Discover Faith

Faith

Nowadays we hear a lot about faith, yet our culture has separated faith from that which makes it substantive... the object of that faith. I could have faith that I could fly, but if test that faith by jumping off of my house, I would be instructed by my injuries that my faith had been in vain. It is that which we have faith in that determines the value of our faith.

We are Christian. We believe, and have faith in the power of the sacrifice of Christ for our salvation— He saved us. Let me explain: To be a Christian means that you have fellowship, or a relationship, with God. Without this relationship we would be eternally separated from Him.

But in order for anyone to have a relationship with a perfect, holy God, they must first attain perfection. However, you, I, all of us, have sinned, which means that we have missed the mark of perfection. Every lie, every theft (even copying a friends CD, or illegally downloading music), every time you have had an impure thought, you have missed the mark of perfection. Guilt is your conscience informing you that you have missed that mark. But if one has to be perfect to have a relationship with God, and no one is perfect, it seems as if Christianity is impossible— and it would be were it not for Jesus Christ!

Jesus, the only one to ever live a perfect life, made a way to God the Father, for us. We sinned, Jesus paid for those sins. He was the only one who could, because He was the only one who has ever lived without sin. The punishment for sin is death. 6. Anyone who has sinned is obligated to God for his sin. Only one who is without this obligation could pay for the sins of another. He had to die, if we were to live.1. When Jesus died on that cross, He made it possible for us to have a relationship with God now, and for eternity. 7. He paid in full for every sin you have committed and for every sin you ever will. 4.

You need only to receive and so appropriate the gift of His sacrifice. There is nothing you, a sinner, can do to earn God's forgiveness. 8. No amount of good deeds will ever win you God's favor. 5. That would be like trying to achieve a perfect grade point average after having already received an "F" on a paper. You will never be able to reach perfection; all you can do is receive the perfection that was already attained. However, Jesus Himself said that you should first "count the cost." For, in order to receive the new life He has to give you, you must commit your life to serving Him rather than serving yourself. 2. The Bible calls this repentance. 3.

Though this decision should never be made whimsically, or without reverence, it is not a decision one could ever regret. Because by this decision you will finally have an answer to that question, why am I here! God loves you, more than any human ever has, or can. He has a purpose for your life and I can assure you His purpose for you is an exciting one, one that you will never regret!.

If you do not have a relationship with God through Christ please consider that an eternity without Him is an eternity in Hell! If you have questions about how to be saved or if you need further direction please contact us!

1. Matthew 20:28 (NIV)
28 just as the Son of Man [Jesus] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

2. Luke 9:23-26 (NIV)
23 Then he [Jesus] said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

3. Acts 2:36-38 (NIV)
36 "...God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins...

4. Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

5. Romans 4:4-5 (NIV)
4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

6. Romans 6:23 (NIV)
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

7. Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)
21 God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

8. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works so that no one can boast.


The Bible

The verses I just quoted were from the Bible. We believe that the Bible was given to the apostles and disciples as the very word of God. The Bible says in 2nd Timothy 3:16 that "all scripture was God breathed." This literally means that God exhaled the word into the writers. Then the Holy Spirit carried the writers along so that what the Bible claims to be true or claims to be false is true or false respectively. We believe that, as the Bible is the word of God, it cannot err.

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

John 14:26 (NIV)
26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

2 Peter 1:20-21 (NIV)
20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Why do we believe that the Bible is true? There are many other "holy books," what makes the Bible special? Well, I believe the Bible because as I read it, it changes me. Whereas I might read another book and scrutinize the writing, when I read the Bible, I recognize that the writing is scrutinizing me! However, I grant that this is far from objective proof that the Bible is true, so someone will ask, but is there any "real" proof. The answer, an overwhelming YES! A veritable mountain of objective evidence points to the veracity of the Bible.

I must be brief here but I will point to a few very compelling proofs.

We do not have the original documents, penned by the apostles, that are contained in the New Testament (Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, etc.). However, we do have around 5,700 very early Greek New Testament  manuscripts today, Greek being the language in which the New Testament was originally written. The earliest of these manuscripts is either a portion of Matthew's Gospel, (P64) John's gospel (P52) or a soon to be published fragment from Mark. All of these may be dated to the first century. The most famous of these, at least for now, is (P52) known as the John Rylands Papyri.

There are as many as 20,000 more early copies in alternate languages. But why does any of this matter?

When we look at ancient documents, one of the most important factors that will determine the veracity of those documents is their age (relative to the events of which they speak). This is because the further from the actual events we get, in history, the more prone the writings are to distortion. Memories fade; and stories tend to be exaggerated as they are handed down from generation to generation. They often begin to take on a "once upon a time" kind of feel.

Also, when people of opposing views are still alive to contest what is being written, the likelihood of false material surviving is minimized. So if the copy is very close to the date of the events that the manuscript purports to record, we know that it would likely be contested if the events were thought to be incorrect. If writings were highly contested it is not likely they would survive, less-long flourish and multiply for thousands of years.

