From Jim McGuiggan.... Abrahamic Community (2)

Abrahamic Community (2)

Introduction to the Nature and Identity of the Abrahamic Community
The Abrahamic community is one given a destiny by God. The love which expressed itself in creating the Abrahamic community was not exhausted by that creation and choice, it was a choice of love on behalf of all humanity. It was God's intention concerning Abraham and his children that, 'all people of the earth will be blessed through you' (Genesis 12:3; see 18:18; 22:18; 26:4).
God didn't lift Abraham out of the world and into heaven when he chose him. He called him out of the world that he might be a witness for God in and for the world.
For the nation to lose sight of this and to become self-centered was (1) to deny in practice the profound breadth, depth and grandeur of the love of Yahweh which embraced all humanity in every age and, (2) to lose sight of their own destiny as the bearers of this love to humanity.
The Abrahamic community is one with a specific ethical lifestyle.
What we have already said about the nature of the community has profound consequences for the way it sees and lives its life.
It doesn't operate on the basis of autonomous reason or rational proposals but as a result of how God (who later reveals himself as Yahweh) moved toward them.
It doesn't operate from a basis of self-sufficiency but complete dependence;
It doesn't operate from a basis of spelled out certainties but trust, even in the face of uncertainty;
It doesn't operate from a basis of earning God's affection but assurance;
It doesn't operate from a basis of self-centeredness but mission;
It doesn't operate from a basis of individualism but community. 
Genesis 18:19 says this, 'For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.'
One reason for the call (18:19) was that there might be a people who would 'keep the way of the Lord'. The way of the Lord is life in keeping with the character of God as it would show itself if lived out in terms of a redeemed human community. The righteousness and justice of this new community was to be a God-imitating righteousness and justice.
The continuity between Israel and Abraham shows that Gen 18.19 has a direct bearing on the Mosaic covenantal law which must then reflect God's intentions as expressed here. Their social and political life (that is, their life as 'citizens' and fellow humans within the parameters of the Mosaic law) was to be one of 'God-imitating righteousness and justice' in keeping with this text. In other words, what we see fleshed out in detail in the Mosaic covenant is the development of 'the way of the Lord' here.
But, it was such a justice and righteousness within an elect community! The justice and righteousness of Israel was peculiarly shaped and so witnessed to something which went beyond the justice and righteousness of outsiders. It bore witness to Yahweh and all that that would involve.
Their ethics were theological as well as social. The Abrahamic community did not do justice and righteousness because everyone expected it of them, or because everybody else was just and righteous, or because some god or other called for it, or because it was what enlightened self-interest would dictate, or because it was what 'practical reason' would lead them to. Their total lives were lived out in light of Yahweh's dealings with them! I judge this truth to be of fundamental importance and should keep us from 'secularizing' justice and righteousness.
Israel was called out of Egypt and the kind of society they became was radically different from Egyptian society. Israel's Lord was altogether different from Pharaoh, the Lord of Egypt who used cunning, murder plots and cruelty to further his oppressive ends. The gods of Egypt as understood and proclaimed by the Egyptian hierarchy were the foundation of Egyptian society and the foundation and shape of Israelite society took it's rise from the character and purposes of Yahweh which is why we have Leviticus 18:1-5.
The Abrahamic community had certain indelible marks of its identity.
Putting together what has been said up to this point, let me spell out what that means in some specific areas.
The boundaries of the Abrahamic community were determined by Yahweh alone;
Not all physical kin of Abraham were in the elect community;
The visible forms of the Abrahamic community were variable through the ages;
There has always been only one Abrahamic community.
God didn't choose Melchizedek in creating the new Community. Nor did he choose Abraham's father, uncle or nephew. That was the Lord's sovereign right. As Paul would put it in Galatians 3:16, God didn't say, 'and to seeds,' so making a covenant with many people (he spoke to Abraham alone), he did say to Abraham 'and to your seed' ('your,' that is, Abraham's seed, which came to fullness in Jesus Christ).
And while God cared for Lot, Ishmael and Esau (out of his grace he blessed them richly), they were excluded from the covenanted community as the line through which God would bless humanity in Jesus Christ. So although they were Abraham's physical kin, they and their peoples (Arabs, Edomites, Ammonites and Moabites) were excluded. Paul makes this point in Romans 9:6-8.
The Community as Abraham, Isaac & Jacob was a waiting, wandering, dependent, trusting (though weak at times), called community. It multiplied in Egypt while it waited, a dependent, vulnerable, persecuted and pleading community. It was rescued and nationalized at Sinai, was purged, instructed and at the same time sustained in the Wilderness. Its social shape changed, its community structure changed and new laws came in to shape, convict, protect and enlighten it. It became a settled people, a divided people, a faithless people and an exiled people. Their life as a called community was sustained by the 'righteous remnant' who were God's gift to the nation at large (Isaiah 42:6; 49:8 messianic also).
In NT times, the Abrahamic community was peopled by trusting Jews and Gentiles who turned to the Jewish Messiah, who epitomized all that 'Abraham's seed' was intended to mean. In becoming Christ's who was Abraham's seed, believing Jews and Gentiles became Abraham's seed and heirs.
Down through the centuries there has been the true Abrahamic community even within the physical descendants of Abraham through Jacob.
Those Jews who rejected the Messiah (Abraham's seed) were 'cut off from among his people' (Acts 3:22-23).
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

