makes the inclination to reach for the Strength along with the Calm that He offers that much stronger and intuitive.

Even when things are going great, by reflecting on how it is God that orchestrated your situation, the tendency to be thankful is that much more automatic (Rom 12:3; 2 Thess 5:16-18). The Bible is full of personalities that God elevated in the context of wealth and power who then allowed themselves to become corrupted by crediting themselves with the success they enjoyed (Dt 8:17-18). Authentic gratitude is more than just “thanking God” as a courtesy, as much as it’s a comprehensive theme of reverence and humility that characterizes your perspective on yourself and your accomplishments. Being intentional about constantly seeing yourself within the framework of God’s overarching Purpose is not automatic, despite it being the most logical and the most healthy approach one could take. But it’s far easier to do so when you remain cognizant of how this moment and every moment of your life was known and planned by your Heavenly Father long before it ever showed up on your calendar.

phasechangeIV) Momentum – the Guarantee of Forward Movement

While we can rest assured that every moment of our lives is chock full of Divine Purpose, there’s also the guarantee of forward movement.

In Chemistry, there’s an anomaly called the “Latent Heat of Fusion.” You can see it illustrated in the graph to the right. What you’re looking at is the change in temperature as an ice cube is being melted. You’ll notice in the first blue area, there’s no change in temperature despite the fact that you’re increasing the amount of heat you’re applying to said ice cube. You see the same thing happen when it’s going from a liquid phase to a gaseous state. Again, there’s a zone where, although you’re increasing the amount of heat, yet there’s no measurable change in the temperature. The two segments of the graph that are highlighted in blue represent what’s called the “Latent Heat of Fusion.” On the molecular level, what’s happening is that rather than the molecules moving about more “furiously”- which is registered in terms of temperature – the energy is being absorbed by the process by which the molecules that are grouped together according to whatever state they’re in are now coming apart. During that timeframe, there’s no change in temperature.

Life can be like that sometimes. You’re working towards a goal, you’re waiting for additional information so you can make a sound decision – it’s during these seasons that you can feel as though you’re stalled. Nothing’s happening. But we can rest assured that God’s not dormant nor is our situation being ignored.

One of the best examples of that is the story of Joseph. Bolstered by dreams and his father’s favoritism, Joseph is convinced he’s on the threshold of great things. Apparently the gift of subtlety was not among Josephs strengths, nor was humility given the way he saw fit to inform his older brothers that one day that would bow down before him. You know the story of how they sold him into slavery and how he eventually ended up in prison. By this time, Joseph doesn’t seem as forthcoming when it comes to promoting himself. As a matter of fact, when he’s given the chance to distinguish himself before Pharaoh, he’s quick to say that it’s not by his own ability that he’s able to discern the meaning of dreams, rather it’s God. That’s quite a move for one who’s spent the majority of his young adult life either as a slave or as a captive. Think about it. Why would you not attempt to take as much credit as you could for being able to do something extraordinary when you’re standing before the one individual who has the power to set you free?

How often do you think Joseph asked for God to intervene and end his enslavement or to commute his prison sentence? He was sold into slavery when he was seventeen (Gen 37:2). He entered Pharaoh’s service when he was 30 (Gen 41:46). 13 years spent waiting for…something.

A Good Plan

God uses the word “agathos,” often in the New Testament which means “good.” But it’s more than “good,” as in the way some might process that to mean “acceptable,” but not especially noteworthy. It means, “moral and spiritual excellence.” The Greeks used it to describe a skilled and noble warrior. It’s more than being merely “nice,” it’s more than just a silver medal as opposed to first place finish. It is a standard and a goal that goes beyond victories, accomplishments and acquisitions. It is the Perfect Storm of character and quality actions. Not just “good behavior,” but a standard of excellence that originates from one’s core and spills over into everything that they engage. That’s “good!”

That’s a lot of “latent heat.”

But it was during that time that God was transforming the character of Joseph into what would need to be in place in order to administrate the largest political power in the world. God wasn’t slow, He was intentional.

There may be something you’ve been praying about for a while. Perhaps you’ve reached that point where you’re poised on the threshold of some serious disillusion thinking, “This prayer thing doesn’t work!” Don’t throw in the towel. Remember there’s a Divine Purpose attached to every moment including those moments when you don’t seem to be moving forward. Even then, there’s supernatural activity being conducted


John 5:17 says:

17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” (Jn 5:17)

God is always working. He’s never idle so to be suspicious that your appeal has been ignored or lost is a pointless perspective. Things are moving forward and they’re moving forward at a pace that is nothing short of perfect in that it’s consistent with the tempo that matches the flawless Plan and Purpose of the One Who’s got your best interests at heart.

V) The Mandate to be Excellent

 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom 12:2)

“Good” is more than just “acceptable.” It’s the Greek word, “agathos.” The Greeks used it to describe a noble warrior. Scripture uses it to describe moral and spiritual excellence.

Think about this for a minute: Imagine an employee that’s good at what they do (Col 3:17). They show up to work on time (Matt 5:16), and when you’re needing to get something done, this person is one of the first people that comes to mind because they’re that dependable (Prov 25:13). They function well as a team player and when the situation calls for someone to step up to the plate and lead, they have a knack for bringing out the best in others (Matt 7:12; Phil 2:3-4) and they’re able to oversee an effort that achieves the kind of results that exceeds expectations (Ecc 9:10).

What do you with that kind of employee?