Back to the flying analogy: if I wrote a book today on how I was capable of  flying, simply by flapping my arms, and then I tried to get that book published, the publisher would no doubt want to see proof of my claim to flight. Any publisher would be foolish not to, due to the book's outrageous claim. But if by some miracle the book was published, who would buy it if it was known to be false? And if no one bought it, it would pass out of existence. We certainly would not expect to find thousands upon thousands of copies that date back to the time when people were around to witness the book's lack of credibility.

When scholars look at any ancient writing, they look at whether the book made testable claims— like a claim to flight. If the claims of a book are testable, at the time when it is written, and if the book flourishes among those who are in a position to witness that testing, then it of course increases the likleyhood that the claims of the book are credible. And, if a resource, written on Papyrus lasts for 2,000 years, it is only because it was thought to be valuable enough by the readers of that time to warrant the proper care and handling necessary for its preservation. If many many copies of that resource are found to exist it underscores the value of that document to the people of that time. All of this simply means that the people who were around at the time of Jesus, who were in a position to know for sure whether Jesus' claims were valid— who saw with their own eyes— thought that the claims of the Bible regarding Jesus were true.

With this standard test of ancient documents in mind, there is an amazing inequality between the credentials of the Bible and all other works of antiquity, both in the number of manuscripts and in the the age of the document relative to the events recorded therein. In fact, when the Bible manuscripts are compared to other ancient writings, they stand alone as the best-preserved literary works of all antiquity.

The nearest competitor to the Bible would be Homer's Illiad, which is an epic 8th-9th century BC story/poem that blends history with mythical monsters. There is about a 300 year gap between the events recording and their supposed date in History. The earliest fragment we have for the Illiad was written 400-500 years after the original was supposed to have been written. We have only 643 copies.

Compare this to the Bible's 0 to 60 years attestation and 25,000 early manuscripts, 5700 of which are very early Greek manuscripts. That said, the Iliad stands out as incredibly well attested among other ancient documents. These other documents we rely on completely for our understanding of ancient history. The writings of Plato, for instance— 7 manuscripts with 1300 yrs between the copies we have and the date the originals were written.

 

The Adversaries of the Bible

We find proof for the claims of the Bible in many places. One of the most persuasive is the attestations by ancient historians and writers who were notable adversaries of the Bible. Below are some biblical claims that can be verified outside of the Bible. This is not an exhaustive list, merely a list ofsome of the most highly regarded references .

  • Claim—John the Baptist lived, baptized for the remission of sins, and was killed by Herod— Author: Josephus
  • Claim—Jesus lived— Authors: Josephus, Thallus, Phlegon
  • Claim—Jesus was called the Christ, had a brother named James, was a teacher, miracle worker and had both Jewish and gentile followers— Author: Josephus
  • Claim—Jesus was condemned to die by Pontious Pilate— Authors: Josephus, Tacitus
  • Claim—After Jesus died His followers believed He was resurrected— implied by Tacitus
  • Claim—After Jesus died His followers taught in His name—Authors: Josephus, Mara Bar-Serapion
  • Claim—Jesus' followers were named Christians because they followed Jesus Christ— Authors: Josephus, Tacitus
  • Claim—The sun was darkened as Christ died— Authors: Thallus, Phlegon
  • Claim—There were earthquakes at the death of Jesus— Author: Phlegon
  • Claim—Christians worshipped Christ as God and were willing to die for their beliefs— Author: Pliny the Younger
Josephus—Jewish historian (37AD-100) Thallus— World Historian (approx. 60AD -150) Phlegon— Greek Historian (early 2nd century) Tacitus— Roman Historian (56AD) Mara Bar-Serapion—Syrian writer (first century) Pliny the Younger— Roman lawyer, writer, philosopher (61AD)

Archeology

Archeology offers so much proof of the Bible's historicity it would be ridiculous to try to detail it here. It seems that virtually every time someone digs a hole in the middle-east another page of the Bible is verified. Some of the topics found in the Bible, previously contested by critics as inaccurate, now confirmed by archeology include:

  • Moses and the beginning of literacy
  • Sodom and Gomorrah
  • The flood of Noah
  • The walls of Jericho
  • King David
  • King Solomon
  • The existence of the Hittites
  • The kings of Assyria
  • The contemporary relationship of Herod the Great and Governor Quirinius
  • Lysinius the Tetrarch
  • The term Politarch
  • Pool of Bethesda
  • Pool of Siloam
  • Early existence of Nazareth

There are many, many other justifications for the credibility of the Bible from the perspective of Archaeology, and there are just as many reasons to believe the Bible looking at it from the perspective of textual criticism: writing style, writing media, internal evidence from the narrative, etc. But without taking the time to wade through all the evidence for textual criticism— just looking at what has been submitted thus far it would be unreasonable to suggest that the Bible is anything less than extremely reliable. So if we can believe anything historically we have to believe the Bible— at least from an historical perspective. It is the most verifiable source of ancient history available.

That the Bible is easily our most reliable source for ancient history, is a topic that is agreed on by virtually all scholars, from liberal atheists to conservative Christians. But does that prove that there is a God, that God is the God of the Bible, that Jesus was God, that Jesus died on a cross and was resurrected from the dead? No, but given the reliability of the Bible and its claims, doesn't't this book deserve your careful consideration? By the way, these questions about God the Father and Jesus can be proven, and I will do so here when time permits. God bless!

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