The Reliability of the Holy Bible and Other Skeptics Questions:

I have been confronted recently on the reliability of the Christian Bible. There were several issues that were brought forth to me, and I will try to respond to some of them on this post.

I will start with the “Reliability of the Bible”
– The Bible is 98% textually pure. Through all the copying of the Biblical manuscripts of the entire Bible, only 2% has any question about it. Nothing in all of the ancient writings of the entire world approaches the accuracy of the biblical documents.

– The 2 percent that is in question does not affect doctrine. The areas of interest are called variants, and they consist mainly in variations of wording and spelling.

– The NT has over 5000 supporting Greek manuscripts existing today with another 20,000 manuscripts in other languages. Some of the manuscript evidence dates to within 100 years of the original writing. There is less than a 2% textual variation in the NT manuscripts.

– Some of the supporting manuscripts of the NT are:
1. John Rylands MS written around A.D. 130, the oldest existing fragment of the gospel of John.
2. Bodmer Papyrus II (A.D. 150-200).
3. Chester Beatty Papyri (A.D. 200) contains major portions of the NT.
4. Codex Vaticanus (A.D. 325-350) contains nearly all the Bible.
5. Codex Sinaiticus (A.D. 350) contains almost all the NT and over half of the OT.

Next, “When were the gospels written?”

– None of the gospels mention the death of Peter and Paul (A.D.ish 60-62) nor the Neronic persecution (A.D. 64) nor the destruction of the Jewish temple in A.D. 70–that Jesus prophesied would occur in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Why would the book of Acts not contain the super-significant events of the death of Peter and Paul and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple since it is a history of the early Christian Church, persecution, and also included Peter and Paul’s accounts and travels? The logical conclusion is that it was written before these events. Furthermore, Luke was written before Acts, and most scholars agree that Matthew and Mark were written before Luke.

Why would the book of Acts not contain the super-significant events of the death of Peter and Paul (A.D. 60?) and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (A.D. 70) since Acts is a history of the early Christian Church and included Peter and Paul’s accounts and travels? Logically, this would infer it was written prior to these dates.

This is significant because Jesus had prophesied its destruction when He said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down” (Luke 21:6, see also Matt. 24:1; Mark 13:1). If they were written after the A.D. 70 destruction, don’t you think they would have included the event?

– Matthew: The various dates most widely held as possible writing dates of the Gospel are between A.D. 40-140. But Ignatius died around A.D. 115, and he quoted Matthew. Therefore, Matthew had to be written before he died. Nevertheless, it is generally believed that Matthew was written before A.D. 70 and as early as A.D. 50.

– Mark: Mark (the disciple of Peter received his information from Peter) is said to be the earliest gospel with an authorship of between A.D. 55 to A.D. 70.

– Luke: Luke was written before the book of Acts; and Acts does not mention “Nero’s persecution of the Christians in A.D. 64 or the deaths of the apostle James (Gal. 1:19, A.D. 62), Paul (A.D. 64), and Peter (A.D. 65).” Therefore, we can conclude that Luke was written before A.D. 62.

– John: The John Rylands papyrus fragment 52 of John’s gospel dated in the year 125-135 contains portions of John 18, verses 31-33, 37-38. This fragment was found in Egypt. It is the last of the gospels and appears to have been written in the 80s to 90s.

An important note is the lack of mention of the destruction of the Jewish temple in A.D. 70. But this is understandable since John was not focusing on historical events and was most probably written 20 or so years after the destruction of the Temple. John focused on the theological aspect of the person of Christ and listed His miracles and words that affirmed Christ’s deity.

– Book of Acts
Similarly, the book of Acts which was written after the gospel of Luke by Luke himself. Acts is a history of the Christian church right after Jesus’ ascension. Acts also fails to mention the incredibly significant events of A.D. 70 which would have been extremely relevant and prophetically important, yet it is not mentioned in Acts. Why? Because it was written before A.D. 70.

Acts does not include the accounts of “Nero’s persecution of the Christians in A.D. 64 or the deaths of the apostle James (Gal. 1:19, A.D. 62), Paul (A.D. 64), and Peter (A.D. 65),” and we have further evidence that it was written very early and not long after Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

“At the earliest, Acts cannot have been written prior to the latest firm chronological marker recorded in the book: Festus’ appointment as procurator (Acts 24:27), which, on the basis of independent sources, appears to have occurred between A.D. 55 and 59.”

“It is increasingly admitted that the Logia [Q] was very early, before A.D. 50, and Mark likewise if Luke wrote the Acts while Paul was still alive. Luke’s Gospel comes before the Acts (Acts 1:1). The date of Acts is still in dispute, but the early date (about A.D. 63) is gaining support constantly.”

If what is said of Acts is true, this would mean that Luke was written at least before A.D. 63 and possibly before 55-59 since Acts is the second in the series of writings by Luke. This means that the gospel of Luke was written within 30 years of Jesus’ death.

– Massacre of the babies
Bethlehem, as far as the Romans were concerned, was an insignificant and very small town located about five miles south of Jerusalem at around 2500 feet elevation. It probably had a population of no more than 500-600 people. Micah 5:2 it says, “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah . . . ”
If there were as many as 600 people in Bethlehem, how many children would have been under the age of two? Ten, twenty, thirty? Whatever the number, it would not have been hundreds. It would have been relatively few. Add to this the fact that Herod was known for committing horrendous crimes against people and you could see why this event in an insignificant village in the Jewish area might be ignored.

– Jews wandering in the desert
It may be that the traditional site of Mt. Sinai is incorrect. Gal. 4:25 says “Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.” Present theories dealing with Mt. Sinai’s location have it in the Sinai Peninsula, yet the Bible says it was in Arabia.

