Monday, January 12, 2015

Wild Flowers Book Club (Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith)

Did you know that A Field of Wild Flowers hosts a private online Book Club?  

You can read more about it HERE.  This past fall 18 people from all across the States (and one from New Zealand!) participated in a six week discussion of Parker Palmer's wise little book, Let Your Life Speak.  

This week I'm excited to announce our second book and offer you a chance to win a free signed copy.  



That's my oldest two posing with Michelle DeRusha's book, Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith.  Michelle's book arrived at my house while we were in the middle of packing up, changing schools and rewiring the house of our dreams.  If anything tells you how good this book is (and how enjoyable to read) it's the fact that I found time to read it and write a review right in the middle of that crazy time in our lives!  

You can read my review of Michelle's book here, where I list three things I liked about the book.  The one thing that excited me most about this book (that I didn't include in my review) is its potential usefulness in starting conversations.  Michelle's writing is so transparent and human that it easily sets the table for talking about our own experiences and struggles with faith.  

I'm excited to explore this book with you - it's suitable for those who lean steadily toward belief and also anyone who struggles in making sense of "Christian-ese" and wonders what this "Jesus thing" is all about.  Another bonus?  Michelle has agreed to join us one week for an "ask the author" session. 

Interested?  Here are the details:

The book has eleven chapters and our book club will run for about eight weeks (depending how things unfold) so there will be some weeks when we read more than one chapter, but never more than about 30 pages.  It will be hosted in a private Facebook group so our conversation will not be public.  Those who want to participate will need to "friend" me on Facebook so I can add you to the group. 

Monday, February 2 will be our official start date, which should give plenty of time to order, win or borrow a copy of the book.  We'll plan finish up by the end of March. 

Every Monday I'll post a quote from the chapters under discussion as a starting point for conversation.  On Wednesdays it'll be your turn to lead by posting a quote you especially liked or any questions you want to raise.  The best part about online book discussion is that you can check in and comment or reply at a time that works for YOU. 

You're free to comment as much as you like or be a "stalker" if you're more shy.  Some weeks you may not get to the reading, but you're still welcome to participate as much as you can.  The main rules will be that we will all show grace and compassion in regard to each other's experiences and opinions.  

You can find the book for sale on Amazon here for around $12.   

Now, (drum roll, please!) I'm grateful that Michelle has agreed to mail a FREE signed copy to one lucky winner.  To be entered into the drawing for the free book, just comment below by 12 midnight on Thursday January 15th indicating your interest in participating.  To have your name entered a second time in the drawing, you can also comment on or like this post on the Wildflowers Facebook page (this will ensure that more followers see the post).  All names will be put into a bowl and the winner will be picked and announced by Friday the 16th. 

I would love your help in spreading the word!  Please share :) and let me know if you have any questions!


This post is linked with Playdates With God and Unforced Rhythms.

18 comments:

  1. Terrific! Please add me to the group. (I don't need a copy - hopefully someone else will sign in here soon and win it!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Not sure if I'm allowed to enter twice... but I'm in! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Why we should believe the Bible

    We should believe the Bible because of the wealth of good evidence that has demonstrated the Bible is historically reliable and divinely inspired. It speaks about:

    • Its hundreds of fulfilled prophecies
    • The Bible's amazing internal harmony
    • The Bible's incredible scientific accuracy and foresight
    • Thousands of archaeological discoveries
    • Numerous details in the Bible that have been corroborated by extrabiblical historical sources
    • And so on

    THE BIBLE IS SCIENTIFICALLY ACCURATE

    For the Bible to be regarded as the inspired word of God, it must be scientifically accurate…since God would certainly know the facts about his creation. A word of caution, however, as we seek to evaluate the claim of scientific accuracy. Over time, science has often discovered new facts that confirmed a revised understanding of the truth, previously unknown. These discoveries have always been consistent with the Bible, however, at times a careful consideration of the words and
    The account of creation (the Bible: 1450 B.C.; science: 1900s). The account of creation as given in the Bible (Genesis 1) is accurate according to the steps understood by science. Written down originally by Moses, they were not fully recognized by science until the 1900s, using modern astronomy, physics, chemistry, paleontology, and geology.


    Time, space and matter had a beginning (the Bible: 1450 B.C.; science: 1916). The Bible’s first words are “in the beginning.” And elsewhere, including the New Testament, there are references to the beginning of time (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1 Corinthians 2:7). In 1915, Albert Einstein’s equations of general relativity proposed a beginning of time, matter and space. Later these equations were confirmed by repeated experiments.

