2/28/18

The Importance of Baptism by Trevor Bowen

The Importance of Baptism 

Introduction

To stress the importance of baptism may be strange to some, simply because most denominations and their creeds fail to emphasize it.  Some may question if it is even necessary.  However, if we turn to God's Word, we will find God's answer to our question concerning the importance of baptism.  A more in depth answer is provided here for those who are interested, because of the large number of questions often raised concerning baptism.

Examining the Passages

One of the first passages that should be examined is Christ's commission to his apostles:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you ... " Matthew 28:19-20
This verse teaches that part of making disciples was "baptizing them".  (Please examine the parallel account of this event in Mark's book - Mark 16:15-16).  Shortly after receiving this commission, the apostles began to preach Christ.  As an example, please listen to the words of the apostle Peter when he was asked what to do to be saved:
Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" Acts 2:38
The apostle Peter included baptism as a part of being saved and as a condition for receiving the remission of sins.  He later states unequivocally that it is through baptism that one is actually saved:
"... when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us - baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." I Peter 3:20-21
Please notice the context of I Peter 3:21, because it solidifies the meaning of this verse:  The subject of the analogy is Noah.  God saved Noah "through water", which is the type. Likewise, God also saves us today through the waters of baptism, which is the "antitype". (Some translations read "symbol" or "like figure".)  If we are convinced that God saved Noah "from the water", in spite of what I Peter 3:20 states, then we should ponder, "What would happen if Noah had not built the ark?" Would God have saved him in is disobedience? In truth, the waters actually saved Noah. They saved him from suffering persecution and the corrupt influence of a grossly wicked world, which is the subject of the greater context of I Peter 3 (please read I Peter 3:12-4:19).

The Significance of Baptism

Some may wonder how being dipped in water can result in one's salvation.  The answer to this is also in the above verse.  It is not the "removal of the filth of the flesh", or the washing in water, that is special, but it is the demonstration through baptism of one trying to have a "good conscience toward God".  However, this action does not earn us salvation - it is merely a condition.  Just as Naaman of the Old Testament did not earn his physical healing by dipping in the Jordan River, we also today do not earn spiritual healing when we obey His conditions (II Kings 5:1-16).  It is granted out of mercy and grace.  Baptism does not warrant salvation; it is merely a condition by which God graciously grants redemption.
Why baptism?  Why dipping in water?  No person today can answer why God chose the symbol of baptism, but some explanation can be provided by examining what is symbolized by baptism.  Please consider the following verses:
"How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? ... For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin." Romans 6:1-6
"by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, ... buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." Colossians 2:11-12
From these verses we learn that baptism symbolizes two things.  First, it represents our decision to "crucify the old man", or to turn from our past sinful life.  Second, it symbolizes a spiritual union with Christ's redeeming blood through us being "buried and raised in the likeness of Christ."  If we study these verses closely, we will recognize that it as the point of baptism that God redeems us through Christ's blood.  Under the New Testament, one cannot contact Christ's blood without baptism, and consequently, will not be redeemed.  This is a necessary logical inference from these verses.

Baptized Through Faith

The above statements can be better understood when they are tied together with the following passages:
"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Galatians 3:26-27
The Bible teaches that those who are part of Christ's body, or have a relationship to Christ, will be saved (Ephesians 1:3, 22, 23; 4:4).  This passage from Galatians and the earlier one from Colossians teach that there are at least two essential steps for us to get into this body: "through faith" and "by baptism into Christ".  This is understood by recalling that salvation occurs at the point of baptism and realizing that one only gets to that point by faith.  So then faith works through baptism.  The two are inseparably intertwined.  The Bible clearly teaches that faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:14-26).  But, works without faith is just as dead (Amos 5:21-24; Miciah 6:6-8; Matthew 23:23).
The entire salvation process can be illustrated as chain with many links.  God let down a chain to us, made up of several links: His love, His mercy, Christ's death and resurrection, and the revelation of His plan through the gospel.  There is nothing we could do to replace any of these links.  If he had not lowered this chain, we would have no hope.  Yet, we must link a chain to His.  We must first hear, believe, confess, and finally be baptized (God's Plan of Salvation).  If any of these links are broken, then the connection is not made, and we are lost.  But, if we connect these links, one by one to His, then we will be saved when the final link is made, which is baptism.  Without it, the gap is not spanned, and the other efforts will be in vain.  It takes all links working together - any one broken, renders the chain useless.

The Example of the Conversion of Paul

Examining all of the examples of conversion in the book of Acts is compelling, but also overwhelming.  So for brevity, only the example of the conversion of Saul (later became the apostle Paul) will be examined here.  If you have not already, you will want to read the account of Saul's conversion (Acts 9:1-22).   After Saul's name was changed to Paul, he also recounted his conversion in two different speeches (Acts 21:37-22:24; 26:1-32).
Once you have read these passages, you will see that Saul was not saved after Christ appeared to Him.  We know this because Christ instructed him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." (9:6).  And yet, later in the city he still was in need of having his sins forgiven three days later because God's prophet, Ananias, told Saul to "wash away your sins." (22:16).
The question is how did Saul wash away his sins?  Let's look a little closer at this verse in the parallel account:
"And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16)
This example teaches us that repentance alone is not enough for salvation.  Reread the verses that tell what Saul did for the three days between the appearance of Christ and when Ananias came (Acts 9:8-11, 19).  For three days, Saul had been fervently praying and fasting; yet, his obvious repentance was not enough.  Ananias instructed him to wash away his sins through baptism.  Also from this verse, we learn that is through baptism that one "calls upon the name of the Lord."  This is consistent with the verse we looked at earlier about baptism being an appeal to God towards a good conscience (I Peter 3:21).

Conclusions

In summary, the following 4 points were made regarding the importance of baptism:
  1. Several Bible passages directly state that it is essential
  2. Inferences can be drawn from passages about the symbol of baptism that teach it is essential
  3. More passages explain that is through baptism is the culmination of our faith and God's grace in His plan of salvation
  4. Finally, the example of Saul's conversion teaches its essential role in his salvation
We must always be careful to approach God's Word as avenue to receive answers from God, and not as means to justify our preconceived opinions.  What conclusion will an open and honest heart make from these passages?  More importantly, we must all ask ourselves, "Am I open to God's Word?"  What is our decision?  What does the Bible say about the importance of baptism?

If you any questions or comments regarding this essay, please e-mail any of our local contacts.  They will be glad to discuss your questions or comments.

Trevor Bowen

"THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS" Paul's Son And Brother (2:19-30) by Mark Copeland




                    "THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS"

                    Paul's Son And Brother (2:19-30)

INTRODUCTION

1. We have already observed that this epistle is very personal in nature

2. Further proof of this is now seen as we consider Paul's remarks
   concerning two men; one described as a "son" to Paul, the other as a
   "brother" (Php 2:19-30)

3. Paul's comments reveal that these two men demonstrated the "mind of
   Christ" about which Paul encouraged the Philippians to have earlier
   in this chapter

[In this study, we shall notice in what ways these two men demonstrated 
the "mind of Christ" in their service to their brethren, beginning 
with...]

