11/6/2016 – Today we had Praise and Worship where we devoted the service to praying for our country and the upcoming election…
Have you read your Bible today? here is the scriptures read by our worship team this week;
1 Thes 9
Pastor Mike Sermon was based on Romans 12
Bill Webster Community Coordinator of The Voice of the Martyrs visited us on 08/14/2016… Please visit them @ http://www.persecution.com/
We had an awesome time listening to GW & Carol Carroll speak…. Take a minute to Visit their website at www.powerlifewitthecarrolls.com.
Sunday July 10th Cornerstone had a special guest speaker. Dr Phil Fernandes, a
Feel free to visit his site at biblicaldefefence.org you will find plenty of videos, audio’s as well as written information…. Also His church site at tbfchurch
David Barton Links
Compassion Sunday 2016
Founded in 1952, Compassion International is a Christian child development and child advocacy ministry dedicated to helping over 1.7 million children in need worldwide. Compassion’s programs help release children from poverty in Jesus’ name and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled adults.
To find out more information or to sponsor a child please Visit WWW.CompassionSunday.com
Facts For Faith
2 Timothy 3: 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
The Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed. rev., p. i).: Canon of Scripture (from Gk. ?????, ‘measuring rod’, ‘rule’). The term, used also in a larger sense for a list or catalogue, gradually acquired a technical meaning for the Books which were officially received as containing the rule of the Christian faith. In this sense the words ‘canon’ and ‘canonical’, which had already been employed by *Origen, came into general use in the 4th cent…
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary: BIBLE FORMATION AND CANON “Bible” derives from the Greek term for “books” and refers to the OT and NT. The 39 OT books and 27 NT books form the “canon” of Holy Scripture. “Canon” originally meant “reed” and came to signify a ruler or measuring stick. In this sense the Bible is the rule or standard of authority for Christians. The concept of “canon” and process of “canonization” refers to when the books gained the status of “Holy Scripture,” authoritative standards for faith and practice.
Organization of the Bible The OT was written primarily in Hebrew, with some portions of Ezra-Nehemiah and Daniel in Aramaic. The Hebrew OT is divided into three sections: the Law or Torah, (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy); the Prophets, divided into Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, 1–2 Samuel, and 1–2 Kings) and Latter Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the book of the Twelve—Hosea through Malachi); and the Writings. The Writings fall into three groups: Poetic Books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs), the Festival Scrolls or Megilloth (Ruth, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations), and the Historical Books (1–2 Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Daniel). Our current order of OT books is based upon the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the OT.
The NT, written in Greek, is organized with the narrative books (the four Gospels and Acts) followed by the epistles (Pauline Epistles and General Epistles) and concluding with Revelation.
What Makes the Bible Unique? The Crucial Subject
The Bible is clearly the most influential book the world has ever known.
- Abraham Lincoln called it “the best gift God has given to man.”
- Patrick Henry said, “It is worth all other books which were ever printed.”
- Noted British statesman William Gladstone wrote that “an immeasurable distance separates it from all competitors” while the famous philosopher Immanuel Kant declared,
- “The Bible is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced.”
- M. Sullivan observed, “The cynic who ignores, ridicules, or denies the Bible, spurring its spiritual rewards and aesthetic excitement, contributes to his own moral anemia.”
Why do we think the subject of the reliability of the Bible is such a crucial subject? Because of its implications.
- Throughout human history virtually all people have searched for God at some point in their lives, because apart from God they intuitively sensed that their lives lacked ultimate meaning.
- Yet the Bible claims to be the revealed Word of God to man (John 1:12,13; 3:16; 17:3; 1 John 5:9-15). Further, it tells us how we may come to know God personally.
- If the Bible is true, then in its pages we can find ultimate meaning for our lives and the God we have searched for….
But even skeptics cannot deny that the Bible’s influence in history is incalculable and that it has literally changed our world—not just Western history but all of history.
This topic is vital because if there is solid evidence that the Bible is God’s Word to us, its critics are wrong.
Worse, they are leading astray all those who listen to them. If the Bible alone is divine revelation, then by definition it is the most important Book in the world.
It alone will tell us what God requires of us.
In light of these undeniable facts, to be ignorant of the Bible’s claims and contents constitutes an abdication of personal responsibility concerning one’s own welfare.
