The Bible, is it Reliable?
Take a look at the Good Book
I applaud you on your courage to discover the truth within the pages of the Bible for yourself. To put its writings to the test and have God meet you in a personal way on your own journey on His Route 66. He promised that if you honestly seek Him, He will find you. I remember reading a Bible study by Tommy Tenney called the "God Catchers." In it, he likened the relationship of us seeking God as a father and son playing hide and seek. The game is not inteded to keep the son from finding the father and producing frustration, but it is an intimate interaction of love between a man and his offspring. The adult father will purposely hide in such a way to be obvious, but in order for the game to function, the son has to search and the bonding between the two would begin. The first connection is that wonderful moment of "A-ha!" when the Father is found.
"Ask and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives and he who seeks finds. To him who knocks, it will be opened. What father among you if you son asks for a fish will instad of a fish give him a scoprion? if you then, you are evil know who to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Hopy Spirit to those who ask him?" Luke 11: 9-13
Another favorite author of mine is Beth Moore. She likens this relationship with God as one with her husband. To have a fulfilling relationship, you need a balance of security and mystery. you can't have just security, then the relationship would become stagnant, rule-driven and boring. You can't have just mystery because it would make you feel unstable, frightened and lack intimacy. A thriving relationship whether it be with a friend, husband or your God needs a balance of both. You need to have assurance that they are never going to leave and that you need the rest of your life to learn eveything about them!
Our God is a gentleman who will make Himself known to those who invite Him to do so. Don't underestimate His goodness, He does bless those who do not know Him, just because He is compassionate, but His purpose it that you would know and trust Him.
"I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me." Revelation 3:20
If we are going to view the Bible, the Route 66 with fresh eyes, start with the basics at the beginning. The Bible is divided into two parts, the Old and the New Testament. Boiled down to our modern calendar, that is "B.C."or before Christ" and "A.D." or Latin for anno domini, the year of our Lord. Today, A.D. has been 'modernized' to M.E.D. meaning 'Modern Day Era' and comletely cutting out any reference to God. The Old Testament gives the Law, the Prophets foretelling God's plan of redemption, songs, poems and history. It is the story of God's creation, His special relationship with His chosen nation of Israel, and His covenant with them until the time when God sends his Son. Woven through the Old Testament is God's exquisite love for mankind and He leads us to the New Testament in which we meet Jesus Christ, who fulfills every single prophecy from hundreds of years prior. Jesus meets God's perfect standard and willingly deals with the problem of sin in order to restore our relationship with God. The New Testament describes the early church and echoes His mercy and character until the final conflict of good and eveil as explained in the last book of Revelation.
Whoa! We just traveled Route 66 by air, skipping from Santa Monica, California to Chigago, Illinois in seconds flat. Let's go back and begin this journey again through the lesuirely pace of traveling in a convertible automobile. Before we start the trip, we need to pause at a rest stop and get a good map. There are many world religions. How can we be sure Christianity is the right one? A logical way to answer that is to ask how reliable is the Bible, the book we based our faith on.
A few years ago, my mother-in-law and I went to go see the famed Dead Sea Scrolls that were on tour in our area. The story goes that a shepherd boy came across a cave and tossed a stone inside. He inadvertently hit some ancient pottery with a stone and heard it break. Inside the pottery was the greatest discovery in the modern world. From these fragments of ancient parchment, the complete Hebrew test of Isaiah, among others, was reconstructed and authenticated as the words in modern day Bibles. Interestingly enough, from an antique writing perspecitve, only 40 lines of the new Testament have been historically in doubt to archeologists who poured over ancient manuscripts like the Dead Sea Scrolls. They confirm that the copying of Scripture between the first and ninth centuries was remarkable accurate. The two versions separated by eight hundred years vere virtually identical. The closest antique writing to survive like that to modern day is Homer's Iliad. It contains 764 lines which are historically questionable. 764 lines as compared to 40. Incredible.
Another way to gauge the authenticity is the content itself. The plants described in the cities are still present today. Figs, mustard and olives, for example, are all prevalent in Jerusalem. The cities, Jewish customs and characters in the Bible can be historically verified and continue to be. As my family and I gazed at one of the ancient fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it was no bigger than the memory chip from my digital camera. It blew my mind to think of all the world history that can come to pass from the moment someone's hands hid those scrolls in the cave until they were discovered. God ordained when they should be found in 1947. Interesting that it was only one year before Israel was reunited as a nation in 1948, but that is another story to ponder at another time.
Why were the Dea Sea Scrolls found? Have you ever wondered why things like the Ark of the Covenant hasn't been found but fragments of His Word has? It's all about the content. The Ark of the Covenant was where God's presence once lived in the temple among his people. It was during the Old Testament, before Jesus brought grace to sinful man. Since then, we now have the Holy Spirit who resides in our hearts making the Ark of the Covenant around us again would serve no purpose excpept to distract us and perhaps become an idol of worship. Our human hearts have a tendency to worship tangible things instead of God. In His fatherly discipline, He witholds that which may lead us away and lets us discover that which will draw us close.
Go get yourself a Bible and dust it off. If you have studied the Bible for years, challenge yourself to open a "fresh" one -- new and without markings so your eyes will read it anew. Open the cover. Introduce yourself to the books, along Route 66. Flip through the pages and get a feel for the order of the book, where the books are found and how long each book it. Some Bibles give a page or two at the beginning of each book which lends information on the author, audience, purpose and when the book was written. We are on a journey of "self-feeding." You and God will be on His Route 66 together. Your pitstops may not be mine but they are custom made for you by the God who knows and loves you better than anyone else on the planet. As we drive our way through this two lane, we will be taking snapshots and postcards of the places we visit. Start your engines.
Next: Genesis; Book of Beginnings
Additional recommended reading for the analytical mind.
A Ready Defense by Josh McDowell
A Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
Jesus on Trial by David Limbaugh
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Abraham, the Patriarch of a dysfunctional family is the foundation for three major world religions; Muslim, Judaism and Christianity.
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