I. TIMOTHY, PAUL'S "SON" (19-24)

   A. WHAT WERE PAUL'S PLANS CONCERNING TIMOTHY?
      1. To send him to Philippi shortly (19,23)
         a. That when Timothy returns, Paul might be encouraged by their
            condition (19b)
         b. But notice that Paul trusts in the Lord Jesus to do this -
            perhaps another way of saying, "If the Lord wills" (cf. 
            Jm 4:15)
      2. But sending Timothy would be delayed until Paul's condition was
         more fully known (23b)

   B. WHY USE TIMOTHY?
      1. Paul had no one else...
         a. Who was "like-minded" (20a)
            1) Who had the same mind as Paul
            2) Paul and Timothy were truly "united in spirit" and had
               that unity Paul wrote about in Php 2:2
            3) Therefore, Timothy was the best "alternate" in the place
               of Paul
         b. Who would "sincerely care for your state" (20b)
            1) Remember, Timothy had first joined Paul just before going
               to Philippi (Ac 16:1-12)
            2) So Timothy had good reasons to be close to the brethren
               there
               a) It was "his" first missionary effort
               b) He had known of them from the very beginning of their
                  existence as a congregation
         c. No other person was better suited, therefore, for this
            particular task
      2. His devotion to Christ surpassed others (21)
         a. He sought the interests of Christ, which meant the interests
            of others - cf. Php 2:4-5
         b. So no one else surpassed Timothy in having the "mind of
            Christ"
      3. He had proved his service in similar errands (22)
         a. For example, with the church at Corinth - 1Co 4:17
         b. He had done so with humility:  "as a son with his father he
            served with me"
         c. Again, Timothy demonstrated the "mind of Christ" - Php 2:3

[Such was the young man Timothy:  a beloved "son" to the apostle, whose 
attitudes of humility and service made him a useful instrument in 
Paul's ministry.

Now let's consider...]

II. EPAPHRODITUS, PAUL'S "BROTHER" (25-30)

   A. WHO WAS EPAPHRODITUS? (25)
      1. "my brother" - a brother in Christ to the apostle Paul
      2. "fellow-worker" - a companion in the work of spreading the
         gospel
      3. "fellow-soldier" - one shared in the conflicts with the enemies
         of Christ
      4. "your messenger" - the person bearing the gift from the church
         of Philippi to Paul - cf. Php 4:18
      5. "who ministered to my needs" - now with Paul, he offered
         himself in service to him

   B. WHAT KIND OF MAN WAS HE?
      1. A man of love and concern for his brethren at Philippi (26-27)
         a. He longed for his brethren while away from them
         b. He had been sick, and was distressed they knew about it
      2. A man devoted to the work of Christ (30)
         a. Who realized that serving others (like Paul and the
            Philippians) was serving Christ
         b. Who was willing to risk his life in such service - cf. 1Jn 3:16
      3. A man who did not mind being a "messenger"
         a. He had brought the gift to Paul from Philippi - Php 4:18
         b. More than likely, he carried this epistle back to the
            Philippians (28)
         c. Such willingness again demonstrates humility, so important
            to possessing the "mind of Christ"

[Truly he was a man who lived up to his name:  "Epaphroditus" means 
"handsome, charming"!]

CONCLUSION

1. Individuals like Timothy and Epaphroditus we are to hold in high
   esteem (29) - WHY?
   a. Because they demonstrate the humility and love so essential to the
      cause of Christ
   b. Because they rendered service to God and His church which is just
      as essential as that offered by men like Paul and Peter

2. The church today needs more people like these two men, to provide the
   backup and support necessary for the cause of Christ

3. We man not be a "Paul" or a "Peter", but we can be a "Timothy" or an
   "Epaphroditus" (i.e., God's "second string")!

4. All we need are the same attitudes they had:
   a. Sincere concern for the condition of others
   b. Seeking first the things of Christ
   c. A willingness to serve others
   d. A willingness to sacrifice themselves, even to the point of death

In other words, the "mind of Christ"!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016eXTReMe Tracker

3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible Has Not Been Corrupted by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=5196

3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible Has Not Been Corrupted

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The image on the front cover of this month’s R&R is St. Catherine’s Monastery where Codex Sinaiticus was discovered by Constantin von Tischendorf in 1844.]
Many are those who insist that the Bible has been corrupted over time, that we do not really know which verses belong in the Bible, and that translation errors are so plentiful that we do not have the original message. Yet these allegations have been confronted and refuted time and time again. Apart from the Old Testament (which has been fully verified), a myriad of books over the years have masterfully demonstrated the integrity of the New Testament text, including such volumes as J.W. McGarvey’s Evidences of Christianity, Kurt and Barbara Aland’s The Text of the New Testament, F.F. Bruce’s The Canon of Scripture, Bruce Metzger’s The Text of the New Testament, F.H.A. Scrivener’s A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, Sir Frederic Kenyon’s Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, Benjamin Warfield’s An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, and many others. Those who cast aspersions upon the integrity of the biblical text manifest either abysmal, inexcusable ignorance of the long established facts of the matter or deliberate bias. If the reader desires the truth regarding the authenticity and integrity of the Bible, the evidence is available—if the individual is willing to spend the time and effort to weigh that evidence and arrive at the proper conclusion (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1). Do we have the message that the original authors penned? The fact is that the books of the New Testament are the most extensively verified books of ancient history. The facts completely undermine and discredit any attack on the integrity and transmission of the Bible.

reason #1: The new testament greek text has been authenticated

We know how the original New Testament books read because we have three surviving classes of evidence by which to reconstruct the original New Testament: Greek manuscripts, ancient versions, and patristic citations. The current number of Greek manuscript copies containing all or part of the New Testament now stands at 5,795. This amount of manuscript evidence for the text of the New Testament is far greater than that available for any ancient classical author. The time between the writing of the original books of the New Testament and the earliest surviving copies is relatively brief. Although no two manuscript copies agree in every detail, the degree of accuracy achieved by most scribes was remarkably high. The vast majority of textual variants involve minor matters that do not alter any basic teaching of the New Testament. No feature of Christian doctrine is at stake. Suitable solutions to these differences are detectable. Even if they weren’t, manuscript evidence is so prolific that the original reading is one of the extant options. Even those variants that some might deem “doctrinally significant” (e.g., Mark 16:9-20; John 7:53-8:11) pertain to matters that are treated elsewhere in the Bible where the question of genuineness/certainty is unquestioned. We can confidently affirm that we have 999/1000ths of the original Greek New Testament intact. The remaining 1/1000th pertains to inconsequential details.
Additionally, a wealth of ancient versions provides further verification of the purity of the biblical text, including Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic, Old Slavonic, and others. Textual critics through history have steadfastly affirmed the value of these ancient versions in reconstructing the New Testament text. For example, Vaganay observed: “After the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, the versions constitute the most valuable source for writing the history of this text” (1934, p. 28; cf. Vogels, 1923, p. 84—“The versions are very valuable for establishing the original text of the Bible.”). Though noting the limitations, the Alands admitted: “[T]he importance of the versions is substantial” (1987, p. 182).
The same may be said for the wealth of textual materials available via the so-called “Church Fathers,” i.e., early Christian writers who quoted, paraphrased, and otherwise alluded to passages from Scripture in their letters, commentaries, and correspondence. This latter source of information is so prolific that Metzger affirmed: “Indeed, so extensive are these citations that if all other sources for our knowledge of the text of the New Testament were destroyed, they would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament” (1968, p. 86).
These contentions have been verified by the greatest textual critics and linguistic scholars of the past two centuries. Their conclusions have not become outdated, but remain as valid today as when first formulated. If the integrity of the text of the Bible was fully authenticated in their day, it remains so today. Consider the following statements by some of these world class authorities.