You promote them! You put them in a position where they can effect the greatest amount of good (Prov 22:29). Thing is, even if they don’t get the kind of recognition they deserve, the thing that makes this individual extraordinary is that they don’t go out of their way to be noticed by others. The applause they get from the crowd is not what drives them. Rather, they’re focused on personifying and pursuing a standard of excellence as a means to honor their King.russell

There’s a great scene in the movie, “Cinderella Man,” where Jimmy Bradock, played by Russell Crowe, is being interviewed by a mob of reporters who want to better understand how he was able to be in contention for the heavyweight championship of the world after having had to contend with several years of poverty and unemployment due to an injury and the Great Depression. His response included a comment where he said that he now knew what he was fighting for. It wasn’t the money, it’s wasn’t the title., it was “milk.”

To him, the “prize” wasn’t about promoting himself, as much as it was being able to provide for his family – something he hadn’t been able to do for a while. His drive and his resolve were now fueled by something greater than himself.

In a similar way, we are commanded to be “lights” (Matt 5:16) and “standouts” (Prov 22:29; Titus 2:7). Colossians 3:24 says it best:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Col 3:24)

VI) On Top of my Spiritual Disciplines

Go back to that earlier illustration of being on your stomach with your eyes closed. That’s the unsaved version of you. Spiritually blind and limited in the way you see yourself and the world around you, as far as the spiritual realities that define the human experience (2 Cor 4:4; Eph 6:12). Now imagine a person on their knees with their eyes open. This is the saved version of you. You’re aware of your need for Christ and you’ve handed Him the keys to your life (Acts 26:18).

Keep moving to the right and the next person you see is a person standing on their feet. This person also has their eyes open, but because of their being on their feet, they have a better view of the world around them. The qualifying factor in what defines the difference between themselves and the person on their knees is that they’re not only aware of God, they’re familiar with God’s Word (2 Tim 2:15). Finally, the fourth and final person is standing on a chair and significantly higher than the version of themselves that’s simply on their feet. They’re not blind, their eyes are open and they’re aware of their need for God’s grace. But while they know God’s Word, more importantly they know God. It’s not just an informed faith, it’s a tenured relationship. That’s where you want to be!

Being on top of my spiritual disciplines increases my capacity to see myself for who I truly am and to see the world as it truly is. And it’s more than just an intellection / emotional disposition. Ultimately, it’s a Presence that commands the majority of who and what I am. It’s not just a filter, it’s a default setting and the benefits that go along with that kind of spiritual maturity cannot be overstated in terms of an active strength, an influential character, a practical wisdom and an appealing depth. It is the greatest level of success you could ever aspire to in that it resonates on all levels.

I want to be spiritually ripped because that kind of fitness prevents me from seeing myself as a victim of circumstance, rather, I’m an agent of change. I’m not defined by things that are destined to die, quit or fail, I target that which endures and that is what fires me up. I aim to achieve a level of excellence in all that I do because I’m commanded to do just that. Regardless of the scoreboard or who’s not returning my calls, my focus is on the King of kings, my God, my Redeemer. I am being constantly inspired in the most profound yet practical way to reach, to accomplish and triumph over a casual work ethic, a lazy sense of morality and a self absorbed agenda.

The Moment, the Momentum and the Mandate.

Constantly reaching for more of Christ that I might become all that He created me to be.

Bring it!

Ten Questions for Atheists

Here’s my thought: You remove God from the equation and the questions that are otherwise answered according to a biblically based dynamic are now responded to with horrendous probability values, concepts that bend the laws of Nature rather than explain them, and philosophical arguments that do not match what we know about the human experience.

In short, you’ve got to do a lot of intellectual scrambling to make up for the lack of substance that characterizes an atheist’s perspective on life. Take a look at the following questions and you tell me…

1) Where did you get your gravity from?

The origin of the cosmos, from the standpoint of the atheist, comes about as a result of a lucky collision of random elements. Then, thanks to the properties of gravity, physics, chemistry and so on, the elegant intricacies of life begin to surface. But where did you get your gravity from? Everything about your explanation is predicated on the preexistence of ordered systems within which your raw materials can combine and form into more complicated life forms. But you never attempt to explain who or what put the science in place that produces your end result.

d3e7f219d2da5aaaddfb0ad9f29e66db18de3b5e2) How does a vacuum cleaner become a drummer?

If the starting point for life was something basic that then evolved into a thinking organism with a unique personality and capable of artistic expression, then at some point your “matter” is no longer a mere collection of molecules. It has somehow become both material and non-material and you’ve redefined the essential composition of what matter is. “Panpsychism” is not a new theory, but it borders on the absurd given the lack of evidence there is to support it.

3) Where is your fossil record?

When Darwin first published his theory of evolution, he admitted that the fossil record that was needed in order to substantiate his theory was sorely lacking. Chapter Nine of his book “Origin of Species” is dedicated to what constitutes the most glaring discrepancy of his theory. He says “Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely-graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory.”1 He goes on to explain that it’s not his theory that is flawed, rather it’s the geological record.