The Passion and Antisemitism: Who Murdered Jesus? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Passion and Antisemitism: Who Murdered Jesus?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The furor surrounding Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ preceded by many months the release of the movie on February 25. The official Web site states: “Passion is a vivid depiction of the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ’s life” (Passion Web site). Special emphasis is placed on the physical suffering Christ endured. Throughout the film, the language spoken is the first-century Jewish language, Aramaic, except when the Romans speak their language, i.e., Latin (Novak, 2003). Gibson, who both produced and directed the film, sank $25 million of his own money into the venture.
Much of the stir over the film stems from the role of the Jews in their involvement in Christ’s crucifixion. In fact, outcries of “anti-Semitism” have been vociferous, especially from representatives of the Anti-Defamation League. Their contention is that Jews are depicted in the film as “bloodthirsty, sadistic, money-hungry enemies of God” who are portrayed as “the ones responsible for the decision to crucify Jesus” (as quoted in Hudson, 2003; cf. Zoll, 2003). The fear is that the film will fuel hatred and bigotry against Jews. A committee of nine Jewish and Catholic scholars unanimously found the film to project a uniformly negative picture of Jews (“ADL and Mel…”). The Vatican early avoided offering an endorsement of the film by declining to make an official statement (“Vatican Has Not…”; cf. “Mel Gibson’s…”). This action is to be expected in view of the conciliatory tone manifested by Vatican II (Abbott, 1955, pp. 663-667). Even Twentieth Century Fox decided not to participate in the distribution of the film (“20th Decides…”; cf. “Legislator Tries…”; O’Reilly…”).
Separate from the controversy generated by Gibson’s film, the more central issue concerns to what extent the Jewish generation of the first century contributed to, or participated in, the death of Christ. If the New Testament is the verbally inspired Word of God, then it is an accurate and reliable report of the facts, and its depiction of the details surrounding the crucifixion are normative and final. That being the case, how does the New Testament represent the role of the Jews in the death of Christ?
A great many verses allude to the role played by the Jews, especially the leadership, in the death of Jesus. For some time prior to the crucifixion, the Jewish authorities were determined to oppose Jesus. This persecution was aimed at achieving His death:
So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff (Luke 4:28-30, emp. added).
Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God (John 5:18-19, emp. added).
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, becausethe Jews sought to kill Him… “Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” (John 7:1-2,19, emp. added).
“I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by (John 8:37-41,59, emp. added).
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him…. Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand (John 10:31-32,39, emp. added).
Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death…. Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him (John 11:53, 57, emp. added).
And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him (Luke 19:47-48, emp. added).
And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people (Luke 22:2, emp. added).
Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him (Matthew 26:3-4, emp. added).
These (and many other) verses demonstrate unquestionable participation of the Jews in bringing about the death of Jesus. One still can hear the mournful tones of Jesus Himself, in His sadness over the Jews rejecting Him: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:37-39). He was referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and the demise of the Jewish commonwealth at the hands of the Romans in A.D. 70. Read carefully His unmistakable allusion to the reason for this holocaustic event:
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).
He clearly attributed their national demise to their stubborn rejection of Him as the predicted Messiah, Savior, and King.
Does the Bible, then, indicate that a large percentage, perhaps even a majority, of the Jews of first century Palestine was “collectively guilty” for the death of Jesus? The inspired evidence suggests so. Listen carefully to the apostle Paul’s assessment, keeping in mind that he, himself, was a Jew—in fact, “a Hebrew of the Hebrews” (Philippians 3:5; cf. Acts 22:3; Romans 11:1; 2 Corinthians 11:22). Speaking to Thessalonian Christians, he wrote:
For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, emp. added).
This same apostle Paul met with constant resistance from fellow Jews. After he spoke at the Jewish synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, a crowd of people that consisted of nearly the whole city gathered to hear him expound the Word of God. Notice the reaction of the Jews in the crowd:
But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles….” But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region (Acts 13:45-46,50-51).