To know that the Bible is reliable is to know that all of what it teaches is reliable. And what it teaches is that the one true God sent His only Son to die for our sins so that we could inherit eternal life as a free gift (John 3:16; Rom. 3:22-26). Such a claim is phenomenal in its uniqueness and profundity. If skeptics are given only one reason to objectively examine the claims of the Bible, this alone should be sufficient, because if these claims are true, then God freely offers us more than we could ever imagine. If the Bible is truly God’s Word to us, and if we reject its message of salvation, then no other personal decision they make will be more consequential. Therefore no one can fail to ignore the issue of the reliability of the Bible—not merely its historical reliability but its spiritual reliability as well.
We have written this information so that Christians will be encouraged in their faith and non-Christians will be challenged to investigate the Bible further—to read it, ponder it, and ultimately to accept it for what it is.
The Primary Issue: What is the proper understanding of the biblical doctrine of inerrancy?
If the Bible is inerrant—that is, without error—then it is certainly entirely unique among all the ancient books of the world, whether religious or secular.
- Given the tens of thousands of details in the Bible that could be either confirmed or disproved by history, archeology, science, etc., and
- given the fact that Scripture was written by some 40 authors over a period of 1,500 years in many different places and times,
- to find the Bible without error and in agreement on essentials and particulars is nothing short of striking.
- In fact, we think something like this can only be explained through divine inspiration. In the pages that follow we will discuss what inerrancy means and what it does not mean. A good general definition of biblical inerrancy is given by Dr. Paul Feinberg:
…. Condensing several pages … :
In essence, inerrancy means that the Bible, even though speaking in the common language, never deceives us, never contradicts itself, and can be wholly trusted. Inerrancy means that the Bible is without error…..
… sufficient evidence exists to show that the Bible is divinely inspired. For example, the presence of supernatural prophecy about the future cannot be denied except on the basis of an antisupernatural bias.
- … Isaiah predicts, for example, King Cyrus by name long before he lived (44:28-45:6), and the nature, person, mission, and death of the Jewish Messiah (e.g., 9:6; 53:1-12).
- Similarly, the prophet Daniel (Matt. 24:15) predicts the Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman empires so clearly that antisupernaturalists are forced, against all the evidence, to date his book at 165 B.C. and thus imply that it is a forgery (Daniel chapters 2 and 7; cf. 11:1-35 in light of subsequent Persian and Greek history and the dynasties of the Egyptians and Syrians). First Kings 13:1,2 predicts King Josiah 300 years before he was born and
- Micah 5:2 predicts the very birthplace of Jesus 700 years before He was born. How are we to account for such things if the Bible is not a divine book?
Finally, the person and resurrection of Jesus Christ proves the inerrancy of Scripture, for if Jesus rose from the dead—and this must be accepted as a fact of history—
- then His claims about Himself must be true. If so, then He must be God incarnate (John 5:18, 21-26; 1:30-38; 11:4, 25; 14:9), and thus His teaching on an inerrant Scripture must be accepted—unless we are to suppose that God lies or contradicts Himself, which He Himself denies (Heb. 6:18; Titus 1:2; 2 Tim. 2:13; Num. 23:19).
Indeed, when even a noted Jewish scholar of the New Testament who rejects Jesus’ Messiahship accepts His bodily resurrection “as a historical event” and “a fact of history” we can be certain that the resurrection is at least worth even the critics’ impartial investigation.
Historical Evidence for the Resurrection
Article by Matt Perman Topic: Evidence for the Faith
The historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ is very good. Scholars such as William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, Gary Habermas, and others have done an especially good job of detailing that evidence. It is the aim of this article to offer a sort of synthesis of some of their key points and show the strength of the historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ.
A method commonly used today to determine the historicity of an event is “inference to the best explanation.” William Lane Craig describes this as an approach where we “begin with the evidence available to us and then infer what would, if true, provide the best explanation of that evidence.” In other words, we ought to accept an event as historical if it gives the best explanation for the evidence surrounding it.
When we look at the evidence, the truth of the resurrection emerges very clearly as the best explanation. There is no other theory that even come close to accounting for the evidence. Therefore, there is solid historical grounds for the truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
It is worth pointing out that in establishing the historicity of the resurrection, we do not need to assume that the New Testament is inspired by God or even trustworthy. While I do believe these things, we are going to focus here on three truths that even critical scholars admit. In other words, these three truths are so strong that they are accepted by serious historians of all stripes. Therefore, any theory must be able to adequately account for these data.
