Can the lost be saved?

Q:

I know a person who feels that they will be used by God to go into hell to save souls. Their revelation is from the two verses below. If the road to destruction is wide and many travel down it and in heaven there are many mansions, then there is still hope for people who have gone to hell. This person feels they have been chosen to rescue people from hell. Let me know your thoughts.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

_________

A:

When interpreting Scripture, the Bible must be kept in context. This involves both the immediate context of the passage, as well as the larger context (of the entire Bible). Since, in the Bible, there are other places that indicate that a person in hell cannot ever get out, therefore, it would not be possible for anyone to “go there” and rescue people.

The passage where this is made clear is Luke 16:19-31 and in particular verse 26 (this passage is the story of the rich man who went to hell and another man named Lazarus (not the one whom Jesus raised from the dead for a while) who went to paradise; one of the main points of the story is that once in hell, it is impossible to ever get out). In the story, Abraham is speaking, as it were, through the valley over to the other side to the rich man who is in hell, who is pleading for his life because he wants to get out of there. But in response to the cries of the rich man, who is begging for even a little water because of the intense heat, Abraham responds, saying:

“And besides all this, between us (Abraham and Lazarus in paradise) and you (the rich man in hell) there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.” (Luke 16:26)

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Can the Bible be accepted as authoritative?

Q: Can the Bible be accepted as authoritative?

A: Questions as to whether the Bible can be accepted as authoritative all boil down to one basic question – who is Jesus?

This question cannot be addressed scientifically, because history is not repeatable and is thus not subject to testing by experimentation. Instead, it must be addressed by the methods we normally use to test the truth or falsehood of claims about people – the rules of evidence employed in courts of law. A great 20th-century writer, C. S. Lewis, pointed out that only 3 conclusions are tenable based on the evidence (both biblical and non-biblical) available to us. Either Jesus was a liar or a lunatic, or else He must be exactly what the Bible indicates He claimed to be – Lord of all.

If Jesus was a liar or a lunatic, there is no reason to accept the Bible as authoritative. If He is Lord of all, then the Bible must be authoritative, because He accepted the authority of the Old Testament, and told His first followers (who wrote down the New Testament) that His Spirit would guide them into all truth.

It is true that the entire Bible was written down by human beings – 40 of them, from all walks of life, over a period of about 1500 years. The remarkable unity of the result argues against the idea that they each recorded their own ideas. They themselves claimed their writings were inspired by a spiritual God whom they experienced personally. They understood the universe we all inhabit to have been created and now be governed by that God.

Today, the majority tendency is to believe that the physical universe is now sufficiently well understood that what the biblical writers recorded about it can be discounted. However, scientific understanding changes constantly – sometimes, radically. In previous centuries, great advances in scientific understanding resulted from the view that the universe is orderly and comprehensible, which was based on the Bible’s assertion that the entire universe was designed and is not a product of chance. That view was increasingly challenged during the 20th century, but now that challenge is itself increasingly being challenged! It is not unreasonable to project that another scientific revolution is now building which will bring scientific and biblical understanding back into closer harmony.

Posted in Jesus Christ, Science, Scripture, Written Word of God | Comments Off

Can a person be saved even though they have a fear of trusting?

Q: Can a person be saved even though they have a fear of trusting? When we ask Jesus for salvation and repent of our sins, must we also have to trust?

A: I have an interesting story to tell you that I think will help in explaining the answer to this question. This story is a true story, and it demonstrates that there are indeed different types of faith — and, at the outset, I want to clarify this, because there is a possibility, when answering this question, that we are talking about different types of faith. So I’d like to clear this hurdle first. The following is the story — and again, this is a true account.

More than 25 years ago, I came to put my faith in Christ for the forgiveness of my sins. When I did, I did not even say the “sinners prayer” (which, actually, in the Bible, there is no “sinners prayer” per se, but it is still not wrong to say a prayer in order to receive Christ as Savior). But the point here is that the Bible says that salvation comes by faith — and not by saying a prayer. And many people are caught on this point, thinking that it is the prayer that saves a person, when in fact it is their faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Now the question is, what type of “faith” is that, that saves a person? Does the person believe or not? To further complicate this scenario — which I want to do, and I think I really need to do in order to make sure this point is absolutely clear — prior to the day that I exercised saving faith in Christ for the forgiveness of my sins, I actually believed that Jesus died on the cross. I never doubted that. So why was I not saved before that time? I was not saved before that time, because I did not receive Christ as Savior and — as a clear evidence of my faith — act upon it. Thus, saving faith is something special. It not only believes that Christ is Lord and Savior, but it acts upon it.

