By the end of 2020, the annual total of Bibles printed will be 95-million. That is nearly double the number printed 20 years earlier. Most of us living in North America take Bible availability for granted. Almost every day, I get a catalog offering a variety of Bibles in all kinds and sizes, and with a growing variety of translations.
In 1900, five-million Bibles were printed, and you could find them in motel rooms everywhere. As an atheist, I stole my first Bible from a hotel room. In high school in 1955, Bibles were distributed to every student at the start of the school year. In 60 years, we have moved to the point where schools are sued for allowing Bible distribution, and schools take disciplinary actions against a child or teacher for bringing a Bible to school.
More to the point is the fact that in many countries, Bibles are hard to find. In 1900 there were 2300 people for every one Bible printed. Now that figure is 82 people per Bible. What that tells us is that even today, God’s Word is not available to a vast number of people. There are ministries attempting to change that. It is easy to understand why morals are very different in various parts of the world when people don’t have access to God’s instructions for conduct.
As secularism, atheism, and paganism continue to attack the Bible, we can expect to see more conflict and power struggles. Conflict is rising in America and continues in much of Africa and Asia. The situation highlights the mission of this ministry. The total of Bibles printed means little if people don’t bother to read them because they don’t believe in God. A presentation of the evidence for God, the Bible, and the teachings of Jesus, along with the living example of real Christians, can change the world.
If there is one phrase that needs to shout to everyone on the planet in 2020, it is “Look at the evidence!!” From the president of this country to the teenagers across this land, there has been a huge failure to look at the scientific evidence. Despite all the evidence for how the Covid-19 virus spreads, we still have young people who party without masks, even in a closed interior environment. In spite of the fires on the west coast, the significant increase in hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, the melting of the polar ice caps, and the rise in temperature of the oceans, we still have people denying climate change. Even within the Church, we have a disdain for scientific evidence.
Those who follow Jesus Christ should be the most likely to respond to evidence. Jesus appealed to people to look at the evidence. He told people to see for themselves that things are true. When Thomas was unable to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, how did Jesus convince him? Did He engage Thomas in a philosophical/theological discussion about how the resurrection was logically reasonable? Did He demand that Thomas believe as a test of faith? Read John 20:27-29 and see what He did.
The fact is that the resurrection, all of Jesus’ appearances after the resurrection, and most of the miracles before He died were to provide evidence so that people could believe. Just like today, some people refused to look at the evidence. They suggested that the miracles were fake, but the kind of miracles Jesus performed could not be faked.
It wasn’t just the miracles that Jesus used to validate His existence as the Son of God. His teachings did that as well. The parables of Jesus were not unbelievable fantasy stories. They were practical, true-to-life, easy to understand evidences for the truths He was teaching. When Jesus talked about relying on God, did He use theological and philosophical models to convince His listeners? Read passages like Matthew 6:25-34. You will find Jesus talking about examples that everyone knew about–fowls of the air, changing one’s height, and the flowers of the field.
Using the things that God has created to teach and make doctrinal points is not denigrating God. Read Romans 1:19-32 and notice what Paul uses to convict the Romans of the destructive path they are following.
Today, we see vast numbers of people refusing to look at the evidence. We don’t need to engage them in philosophical discussions. We need to show them the evidence that God does exist, that He is the God of the Bible, and that Jesus is His Son.
Those who do not wish to follow the Bible point out teachings that seem uncomfortable in the 21st century. One of those teachings is the role of women in the Bible and the limitations it seems to impose on them. These people often hold up 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34 as proof that the Bible is a male chauvinistic book with a heavy bias against women. Both passages say that women are to be silent and not usurp the authority of the men. Critics also point out Titus 2: 3-5 as a passage that defines women as “keepers of the home” and obedient to their husbands.
The truth is that the life and teachings of Christ and the New Testament are the single most liberating teachings ever written about the role of women. The role of women in the Bible was ahead of its time. In studying a manuscript of any kind, you have to look at who wrote it, to whom they wrote it, why they wrote it, and how the people it was written to would have understood it. All of those passages were written at a time when women were property, were dependent on either their husband or father, and had no personal rights.