“Origin of Species” was published in 1859. The fossil record is no more conclusive now as it was 150 years ago. “Java Man,” the iconic image of man’s supposed distant ancestor, is a creative extrapolation based on three teeth, a skull cap and a femur.2 It is not even remotely close to a complete skeleton, nor are the other hypothetical half man / half ape intermediaries that fill the textbooks of biology classes throughout the nation. The archaeopteryx (ar-key-OPT-er-icks), the fossil remains of a bizarre looking bird discovered in 1861, is unreservedly embraced by many proponents of Darwin’s theories as a conclusive example of a transitional life form, bridging the gap between reptiles and birds. The problem, however, is that birds are very different from reptiles in terms of their breeding system, their bone structure, their lungs and their distribution of weight and muscles. The fact that you have a reptilian look bird doesn’t qualify it as a reptile when it is fundamentally a bird.3

Michael Denton, in his book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, sums it up by saying:

…[T]he universal experience of paleontology…[is that] while the rocks have continually yielded new and exciting and even bizarre life forms of life…what they have never yielded is any of Darwin’s myriads of transitional forms. Despite the tremendous increase in geological activity in every corner of the globe and despite the discovery of many strange and hitherto unknown forms, the infinitude of connecting links has still not been discovered and the fossil record is about as discontinuous as it was when Darwin was writing the Origin. The intermediaries have remained as elusive as ever and their absence remains, a century later, one of the most striking characteristics of the fossil record.4

orion4) What’s the point of your existence?

That may sound kind of abrupt, but think about it: If the fact that you have a pulse is due to nothing more than a fortuitous and altogether random pileup of chemical materials, then you have no real role to play. Your presence in the cosmos is entirely inconsequential – you don’t matter to the storyline because there is no storyline and you’re just an insignificant bump in the road.

You might respond with a noble sentiment that says you’re here to do as much “good” as you can do, or you might feel liberated to be as self serving as you can possibly be. But, again, if there’s nothing intentional behind the structure of the universe, then even the very definition of what’s “good” becomes subjective. In the absence of a definitive standard, what resonates as a positive to one person is perceived as a problem to another.

In short, it’s all pointless. There’s nothing truly worthwhile that endures and you are nothing more than dust on a windy street.

de5601d06537dd3eb60a5f83cf68539bc18ce5175) How would you defend Darwin’s regard for Africans?

This is a little awkward:

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.5

Darwin saw Africans as being inferior to Caucasians. In his mind, from a scientific standpoint, Negroes were similar to gorillas in that they were an evolutionary precursor to Europeans. Given Darwin’s prestige as the iconic champion of Evolutionary Theory, no doubt this is something you agree with.

6) What makes your definition of “moral behavior” superior to mine?

While Hitler’s approach to the Jewish people today is regarded as unconscionable, in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s many perceived it as scientifically sound. Germany’s “Society for Racial Hygiene” was Darwinian as far as its philosophical foundation and the ruthless acts committed in the context of the Holocaust were endorsed by some of the greatest German minds of that time as being a reasonable compliment to the forces of Natural Selection.6

Hitler’s approach worked for him and those who were like minded because they weren’t Jewish. But what if Adolf Hitler had been born a Jew? Would he have been as passionate in his belief that his race was inferior to those with blond hair and blue eyes? Probably not. But how would he have pleaded his case? If he was on the short end of Darwin’s evolutionary stick, how would he have convinced Germany’s scientific think tank that his brand of “moral behavior” was superior to their clinical justification for murder?

In the absence of an Absolute moral standard, the basis for one’s behavior is now more about what’s preferred as opposed to what’s right, and the code of ethics that is established for the community is established by those who are more persuasive rather than those who are more wise.

b860711982a65e6948a7b9bcc49278d97471bc6d7) At what point do you admit that your theories are based on impossible scenarios?

Scientists have concluded that the chances of a single protein molecule coming together by chance is 1 in 10450 power. These are the sort of probability values upon which you build your entire approach to life, morality and all the intangibles that constitute the human experience. Is that your idea of a credible philosophical foundation?7

8) What makes your explanation of the origin of the cosmos any less “faith based” than mine?

You believe that something can come from nothing, that order can proceed from chaos and, given enough time, a plant can develop a personality. In other words, you subscribe to a doctrine that transcends the natural world as we know it, which is the essence of the term “supernatural.”

In the absence of the concrete evidence required to substantiate your theories, like Darwin, you have “faith” that science will one day vindicate your convictions.

Regardless of how you attempt to veil your paradigm in academic sounding verbiage, your arguments are ultimately founded on a metaphysical platform and not an empirical one. When it comes to the origin of the cosmos, you believe in processes and forces that don’t exist. If your aversion to including a Judeo-Christian perspective in the conversation pertaining to the creation of the universe is due to the fact that one must have “faith” in order to subscribe to such a thing, then what prevents you from disqualifying yourself given the fact that your approach is no less subjective?

9) Why does the tone of the conversation change anytime the name “Jesus Christ” is mentioned?

You can talk about any religious figure that has ever graced the world stage and the tone of the conversation remains comfortably academic. But mention the name Jesus Christ and something changes. People start getting a little uncomfortable.


If Christ is nothing more than either a ridiculous fairy tale or a self-serving promotion designed to advance the fortunes of charlatans posing as pastors, then why does the very mention of Jesus’ Name reverberate in a manner that makes people look down and take a sudden in interest in their shoes?

10) If the Bible is nothing more than a massive PR campaign, then why make Peter a coward, Moses a murderer and Jacob a liar?

Why include all of the flaws and shortcomings belonging to the principal characters of Scripture? If Christianity is nothing more than a massive PR campaign, then how do you explain what is obviously a nonsensical decision as far as discrediting the heroes of the Bible by detailing their weaknesses and bad decisions?