    The first law of thermodynamics (the Bible: 1450 B.C.; science: 1842). The law of conservation of energy indicates that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed (just converted). There are many biblical references to God’s completion (that is, there was no more creation), going as far back as Genesis (2:2-3), and also in several other books (Psalm 148:6; Isaiah 40:26; 2 Peter 3:3-7; Hebrews 4:3-4,10). Joule and Mayer both independently discovered this in the same year (1842), what is now known as the first law of thermodynamics.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The second law of thermodynamics (the Bible: 1000 B.C.; Science: 1850). Commonly known as entropy, this law states that all things progress from a state of order to a state of disorder (within a closed system) without a purposeful input of energy. Common illustrations: things decay, springs unwind, stars burn out, heat dissipates, and materials become mixed over time. There are many references to the principle of entropy in the Bible, for example,

    In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like garment (Psalm 102:25-26).

    Other similar references include Isaiah 51:6; Matthew 24:35; Romans 8:20-22; 1 John 2:17; and Hebrews 12:27. In 1850, Clausius discovered this second law of thermodynamics.

    Circumcision on the eighth day (the Bible: 1450 B.C.; science: 1947). No one really knows for sure why God specifically chose circumcision as the sign of his covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:11). Though it seems like an odd practice, research has indicated that it does have medical value. A study in the mid-1900s showed that Jewish women had a lower rate of cervical cancer. The smegma bacillus has been shown to be a major cause of cervical cancer. It can be easily carried in the foreskin of uncircumcised males and transferred to females through a abrasions of the cervix (as those occurring in childbirth).

    Interestingly, God specified that newborns be circumcised on the eighth day after childbirth (Genesis 17:12). Research shows that infants are particularly susceptible to hemorrhaging from the second day after birth to the fifth. A small cut can be deadly. Vitamin K, necessary for the production of prothrombin (the body’s blood-clotting substance) is not present sufficiently until days five through seven. It skyrockets to 110 percent of normal on day eight, and then levels off. The Bible specifies the best possible day.

    Sterilization (the Bible: 1450 B.C.; science: 1800s). It is easy to take our understanding of germs and disease for granted. However, germs and sterilization were not understood until the time of Joseph Lister (1865), near the end of the Civil War. The Bible required sterilization for many things: infectious disease (Leviticus 13), childbirth (chapter 12), bodily discharges (chapter 15), and handling of the dead (Numbers 19).


    Interesting to note that many of the world’s greatest scientists have been Christians working from within a Christian worldview, including men such as Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, and Sir Isaac Newton. These brilliant men found to be true what many others discovered: The Bible is a book that can be trusted.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Archaeological Evidence


    Archaeologists have discovered substantial support about many
    details of Jesus’ life. Some examples include:

    Indirect Resurrection Evidence

    Evidence that the people in Jesus’ time believed in the resurrection is found on caskets of bones (ossuaries) discovered in a sealed tomb outside Jerusalem in 1945. Coins minted in about A.D. 50 were found inside the caskets, dating the burial within about 20 years of Jesus’ crucifixion. Markings are clearly legible, including several statements reflecting knowledge of Jesus’ ability to overcome death. Example of writings (in Greek) of hope for deceased loved ones include: “Jesus, Help” and “Jesus, Let Him Arise.” The caskets also contain several crosses, clearly marked in charcoal. This is powerful evidence that early Christians believed in Jesus’ ability to triumph over death. It also ties the idea of victory over death to the cross.

    Jesus’ Burial Shroud?

    A burial shroud (Shroud of Turin) is believed by many people to be the actual burial shroud of Jesus (Matthew 27:59; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53). Items supporting its authenticity are:

    1. Test that confirm fiber type and small particles of limestone dust unique to the region.
    2. Confirmation of blood, in wounds precisely as indicated in the accounts of Jesus’ unique execution.
    3. Confirmation of a crucifixion as likely cause of the type of image created: matching a deceased body.
    4. Coins on eyes dated about the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.

    Sir William Ramsay (1852-1916). Sir William Ramsay was, arguably the greatest archaeologist of his day. His archaeological journeys took him to 32 countries, 44 cities, and 9 islands. Throughout some 15 years of intensive study, he concluded that “Luke is a historian of the first rank, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”


    The Dead Sea Scrolls

    Any doubt regarding the accurate transmission of manuscripts was erased in 1947
    with the discovery of hundreds of scrolls buried in caves for nearly 2000 years.
    Many were written before 100 B.C. Comparison of biblical books with recent
    Jewish copies shows virtual no change in words or even letters.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The Trustworthiness of the New Testament

    1 The New Testament has better manuscript evidence than any other ancient book.

    a. There are over 5,000 New Testament manuscripts and portions of manuscripts. By comparison, the majority of classical works have less than 20 manuscripts.

    b. The dates of the New Testament manuscripts are close to the original writings. One Gospel fragment (Ryland’s) dates about 25 years after the Gospel of John and most of the New Testament (Chester Beatty and Bodmer Papyri) from 50-150 years after the originals. Most classical works date from 700 – 1400 years after the originals.