Paul met with the same resistance from the general Jewish public that Jesus encountered—so much so that he wrote to Gentiles concerning Jews: “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake” (Romans 11:28). He meant that the majority of the Jews had rejected Christ and Christianity. Only a “remnant” (Romans 11:5), i.e., a small minority, embraced Christ.
What role did the Romans play in the death of Christ? It certainly is true that Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross. First-century Palestine was under the jurisdiction of Rome. Though Rome permitted the Jews to retain a king in Judea (Herod), the Jews were subject to Roman law in legal matters. In order to achieve the execution of Jesus, the Jews had to appeal to the Roman authorities for permission (John 18:31). A simple reading of the verses that pertain to Jewish attempts to acquire this permission for the execution are clear in their depiction of Roman reluctance in the matter. Pilate, the governing procurator in Jerusalem, sought literally to quell and diffuse the Jewish efforts to kill Jesus. He called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and stated plainly to them:
“You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. I will therefore chastise Him and release Him” (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast). And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas”—who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder. Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.” But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will (Luke 23:14-25).
It is difficult to conceptualize the level of hostility possessed by the Jewish hierarchy, and even by a segment of the Jewish population, toward a man who had done nothing worthy of such hatred. It is incredible to think that they would clamor for the release of a known murderer and insurrectionist, rather than allow the release of Jesus. Yes, the Roman authority was complicit in the death of Jesus. But Pilate would have had no interest in pursuing the matter if the Jewish leaders and crowd had not pressed for it. In fact, he went to great lengths to perform a symbolic ceremony in order to communicate the fact that he was not responsible for Jesus’ death. He announced to the multitude: “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it” (Matthew 27:24). Technically, the Romans cannot rightly be said to be ultimately responsible. If the Jews had not pressed the matter, Pilate never would have conceded to having Him executed. The apostle Peter made this point very clear by placing the blame for the crucifixion of Jesus squarely on the shoulders of Jerusalem Jews:
Men of Israel…the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses (Acts 3:12-16, emp. added).
Notice that even though the Romans administered the actual crucifixion, Peter pointedly stated to his Jewish audience, not only that Pilate wanted to release Jesus, but that the Jews (“you”)—not the Romans—“killed the Prince of life.”
Does God lay the blame for the death of Christ on the Jews as an ethnic group? Of course not. Though the generation of Jews who were contemporary to Jesus cried out to Pilate, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25, emp. added), it remains a biblical fact that “the son shall not bear the guilt of the father” (Ezekiel 18:20). A majority of a particular ethnic group in a particular geographical locale at a particular moment in history may band together and act in concert to perpetrate a social injustice. But such an action does not indict all individuals everywhere who share that ethnicity. “For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11), and neither should there be with any of us.
In fact, the New Testament teaches that ethnicity should have nothing to do with the practice of the Christian religion—which includes how we see ourselves, as well as how we treat others. Listen carefully to Paul’s declarations on the subject: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham's seed” (Galatians 3:28-29, emp. added). Jesus obliterated the ethnic distinction between Jew and non-Jew:
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (Ephesians 2:14-17).
In the higher sense, neither the Jews nor the Romans crucified Jesus. Oh, they were all complicit, including Judas Iscariot. But so were we. Every accountable human being who has ever lived or ever will live has committed sin that necessitated the death of Christ—if atonement was to be made so that sin could be forgiven. Since Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2), every sinner is responsible for His death. But that being said, the Bible is equally clear that in reality, Jesus laid down His own life for humanity: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep…. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:11,17-18; cf. Galatians 1:4; 2:20; Ephesians 5:2; 1 John 3:16). Of course, the fact that Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself on the behalf of humanity does not alter the fact that it still required human beings, in this case first-century Jews, exercising their own free will to kill Him. A good summary passage on this matter is Acts 4:27-28—“for of a truth in this city against thy holy Servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy council foreordained to come to pass.”