So my question is this. Where is your faith at?

Question number 1: Do you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior? If so, this is great! This is prerequisite number one.

Question number 2: Have you acted upon it? For example, if others saw you, and spoke about you, would they say there is any evidence to support the fact that you are trusting in the Lord? Note, I did not say you were perfect, but I’m asking for evidence. There is not a man or woman alive who is perfect. This does not excuse you or I for our sin. But it is a reality. There is One who is perfect, and who is without sin. It is Jesus Christ Himself.

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Note that the demons fulfill prerequisite number one — so prerequisite number one is not a definite indication that a person is saved! Yes, the person who is saved will fulfill it. But the demons also fulfill it — and are lost! Thus, true saving faith is something that acts on that faith, and demonstrates it. However, I am not even saying that the demonstration of our faith is what saves us! It is not! We are saved by grace, through faith (see Ephesians 2:8-9, quoted above).

Now, let’s move on a bit, in order to distinguish different applications of faith. A person can have faith for salvation — they believe Christ is Savior and Lord, and they actively seek to demonstrate that (even though the actual demonstration is not what saves them, they are saved by grace, through faith). Yes, they can do many things, and many good works. And all there are good — if they are done in faith, with a good heart, and with service to the Lord. The Lord does not despise any of that, and in fact will bless each person who truly serves Him. You will not lose your reward. But in the midst of this, there can still be fear. How so? This is the “big and puzzling part” of the whole deal. And here is one part of trying to deal with that “big and puzzling part.”

We were born and raised into this world by imperfect parents, living in an imperfect world, and were ourselves are imperfect, and all of this goes right back to the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. This imperfect environment brings with it many challenges. Who can we trust? Only One is perfect — God. How can we trust God when everything around us is shouting “untrustworthy”? Thus, learning to walk in faith is a step by step process. OK. Now for part two of the real life example I was mentioning earlier!

After I was genuinely saved, I was diagnosed with a really bad disease. It had affected others in my family, and seemed to be in the family line. I was fellowshipping with a “good” church at the time, but lo and behold, but they were lacking faith in one critical area. They had faith for salvation — and they preached it and people came to faith in Christ. But one night, I had a dream, and in the dream, the Lord spoke to me. He said (almost exactly) the following words to me: “You should go to such and such a church, because they have faith for healing there.”

I’m not going to tell you all about that experience here — you can read my book “Ready or Not!” for that, which will be published in the very near future and which will be available at www.lifesanswer.com. But what I want to show you by this is that there are clearly different applications of faith! On the one hand, a person can have faith for salvation, but not faith for healing. The Lord was telling me to “move on over” to be with that other church, on account of their faith in a particular area. Now you might want to ask how this relates to your question.

Well, I cannot say that this applies to you specifically — though it could — but when in your question you talk of fear of trusting, is your fear really in salvation itself, or is it in some other area? The area of trust is many faceted. Simon Peter, for example, when he got out of the boat (and Jesus commanded him to come to Him on the water) lacked faith at one point, to which Jesus replied, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) So in this case, He was calling Simon Peter, “You of little faith.” In some cases, we might feel like we have “little faith” in some areas. Does it mean we are not saved, though? Ah, I think a person can actually be saved and still lack faith in some areas!

So getting back to your question, I think I can now answer that, as long as we consider everything that has been written. You wrote, “Can a person be saved even though they have a fear of trusting? When we ask Jesus for salvation and repent of our sins, must we also have to trust?”

The answer is, “Yes, absolutely.” It is possible to have fear of trusting, and still be saved.

All this does not actually say whether or not you are saved, but if you want to test yourself to see whether or not you are in the faith, you can ask yourself, (1) Do I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who died on the cross for me by shedding His blood for the forgiveness of my sins, and who rose again the third day, and who will return one day? (2) Am I doing my best to act on this faith daily and am I willing to share my story of faith with others, so they can trust in Christ, too, and be encouraged even for salvation? I would say that if you answer affirmatively to both of those, then you probably do not need to worry that you are not saved, even if you find that you have a fear of trusting in some other areas.