    c. None of the canonical New Testament is lost or missing. By comparison, 107 of Livy’s 142 books of history have been lost and about one half of Tacitus’ 30 books of Annals and Histories is missing.
    2. Good arguments can be given that each of the Gospels was either written by an eyewitness, or significantly influenced by firsthand testimony, as recognized by many contemporary scholars.
    3. Even without proving eyewitness authorship, the Gospels measure up well by normal historical standards used in ancient historiography.
    4. The Gospel are trustworthy sources, as explained by A.M. Hunter
    a. These Christian authors, like their Jewish counterparts, were careful to preserve traditional material.
    b. The Gospels are close to eyewitness sources.
    c. The Gospel authors were honest reporters.
    d. The picture of Jesus presented in the four Gospels is virtually the same (see Archibald M. Hunter, Bible and Gospel, pp. 32-37).
    5. The Gospels and Acts exhibit a specific interest in reporting historical facts, not mythology. This is especially the case when the life of Jesus is reported.
    6. Contemporary historians frequently opposed the application of radical criticism to New Testament studies. According to A.N. Sherwin-White and Michael Grant, such attacks fail at a number of crucial points (see A.N. Sherman-White, Roman Society, pp. 186-193; Grant, Jesus: An Historian Review, pp. 179-184, 199-201).
    a. Numerous ancient works exhibit intentions and methodologies similar to that of the New Testament authors, and yet these ancient works are well accredited as historical works.
    b. There are no ancient writings in the category that radical critics place the Gospels.
    c. New Testament books such as Acts have been largely confirmed by external test of historicity.
    7. The Gospel and Acts were recognized as inspired books almost immediately after being written (see J.B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers).
    a. 1 Timothy 5:18 quotes Luke 10:7 and refers to it as “Scripture.”
    b. Clement of Rome (about AD 95) speaks of the “Gospel” and quotes portions found in all three synoptic Gospels, referring to them as the words of Jesus (Corinthians 13,46).
    c. Ignatius (Smyrnaeans 3) and Polycarp (Philippians 2, 7), both writing about AD 115, refer to verses in the synoptic Gospels as the words of Christ.

    ReplyDelete
  7. 8. Paul’s epistles were also recognized as inspired Scripture almost immediately after being written.
    a. 2 Peter 3:15-16 calls Paul’s epistles “Scripture.”
    b. Clement of Roman (Corinthians 47), Ignatius (Ephesians 10; to Polycarp 5), and Polycarp (Philippians 1,3-4, 6) all refer to Paul’s writings as inspired.

    Ralph Muncaster, (former atheist) in his book: Examine the Evidence, presents extensive evidence to validate the truth-claims of Christianity. He provides compelling arguments from science, biblical prophecy, history, and archaeology. This former skeptic points out that of all religions and philosophies on earth, only one, Christianity is verifiable and testable. He was challenged to honestly investigate the Bible and the facts of modern science. He was stunned. Fact after fact, from biology, history, archaeology, physics, lined up with the Bible’s account!


    Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) Greenleaf, (former Atheist), one of the principle founders of the Harvard Law School, and a world-renowned expert on evidence, originally set out to disprove the biblical testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was certain that a careful examination of the internal witness of the Gospels would dispel all the myths at the heart of Christianity. But this legal scholar came to the conclusion that the witnesses were reliable, and that the resurrection did in fact happen. Being a man of conviction and reason, and in accordance with his conclusions, Greenleaf converted from Agnosticism to Christianity.


    Manuscript Documentation

    The position of Jewish scribe was one of the most demanding and esteemed jobs in biblical times. After training for years, scribes were allowed to practice the profession only after age 30. Often referred to as doctors of the Law, they joined the priests in the teaching of the Law.

    Scripture Copy Rules

    Recording of Holy Scripture was a serious responsibility. So important was exact reproduction that Old Testament scribes were forced to adhere to demanding rules anytime a manuscript was copied:

    1. Scrolls – special paper, ink, and surface preparation required.
    2. Tight specifications – specified column number, 37 letters per column.
    3. Master used – no duplicates of duplicates.
    4. Each letter visually confirmed – no writing of phrases.
    5. Distance between letters checked with thread.
    6. Alphabet – each letter counted and compared to original.
    7. Letters per page counted and compared to master.
    8. Middle letter of scroll verified to be the same as the master.
    9. One mistake – scroll was destroyed (i.e., master scrolls)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Consider the following facts about the Bible:

    First, the Bible is not just one single book. This is a more common misconception than many people realize, especially with people who do not come from a Judeo-Christian background. Rather than being a single book, the Bible is actually a collection of 66 books, which is called the canon of scriptures. These 66 books contain a variety of genres: history, poetry, prophecy, wisdom literature, letters, and apocalyptic just to name a few.

    Second, these 66 books were written by 40 different authors. These authors came from a variety of backgrounds: shepherds, fishermen, doctors, kings, prophets, and others. And most of these authors never knew one another personally.

    Third, these 66 books were written over a period of 1500 years. Yet again, this is another reminder that many of these authors never knew or collaborated with one another in writing these books.