The movie is, indeed, graphic. Despite various inaccuracies and additions that usually come with an attempt to transfer a biblical narrative to the screen, The Passion of the Christ nevertheless does a credible job of reenacting the excruciating torment that Jesus endured by undergoing Roman scourging and crucifixion. The film fosters a renewed appreciation of the suffering that Jesus subjected Himself to in behalf of sinful humanity.
Anti-Semitism is sinful and unchristian. Those who crucified Jesus are to be pitied. Even Jesus said concerning them: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). But we need not deny or rewrite history in the process. We now live in a post-Christian culture. If Gibson would have produced a movie depicting Jesus as a homosexual, the liberal, “politically correct,” anti-Christian forces would have been the first to defend the undertaking under the guise of “artistic license,” “free speech,” and “creativity.” But dare to venture into spiritual reality by showing the historicity of sinful man mistreating the Son of God, and the champions of moral degradation and hedonism raise angry, bitter voices of protest. The irony of the ages is—He died even for them.


Abbott, Walter, ed. (1966), The Documents of Vatican II (New York, NY: America Press).
“ADL and Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion,’ ” [On-line], URL: http://www.adl.org/interfaith/gibson_qa.asp.
Hudson, Deal (2003), “The Gospel according to Braveheart,” The Spectator, [On-line], URL: http://www.spectator.co.uk/article.php3?table=old&section=current&issue= 2003-09-20&id=3427&searchText=.
“Legislator Tries to Censor Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion,’ ” [On-line], URL: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2003/8/27/124709.shtml.
“Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion’ Makes Waves,” [On-line], URL: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/08/08/entertainment/main567445.shtml.
Novak, Michael (2003), “Passion Play,” The Weekly Standard, [On-line], URL: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/014ziqma.asp.
“O’Reilly: Elite Media out to Destroy Mel Gibson,” [On-line], URL: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2003/9/15/223513.shtml.
Passion Web site, [On-line], URL: http://www.passion-movie.com/english/index.html.
“20th Decides Against Distributing Gibson’s ‘The Passion,’ ” [On-line], URL: http://www.imdb.com/SB?20030829#3.
“Vatican Has Not Taken A Position on Gibson’s Film ‘The Passion,’ Top Cardinal Assures ADL,” [On-line], URL: http://www.adl.org/PresRele/VaticanJewish_96/4355_96.htm.
Zoll, Rachel (2003), “Jewish Civil Rights Leader Says Actor Mel Gibson Espouses Anti-Semitic Views,” [On-line], URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2003/09/19/ national1505EDT0626.DTL.

From Mark Copeland... The Historical Case For Creation

                        "THE CASE FOR CREATION"

                    The Historical Case For Creation


1. In this series, we are have briefly considered...
   a. The Biblical Case For Creation
   b. The Philosophical Case For Creation
   c. The Scientific Case For Creation

2. Now we shall consider The Historical Case For Creation...
   a. Which examines historical evidence for the resurrection of 
   b. Then considers the implication of the resurrection to the 
                                              issue of creation

[So we begin by first considering...]


      1. Only the most ignorant or prejudiced skeptic would question this fact
      2. Because unbiased sources attest to the historicity of Jesus
         a. Roman historians
            1) Tacitus (112 A.D.) in his "Annals"
            2) Pliny the Younger (112 A.D.) in his letter to the emperor Trajan
            3) Seutonius (120 A.D.), a court official under Hadrian
         b. Jewish sources, while denying His deity, attest to His historicity
            1) Flavius Josephus (b. 37 A.D.), Jewish historian makes
               several references to Jesus
            2) The Talmud (books of Jewish law) speak frequently of Jesus
         c. Samaritan historian, Thallus (52 A.D.), tried to explain the
            darkness at the crucifixion
      3. So overwhelming is the evidence, even atheistic historians
         admit Jesus lived
         a. "One is obliged to say, 'Here was a man. This part of the
            tale could not have been invented.'" - H. G. Wells, Outline Of History
         b. Will Durant spent two chapters on Jesus in his book, The
            Story Of Our Civilization
      -- Fact #1:  Jesus actually lived as a person of history

