Wednesday, July 14, 2010
When I was a full time college student and later a university professor, when someone asked me about the Bible and whether I believed in it, I caustically answered as many university faculty members would, no, and when asked why I would give the stock answer without thought: "It's just a book written by men". I was not a believer then, mostly an agnostic when I gave God much thought, and religion was ridiculed on almost every campus I ever taught at save for one seminary and one church-related school.
The discussion never went terribly far, mostly because the only people I ever had even broach the subject were students who were not brave enough to take on a college professor about their faith, or perhaps worried about the consequences. While I was pretty fair in grading, and would not have done such a thing, I cannot say that there was not some reason for trepidation, for some might have 'halo-effected' the Christian student, as many former colleagues consider all of Christianity sort of 'moronic' mostly because that is the level of knowledge they hold about the faith: they cannot imagine that 'faith' could be intelligent, as they arrogantly ascribe it to the realm of archetype and fairy tale.
My faith, though, started with a few 'observations' but was brought into being by the Word of God. It was certainly not by some of the people who first talked to me about salvation, for they did little more than drive me farther away. People can tell when one is 'after them' with an agenda, or uses some sort of 'gimmick' as though Salvation and Jesus were a hard sell.
Being coerced once into reading the 'four spiritual laws', even after salvation I have had a distaste for easy abc 123 approaches to witnessing, or in college being asked in order, "What's your major", "Do you go to church". Those questions and techniques made me run in the opposite direction because they were terribly uncomfortable, and because while well meaning, coming to Christ in covenant and belief is not a debate or a convincing argument, on the level of human reason, but is on a different level of divine reason, reached by faith. Even harping on the particular sins many people commit, while one may mention forgiveness, what many people hear is condemnation. The Great Commission did not send us to argue people into Jesus and church membership, but to lift up Christ the Messiah, for all to see, that He might draw all men unto him. Preaching does that, healing does that, living our lives even silently but obediently does that, and genuinely just telling people who He is, how real he is and what He has done for us, is far more effective that trying to win the argument that there really is a God and he had a Son.
The Word of God
One of the things that may help in answering questions about the Bible though, is to call it the Word of God. We have heard the word 'Bible' so often, that save for generally it has lost its meaning to some. The most common objection I used and heard was "It's just a book written by men", and when you try to say, well it says it is the Word of God (and it does: almost every book of the Prophets starts with "The Word of God came to...", then sophistry takes hold and the greatly reasoned intellectual replies: well, you can't use the Bible to prove itself.
Too many Christians get hung up on that tried and true conversation stopper. Is there an answer? I had a hard time getting around that question.
There is an answer, though, and it is best approached by looking and the wonder and veracity of the book. Some same that there are many 'errors' but I have studied the Word (KJV) for 25 years now, and not found any error, only a few complexities that looked contradictory until one knew more of the Bible. Some argue for example that in the account of Jesus healing 'Bartimaeus' that one gospel says there were two blind men and another only one, but the truth is there were two, but only one was described in the more detailed account in depth. Most other seeming errors come from not understanding, for example, that there were a number of people in the Bible who shared a name, or similar incidents where a little more knowledge would clear up a passage.
Let's attend though to the question about the Word of God being used to prove itself. Let's consider instead some information about the Bible that makes it so phenomenal:
1. It was written over 5000 years, by multiple authors from all walks of life, and yet it consistently tells the same story. The promises in Genesis, are fulfilled in the Gospels, and every foreshadowing personality such as Joseph, Isaac, David and others live lives predictive of and pointing to Jesus the Messiah.
2. Every prophecy in the Word in the Old Testament was perfectly fulfilled in Jesus.
Statistically, it would be astounding for one or two to be fulfilled: but all 300+ prophecies of Messiah given by different prophets at different times, are fulfilled in the life of Jesus.
3. Even underlying Greek and Hebrew texts point ultimately to Jesus and the way he was, and to the time of his appearance, and to the events during his life.