In the end, I suffered with the disease that I had for quite some time. But God healed me. I had to get involved with people who had faith in that area, so that I myself could receive my healing. This entire story is recorded in my book, which I would encourage you to read. God desires to set us free in many areas, and one of the areas that I myself had to be set free in — in order to find the healing I needed — was in the love area. God revealed His love to me one day, and it caused me to weep for several hours, under the strong influence of that love. Yes, I was saved at the time — more than five years, in fact. But there were still some incredible blockages that had come in through those three things that I mentioned above — imperfect parents, an imperfect world, and an imperfect self. All of these things — parents, the world we live in, and ourselves — come from the Lord and are given to us as a gift. However, sin has marred the finish, as it were, and we can become affected by it. God is in the restoring business, and desires to heal, set free, and forgive. Often, our areas of fear relate to things we have learned. Sometimes, they can be the result of plain old disobedience! In all these things, the solution is found in Christ, and in the proper application of His word.

May God bless you as you consider these things.

Posted in Evangelism, Fellowship, God's love, Good works, Healing, Salvation, Scripture, Written Word of God | Comments Off

On Marriage

Q: I would like to get married before Jesus returns. He was married before and I feel uncomfortable about this. I have not ever been married. What do you suggest?

A: Marriage should not be taken lightly. You should probably speak with a good Christian minister who can hear your story, so that he or she can give you his or her opinion (you may also want to speak with more than one Christian minister – the most important thing is that he or she be truly committed to the Lord and also have a very balanced and healthy understanding of marriage).

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On Praise and Worship Songs

Q: I would like to know your views on praise & worship. Some people believe that only through the singing of praise & worship songs you worship the Lord. What about hymns? Are they already outdated? Can we not use them to worship the Lord, as well?

A: In the book of Ephesians, we read that we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The tense of this verb is such that it means being continually filled with the Holy Spirit. We read,

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Ephesians 5:18-20).

Notice that in this passage, it mentions hymns. In fact, Paul mentions different genres of praise and worship music in that passage, which he separates into the following categories:

1. psalms
2. hymns
3. spiritual songs

All of these constitute worship and/or praise music. Hymns are mentioned, and so we are encouraged in this passage to worship God using hymns and really any type of music that is worshipful and praise oriented. There is no limit, as long as it is glorifying to God!

Psalm 150 is a wonderful psalm that speaks of singing praises to God. I will close with this.

Praise the LORD!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD!”

(Psalm 150)

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Will our desires change once we are raptured? What about marriage?

Q: Will our desires change once we are raptured? What about marriage?

A: I heard a comparison given once between the earth and heaven. The person explained that being in our new bodies could be compared to the difference between being in the womb and in the world. In the womb, the child is comfortable and would never think of escaping it. But once he or she is born (that is, once he or she is born plus a few years) he or she would have no desire to ever return to the womb. He or she would think that utterly foolish. “That was just the beginning,” the child would say. But what I have now is life. I think eternity will be like that. Once we move into the realm of eternity, with our glorified bodies, we will have no desire to return to the former state.

Since, prior to the rapture, we do not see now what’s really in store, we can only imagine. However, we do get a glimpse from the apostle Paul’s writings, in which he states,

“THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

(1 Corinthians 2:9b … which is actually a quote from the OT)

Here’s another equally valid take, I think. While we are in this earthly body, we have earthly desires (I am not saying they are wrong, but they are earthly). The bodies we have really are made of earth. All the elements that are found in our bodies are found in the earth. Zinc, iron, chromium, etc. That all comes from the earth. Now just as we have earthly desires (that may not be wrong) because we are in an earthly body, yet when we are clothed in our heavenly body (which certainly cannot be made of earth, because it cannot decay), then we will have heavenly desires. Our desires will totally change. So I think it’s clear that the desires of earthly man are not the same as the desires of heavenly man. They cannot be, precisely because Jesus said that there was no marriage in heaven. Surely God would not give these earthly desires to become married to someone living in a heavenly body for all eternity! (How cruel that would be!)

The end conclusion of the matter is that something far greater awaits us all in the realm of eternity. We will never be sad, never be disappointed, and the Lord will wipe away every tear from our eyes (the book of Revelation, chapter 1, states this pretty clearly).

A person’s desire to get married and have children, etc, is not wrong. It’s natural. But in the supernatural realm, it will be fulfilled in a different way than it is while living in earthly bodies.

What we see on the earth right now, is a shadow of the things to come. So if you have a desire to get married and have children, for example, that is merely a shadow of something much greater.

When Jesus returns, He will establish His millennial (1000- year) reign (that’s just for starters then there will be new heaven and a new earth for all eternity). Jesus Christ will be needing people to entrust great responsibilities to.