Jesus set a whole new standard for dealing with women. In John 4, He not only treated a woman as an equal, to the dismay of His disciples, but He ignored the racial and ethnic prejudice of the current culture. In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus treated Mary and Martha as significant players in His work. Mary Magdalene was active in Jesus’ ministry and was the first person He appeared to after His resurrection (Mark 16:9). Luke 8:1-3 tells us that a group of women were the prominent supporters of Jesus as He traveled and taught.
In 1 Corinthians 14:26-28, Paul advised a congregation about dealing with a worship service that had become a circus. Everyone was speaking at once, so Paul tells them to deal only with edifying speeches and otherwise to keep quiet. He concludes by saying, “God is not the author of confusion but of peace.” Then he addresses married women (not all women) and asks them to contribute to the solving of the chaos by discussing questions at home.
First Timothy 2:9-15 and Titus 2:3-5 are passages that deal with the roles of Christians in the culture in which they live. The family was not a significant part of Roman life. The Romans used family for politics, but the inconveniences of family life were brutally managed. An unwanted baby was thrown out in the street to die. (Our culture simply does this surgically or chemically before birth.) Paul writes to the young preachers Timothy and Titus to encourage the building of families according to God’s plan. These passages deal with the institution of families. Being a wife and mother was not the only role for a woman. The book of Acts tells of women with unique roles. Lydia had a high-end business, and many women are mentioned as having key roles in the early Church.
The early Church protected the roles of men and women. Women have a role available to them in being mothers (See 1 Timothy 2:15), but men have no role guaranteed to them. Women can indeed do just about anything a man can do, and in some cases, do it better. In that light, God gave men the role of being leaders in the worship service. That is one role men can fill, and God knew Christian women cared enough about their brothers in Christ to allow them to have that role. You don’t lose your identity by loving enough to allow another human being to do something you could do. The role of women in the Bible was counter-cultural for the time.
No matter who you are or what your situation in life, dealing with gender identity and lifestyles in the 21st century is a challenge.Christians have a special difficulty because the Bible is quite clear on the topic. Genesis 1:24 states that a man should “leave his mother and father, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Romans 1:24-32 describes in very negative terms those who “dishonor their own bodies between themselves.” Verses 26-27 leave no doubt that the passage is describing homosexual acts.
The problem is that humans don’t follow God’s teachings, and that leads to difficult choices. David’s sin with Bathsheba led to murder and massive family problems for David. Saul’s failure to obey God led to the loss of his kingship and to his death. We frequently create our own problems by disobeying God, and then we struggle to undo the consequences of our misconduct.
God’s plan for every human was to be conceived and raised in a home that was dominated by a loving father and mother. This is still the ideal, and it is the way to avoid many of the problems we see in our world today. But many children are born to and raised by a less than ideal set of parents. One consequence of this is that they have self-image problems and struggle with gender identity and lifestyles and their role in the world. In addition to that, many children are abused, causing them major psychological issues. As our world turns away from God and rejects biblical teachings, children are being taught things that conflict with God’s word and with common sense.
Christians must approach gender identity and lifestyles like any other behavioral issue. We must respect and be kind to everyone. We can love the person without loving everything about them. From personal experience, I can tell you that a homosexual couple living next door is much less of a problem than an alcoholic living next door. Sharing the love of Christ with others by serving them is the one sure way to build bridges of hope and faith.
One of the problems we all face is knowing whether the healthcare products we see advertised and on the store shelves actually work. The fact is that many of the advertised items are totally useless. In October of 2019, the Center for Inquiry sued Walmart for putting useless homeopathic products on shelves beside valid medicines. On May 20, 2020, the homeopathy lawsuit was dismissed by the District of Columbia Superior Court.
The Center for Inquiry said their concern is that consumers wouldn’t know what was useful and what was not. A good example is that just about every drug store and department store like Walmart sells products claiming to protect us from memory loss. Research has shown that most of them are useless. The Center for Inquiry will appeal the court’s decision. They have also filed a similar lawsuit against CVS, the country’s largest pharmacy chain.