      1. Its authors claim to write as historians or as eyewitnesses to real events
         a. Luke, the physician
            1) His gospel (Luke) and history of the early church (Acts)
               compose over a third of the New Testament
            2) He wrote as one describing historical events - Lk 2:1-4; Ac 1:1-3
         b. John, the beloved disciple
            1) His gospel (John) was written as an eyewitness account
               - Jn 20:30-31; 21:24-25
            2) In his epistle (1st John), he claimed to be an eyewitness- 1Jn 1:1-4
         c. Paul, the Jewish rabbi
            1) Half of the books of the New Testament are his personalletters
            2) He claimed to have been an eyewitness, along with others- 1Co 15:3-8
      2. As a historical document, it's evidence is remarkable!
         a. Written soon after the events it records
            1) "In my opinion, every book of the New Testament was
               written between the forties and eighties of the First
               Century A.D." - Nelson Glueck, former president of the
               Jewish Theological Seminary in the Hebrew Union College
               in Cincinnati, and renowned Jewish archaeologist
            2) "We can already say emphatically that there is no longer
               any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament
               after 80 A.D." - W. F. Albright, Biblical archaeologist
         b. Noted for historical accuracy in areas that can be tested
            1) "It may be stated categorically that no archaeological
               discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference."- Glueck, ibid.
            2) "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are
               his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of
               the true historic sense...in short, this author should be
               placed along with the greatest of historians." - Sir William Ramsay
         c. Manuscript attestation for the New Testament unsurpassed
            1) In the number of copies for the purpose of comparison
               a) Over 4,000 Greek manuscripts, 13,000 copies of
                  portions of the New Testament
               b) Contrast that with other historical documents
                  (Caesar's Gallic Wars, only 10 Greek manuscripts;
                  Annals of Tacitus, 2; Livy, 20; Plato, 7; Sophocles,100)
            2) In the time between the originals and earliest copies
               a) Fragments exist that are within 50-100 years; complete
                  copies that are within 300-400 years after the
                  originals were written
               b) Compare this with manuscripts of other classical histories
                  1/ Histories of Thucydides - 1300 years
                  2/ Histories of Herodotus - 1350 years
                  3/ Caesar's Gallic War  - 950 years
                  4/ Roman History of Livy - 350 years (the earliest
                     copy is only a fragment)
                  5/ Histories of Tacitus - 750 years
                  6/ Annals of Tacitus - 950 years (there are only two manuscripts)
         d. Variances between the ancient copies are minuscule
            1) Only 1/2 of one percent is in question (compared to 5
               percent for the Iliad)
            2) Even then, it can be stated:  "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 is this the
               case with the New Testament." - Sir Frederick Kenyon,
               authority in the field of New Testament textual criticism
      3. "The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much
         greater than the evidence for many writings of classical
         authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of
         questioning. And if the New Testament were a collection of
         secular writings, their authenticity would generally be as
         beyond all doubt." - F. F. Bruce
      -- Fact #2:  The reliability of the New Testament as a historical
         document is very strong