Peter denied that He even knew Christ while talking to a servant girl. He wasn’t even conversing with someone of stature. He caved in the face of talking with a girl that was probably young enough to be his daughter (Matt 26:69-70). Moses was guilty of murder (Ex 2:11-12) and Jacob was a liar (Gen 27:19). Compare that to the way even Muhammad’s fingernail clippings and hairs were fought over by his followers.8

Scripture presents human beings as they are and not the way in which an intentionally misleading commercial would attempt to play down the undesirable characteristics of its main characters. Furthermore, the Bible invites questions and acknowledges its absurdity should its central theme prove false (Is 1:18, 1 Cor 15:19, 2 Pet 1:16). In short, this is hardly the verbiage of a text attempting to mislead its reader.


No doubt, there will always be those that simply refuse to believe. At the end of the day, it’s a spiritual dynamic that’s being engaged, which doesn’t always fit neatly within the confines of a box defined by purely empirical parameters.


The existence of God can be recognized (Rom 1:20), the Reality of Christ can be observed (Acts 26:25-27) and His Gospel can be understood (Jn 6:65; 1 Cor 2:12; Jas 1:5). The only thing that’s illogical about the Bible is why God would go to the lengths that He does for the sake of humanity. To dismiss the Bible and Christianity in general based on the notion that it has no basis in fact is not an assessment founded on evidence, rather it’s a choice inspired by preferences.

What is it that possesses a human being to look at the stars – to consider the elegant intricacies of the created order – and respond with an explanation that contemptuously dismisses God and replaces Him with horrendous probability values, questionable time frames and theoretical processes that mock the boundaries of legitimate science?

Moreover, what drives an individual to spit upon the notion of a sinless Savior who lays aside His right to condemn and sacrifices Himself in order to redeem?

Typically, atheists proudly promote themselves as enlightened thinkers that tolerate followers of Christ as fools that refuse to accept the obvious and instead cling to antiquated myths that are ultimately revealed as limiting and intolerant.

Here’s my thought:

I see you at the foot of the cross either sneering at your God as He dies for you or dismissing it as a pointless fiction.

I hear you dismiss the depths of the ocean, the expanse of space and the exquisite complexity of our planet as crossword puzzles that can be solved, it’s just a matter of time.

And finally, I watch you passionately cling to a terminal existence where significance and happiness are built upon a foundation comprised entirely of things that are destined to die, quit or change at any given moment.

Christ brings a lot to the table – more than what you might’ve been lead to conclude based on whatever bad experiences you’ve had with “religion” in the past. Don’t evaluate a system according to the way that it’s abused and don’t dismiss your King according to the way He’s been distorted.

I’ve got no further questions…

1. “Origin of Species”, Charles Darwin, Penguin Classics, New York, NY, 2006, p250
2. “The Case for a Creator”, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2004, p61
3. Ibid, p57
4. Ibid p56
5. “On the Origin of Species – Sixth Edition”, Charles Darwin,, accessed March 4, 2015
6. “Darwinism and the Nazi Race Holocaust”, Jerry Bergman,, accessed August 28, 2015
7.”Probability and Order Versus Evolution”, Henry Morris, PhD., Institute for Creation Research,, accessed May 11, 2015 (see also
8. “Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction”, Jonathan A.C. Brown, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2011,, accessed September 1, 2015

Maundy Thursday | Part II

h2_leon_1I) Intro

“The Last Supper” is one of the world’s most famous paintings. Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned by Lodovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan in 1495 to create, what is now considered, a legendary work of art. Today, the painting resides in the dining hall at the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. At the time, however, it was Sforza’s family mausoleum.1

 The painting measures 28 feet long and is 15 feet high. While it took three years to complete, it has been admired and studied for centuries. 

Da Vinci chose to depict the apostles’ reaction to Christ’s statement that one of them would betray Him. He does an amazing job of portraying a number of emotional reactions which can be seen in the faces of every one of the disciples, all of whom are grouped in threes.

While there are obviously no captions on the painting to reveal which disciple is which. Notes penned by Da Vinci himself have been discovered that reveal who’s who.2  If you take a look at the restored version of Davinci’s work crafted by Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli below, you can better decipher which disciple is which by using the key to the left.


The Last Supper, ca. 1520, by Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli, called Giampietrino (active 1508-1549), after Leonardo da Vinci, oil on canvas, currently in the collection of The Royal Academy of Arts, London; an accurate, full-scale copy that was the main source for the twenty-year restoration of the original (1978-1998). It includes several lost details such as Christ’s feet and the salt cellar spilled by Judas. Giampietrino is thought to have worked closely with Leonardo when he was in Milan.

1. Bartholomew
2. James, son of Alphaeus
3. Andrew
4. Judas Iscariot (Notice how he’s clutching what appears to be a money bag. He is also tipping over the salt cellar. This may be related to the near-Eastern expression to “betray the salt” meaning to betray one’s Master. He is the only person to have his elbow on the table and his head is also horizontally the lowest of anyone in the painting.)3
6. John
7. Thomas
8. James the Greater
9. Philip
10. Matthew
11. Jude Thaddeus
12. Simon the Zealot

When you pull back and pop the hood on all that happened that night, it’s evident that Jesus had a lot on His plate. There wasn’t anything haphazard about all that occurred, however. Ever since God’s initial conversation with Moses, where He laid out all that needed to be done for the Passover Meal, it was this particular evening that God had in His mind where everything would be brought together in a way that pointed to His Solution for man’s sin. In a way, you could say that Jesus had a Divine script before Him that outlined everything that needed to be done in order for His death and resurrection to resonate the way that it needed to. It wasn’t just about positioning Himself as a martyr, it was doing so in a way that was consistent with the Truth and the prophecies that gave context to what was about to happen.

