Oct 252012
 

bible-scroll-logo_thumbLast week I said how the bible was ‘God’s book’ and how by reading it we can get to know God’s opinions on a wide variety of subjects and also discover His will for our lives. But how can we be sure we can trust it, especially with life’s biggest decisions? How accurate and trustworthy is the bible we hold in our hands?

We can be confident in the bible because of the various tests it is subjected to, alongside all other ancient manuscripts.

Test 1 – How many manuscript copies are there?

Important ancient texts are copied many times. The more copies there are, the more confident we can be that they are almost identical to the original. The bible (especially the New Testament) has an unprecedented amount of copies, which have been found in numerous occasions at different times and in different languages. These can all be compared with each other.

We can see in the table below a comparison between some of the other ancient manuscripts and the New Testament. The results speak for themselves

Author

When Written

Earliest Copy

Time Span

No. of Copies

Homer (Iliad)

900 BC

400 BC

500 years

643

Ceasar (The Gallic Wars)

100 – 44 BC

900 AD

1,000 years

10

Plato (Tetralogies)

427 – 347 BC

900 AD

1,200 years

7

Aristotle

384 – 322 BC

1,100 AD

1,400 years

49

Herodotus (History)

480 – 425 BC

900 AD

1,300 years

8

Euripedes

480 – 406 BC

1,100 AD

1,500 years

9

New Testament

50 – 90 A.D.

130 AD

30 years

24,000

 

You must also bear in mind the meticulous detail the Jewish scribes went to in copying these manuscripts. They would check and double check, counting the words and letters forwards as well as backwards. If even the smallest error was found the whole thing would be destroyed and they would start again.

You will also note in the table above the short time span between when the original was written and the earliest copy discovered. This too is very important.

Test 2 – The Internal test

What does the bible claim about itself? Many of the books are historical documents of actual events. The books are also written by eye-witnesses who witnessed the amazing events themselves. Have a look at these verses; John 19:35, 1 John1:1-3, 2 Peter 1:16, Acts 2:22 and 1 Peter 5:1

Even though the bible is a collection of different books, many of the authors quote or refer to the other books within the canon of scripture. In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter refers to Paul’s writings as ‘scripture’ and one of my favourite verses is 2 Timothy 3:16 which is a bold quote indeed.

Test 3 – The external test

What Does Outside Evidence Say About the Bible?

Because the Bible is a collection of documents written within history, it contains references to history which can be verified by archaeology. It is interesting that before the 20th century, many critics of the Bible discredited it, due to lack of evidence for certain biblical claims. Yet, in the 20th century, many archaeological discoveries have shown that indeed the bible was correct after all. Archaeology cannot prove the Bible, but every new find gives more weight to the historical accuracy of the Bible.

The first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus made specific references to John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and James in his ‘Antiquities of the Jews’. In this work, Josephus gives us many background details about the Herods, the Sadducees and Pharisees, the high priests like Annas and Caiaphas, and the Roman emperors mentioned in the gospels and Acts. There are many other mentions besides his that are ‘outside’ the Christian faith.

Many people have tried to discredit the bible over the centuries but it has stood the test of time, even scholars who have set out to disprove the bible and cast doubt on it simply do not have enough evidence. They desperately want it to fail, because if it does, they don’t have to face up to the truth about what it says. We can be confident that we have God’s word. He won’t let the truth die, he has a vested interest in all mankind knowing the truth so that we can be set-free and get to know Him as He first intended. He wants us to read the ‘makers instructions’ and not be so proud that we can work it out for ourselves.

Until next time – keep reading!!

“The more you read the Bible; and the more you meditate on it, the more you will be astonished with it.” (C.H Spurgeon)

 “Leave not off reading the Bible till you find your hearts warmed… Let it not only inform you, but inflame you.” (Thomas Watson)

 October 25, 2012  Posted by at 11:41 pm Bible No Responses »
Oct 192012
 

OpenBibleI love the bible. If you look through any of my blog posts, you will more than likely find that I have quoted many verses from the bible to support what I am saying.

The bible is such a precious book to me, it has shaped my life and influenced just about every decision I have ever made because it contains such wisdom. I am not the only one. As a Christian I believe the bible to be set apart from every other book that has been written because it claims to be directly inspired by God Himself. It is the makers’ manual. In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read; “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”, literally breathed out by God. Isn’t that amazing?

I thought I would start a new blog series on ‘God’s book’ looking at how it was put together, addressing some of the controversies and even looking at the differences between the various versions.

Bible facts

The bible has been read by more people and published and translated into more languages than any other book. It is a collection of 66 books compiled into two ‘testaments’ (meaning covenants); the Old and the New. The Old Testament has 39 books and the New Testament has 27.

Some other facts about the Bible:

· The Bible was written over a 1600 year span.

· It was written by over 40 authors from a wide variety of backgrounds including fishermen, herdsmen, doctors and kings.

· The various books were written on 3 continents; Asia, Africa and Europe.

· It was written in 3 languages; Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.

· The first translation of the English Bible was initiated by John Wycliffe and completed by John Purvey in A.D. 1388.