Scholarly Verification of the Purity of the New Testament Text

F.F. Bruce (1910-1990) was a biblical scholar who taught Greek at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Leeds, chaired the Department of Biblical History and Literature at the University of Sheffield, received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Aberdeen University, and served as the Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester. He wrote over 40 books and served as Editor of The Evangelical Quarterly and Palestine Exploration Quarterly. Bruce declared: “The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the N.T. affect no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice” (1975, pp. 19-20, emp. added). He also stated:
In view of the inevitable accumulation of such errors over so many centuries, it may be thought that the original texts of the New Testament documents have been corrupted beyond restoration. Some writers, indeed, insist on the likelihood of this to such a degree that one sometimes suspects they would be glad if it were so. But they are mistaken. There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament (1963, p. 178, emp. added).
Bruce further insisted:
Something more ought to be said, and said with emphasis. We have been discussing various textual types, and reviewing their comparative claims to be regarded as best representatives of the original New Testament. But there are not wide divergencies between these types, of a kind that could make any difference to the Church’s responsibility to be a witness and guardian of Holy Writ…. If the variant readings are so numerous, it is because the witnesses are so numerous. But all the witnesses, and all the types which they represent, agree on every article of Christian belief and practice (1963, p. 189, emp. added).
Bruce Metzger (1914-2007) was also a scholar of Greek, the New Testament, and New Testament Textual Criticism, serving as professor at Princeton Theological Seminary for 46 years. Described by prominent biblical scholar Raymond Brown as “probably the greatest textual specialist that America has produced” (as quoted in Ehrman and Holmes, 1995, p. xi), Metzger was a recognized authority on the Greek text of the New Testament. He served on the board of the American Bible Society, was the driving force of the United Bible Societies’ series of Greek Texts, and served as Chairperson of the NRSV Bible Committee. He is widely considered one of the most influential New Testament scholars of the 20th century. Concerning ancient versions, Metzger stated:
…even if we had no Greek manuscripts today, by piecing together the information from these translations from a relatively early date, we could actually reproduce the contents of the New Testament. In addition to that, even if we lost all the Greek manuscripts and the early translations, we could still reproduce the contents of the New Testament from the multiplicity of quotations in commentaries, sermons, letters, and so forth of the early church fathers (as quoted in Strobel, 1998, p. 59).
Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901) was a British bishop, biblical scholar and theologian, serving as Bishop of Durham and holding the Regius Professorship of Divinity at Cambridge. His colleague, Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892), was an Irish theologian who served as a Professor at Cambridge. Together, they pioneered the widely recognized Greek text The New Testament in the Original Greek in 1881. They are still considered to be renowned textual critics. They forthrightly asserted:
With regard to the great bulk of the words of the New Testament…there is no variation or other ground of doubt…. [T]he amount of what can in any sense be called substantial variation is but a small fraction of the whole residuary variation, and can hardly form more than a thousandth part of the entire text. Since there is reason to suspect that an exaggerated impression prevails as to the extent of possible textual corruption in the New Testament…we desire to make it clearly understood beforehand how much of the New Testament stands in no need of a textual critic’s labours (1882, pp. 2-3, emp. added).
These peerless scholars also insisted: “[I]n the variety and fullness of the evidence on which it rests the text of the New Testament stands absolutely and unapproachably alone among ancient prose writing” (p. 278, emp. added). They add: “The books of the New Testament as preserved in extant documents assuredly speak to us in every important respect in language identical with that in which they spoke to those for whom they were originally written” (p. 284).
Benjamin Warfield (1851-1921) was a Professor of Theology at Princeton Seminary from 1887 to 1921. He is considered to be the last of the great Princeton theologians. In his Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, Warfield insightfully observed:
[S]uch has been the providence of God in preserving for His Church in each and every age a competently exact text of the Scriptures, that not only is the New Testament unrivalled among ancient writings in the purity of its text as actually transmitted and kept in use, but also in the abundance of testimony which has come down to us for castigating its comparatively infrequent blemishes…. The great mass of the New Testament, in other words, has been transmitted to us with no, or next to no, variation (1886, pp. 12-13,14, emp. added).
Richard Bentley (1662-1742) was an English classical scholar, critic, and theologian who served as Master of Trinity College, Cambridge and was the first Englishman to be ranked with the great heroes of classical learning. He was well-known for his literary and textual criticism, even called the “Founder of Historical Philology,” and credited with the creation of the English school of Hellenism. Here are his comments on the integrity of the New Testament text:
[T]he real text of the sacred writers does not now (since the originals have been so long lost) lie in any single manuscript or edition, but is dispersed in them all. ‘Tis competently exact indeed even in the worst manuscript now extant; nor is one article of faith or moral precept either perverted or lost in them (1725, pp. 68-69, emp. added).
Marvin Vincent (1834-1922) graduated from Columbia University and became professor of New Testament Exegesis and Criticism at Union Theological Seminary in New York City in the late 19th century. He is best known for his Greek analysis of the words of the New Testament in his Word Studies in the New Testament. Regarding the integrity of the text, he observed:
The vast number of variations furnishes no cause for alarm to the devout reader of the New Testament. It is the natural result of the great number of documentary sources. A very small proportion of the variations materially affects the sense, a much smaller proportion is really important, and no variation affects an article of faith or a moral precept (1899, p. 7, emp. added).
Sir Frederic George Kenyon (1863-1952) was a widely respected, eminent British paleographer and biblical and classical scholar who occupied a series of posts at the British Museum. He served as President of the British Academy from 1917 to 1921 and President of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. He made a lifelong study of the Bible as an historical text. In his masterful Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, Kenyon affirmed:
One word of warning…must be emphasized in conclusion. No fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a disputed reading. Constant references to mistakes and divergencies of reading…might give rise to the doubt whether the substance, as well as the language, of the Bible is not open to question. 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. The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the Church is so large, that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world (1895, pp. 10-11, emp. added).
In his monumental The Bible and Archaeology, Kenyon further stated:
The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established (1940, pp. 288-289, emp. added).
Indeed, “the Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear of hesitation that he holds in it the true Word of God, faithfully handed down from generation to generation throughout the centuries” (1895, pp. 10-11).
Samuel Davidson (1806-1898) was an Irish biblical scholar who served as Professor of Biblical Criticism at Royal College of Belfast and Professor of Biblical Criticism in the Lancashire Independent College at Manchester. He authored many books on the text of the Bible. Referring to the work of textual criticism, Davidson concluded:
The effect of it has been to establish the genuineness of the New Testament text in all important particulars. No new doctrines have been elicited by its aid; nor have any historical facts been summoned by it from their obscurity. All the doctrines and duties of Christianity remain unaffected.… [I]n the records of inspiration there is no material corruption.... [D]uring the lapse of many centuries the text of Scripture has been preserved with great care…. Empowered by the fruits of criticism, we may well say that the Scriptures continue essentially the same as when they proceeded from the writers themselves (1853, 2:147, emp. added).
Frederick H.A. Scrivener (1813-1891) was a prominent and important New Testament textual critic of the 19th century. Having graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, he taught classics at several schools in southern England. His expertise in textual criticism is self-evident in that he served as a member of the English New Testament Revision Committee (Revised Version), edited the Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis and several editions of the Greek New Testament, collated the Codex Sinaiticus with the Textus Receptus, and was the first to distinguish the Textus Receptus from the Byzantine text. In his A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, Scrivener admitted:
[O]ne great truth is admitted on all hands—the almost complete freedom of Holy Scripture from the bare suspicion of wilful [sic] corruption; the absolute identity of the testimony of every known copy in respect to doctrine, and spirit, and the main drift of every argument and every narrative through the entire volume of Inspiration…. Thus hath God’s Providence kept from harm the treasure of His written word, so far as is needful for the quiet assurance of His church and people (1861, pp. 6-7, emp. added).
J.W. McGarvey (1829-1911) was a minister, author, educator, and biblical scholar. He taught 46 years in the College of the Bible in Lexington, Kentucky, serving as President from 1895 to 1911. He summarized the point: “All the authority and value possessed by these books when they were first written belong to them still” (1974, p. 17).
Elias Boudinot (1740-1821) was a prominent Founding Father of America. He served in the Continental Congress (1778-1779, 1781-1784), as its President in 1782-1783, and was the founding president of the American Bible Society. In his refutation of Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason, Boudinot explained: “[T]he facts upon which the Christian religion is founded, have a stronger proof, than any facts at such a distance of time; and that the books which convey them down to us, may be proved to be uncorrupted and authentic, with greater strength than any other writings of equal antiquity” (1801, p. 239, emp. added). This Founding Father’s view of the purity of the text of the New Testament was the view of the vast majority of the Founders.
With all the kindness one can muster, these eminent, well-studied, competent, peerless scholars, whose expertise in the field of Textual Criticism is unsurpassed, are far more qualified and accurate in their assessment of the credibility, integrity, and authenticity of the biblical text than any alleged scholar or skeptic living today. Truthfully, God knew that the original autographs would not survive, and that His Word would have to be transmitted through the centuries via copies. The transmission process is sufficiently flexible for God’s Word to be conveyed adequately by uninspired, imperfect copyists. Indeed, the original text of the New Testament has been thoroughly and sufficiently authenticated.