I am speaking as a man now, who likes to “do” things. But who is going to go through all of the pornographic videos and make sure that it is dumped in the fire? Someone needs to head that up. Jesus will assign someone to do that. There’s a huge cleanup job ahead. (It will take at least three years, in my opinion — and that is just an opinion).

The Lord is going to need people to head up cities, counties, regions, provinces, states, countries. He will need ambassadors travelling to and from Jerusalem. There will be lots of rebuilding going on, lots of need for cooks, carpenters, sewers, dancers and singers and musicians (especially) and the list goes on an on.

This is some food for thought. There will be lots to do. But if, I suppose, temporarily, a believer is not satisfied with doing, they can just “be” for a while and worship the Lord in all His majesty (then they will be quite motivated to “do”). It will be glorious, they will not be disappointed, and there will be no desire to have children or be married in an earthly sense, for God will use that person in tremendous ways to bless the people of the world. They shall be fulfilled.

In short, earthly desires like the desire to get married and have children will change. Whatever desires a person has now, I believe that in the heavenly realm there is an equivalent to it, but only better. So instead of longing to be married, a person will likely have a profound and deep longing to serve Christ. Instead of longing to have children, a person will probably have a profound and deep longing to server the people of Christ (perhaps God will entrust children to the care of people, rather than them having their own offspring — it may not seem as rewarding, but, again, God will transform all earthly desires and there will be no desire to have children according to the flesh once we are living in our heavenly bodies).

In short, I believe God will still honor a person’s desires, but He will allow them to be fulfilled in a different, more glorious, and even more fulfilling manner. I don’t think a person has to, in a sense, give up those desires; they will merely be expressed in different ways.

This is my understanding of the matter, at any rate.

Posted in Heaven, Marriage, Resurrection, Return of Christ, Scripture | Comments Off

Would you ever change your mind about the truth of the Bible?

Q: I saw a question asked of atheists on a discussion thread:  What evidence would it take to cause you to change your mind and believe in God? I turn the question around:  What evidence would be required to change your mind about the literal truth of the Bible?

George:

I have looked at so much so called evidence against the Bible in the last 50 years from atheistic scholars all over the world and I find at the bottom of it all are people mad at God. They’re not atheists really. Dawkins gives himself away in Ben Stein’s film mentioned earlier. He reads a passage from his latest book, The God Delusion in an interview in the film. I have never seen more virulent and hateful adjectives used to describe God. It oozed loathing. No one loathes goblins or fairies!

The Bible presents a credible explanation for why the world is the way it is. It tells me that one day it will all be restored to an original state of perfection. It gives me a future and a hope as it says in Jeremiah 11. A hope that transcends the natural. I experience the working of the words of the Bible in my life every day. I have seen those words change lives and outcomes for many over the years. I have experience many miracles through its words in my life and in the lives of those around me. It is a living Word and I don’t know how it could prove itself false really. Christ lives in me and I communicate with Him and he communicates with me. I want nothing more.

Ruth:

I came to believe in the literal truth of the Bible through a long process that took many years and is still ongoing. What would falsify all that effort? Don’t know. However, since my belief centers on the person of Jesus Christ, because I ultimately worship Him who claimed to be God and not a book, then a question I can answer is, what would falsify my belief that Jesus is God ?  If it can be proven conclusively that Jesus did not rise from the dead, that might do it.

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What distinguishes Christianity from other belief systems?

Q: What distinguishes Christianity from other belief systems, such that it allows its adherents to believe in it and discount all the other believers of all the other religions?  How do Christians know that Hindus, Zoroastrians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and the like are “wrong?”

George:

There are many in this world who are religious. Religion comes from two words re meaning again and ligio meaning bondage. Jesus did not come as a founder of religion. He had one – and a great one – He was a Jew.  Unlike the others Jesus came as God in the flesh to deliver us from the bondage of religion into the freedom of the sons and daughters of God. That’s why the religious people hated Him and tried to kill Him. But as was prophesied hundreds of years before He came here He gave up His life as “the lamb of God slain from before the foundation of the world.”

So what did we humans do about it? We made a religion out of it all called Christianity! But no one is born a Christian.