    Fourth, the 66 books of the Bible were written in 3 different languages. In the Bible we have books that were written in the ancient languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic; a reflection of the historical and cultural circumstances in which each of these books were written.

    And finally, these 66 books were written on 3 different continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe . Once again, this is a testament to the varied historical and cultural circumstances of God's people.

    Think about the above realities: 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, on 3 different continents. What's more, this collection of books shares a common storyline - the creation, fall, and redemption of God's people; a common theme - God's universal love for all of humanity; and a common message - salvation is available to all who repent of their sins and
    commit to following God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. In addition to sharing these commonalities, these 66 books contain no historical errors or contradictions. God's word truly is an amazing collection of writings!

    The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, bears the mark of Divine inspiration.


    The Bible Itself Argues Against the Possibility of Its Corruption

    The charge that the Bible has been corrupted, contradicts what the Bible itself teaches. After all, in Isaiah 40:8 we read, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands for ever.” In the New Testament Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”
    (Matthew 24:35).

    The Almighty God who had the power and sovereign control to inspire the Scriptures in the first place is surely going to continue to exercise His power and sovereign control in the preservation of Scripture.







    ReplyDelete
  9. WHY INVESTIGATE EASTER?

    What if there is a God?
    What if there is a divine plan for mankind?
    What if a person’s soul or spirit exists for eternity?
    What if there is a heaven and hell?
    What if the biblical ultimatum of heaven and hell is true?
    What if committing to Jesus is the only answer for heaven?

    If these things are true, then understanding and accepting God’s plan is the single most important thing to discover in life. More important than the next vacation. More important than the next golf game. Even more important than the next paycheck. And our choice regarding that plan will affect us forever. It’s a choice that can bring real joy here on earth. A choice that can mean “no more pain and no more tears” forever or a choice that will lead to eternal horror.

    Would God expect us to accept His plan on faith? Yes and no, because history can never be “proven.” Instead, evidence is the only basis for verifying historical fact. Does evidence exist for Easter resurrection? Absolutely. There is far more evidence for the resurrection than for any other single event in the history of the world.

    Often people don’t embrace a relationship with God because they fail to investigate and understand their beliefs. Some people are taught wrong beliefs from birth, which they never objectively challenge. Some people are misled by individuals who cleverly tamper with facts and tell people what they want to hear. And some people just don’t care. Yet abundant evidence exists for the first Easter and the tremendous message it brings to mankind. Hence, we might reject God out of apathy … or out of pride … or for many other reasons. But we have no basis to reject God for lack of evidence if we take time to seek it. As the Bible says “Men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

    Did Jesus Exist?

    Virtually all major religions, even those opposing Him, acknowledge the existence of Jesus. For hundreds of years, Jesus’ existence was a widely accepted as Abraham Lincoln’s existence is today. Only in relatively recent history have some people challenged it. Possibly in a few thousand years, Mr. Lincoln’s existence may be challenged as well.

    Christian Historical Records

    The magnitude of the Christian record stands far above any record of anyone who has ever lived upon this planet. Existing early manuscripts exceed 24,000. The earliest were written within 25 years of His death. No work of antiquity approaches the Bible’s documentary credibility, including all works we accept as historical fact. Some examples are:

    Early Event Until First
    Major Existing Manuscripts Records Existing Manuscript

    Julius Caesar – Gallic Wars 10 1000 years

    Pliny the Younger – History 7 750 years

    Thucydides – History 8 1300 years

    Herodotus – History 8 1300 years

    Homer – Iliad 643 500 years

    The New Testament 24,000+ 25 years

    ReplyDelete
  10. The vastness of the number of accounts of the resurrection is particularly extraordinary considering that:

    1. Jesus was not in a position of public importance. He was not a king, not a religious leader, nor a general. Relative to Rome, Jesus came from a small, distant town and was a lowly carpenter with a scant three-year ministry. Rome hardly knew of Him until testimony of eyewitnesses later threatened political/religious stability.

    2. The records survived the most intensive eradication effort of all time. Rapidly growing in number,
    Christian witnesses were killed, written records were burned, and anyone professing belief in Christianity was executed. In A.D. 303 an edict was issued to destroy all of the world’s Bibles. People found with Bibles were killed.

    3. There was no printing press, and the world population was low. The number of surviving early
    Manuscripts is absolutely staggering considering they were all hand copied by a far smaller pop-
    ulation base. Only 138 million people existed at the time, the no automatic duplication methods for he printed word. What motivated such extensive work?

    Was the incredible quantity and survival of the Christian record a miracle, or just senseless expansion of a myth? Why haven’t other religions with more prominent leaders, with lifelong ministries, and with less persecution produced similar evidence? Something major happened.


