Archive - June, 2009

What Happened First in the Bible?

It’s always tough to know who or what came first in the Old Testament.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the books were listed in chronological order.  A couple of years back, I took several timelines of the Old Testament & combined them.

If you are interested in a copy of this, just email me brad@greenhillschurch.org.  

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Can You Really Believe the Bible…If So Why?

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Do you blindly believe the Bible is true?  Many people simply believe the Bible is true because a pastor or parent told them so.  But it’s only a matter of time before some academic setting will test that belief.  Unfortunately many people are ill-equipped in knowing the great wealth of manuscript, archeological, and historical evidence behind the pages of the Bible.  Instead they put their faith in a person and then begin to doubt as the foundational writing of their faith is challenged.  We should not and must not live life blindly.  God has left an amazing witness of His work and plan for us in this world.  Here’s a few notes i’m sharing that i put together for a discipleship group i lead on Friday mornings.  I hope you enjoy.  For further info on this topic, check out the resources posted at the end of the blog!

EVIDENCE THAT THE BIBLE IS ACCURATE & SHOULD BE TAKEN LITERALLY

Most people prove that the Bible is real in the same way they prove that the sun is real.  “It warms me and I can see its light – in the same way, the Bible warms our hearts and lights our souls!”  This sounds wonderful until we meet someone who claims the same warmth & light from the Koran or the Book of Mormon.  What do you do when you look at their life and realize they have great morals and are equally if not more passionate about their Holy Book than you?  Is there other evidence than feeling & emotion that Christians can stand on when it comes to the reliability & trustworthiness of the Bible?  Absolutely!!  While this evidence may not be the single straw that convinces someone to follow Christ.  This question and ignorance of historical evidence and knowledge can certainly hold many unbelievers back from trusting in Christ & cause many faithful believers to doubt unnecessarily because they are unaware of the rich heritage of MANUSCRIPT, ARCHAEOLOGICAL, & HISTORICAL evidence.     

JUDGING THE PROBABLITY OF THE NEW TESTATMENT GOSPELS

  • Live in a world that would have us believe that all religions lead us to the same place.  All roads lead to God. 
    • Funny that in academic settings, we are warned about certain books that are full of errors & really not something you want to put your faith in.
    • Most people have their faith & evidence in the Bible dismantled at some point in an academic setting.
    • Yet some people say that over 1/3 of the worlds population believe in God & that He sent His Son Jesus to save the world.
  • How can we know that the N.T. books of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John are reliable books?
    • Because if they are, then Jesus must in fact be the Son of God & what He says about God and the rest of the Bible must be true. 
      • Larry King – wishes he could interview Jesus.  Would ask him if he was really born of a virgin.  If He was, it changes everything.

1.     Whenever you talk about history you can’t prove or disprove what has happened in the past.  It’s not about proving or disproving.  It’s a matter of presenting evidence and the jury then looks at the evidence & makes a decision. 

2.     Whenever you judge evidence, it’s not what is a possible explanation but what is a probable explanation. 

    • The trustworthiness of any historical account is based on evidence, not on proof.
    • You can only prove what is observable & repeatable.
      • You can’t observe or repeat the past.
      • So we have to make decisions based on evidence.
        • When drawing conclusions on evidence, probability takes preference possibility. 
          • Probable cause (always 100’s of possible causes)
  • Two ways to look at Ancient Manuscripts (how do you determine if it is trustworthy?)
    • Look at manuscript & evidence
    • Look at what you know about the people & cultures who wrote them
      • Tacitus: 30 volumes – have 2 manuscripts containing ½ of his volumes; Dated 900 A.D. & 1100 A.D. (1000 years old)
        • Tacitus (considered by many to be the finest & most accurate of ancient historians) is quoted like it is gospel truth – even though he worked for a Roman Emperor & could be subject to questionable content
      • We have more evidence about Jesus Christ than we have about the Roman Emperor
        • Fragments of book of John from 135 A.D. found in Egypt (so broadly distributed)!
        • 250 A.D. of complete Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John
        • Far more manuscripts of gospels than any other literature
    • People say, copies of copies – there are errors, right?!?
      • But Historians will admit that they would love to have the quality of manuscripts that we have for the Bible
      • No real conflicts in manuscripts – blatant conflicts are trivial (scribal errors)
      • More than 20,000 ancient manuscripts of various parts of the Bible exist today
      • Over 5,300 ancient Greek manuscripts
        • Only 13 manuscripts of Plato
  • Why don’t secular historians quote from the history of the Bible & the Gospels?
    • There is a prejudice against the supernatural before they even look at the evidence – so they discount the entire history.
      • Fallacy with this – it is foolish & not logical to judge the authenticity of an ancient manuscript acc. to our personal 21st Century experience.  B/c I don’t live in a culture where I see the supernatural happening, I don’t believe the supernatural has ever happened.
        • Like saying the Holocaust didn’t happen – b/c I don’t believe that hatred, racism, & prejudice could really exist.  I’ve never felt this way toward a race of people or seen this kind of evil.  So I don’t’ think it really happened.     
        • Our experience has very little to do with history.  Arguing from our experience isn’t an argument.  It’s foolish.  Have to judge on evidence not on feelings. 
  • God in his wisdom did everything possible, at this time, to deliver to us what actually happened!  Upheld his word in an incredible, miraculous way!  Delivered to us & continues to deliver amazing evidence.  Greater than the evidence of any other person or period of history!  About a guy who wrote nothing & recorded only 3 yrs of his life.   
  • The Bible came together over a period of 14 centuries—a fact so enormous that it almost defies belief.  Over the centuries ideologies and accepted popular wisdom changed from generation to generation and from century to century.  Yet no one revised what had previously been written in Scripture in order to make it harmonize with the latest documents. 
    • 40 individuals wrote the manuscripts & documents we now call the Bible from every imaginable walk of life!  (Kings, peasants, blue-collar, royalty, tax-collectors, etc.)
  • Ruler after Ruler after Ruler have tried to destroy the Bible.  Even as late as the 17th century men from history (Voltaire) believed the Bible would not make it into the next century.  But today a very conservative estimate is that a Bible is printed every second of every day – not to mention other materials. 
    • China has given up because their suppression has had the opposite effect.  