reason #2: the translation process works

God knew that the vast majority of the human race could not learn Greek or Hebrew. He knew that His Word would have to be read in translation in the language of the common people. The translation process is sufficiently flexible for God’s Word to be conveyed adequately by uninspired, imperfect translators. While some English translations may well seek to advance a theological agenda, generally speaking, most translations do not differ on the essentials. Most English versions convey these essentials: (1) what one must do to be saved and (2) what one must do to stay saved. As imperfect as translations might be, most still convey this basic information. This fact is verified by Jesus and the apostles’ own use of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew text en vogue in first-century Palestine. Some think this translation was achieved by 72 Jewish scholars who were invited to Alexandria, Egypt roughly two and a half centuries before Christ. Though considered by scholars as an imperfect translation of the Hebrew, most of the direct quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament are taken from the Septuagint. Hence, the Bible gives implicit divine endorsement to the use of imperfect, manmade translations, further implying that God’s Word has been adequately transmitted down through the centuries via translation.
A host of books have been published over the years that discuss principles of Bible translation (e.g., Nida, 1964; Beekman and Callow, 1974; Ryken, 2009; Grant, 1961; et al.). All human languages share in common a variety of linguistic features that may be suitably utilized to transmit God’s meanings. The United Nations stands as an indisputable testimony to the fact that meaning can be conveyed from one language to another. Indeed, messages all over the world are effectively translated into different languages every day. Likewise, the meanings of the words, grammar, and syntax of the biblical (parent) languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek have been amply transferred to English Bible translations. Even when English translations differ with each other on any given passage, further study will enable the Bible student to ascertain the meaning(s) intended. As with the transmission of the Greek text, the translation process provides the individual with the possibilities when more than one meaning is possible. When all is said and done, one may confidently say that God’s message has been suitably transferred from the original biblical languages into English.

reason #3: The history of English translation demonstrates preservation

All languages are in a constant state of flux. Thus new translations are inevitable and necessary. But though the Greek text has been verified, and though we know that translation can be done accurately, how do we know that today we have God’s Word available since the translating has been done by many different people over several centuries? Answer: Because the history of English translation has been traced and verified. We know that the Hebrew and Greek texts were translated into Latin early on, and eventually began to be transferred to English in the 14th century. The hall of fame of great Bible translators in the English-speaking world verifies the accomplishment of this transference of God’s Word to the present: John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Miles Coverdale, John Rogers (the Matthew’s Bible), Richard Taverner, the Great Bible, the Geneva Bible, Matthew Parker (the Bishop’s Bible), the King James Bible (1611), the English Revised Version (ERV—1888) and its American counterpart, the American Standard Version (ASV—1901), and the host of English translations that have appeared in the 20th and now 21st centuries (cf. Lewis, 1991). We know the Bible has not been corrupted because we have the English translations generated through the centuries that enable us to examine and verify the text of the Bible. Coincidentally, even if we did not know English translation history, we can take the authenticated Greek text and make a completely new translation in English.

conclusion

The evidence is available and it is decisive. Currently circulating copies of the Bible do not differ substantially from the original. Those who reject the Bible’s divine authority must do so for reasons other than their ability to know what God intended to communicate to the human race.
All human beings can know the truth and be saved. All can know that God exists and that the Bible is His Word. All can know that Christianity is the only true religion and that all must obey the Gospel of Christ in order to be forgiven of sin and saved. All can know that we must live the Christian life, worshipping God correctly, and living faithfully to God in daily behavior.

REFERENCES

Aland, Kurt and Barbara Aland (1987), The Text of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Beekman, John and John Callow (1974), Translating the Word of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Bentley, Richard (1725), Remarks Upon a Late Discourse of Free Thinking (Cambridge: Cornelius Crownfield).
Boudinot, Elias (1801), The Age of Revelation (Philadelphia, PA: Asbury Dickins), http://www.google.com/books?id=XpcPAAAAIAAJ.
Bruce, F.F. (1963), The Books and the Parchments (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell).
Bruce, F.F. (1975 reprint), The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Bruce, F.F. (1988), The Canon of Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Davidson, Samuel (1853), A Treatise on Biblical Criticism (Boston: Gould & Lincoln).
Ehrman, Bart and Michael Holmes (1995), The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Grant, Frederick (1961), Translating the Bible (New York: Seabury Press).
Kenyon, Sir Frederic (1895), Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode).
Kenyon, Sir Frederic (1940), The Bible and Archaeology (New York: Harper & Row).
Lewis, Jack (1991), The English Bible from KJV to NIV (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), second edition.
McGarvey, J.W. (1974 reprint), Evidences of Christianity (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Metzger, Bruce (1968), The Text of the New Testament (New York: Oxford University Press).
Nida, Eugene (1964), Toward a Science of Translating (Leiden: E.J. Brill).
Ryken, Leland (2009), Understanding English Bible Translations (Wheaton, IL: Crossway).
Scrivener, F.H.A. (1861), A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament (Cambridge: Deighton, Bell, & Co.).
Strobel, Lee (1998), The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Vaganay, Léon (1934), Initiation à la critique textuelle néotestamentaire (Paris: Blond & Gay).
Vincent, Marvin (1899), A History of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (New York: MacMillan).
Vogels, H.J. (1923), Handbuch der neutestamentlichen Textkritik (Munster: Aschendorff).
Warfield, Benjamin B. (1886), An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (London: Hodder & Stoughton).
Westcott, B.F. and F.J.A. Hort (1882), The New Testament in the Original Greek (New York: Harper & Brothers).