      1. Demonstrated by the nature of their testimony
         a. Their testimony appealed to empirical evidence
            1) Evidence derived from experiment and observation rather than theory
            2) For forty days they were given infallible proofs - Ac 1:3
            3) They ate and drank with Jesus - Ac 10:41
            4) They saw, heard, and touched Him - Jn 20:24-28; 1Jn 1:1-2
         b. There is no way they could have been deceived or deluded
            1) If all they had were individual dreams, visions, or
            2) But they testified that Jesus appeared to them in groups
               as well as to individuals
      2. Demonstrated by their transformation
         a. Prior to the resurrection, Jesus' disciples were afraid and without hope
            1) They fled at his arrest - Mk 14:50
            2) Peter cowardly denied Him three times - Mk 14:66-72
            3) The women mourned His crucifixion - Lk 23:27
            4) After His death, the disciples were sad - Lk 24:13-17
            5) After His death, the disciples hid behind closed doors,
               for fear of the Jews - Jn 20:19
         b. After the resurrection, they fearlessly praised God and proclaimed Jesus!
            1) Praising God in the temple - Lk 24:52-53
            2) Proclaiming Christ, despite persecution - Ac 5:28-32, 41-42
         c. This transformation in their lives is strong evidence for
            the resurrection, as admitted by an Orthodox Jewish scholar:
            1) "If the disciples were totally disappointed and on the
               verge of desperate flight because of the very real reason
               of the crucifixion, it took another very real reason in
               order to transform them from a band of disheartened and
               dejected Jews into the most self-confident missionary
               society in world history." - Pinchas Lapide, former
               Chairman of the Applied Linguistics Department at
               Israel's Bar-Iland University (TIME, May 7, 1979)
            2) He concluded that a bodily resurrection could possibly
               have been that reason!
      3. Demonstrated by their high moral standard
         a. They taught others to live holy lives - 1Th 4:1-7; Ep 4:25
         b. They lived their own lives in unimpeachable way - 1Th 2:3-12
         c. Does this sound like people who propagate lies when they know better?
      4. Demonstrated by the price they paid
         a. The apostle Paul's hardship were many - 2Co 11:23-28
         b. The apostles endured much suffering because of their
            testimony - 1Co 4:9-13
         c. All but one died a martyr's death because of their testimony
         d. Even Jesus' brother, James, was thrown off the temple and
            then clubbed to death for his testimony
         e. There was no motive for them to persistently lie about
            Jesus' resurrection!
      -- Fact #3:  The testimony of the apostles is very strong

      1. The writers of the New Testament leave us no alternative
         a. They are either eyewitnesses or false witnesses - 1Co 15:14-15
         b. Events occurred as described, or they are cunningly devised
            fables - 2Pe 1:16-18
      2. We cannot say they might have been sincerely deceived
         a. Especially in reference to the resurrection of Jesus
            1) They claim they ate and drank with Him afterwards - Ac 10:39-41
            2) They claim they saw and touched Him - 1Jn 1:1-4
         b. They leave us no room saying they were mistaken or deceived!
            1) Some sympathetic skeptics have tried to offer this as an alternative
            2) That perhaps in their grief and loss over the crucifixion
               of Jesus they hallucinated or had grief-inspired visions of Jesus
            3) But hallucinations and visions are highly individualistic experiences
               a) One person might see the hallucination or vision
               b) But several or many people don't see the same vision
                  at the same time!
            4) The resurrection appearances of Jesus include those
               witnessed by many at the same time - cf. 1Co 15:4-8
      -- Fact #4:  The New Testament is either true or a cunningly devised fable

[With these historical facts before us, we are now ready to consider...]


      1. Concerning Jesus
         a. We can't deny that He lived
         b. Therefore we must decide who He is
            1) Is He what His followers claimed, the Son of God? - cf.Mt 16:13-17
            2) Or is the New Testament's representation of Him false?
      2. Concerning the evidence of the New Testament as a historical document
         a. We can't deny the overwhelming evidence for the New
         b. Therefore we must decide concerning its historical reliability
            1) Will we accept it on the same basis we accept other
               historical documents?
            2) If so, then will we either accept it at face value, or
               reject it and along with all other historical documents
               whose evidence are much less?
      3. Concerning the testimony of the apostles
         a. We can't deny that they testified to the resurrection of Jesus
         b. Therefore we must decide whether their testimony is reliable
            1) Did they lie, or did they really see, touch, and eat with
               a resurrected Jesus?
            2) Or were they charlatans who suffered and died, knowing it
               was all for a lie?
      4. Concerning whether the New Testament is true
         a. We cannot say that it was simply a sincere but mistaken
            effort to explain who Jesus was
         b. Therefore we must decide whether it is true, or a carefully contrived lie!
      -- We cannot avoid making a decision regarding the evidence!