(notes taken from the following resources):

  • “Why You Can Have Confidence in the Bible” by Harold J. Sala  

 (I’VE REALLY ENJOYED THIS RESOURCE!  GREAT SUMMARY OF LOTS OF INFO.)

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  • “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism” by Timothy Keller

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  • “Starting Point” by Andy Stanley & North Point Community Church

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The Compass or the Clock

Check out some recent content that I shared with 3 men I disciple on Friday mornings.  For most of us we get so busy “doing” in life, we rarely take time to make sure we are heading in the right direction!  Are you addicted to the urgent emails, issues, and problems that you face on a daily basis?  Or, do you make sure that every day is filled with activities that keep you pointed toward God’s direction & purpose for your life?  It’s not so much about the clock (doing more with the time we have) as it is about the compass (making sure what we are doing is purposeful & leads us toward due North)! 

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Stephen Covey – First Things First

For all of us there are times in our lives when something that we really wanted to make happen just doesn’t get done. We had the best of intentions and had passionate desires to make something happen. But somewhere along the way between dreaming and execution our plans fall apart.

What is the one activity that you know if you did superbly well and consistently would have significant positive results in your professional or work life?

If you know these things would make such a significant difference, why are you not doing them now?

As you consider your response, I want to point out two primary factors that drive our choices concerning how we use our time:
• Urgency
• Importance

Although we deal with both factors, one of them is the basic paradigm through which we view our time and our lives.

THE URGENCY INDEX (bottom of this post)

• 0-25 Low urgency mind-set
• 26-45 Strong urgency mind-set
• 46+ Urgency addiction

“If most of your responses are on the low end, the urgency paradigm is probably not a significant factor in your life. If they’re in the middle or toward the higher end, there’s a good chance urgency is your fundamental operational paradigm. If your responses are consistently high, urgency may be more than just the way you see. It may actually be an addiction.” Pg. 33

• This is very important to hear – both categories are hugely important; life stops working if we decide to only deal with one factor

For too many of us busyness is where we get our security. It’s validating, popular, and pleasing. It’s also a good excuse for not dealing with the first things in our lives.
• I’d love to spend quality time with you, but I have to work. There’s this deadline. It’s urgent. Of course you understand.
• I just don’t have time to exercise. I know it’s important, but there are so many pressing things right now. Maybe when things slow down a little.

The tools and approaches of time management often feed the urgency addiction. They keep us focused on daily prioritization of the urgent.  Even if we were given 15 to 20 more hours a week, the majority of people would feel no more successful or satisfied.  Instead they would have more projects left undone, more tension, & added frustration.  

• Quadrant I – represent things that are both “urgent” and “important”. Here’s where we handle an irate client, meet a deadline, repair a broken machine, undergo heart surgery, or help a crying child who has been hurt. We need to spend time in Quadrant I. This is where we manage, where we produce, where we bring our experience and judgment to bear in responding to many needs and challenges. If we ignore it, we become buried alive.
• But we also need to realize that many important activities become urgent through procrastination, or because we don’t do enough prevention and planning. Quadrant II includes activities that are “important” but not “urgent”. This is the Quadrant of Quality. Here’s where we do our long-range planning, anticipate and prevent problems, empower others, broaden our minds and increase our skills through reading and continuous professional development, envision how we’re going to help a struggling son or daughter, prepare for important meetings and presentations, or invest in relationships through deep, honest listening. Increasing time spent in this quadrant increases our ability to do. Ignoring this quadrant feeds and enlarges Quadrant I, creating stress, burnout, and deeper crises for the person consumed by it. On the other hand, investing in this quadrant shrinks Quadrant I. Planning, preparation, and prevention keep many things from becoming urgent. Quadrant II does not act on us; we must act on it. This is the Quadrant of personal leadership.

• IF you were to pause and think seriously about the “first things” in your life—the three or four things that matter most—what would they be? Are these things receiving the care, emphasis, and time you really want to give them?
• Why is it that so often our first things aren’t first? For years we’ve been given methods, techniques, tools, and information on how to manage and control our time. We’ve been told that if we keep working harder, learn to do things better & faster, use some new device or tool, or file or organize in a particular way, then we’ll be able to do it all. (so we get an iPhone)
• More than offering you another clock, this approach provides you with a “compass”—because more important than how fast you’re going, is where you’re headed.
• Most people feel like they are really, really busy doing nothing!
• The enemy of the best is the good.

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The Urgency Index