A God Like That by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=906

A God Like That

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

If a hundred atheists, agnostics, or unbelievers were asked why they do not believe in God, they might give a hundred different reasons. Certainly, no single reason has emerged as the quintessential answer for unbelief. The problem of evil, pain, and suffering would rank at the top of the list, as well as the claim that “religion” is unscientific.
There is, however, another primary reason that many people give for not believing in the God of the Bible. They say that they would believe in a god if he acted different than the one in the Bible, but they simply “cannot” believe in a god that would act like the one discussed in the “holy book.” An excellent example of this argument comes from an article written by Ronald Defenbaugh. In it, he chronicled his life, pointing out specific times when his unbelief was confirmed by a particular action or idea taught by a “religious” individual or institution. In a paragraph detailing his early years of raising a family, he stated:
One evening, a friend about the same age as us rode home with us from one of our children’s sporting events. This was the first time I realized I may have a real problem with believing. She was a good friend of my spouse’s, a member of our Church and very religious. I don’t remember how the subject came up but salvation was our subject of conversation. She stated that even though my father had been an honest, caring person who did nothing but good, he would not receive salvation. He could only go to Heaven if he accepted Christ as his Savior. I remember thinking that I wanted no part of a deity that sent my father to Hell under those circumstances. Why would a baby, or my father, or even me be sent to Hell just because we didn’t accept Christ as our Savior? What about the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists? Again, what about me? This started me thinking that I probably was without belief. Or at least I didn’t understand it. It didn’t fit my logic (2003).
While his reference to God sending a baby to hell is without any biblical support, his understanding of the teaching of the concept that the God of the Bible will send to hell all individuals who have reached the age of accountability (the level of mental maturity at which a person is capable of understanding the concept of his or her own sin) and who have not accepted Jesus Christ, is absolutely accurate (John 8:24). Understanding this precept very clearly, he stated that he “wanted no part of a deity” like that. It is almost as if he is implying that if the God of the Bible were a little different, or if He better “fit” Defenbaugh’s own ideas, then he might be willing to believe in such a God.
Let’s analyze this position. Those who “cannot” believe in a God like the one in the Bible, conveniently accept as true all the characteristics of God that make Him look like a heartless tyrant. For instance, they accept that the God of the Bible is a deity Who has ordered executions of “immoral” nations that do not worship Him. They also accept that the God of the Bible will confine certain individuals to eternal destruction due to the “wrong” decisions of those individuals. (The word wrong is in quotation marks because the actions the Bible labels as wrong and the actions accepted as wrong by many unbelievers often are quite different.) After flipping through the Bible and compiling a list of all the things that they think a true god should not do, they then declare that they cannot believe in a god that would do such things.
In doing this, they neglect to accept the other characteristics of the God of the Bible that would make acceptable His actions and decisions. For instance, 1 John 3:20 states that God “knows everything.” There is not an unbeliever alive who would claim to know everything. Could it be that the things known by the God of the Bible, which are unknown to the skeptic, might just be the very things that could sufficiently explain God’s actions? Isaiah 55:8-9 states: “ ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ ” If the skeptic accepts from the Bible the ideas about God with which he disagrees, is he not equally obligated to accept the statements about God that explain the depth of God’s character? If the thoughts of God and the ways of God are far above all the ways of man, could it be that, in the great cosmic scheme of things, an all-knowing God might have some plans of which the skeptic is not fully informed?
To postulate a capricious God Who confines people to eternal destruction simply because those people do not “dot a few i’s” or “cross a few t’s” seems an easy straw man to destroy. Yet, when the “rest of the story” is told, the picture becomes much clearer. The fuller portrait of the God of the Bible is of a deity Who is all knowing (1 John 3:20) everlastingly righteous (Psalm 119:142), loving (John 3:16), compassionate and merciful (James 5:11), anxious for all men to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), and willing to give them numerous opportunities to do so (Acts 17:26-27).
The later portion of Defenbaugh’s article reveals the true essence of rejecting the God of the Bible. Defenbaugh commented that atheism “means no belief—no belief at all, godly, ungodly or otherwise. No Satan, Hell, Heaven, God, Jesus, Angel, Holy Ghost, no nothing. I am free of all constraints. The only person I have to answer to is Man—each man.” Once again, Defenbaugh hit the nail on the head when it came to his concept of the God of the Bible. God demands certain things from His human creation. But since Defenbaugh does not want to comply with those things, he has chosen instead to disbelieve, so that he can be “free of all constraints.” Yes, it truly is easy to answer “each man” since all human opinion carries equal weight. But “God is not a man” (Numbers 23:19), and “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). In reality, after the Bible’s entire picture of God is allowed to shine through, in all its glory, no other god could measure up to “a God like that.”

REFERENCES

Defenbaugh, Ronald (2003), “Why I Couldn’t Deconvert,” [On-line], URL: http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=263.

America’s Lost Invincibility by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=3790

America’s Lost Invincibility

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The rapid rate of moral decay that blankets America is shocking and frightening. Americans who lived for the first 150 years of the Republic would find it difficult and appalling if they were here to witness what is happening. Abortion, homosexuality, gambling, sexual promiscuity, greed—and the list goes on and on. The incredible level of prosperity and technological achievement has lulled many Americans into thinking that America is invincible and well able to sustain its standing among the nations of the world.
The Founders thought otherwise. They insisted that America’s greatness does not lie in her achievements, material progress, or ability to protect herself by military means. Far from it. Instead, they repeatedly explained that America’s greatness and her ability to prolong her existence as a nation depend exclusively on the spiritual, religious, and moral condition of her people. Specifically, the Founders insisted that the citizens’ attachment to God, Christ, the Bible, and the Christian religion would determine the future of the nation. If a sizable percentage of the citizenry does not continue to maintain Christian virtue and morality, as defined by the Bible, the nation would lose its ability to survive.
Consider, for example, the remarks of Patrick Henry in his observations concerning the state of France after their bloody revolution:
But, as to France, I have no doubt in saying, that to her it will be calamitous. Her conduct has made it the interest of the great family of mankind to wish the downfall of her present government; because its existence is incompatible with that of all others within its reach. And, whilst I see the dangers that threaten ours from her intrigues and her arms, I am not so much alarmed as at the apprehension of her destroying the great pillars of all government and of social life; I mean virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible. These are the tactics we should study. If we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed (as quoted in Henry, 1891, 2:591-592, emp. added).
John Witherspoon echoed precisely the same sentiment: “He who makes a people virtuous makes them invincible” (1815, 9:231, emp. added). And Declaration signer and “The Father of the American Revolution,” Samuel Adams, likewise issued a solemn warning in a letter to James Warren on February 12, 1779:
While the people are virtuous, they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader (1908, 4:124, emp. added).
These three Founders sound a sober warning to Americans in the 21st century. Our schools, courts, and centers of government continue to dismantle the Christian connections that have always characterized the nation. With the cleansing of our religious moorings is also the eradication of the virtue and morality that comes only from Christianity. As Americans continue to jettison Christian virtue and morality, the nation is brought closer and closer to the brink of destruction. Accordingly, the invincibility for which America has been known around the world is swiftly waning. Even now, we are in the process of surrendering our liberties to alternative ideologies (e.g., socialism), and our increasing vulnerability must inevitably result in America being conquered. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