Many of the products promoted as homeopathic cures have religious claims and are marketed by religious figures. We have had a personal interest in this with a family member using a homeopathic treatment for cancer to the exclusion of established medical treatment. That error ultimately resulted in the death of our loved one.
There is a biblical example of this in Acts 8:9-24 where a man called Simon “used sorcery and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest saying that this man is the great power of God; and to him they had regard, because that for a long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.” (Verses 9-11) There have always been scams and con artists who take people’s money for things that simply don’t work.
So how do we protect ourselves? The fact that the homeopathy lawsuit was dismissed should not prevent us from being skeptical of health claims made by anyone, including religious leaders or celebrities. Ask your doctor about anything you put into or on your body. There is a website called Quackwatch, which has links to health claims and products.
Taking care of our bodies is taking care of the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). We need to realize that doing that requires some effort on our part.
The Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation is a publication that provides articles on faith written by scientists who believe in God. In the September 2020 issue, editor James Peterson tells a story about standing in line at a home improvement store. While waiting, he had a discussion with a young couple about wearing a face mask. The two people’s response tells a lot about the condition of our society, thanks to the rejection of God and the Bible as a guide to life. Here is the discussion:
Peterson to Girl: “Are you aware that people wear surgical masks like the one I am wearing to protect other people, not themselves? I know for myself that I don’t like wearing a mask, and it does not protect me. It is to protect you.” Girl to Peterson: “Masks don’t make any difference. You are either going to get the virus or not.” Peterson: “So it is all fate? Nothing you can do?” She nods with resignation. Peterson to her friend: “You see it that way too?” Friend to Peterson: “You don’t want to know what I think.” Peterson to friend: “You sound like you may be angry.” Friend to Peterson in a loud voice: “I am. I don’t give a **** about anybody but me. If it doesn’t help me, I’m not doing it, and you and nobody else is going to make me!!”
Peterson wrote, “So in 30 seconds flat, I had a reminder that we have our work cut out for us, and it matters.” As a Christian and a scientist, Peterson knows that wearing a face mask is only one small indicator of the state of our society. Later in Peterson’s article, he says, “Stuff 300 chimpanzees in a plane and they will tear the plane apart. Most humans just think about it.” His point is that evolutionists suggest that altruism and cooperation result in an evolutionary advantage for passing on our genes.
The American public’s response to the pandemic has been revealing and shows how the rejection of God has already influenced our society. Young adults will attend a party or go to a beach, knowing that they are exposing themselves to a contagious disease. The desire for pleasure while believing they are fit and will survive the virus drives them onward. Thinking of anything but their own immediate comfort causes a vast percentage of our population to refuse social distancing and wearing a face mask.
Some religious people who might care about others have accepted the political propaganda that the whole thing is fake until they see older family members die from the virus. Indeed, our work is cut out for us. We need to get back to basics. There is a God, and He has told us how to live. Taking care of the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16) and showing love for others (Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 19:18) should affect how we deal with the people around us.
I am amazed by the lack of understanding of our planet and how it works. It is astounding how the public refuses to take the cause and treatment of the current pandemic seriously. Politicians worldwide are promoting distrust of just about everything, making progress on any level almost impossible. The Bible is the one thing that we can trust, but since atheism and false religions have taken over the planet, people reject the Bible’s teachings and create chaos all around us. Are we doomed?
Proverbs 8:32-33 quotes wisdom as saying, “…hearken unto me…hear instruction and be wise and refuse it not.” Romans 1:17-32 tells us that we can know God by understanding the creation. The meaning of those passages is more evident today than ever before. We now have the means of seeing the vastness of the cosmos, and understanding how fragile Earth is. We see pictures of polluted skies, contaminated lakes and rivers, and plastic-filled oceans. When we see images of starving people around the world, that should motivate us to make changes. You can see evidence for global warming if you will look. There is no debate possible about pollution or water shortages. Look at the evidence and “hearken to wisdom.”