      1. If we decide the New Testament is a carefully contrived lie
         a. We must concede that a book with the world's highest
            standard of morality was composed by a group of liars,
            frauds, and deceivers!
            1) For what book contains a higher standard of love and morality?
            2) E.g., Jesus' Sermon On The Mount, and Paul's Discourse On Love
         b. We must concede that a book with overwhelming evidence as a
            historical document was carefully put together to deceive
            1) Known historical names, places and events were carefully
               intertwined with bold-faced lies
            2) Solemn affirmations concerning its truthfulness are made,
               intended to deceive those to whom such affirmations were made
         c. Is it reasonable or logical to draw such a conclusion?
      2. If we decide the testimony of the New Testament is historically true
         a. Then everything that Jesus taught is true
         b. Including His implicit and explicit testimony to the reality of creation!
            1) He spoke of the beginning of creation - Mk 10:6
            2) In which God created mankind and all things - Mk 10:6; 13:19
         c. Creation may be hard to fathom, but if one rose from the
            dead, anything is possible!
      -- The historical evidence for the resurrection also supports the
         case for creation!


1. Four facts contribute to faith in the resurrection of Jesus...
   a. The historicity of Jesus
   b. The historical reliability of the New Testament
   c. The strength of the apostles' testimony
   d. The New Testament is either true or a carefully contrived lie
   -- In view of the first three, what reasonable conclusion can we make
      of the fourth?

2. With the same type of evidence used to establish any fact of history...
   a. It is reasonable to believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the
   b. Which in turn makes it possible to believe in creation as the
      origin of life
   c. For He who rose from the dead testified to the reality of the

3. Thus we add "The Historical Case For Creation" to...
   a. The Biblical Case For Creation
   b. The Philosophical Case For Creation
   c. The Scientific Case For Creation

Our next four lessons will address various matters related to the issue
of Creation, beginning with...

                         "The Days Of Creation"

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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From Gary... Bible Reading February 27

Bible Reading  

February 27

The World English Bible

Feb. 27
Exodus 8

Exo 8:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, Go in to Pharaoh, and tell him, "This is what Yahweh says, 'Let my people go, that they may serve me.
Exo 8:2 If you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your borders with frogs:
Exo 8:3 and the river shall swarm with frogs, which shall go up and come into your house, and into your bedchamber, and on your bed, and into the house of your servants, and on your people, and into your ovens, and into your kneading troughs:
Exo 8:4 and the frogs shall come up both on you, and on your people, and on all your servants.' "
Exo 8:5 Yahweh said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch forth your hand with your rod over the rivers, over the streams, and over the pools, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.' "
Exo 8:6 Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt.
Exo 8:7 The magicians did in like manner with their enchantments, and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt.
Exo 8:8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, "Entreat Yahweh, that he take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to Yahweh."
Exo 8:9 Moses said to Pharaoh, "I give you the honor of setting the time that I should pray for you, and for your servants, and for your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, and remain in the river only."
Exo 8:10 He said, "Tomorrow." He said, "Be it according to your word, that you may know that there is none like Yahweh our God.
Exo 8:11 The frogs shall depart from you, and from your houses, and from your servants, and from your people. They shall remain in the river only."
Exo 8:12 Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to Yahweh concerning the frogs which he had brought on Pharaoh.
Exo 8:13 Yahweh did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courts, and out of the fields.
Exo 8:14 They gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank.
Exo 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart, and didn't listen to them, as Yahweh had spoken.
Exo 8:16 Yahweh said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.' "
Exo 8:17 They did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were lice on man, and on animal; all the dust of the earth became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.
Exo 8:18 The magicians tried with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they couldn't. There were lice on man, and on animal.
Exo 8:19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God:" and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he didn't listen to them; as Yahweh had spoken.
Exo 8:20 Yahweh said to Moses, "Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; behold, he comes forth to the water; and tell him, 'This is what Yahweh says, "Let my people go, that they may serve me.
Exo 8:21 Else, if you will not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you, and on your servants, and on your people, and into your houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are.
Exo 8:22 I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end you may know that I am Yahweh in the midst of the earth.
Exo 8:23 I will put a division between my people and your people: by tomorrow shall this sign be." ' "
Exo 8:24 Yahweh did so; and there came grievous swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants' houses: and in all the land of Egypt the land was corrupted by reason of the swarms of flies.
Exo 8:25 Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, "Go, sacrifice to your God in the land!"
Exo 8:26 Moses said, "It isn't appropriate to do so; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to Yahweh our God. Behold, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and won't they stone us?
Exo 8:27 We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to Yahweh our God, as he shall command us."
Exo 8:28 Pharaoh said, "I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to Yahweh your God in the wilderness, only you shall not go very far away. Pray for me."
Exo 8:29 Moses said, "Behold, I go out from you, and I will pray to Yahweh that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow; only don't let Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to Yahweh."
Exo 8:30 Moses went out from Pharaoh, and prayed to Yahweh.
Exo 8:31 Yahweh did according to the word of Moses, and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. There remained not one.