REFERENCES

Adams, Samuel (1904-1908), The Writings of Samuel Adams, ed. Harry Cushing, 4 vols. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons).
Henry, William (1891), Patrick Henry; Life, Correspondence and Speeches (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons), [On-line], URL: http://www.archive.org/details/pathenrylife01henrrich. See also George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 4. General Correspondence. 1697-1799, Image 1071, “Patrick Henry to Archibald Blair,” January 8, 1799, [On-line], URL: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mgw4&fileName=gwpage113.db&recNum=1070.
Witherspoon, John (1815), The Works of John Witherspoon (Edinburgh: J. Ogle).

Nurture Your Relationship With God by Ben Fronczek

http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?p=412

Nurture Your Relationship With God

Cornelius Acts 10 (Part 2)
He was A Roman Warrior, a leader of men, a man raised in a pagan world believing in many gods. His swore his allegiance to them as well as to a man who claimed to be a divine leader, the Caesar of all Rome. But something happened along the way. He was now a mature centurion, in a nice home, in the capitol city of Caesarea, probably there to oversee a squadron of men that was responsible for the security of the Roman governor, Marcelous who now ruled over all Palestine and Judea.
Somehow and somewhere he learned about our Lord and apparently fell in love with Him. I don’t know if it happened before he moved to Caesarea, or after, but we do know that by the time Luke wrote Acts chapter 10, Cornelius and his whole family apparently turned their backs on those pagan gods and were described as being ‘devoted to the Lord’.
In the last lesson I mentioned the fact that I thought that Cornelius was worth taking a closer look at.    I believe that the Lord had his story preserved in scripture because there are some things we can learn from this man. Last week look at how one’s love for God can literally change one’s life, how it can empower us to do things we never thought that we’d ever do on our own. And I talked a little bit about how I believe it changed him. Cornelius seemingly not only put racial prejudice aside. As I mentioned last week, this man who was trained to kill, and conquer, and protect the concerns of the Roman Empire in the name of it’s so called deified Caesar, and in the name of the Roman Gods was now acting more like a Christian than a Roman soldier.
In Chapter 10, verse 2, it says that Cornelius was a “devout” man. The word in Greek means that he acted with piety or with holy awe and reverence. It also indicates that this awe demonstrated itself in activity. This tells me that Cornelius’ faith was not just confined to just words or feeling in his heart, it was seen in his actions and life style.
In other words, Cornelius was not like those Paul described in Titus 1:16, “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” Cornelius understood the teaching found in James 2:20, that “faith without deeds are useless.”
So what deeds did Cornelius perform that showed his faith and reverence?
Well, it wasn’t attending a worship service. You see, Cornelius was not invited to attend Jewish worship services because he was an uncircumcised Gentile (Acts 11:3). An uncircumcised man could not enter a synagogue or the Temple in Jerusalem. He was simply not welcome.
Nevertheless, even though he was denied the opportunity to worship in the synagogue and Temple, Cornelius worshipped in all the ways he knew he was able. The Jews may now have allowed him to worship with them but they could not be prevented from praising God in his heart and praying. And so, we read that he did so “regularly or as many translate it, “continually.”  In the context we see that he was praying in the middle of the day.. which was a Jewish custom in itself.
For a believer in God, praying should be as natural as breathing. Yet, if the truth be told, not many of us have a prayer life like Cornelius. Some Christians don’t pray outside the worship service. Many Christians make an effort to ’offer thanks’ or ’ask the blessing’ at meal times and during times of trouble. And still fewer yet are those who might actually pray at the start of day and before going to bed. But, how many of us fulfill the command in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, where Paul said, “Pray without ceasing”?   Cornelius did!
All too often some Christian don’t feel like they have a close relationship with God. They do not feel the presence of God in their lives. When you ask these people about their prayer life, if they are honest, most will admit that they know that they should pray more but just don’t.
How can we expect God to be near to us if we are far from Him and don’t talk to Him?
In James 4:8 it promises us that if we “draw near to God… He will draw near to us.”
Prayer is the most intimate way in which we can draw near to our God. I do not know of a better and swifter way to be close to God and tap into His love and His power and His joy and His peace than through close and intimate prayer. Not only speaking to God, but also listening to Him.
As I said it last week and I’ll say it again, I don’t think that Christianity is all about being religious, or just about going to church and singing songs, and eating the communion bread and following a bunch of do’ and don’t. Rather I truly believe it’s more about drawing closer to our Lord, and building and nurturing a real relationship with Him. And real prayer, talking to God can help us do that.
And Prayer – is – worship! God is worthy of our praise. God is worthy of our thanksgiving. In Hebrews 13:15 it says, “Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His Name.”
Prayer provides an opportunity to express our needs and have them met. In Hebrews 4:14-16 it says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,… Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”   You see, He wants to have a relationship with us as well. But we put up walls. Just like we do with our spouse. We get so focused on ourselves and what we are concerned about, we don’t let anyone in.
Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
But such a devoted life as Cornelius’ not only entail believing and feeling good about God, nurturing a relationship with Him in prayer. This kind of love and devotion could not help but overflow onto other things which are important to God, including helping His people.  
I recently came across a poem that made me think of how this should apply to my life:
Live the Way You Pray
I knelt to pray when day was done,    And prayed: “Oh, Lord, bless everyone;
Lift from each saddened heart the pain  –  And let the sick be well again.”
And then I awoke another day  –   And carelessly went on my way.
The whole day long I did not try   –   To wipe a tear from any eye;
I did not try to share the load   –    Of any brother on the road;
I did not even go to see   –   The sick man just next door to me.
Yet once again when day was done,    I prayed: “O, Lord, bless everyone.”
But as I prayed, into my ear    –    There came a voice that whispered clear,
“Pause, hypocrite, before you pray;    Whom have you tried to bless today?
“God’s sweetest blessings always go  –   By hands that serve him here below.”
And then I hid my face and cried,   “Forgive me, God, for I have lied;
Let me but live another day,    And I will live the way I pray.” 
We find that Cornelius was one who ’lived the way he prayed’; for, the Scripture says that he “gave generously to those in need.” He not only gave to help those around him in need, we also can read between the lines when it says that, ‘he was respected and well spoken of by all the Jews.’   His religion and devotion to God was more than just lip service.
If there was ever an Age in which we need more deeds of kindness, it would be today. Paul told the brethren in Ephesus (Acts 20:35) that Jesus taught that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Jesus taught that true happiness comes, not when you concentrate on yourself and on what you might personally acquire or obtain, but when you meet the needs and help others. That’s when and where you find a blessed happiness.
We are also taught that being generous and sharing or giving to others who are in need,  brings glory to our Lord and God. Jesus taught, in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”
In John 15:8, Jesus is quoted saying  “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”
All too often, many in the church seem to think that when Jesus told us to bear fruit He was talking about evangelizing and making more Christians. I personally believe that there was more to that teaching than that. I believe the fruit that we should be bearing as a Christians are the acts of Loving kindness that we actually we saw Jesus, the early disciples, and what Cornelius was doing.
Those acts of love in turn glorify or Lord and Father in Heaven. That’s the kind of fruit that Father wants to see. The angel told Cornelius that those acts of love came up as a memorial offering before the Father. And those alms and kind deeds were definitely noticed.
The question can be asked, What kind of reputation do you have. Would they give a report about you as the Jews gave about Cornelius?
There’s a old saying that goes like this, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” The saying appears to have started in the medical profession, emphasizing that caring for patients is just as important to them as a medical professional’s book knowledge. And I think the same is true for us who know the way to heaven and want to share it with others. A lot of people don’t care about what you know, and they won’t until we show how much we care.
Our acts of love open eyes and open hearts.
Sometimes people won’t thank you for your gifts, your help, and sometimes sacrifices.
But Don’t think that your good deeds go unnoticed by God. God took note of everything that this man was doing. Hebrews 6:10, the wrote,  “God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His Name.”
1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
My encouragement today: Continue to nurture your relationship with God. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. If you have to set specific time aside to do it.  He wants to have the relationship with you. He wants to bless you with His peace.
And I think the closer you get to Him the more you will find yourself helping those around you. His love will flow through you like water through a sponge.