Scientific American (September 2020, pages 74-81) published an article by Peter Brannen titled “The Worst Times on Earth.” Brannen surveys the evidence of mass extinctions and the implications for the future. He offers logical solutions to likely future catastrophes. If we believe that God created the cosmos, we understand that wisdom and design went into every corner of the creation. We know that God told us to “take care of the garden” (Genesis 2:15). As Christians, we are told to serve others as if our salvation depended on it, because it does. (See Matthew 25:31-46.)
Are we doomed? We know that God will ultimately destroy the creation (2 Peter 3:10), but He will not allow humans to do it. We may make the planet uncomfortable to live on. We may pass on a contaminated, overheated Earth to future generations. Hopefully, we will heed the words of Proverbs 8 and Romans 1 and be wise in what we believe about the creation, how we use our money and energy to make this physical world better, and how we vote.
Are we doomed? As Christians, the answer is loud and clear. NO!!We have hope no matter what happens here in the physical world. We know that we have a spiritual existence beyond the grave that is totally free of all human ignorance, selfishness, greed, and stupidity. The God whom wisdom describes in Proverbs 8 has promised it to us.
Second Timothy 3:16-17 says that all Scripture is inspired by God, and God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work. One of the major evidences that the Bible is not a human creation is the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled. The correlation between the prophecies of the ancient books and the historical documentation of Jesus fulfilling those prophecies is fantastic.
Atheists and biblical minimalists have tried to use all kinds of explanations to deny the proof from prophecies. We have a list of 44 prophecies that were fulfilled by Christ. Many of these prophecies were beyond the ability of any human to fulfill. You have a hard time saying that Jesus made special arrangements to fulfill them all. Here are 20 examples:
*Christ would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah. Micah 5:2 (There were two Bethlehems.) -Fulfilled in Matthew 2:1 and Luke 2:4-6
*Christ would be a descendant of Jacob and Isaac. Numbers 24:17, Genesis 17:19 and 21:12 -Fulfilled in Matthew 1:2 and Luke 3:34
*Christ would spend time in Egypt. Hosea 11:1 -Fulfilled in Matthew 2:14-15
*A massacre of children would happen at Christ’s birthplace. Jeremiah 31:15 -Fulfilled in Matthew 2:16-18
*A messenger would prepare the way for Christ. Isaiah 40:3-5 -Fulfilled in Luke 3:3-6
*Christ would be preceded by “Elijah.” Malachi 4:5-6 -Fulfilled in Matthew 11:13-14
*Christ would be rejected by his own people. Psalms 69:8 and Isaiah 53:3 -Fulfilled in John 1:11 and 7:5.
*Christ would be declared the Son of God. Psalms 2:7 -Fulfilled in Matthew 3:16-17
*Christ would speak in parables. Psalm 78:2-4. Isaiah 6:9-10 -Fulfilled in Mathew 13:10-15, 34-35.
*Christ would be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Psalms 110:4 -Fulfilled in Hebrews 5:5-6.
*Christ would be praised by little children. Psalms 8:2 -Fulfilled in Matthew 21:16
*Christ would be sold for 30 pieces of silver. Zechariah 11:12 -Fulfilled in Matthew 26:14-16.
*Christ’s price money would be used to buy a potter’s field. Zechariah 11:13 -Fulfilled in Matthew 27:9-10
*Christ would be spat on and struck. Isaiah 50:6 -Fulfilled in Matthew 26:67
*Christ would be crucified with criminals. Isaiah 53:12 -Fulfilled in Matthew 27:38
*Christ would be given vinegar to drink. Psalms 69:21 -Fulfilled in Matthew 27:34
*Christ’s hands and feet would be pierced. Psalms 22:16. Zechariah. 12:10 -Fulfilled in John 20:25-27
*Soldiers would gamble for Christ’s garments. Psalms 22:18 -Fulfilled in Matthew 27:35-36 and Luke 23:34.
*Christ’s bones would not be broken. Exodus 12:46, Psalms 34:20 -Fulfilled in John 19:33-36
*Soldiers would pierce Christ’s side. Zechariah 12:10 -Fulfilled in John 19:34
When you consider the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled, realize that they were written many hundreds of years before the New Testament historical events. To see our previous posts on Old Testament prophecies of Christ click HERE and HERE.