The three truths are:
- The tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered empty by a group of women on the Sunday following the crucifixion.
- Jesus’ disciples had real experiences with one whom they believed was the risen Christ.
As a result of the preaching of these disciples, which had the resurrection at its center, the Christian church was established and grew.
Virtually all scholars who deal with the resurrection, whatever their school of thought, assent to these three truths. We will see that the resurrection of Christ is the best explanation for each of them individually. But then we will see, even more significantly, that when these facts are taken together we have an even more powerful case for the resurrection–because the skeptic will not have to explain away just one historical fact, but three. These three truths create a strongly woven, three chord rope that cannot be broken.
The Empty Tomb: To begin, what is the evidence that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered empty by a group of women on the Sunday following the crucifixion?
First, the resurrection was preached in the same city where Jesus had been buried shortly before. Jesus’ disciples did not go to some obscure place where no one had heard of Jesus to begin preaching about the resurrection, but instead began preaching in Jerusalem, the very city where Jesus had died and been buried. They could not have done this if Jesus was still in his tomb–no one would have believed them. No one would be foolish enough to believe a man had raised from the dead when his body lay dead in the tomb for all to see. As Paul Althaus writes, the resurrection proclamation “could not have been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned.”
Second, the earliest Jewish arguments against Christianity admit the empty tomb. In Matthew 28:11-15, there is a reference made to the Jew’s attempt to refute Christianity be saying that the disciples stole the body. This is significant because it shows that the Jews did not deny the empty tomb. Instead, their “stolen body” theory admitted the significant truth that the tomb was in fact empty. The Toledoth Jesu, a compilation of early Jewish writings, is another source acknowledging this. It acknowledges that the tomb was empty, and attempts to explain it away. Further, we have a record of a second century debate between a Christian and a Jew, in which a reference is made to the fact that the Jews claim the body was stolen. So it is pretty well established that the early Jews admitted the empty tomb.
Why is this important? Remember that the Jewish leaders were opposed to Christianity. They were hostile witnesses. In acknowledging the empty tomb, they were admitting the reality of a fact that was certainly not in their favor. So why would they admit that the tomb was empty unless the evidence was too strong to be denied? Dr. Paul Maier calls this “positive evidence from a hostile source. In essence, if a source admits a fact that is decidedly not in its favor, the fact is genuine.”
Third, the empty tomb account in the gospel of Mark is based upon a source that originated within seven years of the event it narrates. This places the evidence for the empty tomb too early to be legendary, and makes it much more likely that it is accurate. What is the evidence for this? I will list two pieces. A German commentator on Mark, Rudolf Pesch, points out that this pre-Markan source never mentions the high priest by name. “This implies that Caiaphas, who we know was high priest at that time, was still high priest when the story began circulating.” For “if it had been written after Caiaphas’ term of office, his name would have had to have been used to distinguish him from the next high priest. But since Caiaphas was high priest from A.D. 18 to 37, this story began circulating no later than A.D. 37, within the first seven years after the events,” as Michael Horton has summarized it. Furthermore, Pesch argues “that since Paul’s traditions concerning the Last Supper [written in 56] (1 Cor 11) presuppose the Markan account, that implies that the Markan source goes right back to the early years” of Christianity (Craig). So the early source Mark used puts the testimony of the empty tomb too early to be legendary.
Fourth, the empty tomb is supported by the historical reliability of the burial story. NT scholars agree that he burial story is one of the best established facts about Jesus. One reason for this is because of the inclusion of Joseph of Arimethea as the one who buried Christ. Joseph was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrein, a sort of Jewish supreme court. People on this ruling class were simply too well known for fictitious stories about them to be pulled off in this way. This would have exposed the Christians as frauds. So they couldn’t have circulated a story about him burying Jesus unless it was true. Also, if the burial account was legendary, one would expect to find conflicting traditions–which we don’t have.
But how does the reliability of Jesus’ burial argue that the tomb was empty? Because the burial account and empty tomb account have grammatical and linguistic ties, indicating that they are one continuous account. Therefore, if the burial account is accurate the empty tomb is likely to be accurate as well. Further, if the burial account is accurate then everyone knew where Jesus was buried. This would have been decisive evidence to refute the early Christians who were preaching the resurrection–for if the tomb had not been empty, it would have been evident to all and the disciples would have been exposed as frauds at worst, or insane at best.