    Proof of Authenticity

    Not surprisingly, critics of the Bible, especially those knowledgeable of the prophecy miracles, suggest that the Bible was changed, altered, and somehow mishandled. Commonly, people claim the Bible was in the control of the Roman Catholic Church, which supposedly had “opportunity and motive” to change Scripture to meet its purpose. Such critics miss some key facts. There are two indisputable sets of records that mankind has in its possession today that were not historically controlled by the Christian church and verify the authenticity of the message contained in the words of the Bible we read today:

    The Septuagint

    Almost 300 years before Christ, the world was becoming so accustomed to Greek that the language of Hebrew was becoming “lost.” It was deemed more important to translate the Bible into a common language than to try to teach everyone Hebrew. A group of 70 elite scholars was assembled to translate the Scriptures into Greek. The result was a document called the Septuagint (meaning “seventy”), compiled around 250 B.C. (Several copies were made by the techniques of the scribes above.) Today, we still have copies of the early translations. The Septuagint message is consistent with the Bible.

    The Dead Sea Scrolls

    Any doubt regarding the accurate transmission of manuscripts was erased in 1947 with the discovery of hundreds of scrolls buried in caves for nearly 2000 years. Many were written before 100 B.C. Comparison of biblical books with recent Jewish copies shows virtual no change in words or even letters.

    Non-Christian Evidence

    Very few written works of anything in history exist from the period of A.D. 30 to 60. All works from A.D. 50-60 are said to fit in bookends only a foot apart. Nero’s killing of Christians in A.D. 64 led to non-Christian writing about Jesus.

    Thallus (circa A.D. 52) – Historical work referenced by Julius Africanus. Explains the darkness at the time of Christ’s death as a solar eclipse. While an eclipse did not occur in that period (pointed out by Julius Africanus), reference to Jesus’ death was stated as a matter of fact.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Josephus (circa A.D. 64-93) – This Jewish historian referenced Jesus, His miracles, His crucifixion, and His disciples. Also referenced are James, “brother of Jesus who was called the Christ,” and John the Baptist.

    Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 64-116) – Writing to dispel rumors that Nero caused the great fire of Rome in A.D. 64, he refers to Christians as the followers of “Christus.” Who “had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus.” The resurrection was called “the pernicious superstition.”

    Pliny the Younger (circa A.D. 112) – As governor of Bithynia (Asia Minor), he requested guidance from Rome regarding the proper test to give Christians before executing them. (If they renounced the faith, cursed Jesus, and worshiped the statue of Emperor Trajan, they were set free.)

    Phlegon (circa A.D. 140) – Referenced by Julius Africanus and Origen – referred to “eclipse,” earthquake, and Jesus’ prophecies.

    Did the Resurrection Occur?

    The crucifixion of Jesus was especially well documented and accepted as fact. The crucial question then becomes, Did Jesus rise from the dead, proving His claim to be God incarnate? Or did something else happen with His body? Or was He never dead at all?

    A key to this issue is the extreme local importance placed on handling this execution. Jesus’ powerful, insightful speaking and many miracles had let the populace to request that He become king. This began to threaten the local political stability of the Romans and the religious power of the Jewish leaders whom Jesus openly criticized. Both the absolute death of Jesus and the protection against a hoax were critical, since Jesus had claimed He would overcome death. Furthermore, He had already raised other people from the dead. As a result, all precautions were taken to secure His corpse (Matthew 27:62-66).

    The Bible implies the cause of Jesus’ death was cardiac arrest, indicated by blood and water from a spear thrust (medical experts confirm this). To secure the body, a Roman guard was placed outside the tomb. Such a guard would have consisted of 16 soldiers, with a disciplined rotation for sleeping at night (every four hours, four would switch). The guards all faced the rigid Roman penalty of crucifixion if they slept outside of the assigned shift or deserted their post. The idea that all guards were asleep, considering the death penalty, is especially unreasonable. To further ensure safekeeping, a two-ton stone [McDowell, Josh and Wilson, Bill. A Ready Defense. San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1990] was rolled in front of the tomb with Pontius Pilate’s seal on it. Breaking the seal without the official Roman guard’s approval meant crucifixion upside down. The central issue, unexplainable by Jewish leaders, especially in light of the many precautions, is…

    What happened to Jesus’ corpse if He did not rise from the dead as indicated in the Gospel accounts?

    The official explanation is that the disciples stole the body while the guards were asleep (with the priests protecting the guards from the governor). This story was necessary only because no one could produce a dead body of Jesus, which would have stopped the resurrection story forever. Is a theft of Jesus’ body even remotely possible given that:

    1. All 16 guards would have had to risk the penalty of crucifixion by sleeping while on duty of deserting. Surely at least one guard would be awake.
    2. The disciples were in a state of shock, fear, and disarray, having seen their Master crucified. Is it reasonable to think they quickly created a brilliant plan and flawlessly executed it on the Sabbath day of rest?
    3. What possible motive could the disciples have? If Jesus was not the Son of God as He claimed, stealing the body would create a lie with no apparent benefit, and death for no purpose for the disciples.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Analysis of Other Explanations

    Was Jesus really dead? Crucifixion was more routine and was a longer, more visibly excruciating death than the electric chair is today. Is it likely that such professional executioners would not know death? The final spear thrust to the heart area was to ensure death. For such a political threat, they would be certain. If Jesus was not dead, what are the chances that a barely living person could move a two-ton rock from the inside of a tomb and escape a full Roman Guard unnoticed?