Is the Bible Totally Inspired of God? by Alfred Shannon, Jr.




https://biblicalproof.wordpress.com/2010/04/

Is the Bible Totally Inspired of God?

Now for the true believer in God, after quoting Paul’s charge to Timothy, (2 Tim 3:16)  I could say yes, and that would be sufficient. However, there are many whose faith waivers because of the world which teaches the impossibility of any book written by man being perfect. There are many who search the bible daily in hopes to finding the bible’s first mistake. Yet no man to date has ever found one. A book so perfect that not one historic fact has been disproved to date or ever will. A book that though it took 1,600 years to complete, and was authored by at least 40 different men, has no error whatsoever. Some were shepherds, some were fishermen, some were kings, some were farmers. One was a scribe, one was a tax collector, and one was a doctor of medicine. One was a tent-maker. A few were well educated, most were unlearned and uneducated. Let us examine who inspired the words of the bible.
We know that there were acknowledgments from one writer to another throughout the old testament. Such examples of these can be found as Joshua said of Moses (Josh. 1:8). King David charged his son Solomon to keep the charge of the LORD your God: to walk in His ways, to keep his statutes, his commandments in (1 Kings 2:3). There are said to be at least 855 quotations in the new testament. Every book in the old testament is quoted from in the new testament except Obadiah, Nahum, Zephaniah, & Esther. Every new testament book contains quotations from the old testament except 2 & 3 John, Philemon, & Titus. No new testament writer ever has called in to question on any historical person or fact referred to in the old testament scriptures. Quite remarkable realizing that some of these authors were in fact illiterate. New testament writers also bear record of each other such as the case was Peter speaking of Paul (2 Pet. 3:16; Gal 2:9).
Consider all the prophesies that came true hundreds if not thousands of years in advance. Such was the case where the land of promise took 400 years to come true. Consider all the prophesies of the Messiah, Jesus Christ beginning first in Genesis 49:10 (some believe as early as Gen. 3) and ending in Malachi  chapter 4.
The bible in many places, and by different writers over many centuries has tried to assure its readers that this book is totally truthful, and has never mislead anyone. Such scriptures began to surface in the book of Numbers 23:19, Ezek 24:14 of the old testament and Titus 1:2 and Heb 6:18 of the new testament. Where one of its own writers, Paul, stated 4 times that he lied not concerning the scriptures (Rom. 9:1, 2 Cor. 11:31, Gal. 1:20 and 1 Tim 2:7) and one verse that states that the word of God was not both yes and no (2 Cor 1:18 compare to Lam 3:38)
A book that warned its readers to not to lean to their own understanding (Prov. 3:5), and to not add or subtract from any of its words beginning in (Deut. 4:2, Deut. 5:32, Deut 12:32; Deut. 28:14, Prov. 30:6, Eccl. 3:14), and culminating in the last book of the bible Rev. 22:18-19. Peter told us that no prophesy of the scriptures could be privately interpreted, because prophesies of any time came from God, and not man. (2 Pet. 1:20-21).
We are warned time, and time again with such warnings that the way is narrow, and few would ever find it, and fools would not enter in accidentally (Matt. 7:14, Isa 35:8). A road map that is so perfect that the wise of this world would not easily find, and even would be blinded so that they could not understand it. (Matt. 11:25;  2 Thess. 2:11-12, Ps 19:7). A puzzle that was so scattered that no genius could ever find all the pieces except that they have a love for the truth (Isa 28:13; 2 Thess. 2:10).
Such was the treasure that is was spoken as something one ate, and was on their tongue, and sweet to eat. Job said that it was esteemed more his necessary food (Job 23:12) David spoke on this wise that the word of God was sweeter than honey (Ps. 119:103) and that the Spirit of God was in his tongue (2 Sam 23:2). So unsearchable and rich is the wisdom and knowledge that it is past finding out except that the Holy Spirit search it for us, and gave it to the apostles (Rom 11:33, 1 Cor. 2:11-13).
So much has been written, and in more eloquence of design than I could ever aspire to attain of the excellency of the word of God (Phil 3:8). Jesus told his own disciples that when he left this earth that he would leave them a comforter (The Holy Spirit) who would bring back to their remembrance and teach you all things (John 14:26). Paul wrote that he spoke not of man’s wisdom, but of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:4-5). Paul would later thank the Thessalonians for following them, and their words as it were the word of God, because it was the word of God. (1 Thess. 2:13).
Just as Moses had Janes and Jambres who arose up against him (2 Tim 3:8), as Samuel had those who would not adhere to him (1 Sam. 8:7), the apostles had those who forsake them as well (2 Tim 4:10) and even to warn brethren to follow him, and his teaching because it was from Christ (2 Thess. 3:7, 2 Thess. 3: 12-14). So does the preacher and teacher of the word of God today. Just as God told Samuel, it is not you, but me (God) that they resist. (1 Sam. 8:7) Just as the wise men in Jeremiah 8:9. Just as those who rejected the knowledge of God in Hosea 4:6. Just as those spoken of in Job 21:14,15.
This is the same word of God that the Psalmist David and Solomon described as pure (Ps 119:140; Prov 3:5), yet powerful enough to break rocks in pieces (Jer. 23:29) and sharper than two-edged swords which even divides the spirit from the body (Heb. 4:12). The word of God is precious, even the very thought of God (1 Sam 3:1; Ps 139:17) which lives and abides forever (1 Pet. 1:23).
So, does the word of God prove itself as verifiable. Has it proved itself by its own words. Such rhetorical words to ask, yet they have one simple answer, yes they do. You can rest assured that when you obey the scriptures, the truth, the word of God, that is is truth straight from God’s mouth to your eyes and ears. You will know the truth, and it shall make you free from sin. (John 8:31-32). That you can be assured of and be fully persuaded (2 Tim 1:12, 2 Tim 3:14, 2 Tim 3:16).