· The Bible was divided into chapters by Stephen Langton in around A.D. 1228.

· The Old Testament was divided into verses by R. Nathan in A.D. 1448 and the New Testament by Robert Stephanus in A.D. 1551.

The bible is unique in the following:

Teachings Its claims as the inspired Word of God.

Prophecy An astonishing 668 prophecies have been fulfilled (some given centuries before) and none have ever been proven false (three are as yet unconfirmed). No other world religion can make this claim. An honest study of biblical prophecy will compellingly show the divine authorship of the Bible.

History Covers 1600 years of ancient history.

Personalities It is unique in that it doesn’t gloss over peoples’ failings – even the writers themselves can be seen “warts and all”. (e.g. David & Bathsheba).

Influence on surrounding literature

Survival Roman emperors and political systems such as communism have sought to destroy it completely, without success. It has been criticised heavily throughout history but has stood the test of time. If this book had not been ‘The book of God’ men would have destroyed it long ago.

I hope to cover quite a bit in the next few weeks but if you have anything specific you would like me to cover, drop me a line or leave a comment and I’ll try to answer it. I will also post links to some good bible study plans which will help you read the bible systematically.

 October 19, 2012  Posted by at 4:44 pm Bible No Responses »
Oct 102012
 

God understandsHave you ever questioned God or asked where He is when you have faced dark times? It can be so easy to accuse God of being distant, of not caring or not understanding what we are going through.

The bible reveals that God does care; that He cares passionately about us and has taken personal responsibility to show us the full extent of His love. He is a God of action and at a specific point in history He stepped physically onto this earth as a man, experiencing all (and more) of the hurt and pain that afflicts us.

As I was looking through ‘The gospels’ this week it struck me again all that Jesus went through, from physical right through to emotional pain, heartache and abandonment. Meditate in wonder as I list some of the challenges and hurts that Jesus faced for us, because He loved us, because He wanted to sympathise and share with us.

Born in a cattle trough in a third world country in poverty, His parentage was immediately questioned having been born out of wedlock. His parents had to flee with Him to another country because a contract was out on His life (from the richest man in the land). His father died early but not before Mary had quite a few more children (at least 6), leaving Jesus in a single parent family with the responsibility on Him as the eldest son to provide for them. He lived in a peasant village which was seemingly despised across the country. During His ministry He was homeless, misunderstood by His own family, thought of as mad, accused of being a drunkard, a glutton and a friend of prostitutes and tax collectors.

During His final days He was abandoned, rejected and betrayed by His closest friends. He was slowly tortured with large nails driven through His hands and feet after being mercilessly beaten up and whipped until the flesh on His back was lacerated. A nail-like crown of thorns was driven into His skull. As He hung there with the shame of nakedness, jeered at and reviled, He then suffered the greatest pain of all, being abandoned by His father in heaven with whom He had intimate fellowship from all eternity, as He took on the weight of the whole world’s sin.

You can be sure that whatever you are going through at the moment, God has walked that path Himself. No-one would go through all of that if they did not love and care for you passionately. So if you are thinking of running away from God, turn around and run to Him instead. He understands.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

 October 10, 2012  Posted by at 7:43 pm Uncategorized 1 Response »
Oct 052012
 

Father heartLast week I went to a conference in Bedford (UK) organised by ‘The Kings Arms’ church. It was entitled “Intimacy & Identity – Father Heart Conference”. They have been running these conferences for a number of years, but this is the first one I have attended.

Following my experience in June at the ‘Heaven Touches Earth’ Conference held at the same venue, I was really looking forward to this visit. (Click here to see my report of that event). I wasn’t disappointed!

I was especially blessed because I had the joy of attending with my wife this time and so we were able to share the experience together. We were also joined by another 8 members of my church and it was lovely to spend time with them and get to know them better. I find Sunday mornings so busy – it was nice to be able to chill out with others away from that setting and start to get to know people properly.

We had some lovely times of extended worship mainly led by guest worship leader Lyn Swart from the Ivy Church in Manchester.

The main speaker was James Jordan, a New Zealander from Father Heart Ministries. He took some getting used to as to my mind he said a few things during the first session that I couldn’t really agree with. He also had a story telling style which was, shall we say, ‘light’ on biblical exegesis. I did however find myself warming to him as the conference went on. His passion was that we should know God as Father and this message is of vital importance for all of us. It is to change our understanding, our perspectives, motivation and experience of how we relate to God.

My favourite session was actually a seminar entitled ‘overhauling your quiet time’, excellently led by Phil & Carol Wilthew. I could listen to them all day and actually couldn’t wait to get back and overhaul my own quiet times (which to be honest have been pretty dry of late). I found it all very inspiring.

I was touched again by the warmth and friendliness of all who serve at Kings Arms, their attention to detail and the way they honoured with heartfelt applause all who contributed. This is something I would love to see replicated in every church.

I am looking forward to getting the downloads when they come out and I would encourage you, wherever you are at, to seek God as Father and to get to know Him in a deeper way. His arms are always open.

 October 5, 2012  Posted by at 5:25 pm Uncategorized 2 Responses »