II) Divine Documentation

It’s nothing short of phenomenal when you really study God’s Word and see all of the symbolism and the manner in which all of these Scriptural “threads” are woven together in a way that results in something profoundly supernatural.

Ravi Zacharias is Founder and President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), which celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 2014. Dr. Zacharias has spoken all over the world for 42 years in scores of universities, notably Harvard, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, and Oxford University. He has addressed writers of the peace accord in South Africa, the president’s cabinet and parliament in Peru, and military officers at the Lenin Military Academy and the Center for Geopolitical Strategy in Moscow. At the invitation of the President of Nigeria, he addressed delegates at the First Annual Prayer Breakfast for African Leaders held in Mozambique.4

On a podcast entitled “Created for Significance, Part 2,” he explains how the existentialist lives for the moment, the utopian is always looking to the future and the Hebrew focuses on the events and the traditions of the past.

Given those dynamics, look at how Jesus addresses the present, past and future in the space of two sentences:

25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Cor 11:25)

  •  “For whenever you drink this cup” – present
  • “…the Lord’s death” – past
  • “…until he comes” – future

When you really study the Bible as Divine documentation, it’s amazing what you discover in terms of 66 books all culminating into a rich, cohesive whole. 66 books written over 1,500 years all pointing to one central theme: the redemption of man.

Professor M. Montiero-Williams, former Boden professor of Sanskrit, spent 42 years studying Eastern books and said in comparing them with the Bible: “Pile them, if you will on the left side of your study table; but place your own Holy Bible on the right side – all by itself, all alone – and with a wide gap between them. For,…there is a gulf between it and the so-called sacred books of the East which severs the one from the other utterly, hopelessly, and forever…a veritable gulf which cannot be bridged over by any science of religious thought.”5

III) Spiritual Propaganda –  Doubting the Credibility of Scripture

Some want to doubt the credibility of Scripture. Generally speaking, the hesitancy comes from one of two ideas that the Bible was compiled by strategically collecting a series of antique texts that happened to corroborate with the spiritual propaganda they wanted to promote. The other statement that you hear fairly often is that the Bible is “filled with errors” and is thus unreliable.

     A) The Old Testament

Here are some things to consider: First of all, the Old Testament is a series of carefully guarded texts, most of which come from people who had direct contact with God. Their credentials, as far as having had contact with God, coupled with the accuracy of their prophecies, make it very difficult, even for the most aggressive cynic, to doubt their integrity.

For example, the Pentateuch – the first five books of the Old Testament authored by Moses. These books document the activity of God, the Law of God and the words of God all written by someone who had direct contact with God.  Joshua, Samuel, Isaiah, JeremiahEzekielHosea, Jonah – while they didn’t converse as frequently with God face to face, they nevertheless interacted directly with their King.

Most of the minor prophets present their content in the context of visions and oracles. In other words, God dictated to them what they were to proclaim through an experience similar to a dream. Though that may seem somewhat subjective, again, the accuracy of their visions from a historical perspective certifies their content as more than credible.

          1) Dead Sea Scrolls

While the notion that the OT should be perceived as reliable due to the supernatural conversations / interactions the writers had with God may resonate as logical, that doesn’t address the possibility that the original writings may have been changed and corrupted over the centuries. The Dead Sea Scrolls was an archeological find that effectively puts those fears to rest.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a series of some 40,000 inscribed fragments from which over 500 books have been reconstructed, Among these reconstructed books is the majority of the Old Testament.6 What made the find so significant is prior to their discovery, the oldest surviving manuscripts of the Old Testament that was available at the time was from 900 AD on. The Dead Sea Scrolls, specifically the book of Isaiah, was dated 125 AD making it over 1,000 years older than any manuscript we had previously possessed.

The number of extant Old Testament MSS is fairly limited. That’s not to say what we have isn’t sufficient enough to be certain that what we have in our hands today is an accurate rendering of the original text, but it’s the fact that we don’t have thousands of original copies that made the Dead Sea Scrolls such a significant find. When you’re able to take a document that was originally written in 900 A.D. and compare it to another rendering of the same text that was done 1,025 years beforehand (Dead Sea Scrolls were dated 125 B.C.) and determine that the texts are virtually identical, you have more than adequate justification to feel confident that your Bible is, in fact, the Word of God!

When comparing the manuscripts from 900 AD to the scrolls date 125 AD, the accuracy and consistency was nothing short of stunning. For example…

Of the 166 words in Isaiah 53, there are only seventeen letters in question. Ten of these letters are simply a matter of spelling, which does not affect the sense. Four more letters are minor stylistic changes, such as conjunctions. The remaining three letters comprise the word “light,” which is added in verse 11, and does not affect the meaning greatly. Furthermore, this word is supported by the LXX and IQ Is. Thus, in one chapter of 166 words, there is only one word (three letters) in question after a thousand years of transmission – and this word does not significantly change the meaning of the passage (LXX refers to the Septuagint and IQ Is is the Isaiah scroll found in the first cave at Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found). 7

Given the consistency of the texts, to doubt the overall credibility of the Bible is to adopt a prospective based on a nonsensical cynicism more so than an objective analysis.

     B) The New Testament – the Bibliographical Test

The New Testament is just as solid. In this case, you’re not having to reach back as far in order to examine the accuracy of the original manuscripts and the number of original MSS is significantly more.

When seeking to verify the integrity of an ancient manuscript, two things are considered:

  • how many original copies do we have
  • how many years have lapsed the original document and the first copy

These two dynamics combine to form what is referred to as the “Bibliographic Test” and is used to evaluate the authenticity of  ancient texts.