    Was the body stolen at night? Recognizing that no flashlights nor infrared sensors were available then, is it likely that a band of scared disciples carrying torches could bypass a full Roman guard, move a two-ton rock, and not be noticed? Furthermore, the Sabbath greatly limited movement. And again, for what motive?

    Eyewitnesses to the Truth Died to Tell the Story

    Martyrdom for a belief is not unique. But what kind of person would die for a known lie? Someone insane? Would all the disciples face hardship and death for a known lie? The disciples were with Jesus constantly for three years. They would certainly know the truth of the resurrection. Lying would serve no purpose since Jesus’ ministry would then be moot. Yet historical records and reports about the disciples indicated they all died cruel deaths for their beliefs (except John). James was stoned, Peter was crucified upside down, Paul was beheaded, Thaddaeus was killed with arrows, Matthew and James (Zebedee) faced sword deaths, and other believers were crucified.

    The Prophecies – Statistical “Proof”

    Although history can never be “proven,” enormous statistical probability is often viewed as proof by scientists and mathematicians. From a statistical viewpoint, God’s involvement in the life of Jesus is “certain.”

    As indicated earlier, the prophecies contained in the Old Testament were written long before Jesus. The Dead Sea Scrolls provided irrefutable evidence that these prophecies were not tampered with over the centuries. Of the 469 prophecies contained in the Old Testament that would have been fulfilled, 467 have been verified (we have no record of fulfillment of two). Perhaps the most fascinating prophecies are those about Jesus.

    Who Jesus’ Ancestors in Prophecy:

    David 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Jeremiah 23:5
    Jesse Isaiah 11
    Judah Isaiah 11
    Jacob Genesis 35:10-12; Numbers 24:17
    Isaac Genesis 17:16; 21:12
    Abraham Genesis 12:3; 22:18
    Shem Genesis 9:26,27; 10

    What
    Virgin Birth Isaiah 7:14
    Birth of eternal Savior Isaiah 9:6,7
    Savior to Jews and Gentiles Isaiah 49:6
    Miracle worker Isaiah 29:18; 35:5,6
    Rejection by Jews Isaiah 53:1-3, Psalm 118:22 Matthew 21:42-46

    When
    Prophecy of the Date of Palm Sunday Daniel 9:20-27 – Although complex until understood,
    This prophecy made about 535 B.C. predicted Jesus’ final
    entry into Jerusalem to the day. The prophecy states:

    ReplyDelete
  13. Daniel’s “Seventy Sevens”

     69 periods of 7 (years) will pass from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the “Anointed One” (Messiah, in Hebrew). This dates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

     After that time the Anointed One will be cut off (Hebrew: yikaret, meaning a sudden, violent end – crucifixion).

     And after that time the city and the temple will be destroyed.

    Prophecy: Daniel, a Hebrew, received the prophetic revelation in 535 B.C. Using the Hebrew definition of a year (360 days) we find:
    69 times 7 years = 173,880 days

    The decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given to Artaxerxes on March 14, 445 B.C. (first day of Nisan that year – Nehemiah 2:1-6).

    Using the actual 365-day calendar, along with adjustments for leap years and the final scientific adjustment (leap year is dropped every 128 years), we find this number of days brings us precisely to:

    April 6, A.D. 32

    History: Jesus’ ministry began in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1), whose reign began in A.D. 14. A chronological analysis of Jesus’ ministry shows three years leading up to the final week, in A.D. 32.

    The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, confirms the Sunday before Passover that year to be …

    April 6, A.D. 32

    Other prophecy elements were fulfilled as well:
    Jesus was crucified three and a half days later.
    The Romans destroyed the city and temple in A.D. 70.

    Precise City of Jesus’ Birth The Bible (Micah 5:2) specified that Jesus would be born
    Bethlehem, in Ephrathah.

    Other Prophecies

     King on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)
     Suffering, rejected (Isaiah 53:1-3)
     Crucified, pierced (Psalm 22:16)
     Cast lots for clothing (Psalm 22:18)
     No bones broken (Psalm 22:17)
     Given gall and wine (Psalm 69:20-22)
     Pierced with a spear (Zechariah 12:10)
     Posterity to serve Him (Psalm 22:30)
     Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Amazing Prophecy
    Statistics experts estimate the probability of all these prophecies coming true in any one man is about one
    Chance in 10 exp99 , less than the odds of correctly selecting one electron out of all the matter in the universe, or essentially zero without divine intervention.

    Jesus’ Own Prophecies
    The many prophecies made by Jesus Himself are important because:

    1. Perfect accuracy verifies the prophecy was “from God” (Deuteronomy 18:19-22).
    2. Since He claimed to be the Messiah and the Son of God, it verifies the claims of Jesus Christ.