In John’s Gospel chapter 14 we see these statements:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. “If you had known :Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, Lord show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long; and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” (John 14:6-9)

Christians are people who have come to know Jesus personally. We believe in Him because He has changed our lives. The Spirit of God now fill us in a wonderful way. We see the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit manifesting in our lives daily and we walk in fellowship with God the Father. Jesus said that He had come to do these things and He still does them today. I know there are many good people in the world. They truly believe in their religions and do many good works. The testimony of the New Testament is that it is not about being good or bad. Jesus did not come to this planet to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive. We are all born spiritually dead – even the best of us. The Holy Spirit comes into our lives to bring us eternal life and a whole new perspective. That human spirit we were born with comes alive as he fills us and the world is a different place. We now have the power over sin and we can work for His Kingdom of joy, peace and righteousness in the Holy Spirit he speaks of.  Romans 14:17 in the New Testament tells us that His Kingdom is not about religion but relationship.

Ruth:

The short answer is Jesus Christ. The long answer is found in the Bible and countless books on Christian apologetics. (e.g. Baker Encyclopaedia of Christian Apologetics by Norman L. Geisler; The Everlasting Man, by G. K.  Chesterton; The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel; The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible, by Robert J. Hutchinson, A Christian Manifesto, by Francis A. Schaeffer as well as the book already mentioned, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell.) I have studied other religions at a couple of universities and frankly Christianity is the best deal in town.

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Does a belief in the literal truth of the Bible discredit science?

Q: People who believe in the literal truth of the Bible seem therefore not to accept scientific discoveries in certain disciplines such as archeology, physics, biology and cosmology.  Does a belief in the literal truth of the Bible discredit science and the scientific method in general, or only in the specific instances where particular discoveries seem to run counter to the Bible?

George:

It is not about the evidence. Creationists and Evolutionists see the same evidence. It is one’s  world view that determines what you see. [See The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn] The evolutionist posits a geologic column [which exists no where in the form you find it in the text books by the way] purporting to show the evolution of life from simple to complex organisms from bottom to top over millions of years. The Creationist sees the evidence everywhere of a flood that changed the face of the planet t 4500 years ago, wiped out mountain ranges, pulverized rock and laid down layers of sedimentary rock that trapped animals in the layers where they are found. The animals that could swim lasted longer and were deposited in the  higher layers. The trilobites and other invertebrates we find in Ordovician [basement] rocks that date back supposedly 500 million years were the heavy things that fell to the bottom. The evidence around the world shows that huge catastrophes happened during the flood year and after and these explain the typography of our present world. [See polystyrate fossils at ianjuby@ianjuby.org ] the evolutionist insists there were few if any catastophes [See uniformatarianism] and the present is the key to the past. The Institute for Creation Research [icr.org] has hundreds of Phd’s working on creation research and have discovered some amazing things in the last 40 years. [Check the RATE project - brings the assumptions of radiometric dating into question.]

You wouldn’t know it from the public school education we all get but the Bible’s archeology has stood up to scrutiny as well. I know this because I have been studying the Bible for a long time and I can state categorically no human document, historical or religious, compares to it. I have read the others. [I had a Buddhist monk friend who was converted by Genesis chapter 1 verse 1. After completing all his Buddhist philosophical  studies no one had ever told him about the God who made it all! He began his search for truth by reading the Bible and today is a Christian evangelist.]

It is a fact that the scientific community has refused to allow the evidence of a recent creation to be presented in our public schools or even in the press. [See Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed--Ben Stein, I can also send you the notes from a lecture I give on 14 evidences for a young earth and universe.] In fact they have behaved just like the religious community did before the Enlightenment. Galileo was not persecuted because the church disagreed with him. Many in the church knew the earth was not the centre of the universe. Galileo got into trouble because he said he had the truth. But the church at that time had not considered changing its mind yet and many had an investment in the status quo. The church believed it had the truth and Galileo was too impatient to wait and so got into trouble.

Ruth:

I’m not sure where people come up with the idea that those who believe the Bible literally don’t accept scientific discoveries in certain disciplines since many scientific discoveries have provided evidence for the accuracy of the Bible.  In fact many early scientists were Christians and Christians are still active in the scientific field today so there is no need to polarize the two groups.

Science often lines up with Scripture.  For example, when medical science comes up with an effective treatment for a disease it is working from the underlying belief that human beings (and animals for that matter) are worthy to live free of pain. Many Scriptures, including the Mosiac law, deal with healing and wellness.

However, science makes an unreliable God. I’m old enough to have seen scientists reverse themselves many times. It is certainly is an excellent impulse to search for the truth (assuming that is the motivation of all scientists) but it has been shown that science is not a monolith.