Compared to the New Testament, Homer’s Iliad is the most credible, based on the above criteria. Take a look at how the two compare:

Bibliographical Test – New Testament Compared to Homer’s Iliad
work when written earliest copy time span number of copies
Home (Iliad) 900 B.C. 400 B.C. 500 years 643
New Testament 40 – 100 A.D. 125 A.D. 25 years over 24,000

The strength of the New Testament is nothing short of substantial. When comparing one copy to another, the variations that exist are minimal. Josh McDowell, in his book “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” writes:

That textual variations do not endanger doctrine is emphatically stated by Sir Frederic Kenyon (one of the great authorities in the field of New Testament textual criticism): “One word of warning already referred to, must be emphasized in conclusion. No fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a disputed reading…

It cannot be too strongly asserted that in substance the text of the Bible is certain: Especially in this the case with the New Testament. The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one of other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world.

Scholars are satisfied that they possess substantially the true text of the principal Greek and Roman writers whose works have come down to us, of Sophocles, of Thucydides, of Cicero, of Virgil; yet our knowledge of their writings depends on a mere handful of manuscripts, whereas the manuscripts of the New Testament are counted by hundreds, and even thousands.8

So, from the standpoint of consistency, as far the copy of the Bible that we have in our possession today being the same as what was originally dictated by God and documented by the writers He spoke through, we have an intellectually solid justification for concluding that we have an accurate copy of the original.

     C) The Canon

So, we’ve got an authentic collection of antique texts. But how were those texts assembled and was there conflicting literature that was strategically omitted in order to preserve a line of thought that was more of a human campaign than it was a Divine revelation?

Bottom line: No. The “canon” of Scripture was not assembled according to a template that accommodated preferences as much as it insisted on authenticity.

          1) The Old Testament

The manner in which the Old Testament was compiled is best explained by simply considering the Jewish people. As God worked in their midst through events and specific personalities, His Activity and Counsel was documented. The resulting literature was not a collection of commentaries as much as it was a record of what God said and what God did. It was not a subjective account manufactured by a panel of like minded spectators. It was an exclusive collection of individuals, each of whom had been specifically tasked to lead, speak and teach with the Authority that had been given to them by God.

Anyone that qualified as a “man of God” was not perceived as such because of their charisma or academic credentials. They were recognized as prophets because of the way in which they presented their platform under the heading of “thus saith the Lord.” You could conceivably pose as a prophet, but the consequences of falsely presenting yourself as a messenger of God were lethal (Dt 13:15). Only an obvious fulfillment of the prophecies you proclaimed could validate you as authentic (Dt 18:21-22). Hence, true prophets were easily identified and the content they disseminated as being Divinely Inspired was readily accepted.

In A.D. 70, a council of Jewish religious leaders congregated in Jamnia to discuss the canonization of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon and the book of Esther. Some want to point to this conference as an example of a subjective human element being used to establish the content of Scripture. Thing is, these books hardly constitute the bulk of the Old Testament. Furthermore, these books weren’t disputed as much as they merited discussion for a variety of reasons – one of which is the book of Esther doesn’t mention the Name of God even once. This quartet of unique texts would be recognized as canonical and the discussions that took place were documented, thus providing evidence for future generations that not only were these books recognized as Scripture, but the majority of the Old Testament at the time of Christ and before had been established and embraced unreservedly.

          2) The New Testament

The criteria used to define a particular New Testament book as worthy of being included in the Canon was similar to the attributes that were considered where the Old Testament was concerned. Namely, apostolic authority. Did the writer interact with Jesus himself, or did the writer have the approval of one who did? Given that kind of filter, the field is narrowed considerably.

The early church was staffed by the apostles. This was not due to a lack of qualified personnel or a knee jerk reaction to the departure of Jesus. This is the way Christ had set it up. For three years, Jesus had taught and led these men so they could accurately and effectively promulgate the gospel. In John 16:13, He explains how the Holy Spirit would guide them and you see that Authoritative Guidance in Acts 2:42 where it says that the early believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Matthew, John and Peter were both apostles, having walked with Christ during His three year ministry. Paul was commissioned as an apostle by Jesus on the road to Damascus in the ninth chapter of Acts. Between those four individuals, you have the majority of the New Testament (Matthew, John, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, 1-2 Peter,  1-3 John and Revelation). In addition, you have the brothers of Jesus; James and Jude (the books that bear their names). These men do not promote themselves as apostles, but in  1 Cor 9:5 they are referenced alongside the apostles which implies an apostolic dynamic. The fact that Jesus appeared specifically to James (1 cor 15:7), along with the way in which Paul sought him out when he visited Jerusalem in the immediate aftermath of his conversion (Gal 1:19), makes it obvious that James possessed credentials that were recognized as apostolic (see also Gal 2:9). While there isn’t a specific biblical account of Jude having been visited by the risen Christ, 1 Cor 15:3-7 references a group of people referred to as “apostles” that are listed independently of the “Twelve.” Jude may have been a part of that group. The bottom line, however, is that both James and Jude had a unique relationship with Christ given the fact that they were all a part of the household of Joseph and Mary. They were both initially skeptical as to the Divine Identity of Christ (John 7:5), but were committed champions of His gospel after the resurrection. So while Jude is not mentioned as prominently as James, given the aforementioned realities and the content of his epistle, his book was embraced as canonical and was referenced as such by Clement of Rome in A.D. 96 and Clement of Alexandria in A.D. 200.9

Generally speaking, when the term “Apocrypha” surfaces, it’s usually in reference to the Old Testament additions that were made in 1546. In some instances, however, you’ll hear about the “New Testament Apocrypha” which applies to the literature that was being circulated between 65 and 170 A.D.. Books such as the Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas (A.D. 70-79), the Shepherd of Hermas (A.D. 115-140) and the Acts of Paul and Thecla (A.D. 170) – these were some of the writings that concerned the Synod of Hippo. But as was the case in the past, when it came to clarifying what was biblical and what was not, there was no need to engage in lengthy, subjective discussions. Dismissing the notion that they were worthy of being considered inspired was an easy conclusion to make given their obvious lack of apostolic authority and subsequent want of Divine substance.