4. The Name of Jesus, pronounced in the Word, has power. It is a point of verification.
5. If the Bible were not true, then accepting Christ as Savior, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit would not bear out nor show power: yet one can observe healings. prophecy, and even miracles today, that would not be possible if the Word of God were not true.
6. The Word alone has phenomenally altered millions of lives over the centuries.
7.When Science and the Bible contradict one another, the scientific explanation is usually accepted, but is almost always done in when hard evidence is found in favor of the Bible account. This is true for history as well: chariot wheels have been found embedded in the sand at the site the Children of Israel crossed over.
8. Biblical prophecies about endtime events, such as the drying up of the Euphrates and the sea mingled with fire, are either coming true or currently foreshadowed.
9. While most 'sophisticated' professors cannot fathom a real 'Garden of Eden' and while anthropologists go looking for apelike origins of man, even they are drawn, almost entirely to the region referred to as the 'cradle of civilization' where since time Eden was thought to be, as the Euphrates and Pison rivers (Kishon) still exist at least in remnant form. Why do they not look in Antartica?
10. Human recorded history only goes back as far as the Bible describes dates.
11. Rather than man living longer with scientific advancement, the people of the Bible lived long in the beginning, but by the time of David was described as threescore and ten, the same average life expectancy as today.
12. The Bible far from archaic has given several scientists the solution to unsolved problems: e.g. the ocean currents including the Gulf Stream were discovered and charted by a man reading the Psalms, in the passage 'paths of the sea'. This is not an isolated incident.
13. The early apostles and countless believers since have been willing to die for it, including Tyndale, Bonhoeffer, the Scholls, Eric Liddell (the Olympic gold medalist), and the numerous other martyrs.
14. Jesus is introduced in the Book of John as the 'Logos' or Word incarnate, one with the father.
15. Voltaire the atheist once declared that in a generation the Bible would be dead. Voltaire died and it is his writing that has the far lesser effect. The longevity of the bible speaks to its truth and efficacy.
16. The Word has power. It comforts,gives hope, guides and directs, and teaches even proper nutrition, relationships, politics and even our system of government and the judicial system was based upon it. It keeps order in a society.
These are just a few 'external' issues regarding the Word. The real issue though is faith. Faith is the substance of things not seen, and for those who must see to believe, it remains a conundrum. These are observations outside of the Word defending itself. Human Reason seeks to be the final authority on all issues of life and spirituality: we see the vain attempts of men to try and include all ways everyone comes up with as truth, even while they are contradictory. Faith though, is a different 'economy' than human reason: it does not lack reason and is not ignorant, but involves 'divine reasoning'. Kierkegaard once noted that one must take a 'leap of faith' to find out if it is true. If one never 'leaps' into the unseen to believe, one never finds it. That is the nature of faith. Jesus was always stretching the faith of Israel: before many healings he would ask 'do you believe that I can do this' (in so many words), and upon belief, they were healed.
University minds are often too closed to attempt that 'leap of faith' to find if it is true or not. So they never find the power of God in the Word of God. They will entertain every other bizarre and unproven theory, but not even attempt faith in God. 150 years after Darwin, there are still no transitional types and they are not willing even now to reject the theory, but they will never read Genesis. Faith is not going to be found at the end of a textbook, lab or research article. Believing in the Word of God is not a surrender of one's intelligence, but 'surrendering ones intelligence'. Great and learned men have been both believers and non believers. Fahrenheit believed, so did Newton, and Pascal. Curie believed, and in the end of his life Darwin clung to his Bible. So there must be something beside raw intellect that realizes whether it is true or not. Could it be, that the brightest minds after years of human reason, found it insufficient? No objections to the Word of God ultimately hold water.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Recently there seems to be waves of gossip and rumor mills which occasionally swell in the church and then die down only to swell again. I wonder when we will come to our senses and realize we are never to interfere in a work of the Lord: it seems Judah's Glory even from the beginning has been beset by wrongful information that has reached a point I think is best addressed openly.