– Darkness at Christ’s death
“Circa AD 52, Thallus wrote a history of the Eastern Mediterranean world from the Trojan War to his own time. This work itself has been lost and only fragments of it exist in the citations of others. One such scholar who knew and spoke of it was Julius Africanus, who wrote about AD 221 . . . In speaking of Jesus crucifixion and the darkness that covered the land during this event, Africanus found a reference in the writings of Thallus that dealt with this cosmic report. Africanus asserts: ‘On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.'”

– Prophecies of the Bible
Odds of Jesus filling the prophecies:
The odds of Jesus fulfilling 48 of the 61 major prophecies concerning Him are 1 in 10157; that is a one with 157 zeros behind it. By comparison, the estimated number of electrons in the entire known universe is about 1079; that is a one with 79 zeros behind it.

– Virgin birth prophecy
Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Note: the Jews who translated the Septuagint (Greek Translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) translated Isaiah 7:14 as the word virgin–not young maiden.
Matt. 1:18,25, “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary . . . was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit . . . But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”

– Born in Bethlehem
Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Matt. 2:1, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.”

– Preceded by a messenger
Isaiah 40:3, “A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.'”
Matt. 3:1-2, “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.'”

– Side pierced
Zech. 12:10, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one mourns for an only son.”
John 19:34, “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

– Crucifixion
Psalm 22:16-18, “a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”
Luke 23:33, “When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals–one on his right, the other on his left.”
John 19:33, “But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.”
John 19:23-24, “When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes . . . they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did.”

– Scientific Accuracies in the Bible
The spherical shape of the earth (Isaiah 40:22).
The earth is suspended in nothing (Job. 26:7).
The stars are innumerable (Gen. 15:5).
The existence of valleys in the seas (2 Sam. 22:16).
The existence of springs and fountains in the sea (Gen.7:11; 8:2; Prov. 8:28).
The existence of water paths (ocean currents) in the seas (Psalm 8:8).
The water cycle (Job. 26:8; 36:27-28; 37:16; 38:25-27; Ps. 135:7; Ecc. 1:6-7).
The fact that all living things reproduce after their own kind (Gen. 1:21; 6:19).
The nature of health, sanitation, and sickness (Gen.17:9-14; Lev. 12-14).
The concept of entropy, that energy is running down (Psalm 102:26).

God Bless

Brian Mason

Advertisements

European Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians 2016-2017 Report

When you are confronted by an unbeliever stating that there is little or no intolerance or discrimination against Christians, here is a plethora of documentation, refuting that erroneous statement. Keep in mind that this is only Europe, not the rest of the world.

Please pray for our Christian Brothers and Sisters!

https://www.intoleranceagainstchristians.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/publications/files/Report-2018-final.pdf

https://www.intoleranceagainstchristians.eu/index.php?id=50

God Bless

Brian Mason

Does the Bible State That God is the Author of Confusion?

Genesis 11: 7-9 (NASB); 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

1 Corinthians 1: 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,

According to the above scriptures, God is the author of confusion. The following scripture reads that He is not:

1 Corinthians 14:33; for God is not a God of confusion but of [m]peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

God is not the author of confusion but He approves of order and peace. However, there is no reason to believe that God cannot bring confusion or destruction to the rebels of God’s Word.
Read Deuteronomy 28:15; “But it shall come about, if you do not [o]obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:

God can bring confusion to the wicked and those who do not obey the Word of God!

God Bless
Brian Mason

The Rapture Sign of 2017

Here is a very interesting article, scripturally accurate about the possibility of the Rapture of Jesus’ followers this year. I have bookmarked it and will consider the article for further review. I have also ordered the book “The Witness of the Stars” by E.W. Bullinger. I know that the Rapture is always being predicted, but this article looks like a valid argument!

http://www.marylutyndall.com/2016/09/the-rapture-sign-of-2017.html?m=1

Any thoughts?

God Bless
Brian Mason

Important Read: Islam “Begin on Saturday, Finish on Sunday”

Christians wake up to this inflammatory hate speech!

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3943/begin-saturday-finish-sunday

Please pray that the Islamic radicals turn to Christ! More and more Muslims are converting to Christianity. Some are seeing visions of Jesus!
Please pass this article on.

God Bless
Brian Mason

Free Will: What Does It Mean Based On Scripture?

“Free Will” is a term that is commonly brought up in bible discussions, but what does it mean? Calvin said that it was a term that he didn’t want to bring up in conversation. In fact, Calvin wrote in “Institutes”: “Man will then be spoken as having this sort of free decision, not because he has free choice equally, of good and evil, but because he acts wickedly by will, not by compulsion. Well put, indeed, but what purpose is served by labeling with a proud name such a petty thing?” “But how few men are there, I ask, who when they hear free will attributed to man do not immediately conceive him to be master of both his mind and will, able of his own power to turn himself toward either good or evil…If anyone, then, can use his word without understanding it in a bad sense. I shall not trouble him on this account…I’d prefer not to use it myself, and I should like others, if they seek my advice, to avoid it”.

Nowhere in the bible does it say that we are “free” in the sense of being outside of God’s control. Neither does it read that we are allowed to be free to do right of our own volition without God’s power.

Absolute freedom that is totally out of God’s control is not possible. God maintains and directs all things providentially in this universe by Himself. So the challenge is to interpret the word “free.” If we were able to be “free” to make our own choices, then we would be equal to God in respect to our will. God will know our choices before we make them, but does that mean we are not free to make choices? Absolutely not.

Acts 4:27-28 27 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.

God Bless

Brian Mason