They Synod of Hippo in A.D. 393 was a gathering of religious authorities whose purpose was, in part, to confirm the 27 books that comprised the New Testament as canonical. There wasn’t any doubt as to which books belonged and which did not, but it was nevertheless an appropriate step to take in order to reinforce the fact that in order for a book to qualify as Scripture, it had to be penned by an apostle or someone who represented an authenticated extension of that ministry. Some had attempted to sidestep that test of authenticity thus making it needful to clearly define the books of the New Testament. The thing that’s crucial about this meeting is that nothing new was established. They simply stated what was already understood as far as what books in the New Testament qualified as Scripture.

There’s a group of texts called the Apocrypha that were added to the Old Testament in 1546.10. The books in question had been in circulation for a while, having been written over a period of centuries dating as far back as 200 years before Christ (Judith) and 100 A.D. (Baruch). But while the books, in some cases, deal with biblical themes, they are sorely lacking when compared to their Scriptural counterparts in terms of authority and accuracy. Many Catholic scholars throughout the Reformation period, as well as Luther and like minded reformers, rejected the Apocrypha. It was only at the Counter Reformation Council of Trent in 1546 that the Apocrypha was awarded canonicity by the Catholic leadership. Thing is, the Council of Trent was more about protecting the Catholic paradigm that it was upholding the Truth. The Reformation had brought to the surface inconsistencies that existed between what the pope was advocating and what Scripture proclaimed. Martin Luther lead the charge under the heading of “sola Scriptura, ” which means “Scripture alone.” He said “a simple layman armed with Scripture is greater than the mightiest pope without it.”11 Catholicism would not yield without a fight, however, and the Council of Trent was , in some ways, an attempt to reclaim the people and the reputation it had lost. But the Council appealed to tradition more so than Truth when attempting to defend its various practices. Thus, the adoption of the Apocrypha fails to resonate as an Inspired decision and is not included in the Protestant canon.

     D) The Bible is Full of Errors

Skeptics will sometimes justify their refusal to take the Bible seriously by insisting that it’s “full of errors.” The reason for their skepticism, however, is not based on a careful study of Scripture. Rather, it’s more often than not,  the perspective of a cynic that’s resolved to keep the Word of God at a distance in order to avoid having to perceive themselves in the light of its Truth.

That’s not to say there aren’t passages that are difficult to process and understand. The gospel writers sometimes describe the same scene differently to the point where critics insist that they contradict one another thus disqualifying the whole of Scripture as credible. But “differences” don’t necessarily equate to “contradictions” provided the elements that give each account an air of distinction don’t conflict with one another.

For example, when describing Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem in the context of his “triumphal entry,” Mark, Luke and John mention one donkey (Mark 11:2, Luke 28:30 and John 12:14-15). Matthew 21:2 mentions two.  Take a look:

saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. (Matt 21:2)

Jesus wasn’t straddling two donkeys as much as it was Matthew simply mentioning what constituted a complete picture of the prophecy articulated in Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!  Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zec 9:9)

Chances are excellent since the foal had never been ridden before, let alone paraded around in front a large and noisy crowd, having the mother lead the foal for the sake of psychological support would’ve been a logical move. The “Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties,” says as much:

The Zechariah passage does not actually specify that the parent donkey would figure in the triumphal entrance; it simply describes the foal as “the son of a she-ass” by way of poetic parallelism. But Matthew contributes the eyewitness observation (and quite possibly neither Mark nor Luke were eyewitnesses as Matthew was) that the mother actually preceded Jesus in that procession that took Jesus into the Holy City. Here agin, then, there is no real contradiction between the synoptic account but only added detail on the part of Matthew as on who viewed the event while it was happening.12

So, the gospel writers do not conflict with one another as much as Matthew is simply providing more detail.

You can read about more examples of “difficult to understand” passages in another “Muscular Christianity” post entitled “Ten Questions Christians Can’t Answer.” The bottom line, however, is that the Bible is not flawed. Passages that are difficult to understand do not constitute reasons to doubt the accuracy of the text as much as they are cues to pop the hood on said passage and actually study it. Look at the original languages, consider the culture of the time, ponder the audience that’s being addressed. Deploy the approach of an investigative reporter, and do so in the context of a disposition that seeks to understand what happened, as opposed to a prejudiced perspective that questions whether it happened at all.

It’s interesting to watch the amount of academic dust that gets kicked up when educated critics of the Bible unleash the full fury of their sarcasm into the marketplace. Their credentials and the dogmatic tone of their rhetoric can come across as quite compelling as they dismiss the Authority of Scripture. Yet, on the other side of the aisle stands a formidable constituency of learned individuals who, while they don’t get the same amount of press, are nevertheless just as educated and just as forceful in their defense of God’s Word and the Christian perspective.