Churches are seeing an exodus of young people. One reason is that many do not provide relevant teaching for building faith in God and the Bible. I recently received an announcement by a well-known preacher that he was beginning a series of lessons on reasons to believe in Jesus. I’m sure that the lessons will be outstanding, but will they address the things that are keeping young adults away from the Church?
The listing of evidences in the announcement included the empty tomb, the stone taken away, the grave clothes lying there, the eyewitness testimony, the faith of the apostles, and the conversion of James and Paul. Those are all evidences based on the Bible. Those of us with a long history of hearing sermons and being in Bible classes are familiar with the biblical teachings and believe them to be true. We still need to have our faith strengthened, so we are not denigrating this kind of teaching. But building faith in God and the Bible requires more than quoting the Bible. Where is the Church failing the unchurched, and, in many cases, failing the children of church members?
In recent postings, we have dealt with the popular teachings of Bart Ehrman, who devotes many of his books and articles to attacking the biblical account. We receive many letters from skeptics and atheists attacking the biblical account based on Ehrman’s material. Magazines like the Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic Magazine are full of attacks on the Christ and the Bible. The leader of many attacks in these atheist publications is Michael Shermer, a former preacher, and graduate of Pepperdine University. The Freedom From Religion organization joins the attacks with advertisements in Scientific American and other popular scientific journals.
It is essential for church leaders to understand that young adults receive a heavy dose of attacks on the Bible. Quoting the Bible as proof of something only works for people who believe the Bible is 100% true. Most of our preacher training schools have a single course on apologetics. They pay very little attention to archeological evidence, historical support, and scientific answers to the skeptic attacks. Building faith in God and the Bible requires more than quoting the Bible.
Bible classes for young people must include evidence that does not depend on scripture alone.This ministry provides resources to do that, and we often review books that give this kind of support. We are in the process of completing a video series by John Cooper on archaeological support for the Bible. We have a museum in York, Nebraska, designed to show through artifacts the credibility of the Biblical account. Before we quote scripture to prove anything, we need to be sure that the person we are dealing with believes the Bible is from God. God has given us the tools to do that, and we must use them.
As we have pointed out before, the followers of Christ spoke Aramaic rather than Greek. The reason for this is that Aramaic was the language of the common people, and Christ dealt with the common people. The better-educated intellectuals of that day spoke Greek. Why then are the New Testament manuscripts written in Greek? Atheists have maintained that the Bible’s human authors were people other than the apostles and eyewitnesses, and they wrote the manuscripts at a later time.
Atheist scholar Bart Ehrman wrote, “It seems unlikely that the uneducated, lower-class, illiterate disciples of Jesus played the decisive role in the literary compositions that have come down through history under their names.” (From Ehrman’s book The followers of Jesus in history and Legend, page 45.)
Jesus and the Church of the first century indeed reached out to the common people. Christianity was not and is not a faith just for intellectuals. Paul certainly handled the academics, as demonstrated in Acts 17, when he carried on the debate with the Epicureans and Stoics in Athens. However, the claim that intellectuals wrote the scriptures later because the early Christians were too ignorant is an uninformed position.
Matthew the tax collector wrote the book of Mathew (Mathew 10:3). Tax collectors were not uneducated people, and the masses did not like them. The Romans required tax collectors to be fluent in several languages. They used a wax-covered wooden tablet called a pinax to record notes, which were then transcribed to papyrus. Luke was a physician, according to Colossians 4:14, and physicians were trained to pull eyewitness accounts into a coherent report as Luke did. (See Luke 1:1-4.) Paul certainly was capable of writing in Greek. Galatians 6:11 and Philemon 1:19-21 indicates Paul could do his own writing, but scribes sometimes wrote for individuals. Paul mentions that in Romans 16:22 and Peter in 1 Peter 5:12.
It is strange that atheists would attempt to denigrate the apostles’ intelligence and writing capacity when people living at that time did not choose to do so. The complaint about the Bible’s human authors was about their message of love and forgiveness free of greed and control. That problem still exists today. We can know the Bible is the word of God and came from God due to its message, not because of the academic pedigree of its human authors.