1. Currently, Judah's Glory is primarily an online resource of Bible Studies, Coloring Books, Music, Webart, and teaching, including audio teaching at sermon.net/judahsglory. It is not a free standing institution, and is not a government registered entity. We are respectful and law abiding, but not a corporation of the State.
2. We are pro-Israel, and teach the church their rightful and scriptural role towards the Jews of gratitude and Mercy (Romans 8-12). We are what I call a segue ministry about half way between the traditional gentile church, and full Torah observant Messianic Synagogues. I say Jesus and Yshua without flinching.
3. WE ARE ABSOLUTELY NOT Jehovah's Witness, or any other dissensioned version of the faith once delivered. WE ARE NOT CATHOLIC! but I am a former Catholic, a former agnostic, and have been a Gospel believing born again Christian for 25 years. I am a former college professor with a doctorate in Psychology, which is also 'another gospel'. I left the field formally in 1987 in obedience to the Lord.
4. I am not insane. By the way, that is a legal rubric, not a diagnostic category. Part of the rumors that have beset this small ministry have come from those of dissension faiths or carnal Christians trying to take over the ministry materials.
5. Judah's Glory is in no way affiliated with Elwood McQuaid's magazine "Israel My Glory": that is another title, thing and concept. Judah's Glory is not the term mentioned in a catholic hymn about Mary: the term is not directly found in the scriptures, but refers to Judah, the head of the tribes of Israel, and her Glory which is Messiah. He is the Lion of Judah, from the house of Judah, and who else would possibly match his claim to the title "Judah's Glory".
6. We are not affiliated with Jews for Jesus, IBJM mission board or any other group. Because of the nature of town I reside in, a Messianic ministry is not currently possible because of the trouble it would start. As soon as a move is accomplished, I will begin Judah's Glory as at least a Saturday Bible Study ministry, and teach it myself until an appropriate pastor/rabbi may be found. My doctrinal statement may be found on the site.
7. We believe first and foremost in the perfect, infallible Word of God, expressed in Creation by the Creator, expressed in the Word of God written down and through the Prophets, and the Incarnate Word, the Logos, Yeshua HaMeschiach, Jesus Christ the Messiah of Israel, the Holy One of Israel. We believe in a blood bought salvation, the blood atonement on the Cross, and a literal resurrection which gave eternal life to all those who believe. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and there in no other name given by which we may be saved. After thorough study, I believe that the preserved Word of God is found currently only in the Authorized, King James Version, as it is the 'apostolic' line of transmission. I believe completely that all gifts taught and given from Pentecost on, (and before) are still extant, and in power to those who believe and surrender to the Messiah. The power of God is not a dispensational age. Man divided the Word into segments and theoretical eras, not God, who breathed a whole Word for all time. I believe in healing, tongues, prophecy, word of knowledge, and all the rest, when they line up with the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, acknowledging there are counterfeits. While I would best be characterized as an 'eternal security' believer, I believe that a true understanding is that we are truly saved and kept by the Lord and Savior, but that we also must truly follow after, walking in the Holy Spirit, the 'Way, the Truth, and the Life'. But then why wouldn't you?
7. Judah's Glory is not for sale ever nor are its materials. Free use however does not mean stealing the publications, rewriting them a little, commercializing them and then charging money for some other ministry or pocketbook. That is actually a felony and is destroying the church, watering down the Gospel into whatever sells, and ruining small sincere ministries who care only about the Lord. The big ministries who do this are often not ministries at all, but fund raising organizations who couldn't care less about the Word of God or the real Gospel. When the Church dissolves into warmongering dogfights and copyright theft, it ruins the church, sincere ministries, and eventually the country. Judah's Glory ministry has stood against those foul practices since the beginning and will continue.
Any other questions, please write to either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Please, though help us to put an end to exaggerated misinformation, so that I can continue this labor intensive and for-free ministry, without compromise.