From a layman’s standpoint, it’s not always easy to sort out the weeds from the grass, but those who defend the integrity of Scripture inevitably win out because their defense is founded on a comprehensive analysis of the facts as opposed to their adversaries whose platform is characterized by a disposition that dismisses everything save that which is consistent with their intellectual preferences. In other words, of the information that exists to either verify or explain a particular passage of Scripture, the only facts they’re willing to admit into the dialogue are those that match their definition of what’s reasonable. The resulting exchange isn’t so much an objective evaluation of a biblical text as much as it’s an attempt of the part of the skeptic to overwhelm substance with sarcasm.

Dr. Gleason Archer is the author of the “Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties.” In the preface, he describes his inspiration for writhing the book and the experiences he draws from as he sets out to resolve the intellectual tension that some verses can create.

The problems and questions dealt with in this volume have been directed to me during the past thirty years of teaching on the graduate seminary level in the field of biblical criticism. As an undergraduate at Harvard, I was fascinated by apologetics and biblical evidences; so I labored to obtain a knowledge of the languages and cultures that have any bearing on biblical scholarship. As a classics major in college, I received training in Latin and Greek, also in French and German. At seminary I majored in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic; and in post-graduate years I became involved in Syriac and Akkadian, to the extent of teaching elective courses in each of these subjects. Earlier, during my final two years of high school, I had acquired a special interest in Middle Kingdom Egyptian studies, which was furthered as I later taught courses in this field. At the Oriental Institute in Chicago, I did specialized study in Eighteenth Dynasty historical records and also studied Coptic and Sumuerian. Combined with this work in ancient languages was a full course of training at law school, after which I was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1939. This gave me a thorough grounding in the field of legal evidences. Additionally, I spent three years in Beruit, Lebanon, in specialized study of modern literary Arabic. This was followed by a month in the Holy Land, where I visited most of the important archaeological sites. 13

He goes on to say that his faith has been validated and strengthened, rather than challenged and weakened as he’s tackled some of the more difficult- to-understand passages:

As I have dealt with one apparent discrepancy after another and have studied the alleged contradictions between the biblical record and the evidence of linguistics, archaeology, or science, my confidence in the trustworthiness of Scripture has been repeatedly verified and strengthened by the discovery that almost every problem in Scripture that has ever been discovered by man, from ancient times until now, has been dealt with in a completely satisfactory manner by the biblical text itself – or else by objective archaeological information.14

When you step back and consider the intellectual strength of the man who is speaking, coupled with the hands on experience he’s had with a variety of archaeological  and literary artifacts, it’s virtually impossible to dismiss his content as a desperate attempt to protect a set of flawed convictions. What he brings to the table resonates as more than a mere “response.” Rather, it’s an objective platform as compelling as it is substantial – to the point where the criticisms leveled against the Word of God are quickly revealed as pathetic shadows that are effortlessly dispelled by the Light of God’s formidable Truth.

IV) Conclusion

George MacDonald was a Scottish minister as well as a prolific writer. He’s been cited as a major influence by authors such as C.S. Lewis (“The Chronicles of Narnia) and J.R. R. Tolkein (The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring). He once said, “To try and explain the truth to him who loves it not, is but to give him more plentiful material for misinterpretation.”15

Some want to say that the Bible represents the quintessential example of circular reasoning. In other words, some will defend the Truth of Scripture by citing the Bible as its own witness. But Scripture is validated by history, archaeology, literature as well as the multitudes of changed lives over the centuries. It is not lacking for evidence, uniqueness, consistency or accuracy. As Professor Williams stated, there is a gulf between the Bible and every other book that’s ever been authored. It is, quite simply, the “words” of God.

The substance of Christ’s comments to His disciples at the Last Supper is but one example of the richness of Scripture. It says in 2 Timothy 3:16 that the entire Bible is God-breathed. It truly is. And the benefits that accompany obedience to God’s Word are as abundant as they are advantageous.

It’s true.

It’s God.

…and it’s only Thursday. Wait till you see what happens this weekend!





1. “The Last Supper”, Wikipedia,, accessed May 12, 2015

2. Ibid

3. Ibid

4. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries,, accessed June 2, 2015

5. “Evidence That Demands a Verdict”, Josh McDowell, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1972, p 15

6. “The Levon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library”,, accessed June 17, 2015

7. “Evidence That Demands a Verdict”, Josh McDowell, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1972, p 58

8. Ibid, p45

9. Although Jude had earlier rejected Jesus as Messiah (John 7:1-9), he, along with other half brothers of our Lord, was converted after Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:14). Because of his relation to Jesus, his eyewitness knowledge of the resurrected Christ, and the content of his epistle, it was included in the Muratorian Canon (A.D. 170). The early questions about its canonicity also tend to support that it was written after 2 Peter. If Peter had quoted Jude, there would have been no question about canonicity, since Peter would thereby have given Jude apostolic confirmation. Clement of Rome (c. A.D. 96) plus Clement of Alexandria (c. A.D. 200) also alluded to the authenticity of Jude. Its diminutive size and Jude’s quotations from uninspired writings account for any misplaced questions about its canonicity. (notes on the book of Jude [“The MacArthur Study Bible”, Crossway, Wheaton, IL, 2010, p1922])

10. “Evidence That Demands a Verdict”, Josh McDowell, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1972, p 36

11. “Sola scriptura”, “Wikipedia”,, accessed July 23, 2015

12. “Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties”, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI 1982, p334

13. Ibid, p12

14. Ibid, p15

15. George Macdonald, quoted by Ravi Zacharias