DON’T TELL ME OF GREAT THINGS by Jim McGuiggan




https://jimmcguiggan.wordpress.com/2016/05/

DON’T TELL ME OF GREAT THINGS

Lord Byron gave us the moving poem The Prisoner of Chillon. The prisoner’s chained to a pillar along with his brother. After some time the beloved brother died and was buried in the cell under a slab. This drove the prisoner into deep depression and the jailers had pity on him and loosed him from the pillar so that he could walk around his cell. In his despair he made friends with spiders and mice and became a kindly lord in his domain. He wouldn’t have thought of it as Aspen or the French Riviera, but because he had no reason to think things would ever change he adjusted to the situation. He became content.
One day the broken but contented prisoner heard the song of a bird. It was up there on the window ledge and at the sight and sound something stirred in the man. Imagine him with great effort, and perhaps many failures, making his way up the wall and looking out at familiar sights and faintly hearing sounds that carried from a great distance. He sees the mountains, a river meeting the lake, the white wall of a little town, trees and a green island. He saw an eagle fly, free and high, in the blue sky before his strength was gone and he slipped or clawed his way back down into the cell. Having seen, he couldn’t “unsee” and the vision unsettled him; now the cell with which he had grown content was like a coffin that suffocated him and he wished he’d never been loosed from the chain and the pillar; seeing life’s possibilities destroyed his peace and we can easily imagine him for the first time beating on the door and yelling, “Let me out of here! I’ve got to get out of here!”
This is how he put it:
I had not left my recent chain;
And when I did descend again,
The darkness of my dim abode
Fell on me as a heavy load;
It was as is a new-dug grave,
Closing o’er one we sought to save.
Would it have been better had he not seen through the window the world he was deprived of? One thing is sure, he felt worse. His contentment was shattered and his peace obliterated. The vision of something finer turned his cozy little cell into a coffin. Would it have been better had he never looked? I suppose it depends on what we mean by “better”. Would you prefer to know that there exists so much more than you have, even if it created great pain in you? Would you prefer to remain ignorant and contented? There’s something to be said for both sides of the argument.
But is there really? A poor soul told me that she had never felt real bewilderment or sense of alienation in life until she became a Christian and life changed in many ways that were not pleasant. [“Arrrgh! I heard that everything would be better, easier, and it isn’t!” I suppose a baby in the womb feels that kind of distress at birth.] Did Peter ever feel the wave of awed fear before that day when he sat in a boat with Christ and witnessed the nearness of God that drove him to say, “Get away from me, for I am a sinful man O Lord”? It’s true isn’t it that in some true sense of the words that the closer we get to God the more we feel out of place in our own skin and in a world of people like us? And what makes it more distressing, on those occasions when we feel it most intensely, is that we can’t ask to be taken out of the world. Jesus Christ said to us: “As the Father sent me, so I send you into the world.”
Is it really a source of wonder that the better we see him the more we recoil at everything else because it is unlike Him? Imagine what it must have been like for Him to be elbow to elbow with the evil that is in us and flows from us. Now that is a true source of wonder! Somewhere in all this, his glorious vision of His Holy Father, Himself and us, in all our awful need, made Him restless and divinely discontent. His holy compassion toward us grew until, as Browning put it, it became a rage to suffer for humanity. And He thought it all worthwhile. Christ is no Greek god sitting blissfully unconcerned sipping the wine in the presence of equally unconcerned divine colleagues. He looked over the rim of the palace walls in the land of the Trinity, saw our desperate need, felt compelled to go and found the Father and the Spirit already preparing His gear for the assault on all the powers that enslave the bodies, minds and spirits of the human family.
We must love the best we see and know or we’ll never be anything worth talking about. I understand that in our debilitating weariness we don’t want to hear challenge and upward calls. “Leave me alone, I’m too tired.” Too much disappointment and dashed hopes, too many responsibilities, too many pressures—humans aren’t made to walk like kings! That makes sense but there are other things that make sense too and even when we’re too weary to want to continue we wish we had the energy to do it.
Listen, things not only can be better, they will be better! God’s Son became incarnate to make it clear that we’re not alone in this cosmic and eternal enterprise. “God is with us!” The Incarnation is the witness to that; that’s why He became “homeless” and yet never more at home than when He became one of us and remains one of us.
Blessed are the weary for they will rise up in strength like an eagle.

What beauty do you see in your mirror? by Roy Davison

http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Davison/Roy/Allen/1940/mirror.html

What beauty do you see in your mirror?
Do you only see an outward beauty or do you also see the beauty of Christ?

Do you want to be beautiful? Everyone can be beautiful. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

There are two kinds of beauty, outward and inward, worldly and spiritual.

Think about someone who is very beautiful. In what direction did you think? Did you think about some movie star? Or did you think about Christ? He is, after all, the most beautiful person who has ever lived.

Was Jesus beautiful outwardly? In the art world Jesus is often portrayed as a very handsome man, but according to Isaiah: “He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2). Yet, he also wrote: “Your eyes will see the King in His beauty” (Isaiah 33:17). And in Psalm 45:3 we read about the Messiah: “You are fairer than the sons of men.”

Because of His inner beauty, Jesus was the most beautiful person who ever lived: “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

From this we learn something important. It does not matter if we come short in some way with regard to our outward appearance. Everyone can be beautiful inwardly, and that is what counts.

We may not allow ourselves to be deceived by outward beauty. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). “As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion” (Proverbs 11:22).

People who live a bad life become ugly: “When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, You make his beauty melt away like a moth” (Psalm 39:11).

Outward beauty passes away: “The voice said, ‘Cry out!’ And he said, ‘What shall I cry?’ ‘All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades’” (Isaiah 40:6, 7).

You find certain things beautiful. But what is beautiful to God? Do you want to be beautiful in your own eyes and in the eyes of the world? Or do you want to be beautiful in God’s sight? “Do not let your adornment be outward -- arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel -- rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves” (1 Peter 3:3-5). “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9, 10). Good works are “beautiful and profitable to men” (Titus 3:8).

What beauty do you see in your mirror? Do you see someone who is wearing sexy clothing? Or someone wearing modest clothing? Do you see someone who is dressed provocatively? Or someone who is dressed with propriety and moderation? Do you see someone who is wearing worldly clothing? Or do you see someone who reflects the beauty of Christ?

A mirror cannot make you beautiful. Why do we look in a mirror? To see if everything is in order. To see what needs to be improved.

Would you like to have a mirror that could make you beautiful? It does exist. The Holy Scriptures.
This mirror has the same function spiritually as a regular mirror, namely to let us see what needs to be improved. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25).

But this mirror also has special power. If you look into it intently and often you continually become more beautiful by the power of God’s Spirit.

To understand the next text, one must know the background. After Moses had heard the word of God, his face shown so brightly that the people were afraid. So Moses hung a vail in front of his face. But each time he spoke with God, he removed the vail (Exodus 34:29-35).

Paul says that all Christians now, like only Moses then, may view the glory of God: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Is that not wonderful? When we look in this mirror, we do not see our own face, but the face of Christ! And the more we look at Him in this mirror, the more we look like Christ by the power of God’s Spirit! Then we shine with the beauty of Christ.

What beauty do you see in your mirror? Only an outward beauty? Or also the beauty of Christ? Look often and long in this powerful mirror that can make you more and more beautiful! Amen.

Roy Davison
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive
(http://www.oldpaths.com)