    Prophecy from Jesus includes several immediately verified by people around Him [e.g., Jesus told a
    Centurion his servant would be healed, Matthew 8:5-13]. Other prophecies refer to judgment, to heaven, or the end of the world. Jesus told His disciples that His precise prophecy of His death and resurrection was so that when it happened, they would believe He was the Messiah (John 13:19). The Jews realized that only God knows the future.

    The Resurrection Prophecies of Jesus

    1. That He would be betrayed (Matthew 26:21; Mark 14:17-21; Luke 22:21,22)
    2. Who would betray Him
    3. When He would be betrayed
    4. That His disciples would desert Him
    5. That Peter would disown Him three times (Matthew 26:33,34; Mark 14:29,30; Luke 22:31-34)
    6. That He would be crucified (John 3:14-16; 12:32-34)
    7. That He would die and then be resurrected:
     First prediction (Matthew 16:21-28; Mark 8:31-9:1; Luke 9:21-27)
     Second prediction (Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-34)
     Third prediction (Matthew 26:2-5; Mark 14:1-9)
    8. That on the third day He would rise from the dead
    9. That He would return from death to meet the disciples in Galilee (Matthew 26:32)


    Lee Strobel ( In the ’80s), Lee’s wife, Leslie, became a Christian and when Lee found out, he was furious, being a staunch atheist and a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Lee set out to debunk the resurrection of Christ so that he could prove to Leslie that she was being misled. But by applying his investigative skills and trying to disprove the biblical accounts of Jesus, he instead found that it was true, and as a result, he came to faith in Jesus Christ. Lee built a solid, reasonable case for Christ.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Was the Resurrection Physical?

    Some people (and even organizations) have tried to minimize or even disclaim Christ’s physical resurrection. Why? Perhaps because it undermines Jesus’ claims to deity. A prophet had to be 100 percent accurate to be a prophet of God, and clearly Jesus indicated that He would rise again physically from the dead (John 2:19-22). Or perhaps people want to diminish the role and power of Jesus. The facts clearly state that the resurrection was both real and physical.

    The resurrection was a highly significant event to Jews in the area. The Sadducees and Pharisees debated fiercely over the concept of resurrection long before Jesus. After the first Easter, people argued over it, people imprisoned others for it, people even died for it. In the days immediately following the Resurrection there was no doubt that many people believed that Jesus appeared again in a physical form.

    The accounts recorded in the New Testament stood the test of eyewitness examination. They could have easily been challenged by contemporaries. In the earliest days, there is no record of anyone claiming Jesus was an apparition (ghost) or a mass hallucination or any other sort of “mere spirit being.” For the resurrection to have any meaningful significance, it had to be a resurrection of the body, as Christ Himself indicated. Several references support this.

    Eating, Drinking, Touching

    Can a spirit eat? Drink? Touch? There is no historical evidence of any spirit-form taking on human functions unless it became human first (e.g., angels becoming human). Jesus, on the other hand, specifically made a point of verifying His physical existence by eating and drinking after the resurrection (Luke 24:37-43).

    Can a spirit or hallucination be touched or felt? Thomas, the most doubting of the disciples, certainly believed that touching was a primary criterion for “proof.” Jesus specifically appeared to Thomas (and the others), challenging him to see the nail prints in His hands and touch His side (John 20:25-28).


    How Can We Ensure the Right Relationship to Go to Heaven?

    When Jesus said not all who use His name will enter heaven (Matthew 7:21-23), He was referring to people who think using Christ’s name along with rituals and rules is the key to heaven. A relationship with God is not based on rituals or rules. It’s based on grace, forgiveness, and the right relationship.

    How to Have a Personal Relationship with God

    1. Believe that God exists and that He came to earth in the human form of Jesus Christ (John 3:16;
    Romans 10:9).
    2. Accepts God’s free forgiveness of sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Ephesians
    2:8-10; 1:7,8).
    3. Switch to God’s plan for life (1 Peter 1:21-23; Ephesians 2:1-5).
    4. Express desire for Christ to be Director of your life (Matthew 7:21-27; 1 John 4:15).

    Then What?

    People who sincerely take the preceding steps automatically become members of God’s family of believers. A new world of freedom and strength is then available through prayer and obedience to God’s will. New believers also can build their relationship with God by taking the following steps:

     Find a Bible-based church that you like, and attend regularly.
     Try to set aside some time each day to pray and read the Bible.
     Locate other Christians to spend time with on a regular basis.

    ReplyDelete
  16. EVIDENCE FOR GOD


    Lecture notes by CHARLIE H. CAMPBELL
    Director of The Always Be Ready Apologetics Ministry

    THE CANON OF SCRIPTURE

    The Bible is a book unlike any other book. It is a compilation of 66 different books written by more than 40 different authors, over a period of 1,500 years, on three different continents, in three different languages.