In many cases science does not discredit the Bible, but if the Bible and science are in direct contradiction, then I will put my money on the Biblical version. After all, science, as we know it today has not been around as long as the Bible (the understatement of the year) nor has it withstood centuries of skeptical scrutiny.

Moreover there is rigorous debate within the scientific community. There are scientists who believe in evolution and scientists who believe in creation. There are scientists who believe in different theories of light. Even the scientific method itself has been shown by some philosophers to contain a logical fallacy.

Philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn, argues that the scientific method does not adequately describe all that happens in the practice of science.

Posted in Creation & Evolution, Science, Scripture | Comments Off

Why is it important that the Bible be taken as truth?

Q: Why is it important that the Bible be taken as truth?  Would the Christian faith be diminished if the Bible were metaphorical, or is there some other issue with such an interpretation?

George:

The Bible says it is the Word of God. The Christian faith has been diminished because the Bible in many circles, including so-called Christian circles, stopped being regarded as history and metaphorical meanings have been attached to many passages.  The Bible is history. It declares itself to be written by the Holy Spirit [one of the manifestations of the Godhead] as he moved on men and women of God. It was not dictated by God. The Koran makes the claim that an angel told Mohammed what to write for example. Instead it begins at the beginning of creation and declares what God did step by step from the dawn of history working through individuals then one specific family that of a man called Abraham. He became a people through his son Isaac called today the jews. He chose a specific family of the jews notably the line of king David [the second king of Israel] and through this line eventually God came to this planet in the form of a man.

The Bible foretold and documents all of this. There are literally hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah outlining in great detail when he would come the circumstances of his birth and death, and what he would do through His people. The Bible is a historical record of this and much more. The Old Testament concerns the nations of the world and their interaction with Israel and prophecies concerning many of them with dead on accuracy. The New Testament is the record of the the life and teaching, miracles, death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah [Yeshua or Jesus in Greek] told by eye witnesses [the 4 Gospels], and the rest is early history of the spread of the followers of Jesus through letters of instruction and encouragement to the first jews and gentiles [non-jews=Greek speakers] to believe in Him by  Saul of Tarsus [the apostle Paul] and some of the other original 12 disciples of Jesus. They are all first hand accounts of events that occurred from approximately 30 to 90 AD.

This is not to say that the Bible does not have passages with metaphorical content. The Psalms were written as poetry, and there are wonderful passages of great literary merit in its pages. The 66 books that make up the cannon of Scripture have no myths or legends or fantastical tales. Once we decide that this or that is really just metaphorical or a myth we become relativists and where does it stop.

Ruth:

A) If the Bible were not true, I would be in a mess. If Jesus hadn’t risen, I would have no hope for the future and for eternity; I would not be forgiven; I would not know a God who loves the world and who is benevolently involved in the nitty gritty or peoples’ lives.

B) It is important that the Bible be taken as literal truth because it is literal truth. I suspect that would be the same answer that one would give if asked why it is important  that scientific discoveries be taken as literally true.

I want to address another question I think is embedded in your initial question: Why do you take the Bible as literally true?  The historicity of both the Old and New Testament has been established by scholars over the centuries.  The Old Testament has been confirmed by hard evidence and documentary evidence uncovered by archaeology and by the accuracy of the copying process.

The New Testament emerged from 24,970 partial and complete manuscripts found in 15 languages. Iliad, by comparison, was fashioned from 643 partial and complete manuscripts.  There are also internal and external evidences for the reliability of the New Testament. External evidences involve both Christian and non-Christian sources. Moreover, the writers of the New Testament wrote as eyewitnesses or from firsthand information.

There is too much information to fully do this topic justice, but Josh McDowell’s book, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Chapters 3 and 4, lays out the evidence for the historic reliability of both testaments.

Of course this only addresses the parts of Scripture that are history. The prophetic parts of Scripture are easily verifiable. Did what the prophets say come true? The Bible contains 1,000 prophesies; about half have been fulfilled in detail; the other half concern the end times. Again, there is too much information to condense, but if you are interested check out Mark Hitchcock’s book, The Amazing Claims of Biblical Prophecy.

Would the Christian faith be diminished if the Bible were metaphorical?

I doubt there would be a “Christian faith” if the Bible were metaphorical. Different metaphorical interpretations abound, but they are like nailing jelly to the wall. They look good for the moment, but they do not withstand the test of time. Besides, no one attempts to make metaphors out historical or scientific facts.

For example, the Nazi regime, murdered 20 million people (not counting soldiers). Would any number of metaphors in any way clarify, enhance or explain the horrific event?

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