Fifth, Jesus’ tomb was never venerated as a shrine. This is striking because it was the 1st century custom to set up a shrine at the site of a holy man’s bones. There were at least 50 such cites in Jesus’ day. Since there was no such shrine for Jesus, it suggests that his bones weren’t there.
Sixth, Mark’s account of the empty tomb is simple and shows no signs of legendary development. This is very apparent when we compare it with the gospel of Peter, a forgery from about 125. This legend has all of the Jewish leaders, Roman guards, and many people from the countryside gathered to watch the resurrection. Then three men come out of the tomb, with their heads reaching up to the clouds. Then a talking cross comes out of the tomb! This is what legend looks like, and we see none of that in Mark’s account of the empty tomb–or anywhere else in the gospels for that matter!
Seventh, the tomb was discovered empty by women. Why is this important? Because the testimony of women in 1st century Jewish culture was considered worthless. As Craig says, “if the empty tomb story were a legend, then it is most likely that the male disciples would have been made the first to discover the empty tomb. The fact that despised women, whose testimony was deemed worthless, were the chief witnesses to the fact of the empty tomb can only be plausibly explained if, like it or not, they actually were the discoverers of the empty tomb.”
Because of the strong evidence for the empty tomb, most recent scholars do not deny it. D.H. Van Daalen has said, “It is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds; those who deny it do so on the basis of theological or philosophical assumptions.” Jacob Kremer, who has specialized in the study of the resurrection and is a NT critic, has said “By far most exegetes hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb” and he lists twenty-eight scholars to back up his fantastic claim.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the various theories used to explain away the empty tomb, such as that the body was stolen. But those theories are laughed at today by all serious scholars. In fact, they have been considered dead and refuted for almost a hundred years. For example, the Jews or Romans had no motive to steal the body–they wanted to suppress Christianity, not encourage it by providing it with an empty tomb. The disciples would have had no motive, either. Because of their preaching on the resurrection, they were beaten, killed, and persecuted. Why would they go through all of this for a deliberate lie? No serious scholars hold to any of these theories today. What explanation, then, do the critics offer, you may ask? Craig tells us that “they are self-confessedly without any explanation to offer. There is simply no plausible natural explanation today to account for Jesus’ tomb being empty. If we deny the resurrection of Jesus, we are left with an inexplicable mystery.” The resurrection of Jesus is not just the best explanation for the empty tomb, it is the only explanation in town!
The Resurrection Appearances: Next, there is the evidence that Jesus’ disciples had real experiences with one whom they believed was the risen Christ. This is not commonly disputed today because we have the testimony of the original disciples themselves that they saw Jesus alive again. And you don’t need to believe in the reliability of the gospels to believe this. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul records an ancient creed concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection appearances that is much earlier than the letter in which Paul is recording it:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time…
It is generally agreed by critical scholars that Paul receive this creed from Peter and James between 3-5 years after the crucifixion. Now, Peter and James are listed in this creed as having seen the risen Christ. Since they are the ones who gave this creed to Paul, this is therefore a statement of their own testimony. As the Jewish Scholar Pinchahs Lapide has said, this creed “may be considered the statement of eyewitnesses.”
Now, I recognize that just because the disciples think they saw Jesus doesn’t automatically mean that they really did.
There are three possible alternatives: They were lying, They hallucinated, They really saw the risen Christ
Which of these is most likely? Were they lying? On this view, the disciples knew that Jesus had not really risen, but they made up this story about the resurrection. But then why did 10 of the disciples willingly die as martyrs for their belief in the resurrection? People will often die for a lie that they believe is the truth. But if Jesus did not rise, the disciples knew it. Thus, they wouldn’t have just been dying for a lie that they mistakenly believed was true. They would have been dying for a lie that they knew was a lie. Ten people would not all give their lives for something they know to be a lie. Furthermore, after witnessing events such as Watergate, can we reasonably believe that the disciples could have covered up such a lie?
Because of the absurdity of the theory that the disciples were lying, we can see why almost all scholars today admit that, if nothing else, the disciples at least believed that Jesus appeared to them. But we know that just believing something to be true doesn’t make it true. Perhaps the disciples were wrong and had been deceived by a hallucination?
