Monday, 28 April 2014

CHRISTIANITY - A MAN-MADE RELIGION?



As I travel around in cyber space, I come across an atheist or two and this seems to be their mantra. “Christianity is just a man-made religion” or “The Bible is just written by man, it’s all just fiction.”

Is it?

 It suits the pride and wilfulness of Man to believe that there is no God because that raises the matter of accountability, so Man does not “like to retain God in their knowledge.” The Bible indicates that the end result of Mankind denying their Creator is that they will tend towards homosexuality.  Isn’t that what we are increasingly observing?

Was the Bible written by men? Actually, yes it was; but men who were anointed and inspired by the Spirit of God and that makes God the real Author.  God is a Spirit and He works in the world through the willing co-operation of human vessels. Scripture is God-breathed. Those who have been anointed by the Spirit at any time can understand how this works.

Anyone who has objectively and intelligently researched the subject would have to be convinced of the authenticity and inspiration of the Bible.

Fulfilled prophecy  
Many events concerning individuals, cities and nations, minutely foretold in the Bible, have been, and are being, fulfilled. Recent and current events can be understood in the light of Bible prophecy, e.g. the regathering of the Jews to their homeland and subsequent events in Israel; most particularly concerning Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. The current push to divide the Land of Israel is foretold. Most remarkable is the many Old Testament prophecies concerning the central figure of the Bible – Jesus Christ – His birth, life, ministry, message, His death and resurrection. Apart from the hundreds of surface prophecies there are multiple prophecies locked into the types and shadows in the Old Testament which find their fulfilment in Jesus show the on-going plan of God for the Church and the world. Still to be fulfilled are the prophecies concerning His Second Coming and reign on Earth. The Holy Spirit continues to bring revelation out of the pages of the Bible in a way that no other book can.  The Bible explains why the world is the way it is and gives the answer  for the many and complex problems humanity faces.

The Unity of Scripture
Though written by [about] 40 people [the authorship of some books is uncertain] over a period of about 1,500 years, the Bible is one Book. The Old Testament points to and prepares the way for the coming of the Messiah [the Christ]; the Gospels record His Birth, ministry death and resurrection. The rest of the New Testament interprets the meaning of His coming into the world and looks toward His 2nd Coming and the New [renewed] Heavens and Earth – the Kingdom of God “On Earth as it is in Heaven.” The Old and New Testaments complement one another.-

The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed.

Though written by human writers, it is evident that God Himself superintended, directed and dictated the Bible books. Therefore the Bible is God’s Word.  That is what the Bible claims for itself and there can be no other explanation.

“knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20,21.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God..” 2 Timothy 3:16

The Witness of Archaeology
Archaeologists have uncovered the sites of many towns named only in the Bible; also inscriptions confirming many Bible events. Not all of the characters in Bible stories have been mentioned in other ancient writings, but what has been found supports and adds detail to the Bible record. New evidence continues to be unearthed that confirms the truth of the biblical narratives.

Age and Number of Ancient manuscripts
The number of ancient copies of the Scriptures far outweighs the number of copies of other ancient writings which are taken to be authentic. E.g. two factors are taken into consideration when ascertaining the reliability of manuscripts – the number of manuscript copies in existence and the time span between when the original copy was first written and the oldest existing copy

                                                Manuscript Copies                          Time Span

Caesar’s Wars                                    10                                           1,000 years

Plato                                                      7                                              1,200 years

Aristotle                                               5                                              1,400 years

Homer                                                  643                                           500 years

New Testament                                24,000                                       25 years

Given these numbers, one wonders why some people readily accept that the other writings are authentic, yet balk at the New Testament.The Gospels and other books of the New Testament were written by men who walked with Jesus and were witnesses to the events they wrote about. As the Apostle Peter states “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”

Sir Frederick Kenyon former director and principal librarian of the British Museum, stated concerning the New Testament:-“…the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written, has now been removed”

Jewish scribes copied the Old Testament Scriptures with extreme care.  Every word, syllable, letter and paragraph was checked and counted.  If a mistake was made they started again.  The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has confirmed the accuracy of the Old Testament as we have them in our Bible today. Christianity did not come from a vacuum but is the continuation and fulfilment of all that was promised in the Old Testament Scriptures.

The Witness of History
The writings of historians confirm some of the Biblical events. e.g. Josephus a Jewish historian wrote about Jesus in AD 90, "Now there arose one Jesus, a wise man who performed surprising works, a teacher of men. He was the so-called Christ. When Pilate, acting on information supplied by the chief men condemned him to the cross, those who first believed did not cease to do so, and the tribe of Christians which had taken their name from him is not extinct today."
Roman historian Tacitus wrote in about AD 115 "They got their name from Christ, who was executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius."
 
The Bible Code
It has been discovered that there is a Code in the Bible, which describes historical and recent events and names of notable people. Thousands of instances of the Code have already been discovered using high-speed computers. The Code is in Equi-distant Letter Sequence [ELS] i.e. words spelt in equal distant letters, en-coded in the Hebrew test. Existence of the Code has been confirmed and acknowledged by scientific institutes. Sir Isaac Newton and others believed in the existence of the Code, but it was only with the arrival of computers that their theories were able to be confirmed. This is a truly amazing discovery and should quell any lingering doubts as to the inspiration of Scripture. However Michael Drosnyn author of “The Bible Code” and a determined atheist somehow manages to attribute it to a space man from another world, which only goes to show how wilfully blind people can be.

The Power of the Bible to Transform Lives and Influence Society for Good
A compelling case for the inspiration of the Bible is the countless lives that have been transformed by reading the Scriptures and encountering the Christ of the Bible, and the strength of societies who uphold its principles.

Notable sayings:

Abraham Lincoln: “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man.”

W.E. Gladstone: “I have known ninety five of the world’s great men in my time, and of these eighty seven were followers of the Bible.”

George Washington: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

Sir Isaac Newton: “There are more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history.”

Thomas Huxley: “The Bible has been the Magna Charta of the poor and oppressed. The human race is not in a position to dispense with it.”

 
On a personal note:  After over 40 years of studying the Bible, I am totally convinced of its inspiration. It has truly been ” a light to my feet and a lamp for my path.” In times of difficulty the Spirit brings up just the right Scripture to guide or comfort me. Its promises shine through the dark places and give faith and hope for the future and the Presence of the Christ of the Bible is ever with me. The Bible is a book like no other. As the Holy Spirit breaths on it, Truth continues to pour from its pages. In the area of Typology, one can see that the patterns which God has laid down in the nation of Israel were fulfilled in Jesus and are being fulfilled in the history of the Church. God is working in history towards a goal – the Kingdom of God on Earth as it is in Heaven. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would lead and guide us into all truth and show us things to come, and He does - through the pages of the Bible. The Word and the Spirit are the witnesses to Truth that God has given us. The Bible has stood the test of time and is still the world’s best seller. Jesus said “Heaven and Earth may pass away, but My Word will never pass away.” 

THE ANVIL OF GOD’S WORD

Last eve I paused beside a blacksmith’s door
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime.
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers worn, beating years of time.

“How many anvils have you had,” said I,
“To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
“Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
“The anvil wears the hammers out you know.”

And so,” I thought, “The Anvil of God’s Word,
For ages sceptic blows have beat upon,
Yet though the noise of falling blows was heard,
                                                 The Anvil is unchanged, the hammers gone.”

By John Clifford