    Over and over the authors of the Bible claim to be recording events and writing words inspired by God Himself (2 Timothy 3:16). And of course, the Bible reveals to us very plainly…

    • God exists
    • What He is like
    • And what His will is for our lives

    SKEPTIC: “Charlie, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Bible is true.”

    You're right. But don't misunderstand me. I'm not asking you to believe the Bible "because it says so." I want you to believe the Bible because of the wealth of good evidence that has demonstrated the Bible is historically reliable and divinely inspired. I'm talking about:

    • Its hundreds of fulfilled prophecies
    • The Bible's amazing internal harmony
    • The Bible's incredible scientific accuracy and foresight
    • Thousands of archaeological discoveries
    • Numerous details in the Bible that have been corroborated by extrabiblical historical sources
    • And so on



    Another reason you can be confident God exists is…

    5. CHRIST

    Many who doubt the existence of God have reassured themselves with the thought, “If God wanted us to believe in Him, He would appear to us.” Well, we have to be careful when we talk about wanting God to appear to us. If He were to do that in all His glory, while we were in our sinful fallen condition, the Bible says we would not live through the experience (Exodus 33:20, 1 Timothy 6:15-16, John 1:18) . But what if God was to veil His glory and appear to mankind in the form of a man, someone mankind could really relate with? What kind of a man would God be?

    Someone wisely pointed out that, “We would expect Him to be sinless; we would expect him to be holy; we would expect His words to be the greatest words ever spoken; we would expect Him to exert a profound power over human personality; we would expect Him to perform supernatural doings; and we would expect Him to manifest the love of God.” [John MacArthur summarizing a teaching by Bernard Ramm.]

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hmmm. Has anyone ever come on the world’s scene, who claimed to be God and who met all of those criteria? Ahh, of all the human beings who have ever lived, Jesus Christ alone met these criteria. When someone says, “If God wanted us to believe in Him, He would appear to us,” I like to tell them that is what God has already done.

    The Bible tells us that Jesus was God in human flesh (Isaiah 9:6, Colossians 2:9, John 20:28) and Jesus Himself made that clear in verses like John 5:18 and John 8:58.

    And Jesus didn’t just claim to be God. Anybody can do that. So Jesus proved that He was God by doing things that only God can do:

    • He opened the eyes of the blind
    • He healed the lame
    • He raised the dead
    • He walked on water
    • He lived a sinless life
    • He rose from the grave three days after He was put to death
    • And forty days later, He ascended visibly into Heaven

    These are just a few of the miracles the disciples recorded for us in the New Testament that help substantiate Jesus’ claims to deity.

    SKEPTIC: “Hold on here a second Charlie!
    That doesn’t mean that what the disciples said about Him was actually true. Maybe they were making up the whole story about His resurrection!”

    Well, I’m not sure what their motivation would have been for doing that. Liars lie to get out of trouble or gain some type of advantage or benefit. But what the early Christians said about Jesus, didn’t get them out of trouble or result in any kind of benefit. The things they said and wrote about Jesus got them in trouble. What they received was rejection, persecution, torture, and martyrdom. Hardly a list of perks! That, to me, is compelling evidence these men were telling the truth about Jesus.

    So, we've considered five lines of evidence for the existence of God...

    1. The Cosmos
    2. The Conditions for Life
    3. The Complexity of Life
    4. The Canon of Scripture
    5. The Christ

    Friends, this evidence from cosmology, biology, philosophy, history, and the Bible is a reminder that there is a God! If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, you haven’t followed after cleverly devised tales. Your faith isn’t grounded in wishful thinking. Your faith is grounded in the truth. There is good evidence that the God of the Bible is actually there.

    ReplyDelete
  18. What good news this is!
    You are not part of some gigantic cosmic accident! You are not just some conglomeration of cells walking around without meaning on a random planet in a purposeless universe. You’re not the result of millions of years of evolution. No. You are one of God’s creations. He formed you in your mother’s womb. The Bible says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and that God has a purpose for your existence. Do you know that? God loves you! And He desires to have a close, intimate, personal relationship with each one of you.

    Do you have that kind of a relationship with God? You can.
    Two thousand years ago Jesus (God in the flesh) died on that cruel wooden Roman cross to take the punishment for your sins so that you could be forgiven, saved from eternity in Hell, and come to experience the greatest relationship you’ll ever know:


    Knowing God personally, not only in this life
    but throughout eternity.


    Jesus rose from the grave on the third day and today He is offering mankind the "free gift" (Romans 6:23) of salvation and everlasting life for those who will turn from their sins and place their faith in Him.

    I exhort you friend to do that if you never have. A day of judgment is coming. You can stand before God still in your sins or forgiven. Standing before God still in your sins will result in condemnation and eternity in Hell. Being forgiven will result in everlasting life in paradise. The choice is yours. The ball is in your court. God made the first move. Now it's your turn. Place your faith in Jesus, and receive Him as your personal Lord and Savior!

    ReplyDelete