The hallucination theory is untenable because it cannot explain the physical nature of the appearances. The disciples record eating and drinking with Jesus, as well as touching him. This cannot be done with hallucinations. Second, it is highly unlikely that they would all have had the same hallucination. Hallucinations are highly individual, and not group projections. Imagine if I came in here and said to you, “wasn’t that a great dream I had last night?” Hallucinations, like dreams, generally don’t transfer like that. Further, the hallucination theory cannot explain the conversion of Paul, three years later. Was Paul, the persecutor of Christians, so hoping to see the resurrected Jesus that his mind invented an appearance as well? And perhaps most significantly, the hallucination theory cannot even deal with the evidence for the empty tomb.
Since the disciples could not have been lying or hallucinating, we have only one possible explanation left: the disciples believed that they had seen the risen Jesus because they really had seen the risen Jesus. So, the resurrection appearances alone demonstrate the resurrection. Thus, if we reject the resurrection, we are left with a second inexplicable mystery–first the empty tomb and now the appearances.
The Origin of the Christian Faith: Finally, the existence of the Christian church is strong proof for the resurrection. Why is this? Because even the most skeptical NT scholars admit that the disciples at least believed that Jesus was raised from the grave. But how can we explain the origin of that belief? William Lane Craig points out that there are three possible causes: Christian influences, pagan influences, or Jewish influences.
Could it have been Christian influences? Craig writes, “Since the belief in the resurrection was itself the foundation for Christianity, it cannot be explained as the later product of Christianity.” Further, as we saw, if the disciples made it up, then they were frauds and liars–alternatives we have shown to be false. We have also shown the unlikeliness that they hallucinated this belief.
But what about pagan influences? Isn’t it often pointed out that there were many myths of dying and rising savior gods at the time of Christianity? Couldn’t the disciples have been deluded by those myths and copied them into their own teaching on the resurrection of Christ? In reality, serious scholars have almost universally rejected this theory since WWII, for several reasons. First, it has been shown that these mystery religious had no major influence in Palestine in the 1st century. Second, most of the sources which contain parallels originated after Christianity was established. Third, most of the similarities are often apparent and not real–a result of sloppy terminology on the part of those who explain them. For example, one critic tried to argue that a ceremony of killing a bull and letting the blood drip all over the participants was parallel to holy communion. Fourth, the early disciples were Jews, and it would have been unthinkable for a Jew to borrow from another religion. For they were zealous in their belief that the pagan religions were abhorrent to God.
Jewish influences cannot explain the belief in the resurrection, either. 1st century Judaism had no conception of a single individual rising from the dead in the middle of history. Their concept was always that everybody would be raised together at the end of time. So the idea of one individual rising in the middle of history was foreign to them. Thus, Judaism of that day could have never produced the resurrection hypothesis. This is also another good argument against the theory that the disciples were hallucinating. Psychologists will tell you that hallucinations cannot contain anything new–that is, they cannot contain any idea that isn’t already somehow in your mind. Since the early disciples were Jews, they had no conception of the messiah rising from the dead in the middle of history. Thus, they would have never hallucinated about a resurrection of Christ. At best, they would have hallucinated that he had been transported directly to heaven, as Elijah had been in the OT, but they would have never hallucinated a resurrection.
So we see that if the resurrection did not happen, there is no plausible way to account for the origin of the Christian faith. We would be left with a third inexplicable mystery.
Three Independent Facts: These are three independently established facts that we have established. If we deny the resurrection, we are left with at least three inexplicable mysteries. But there is a much, much better explanation than a wimpy appeal to mystery or a far-fetched appeal to a stolen body, hallucination, and mystery religion. The best explanation is that Christ in fact rose from the dead!
Even if we take each fact by itself, we have good enough evidence. But taken together, we see that the evidence becomes even stronger. For example, even if two of these facts were to be explained away, there would still be the third truth to establish the fact of the resurrection.
These three independently established facts also make alternative explanations less plausible. It is generally agreed that the explanation with the best explanatory scope should be accepted. That is, the theory that explains the most of the evidence is more likely to be true. The resurrection is the only hypothesis that explains all of the evidence. If we deny the resurrection, we must come up with three independent natural explanations, not just one. For example, you would have to propose that the Jews stole the body, then the disciples hallucinated, and then somehow the pagan mystery religions influenced their beliefs to make them think of a resurrection. But we have already seen the implausibility of such theories. And trying to combine them will only make matters worse. As Gary Habermas has said, “Combining three improbable theories will not produce a probable explanation. It will actually increase the degree of improbability. It’s like putting leaking buckets inside each other, hoping each one will help stop up the leaks in the others. All you will get is a watery mess.”