Exo 8:32 Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he didn't let the people go.


From Gary... War, Chess and the Greatness of God

As far back as the very early 70's I have been somewhat interested in Chess (and at times, a bit too interested). Over the past few years, I have given my chess sets to my family, but lately I have been thinking about playing again. Although I will probably wind up just playing against my own computer or perhaps in the USCF (United States Chess Federation [online]), still I have thought of doing something new- namely 3 player chess. I imagine it will be a bit like real war, with confusion and turmoil abounding. Well, you can guess what I thought of next...

Genesis, Chapter 14 (WEB)
  1 In the days of Amraphel, king of Shinar, Arioch, king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and Tidal, king of Goiim,  2 they made war with Bera, king of Sodom, and with Birsha, king of Gomorrah, Shinab, king of Admah, and Shemeber, king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar).  3 All these joined together in the valley of Siddim (the same is the Salt Sea).  4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year, they rebelled.  5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer came, and the kings who were with him, and struck the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim,  6 and the Horites in their Mount Seir, to Elparan, which is by the wilderness.  7 They returned, and came to En Mishpat (the same is Kadesh), and struck all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that lived in Hazazon Tamar.  8 The king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar) went out; and they set the battle in array against them in the valley of Siddim;  9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings against the five.  10 Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell there, and those who remained fled to the hills.  11 They took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their food, and went their way.  12 They took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. 

  13  One who had escaped came and told Abram, the Hebrew. Now he lived by the oaks of Mamre, the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner; and these were allies of Abram.  14 When Abram heard that his relative was taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan.  15 He divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and struck them, and pursued them to Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.  16 He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative, Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. 

  17  The king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).  18 Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High.  19 He blessed him, and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth:  20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” 

Abram gave him a tenth of all. 

  21  The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people, and take the goods for yourself.” 

  22  Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted up my hand to Yahweh, God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth,  23 that I will not take a thread nor a sandal strap nor anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’  24 I will accept nothing from you except that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. Let them take their portion.” 

There is very little good that comes out of war- any war!!! However, this story is referred to in the book of Hebrews in regard to tithing, the Levitical Priesthood and the greatness of Jesus and The New Covenant.

Hebrews, Chapter 7 (WEB)
  1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,  2 to whom also Abraham divided a tenth part of all (being first, by interpretation, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace;  3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God), remains a priest continually.  4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth out of the best plunder.  5 They indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brothers, though these have come out of the body of Abraham,  6 but he whose genealogy is not counted from them has accepted tithes from Abraham, and has blessed him who has the promises.  7 But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater.  8 Here people who die receive tithes, but there one receives tithes of whom it is testified that he lives.  9 We can say that through Abraham even Levi, who receives tithes, has paid tithes,  10 for he was yet in the body of his father when Melchizedek met him.  11 Now if there were perfection through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people have received the law), what further need was there for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron?  12 For the priesthood being changed, there is of necessity a change made also in the law.  13 For he of whom these things are said belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar.  14 For it is evident that our Lord has sprung out of Judah, about which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.  15 This is yet more abundantly evident, if after the likeness of Melchizedek there arises another priest,  16 who has been made, not after the law of a fleshly commandment, but after the power of an endless life:  17 for it is testified, 
“You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.”

  18  For there is an annulling of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and uselessness  19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.  20 Inasmuch as he was not made priest without the taking of an oath  21 (for they indeed have been made priests without an oath), but he with an oath by him that says of him, 
“The Lord swore and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.’”

  22  By so much, Jesus has become the collateral of a better covenant.  23 Many, indeed, have been made priests, because they are hindered from continuing by death.  24 But he, because he lives forever, has his priesthood unchangeable.  25 Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, seeing that he lives forever to make intercession for them. 

Once you get past all the names, places and events of war, you begin to see how God can work out all these things to do his will. And I thank God that HE did, for it just goes to show you HIS POWER!!! I still like the idea of 3-player chess- but I wonder who moves first????

ps. I have also seen 4 PLAYER BOARDS!!!