New Testament: Internal Evidence of Early Completion

The defense of the Bible, Apologetics, is a complex and fascinating area of study. It can be scientific, or philosophical; it can examine scripture text, or archaeological history. Many books on many facets have been written, none of which are exhaustive. One area of apologetics defends the Bible itself, not only if it has been accurately passed down to us, but if the words passed down to us are in fact true, based on evidence.

Meticulous studies in ancient literature have proven to hold the New Testament in the highest esteem, and beyond reproach in regards to how accurate the translations are. In fact, it stands so far above other historical books from authors such as Homer, Pliny, and Plato, that to question the accuracy of the Bible, would be to throw all ancient writings into utter obscurity. This article is not about that, but instead, about one of the Evidences of its historical accuracy. (for an overview of other common evidences, click here).

One of the main six is “Early Testimony.” This study, like the others can get in depth, and many scholars put much of the New Testament authorship within the first several years after Christ’s death and resurrection. As a contrast, the first writings of Buddha are approximately 400 years after the actual life of Siddhartha, and the Hadith describe the collection of the Koran as having been cobbled together from certain traditions by an Islamist long after Muhammad’s death, who then had all copies not accepted collected and burned for the sake of solidarity.

But there is one particular aspect of early testimony evidence I found fascinating. And that is the destruction of Herod’s temple in 70 AD, 40 years after the Resurrection.

As you may or may not know, after rebellion and years of tension, the Roman Emperor Nero sent Titus into Jerusalem with 30,000 troops, and slaughtered 600,000 Jews, while summarily burning Herod’s revitalized temple to the ground. The fire was so hot, it melted the gold so that it ran down between the cracks of the stone. When looters came to retrieve the gold, they ripped down each stone from the others to get to this gold, thus fulfilling Christ’s prophecy:

Matthew 24:1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Now, picture yourself as a soon to be New Testament writer. You grow up seeing Herod renovate the temple. It is the cornerstone of your faith, and became such a glorious structure that it, rather than God, began to be revered by your neighbors and friends. Your sins were forgiven there. The high priest conducted ceremony there. It was the cornerstone of your faith, the economy, the culture. It’s importance to the Jewish people could not be overstated.

And then, this Jesus comes along, performs miracles, and predicts His own death and resurrection, and prophecies that the venerated Jewish temple adored by your people will soon be so much rubble scattered to the winds of history. When he dies, you and your contemporaries soon see Him appearing alive, and can touch His wounds. You eat with Him, and watch Him ascend into the sky. And inspired to risk your life, elevate Gentiles to the same platform as the Jew, and go against the priests of your day, you spread this new gospel message, and write of all you had seen.

To the crux of the issue; if the temple you worshiped at for decades had been utterly leveled, 600,000 Jews murdered, the city decimated, and its people scattered, thus fulfilling the very prophecy your savior had foretold, punctuating the year Titus destroyed all you ever knew and loved, do you think you would mention it? Do you think one of the authors of the New Testament would have finished their historical narrative by stating the temple had come down?

There are numerous internal evidences in the word that point to the fact that its writers had first hand, eye-witness knowledge of the times. Locations, language, details, key historical figures, all mentioned with the accuracy of someone present. Meticulous history is presented. Is it possible that all 8 of the New Testament writers somehow failed to mention this monumental event which just so happened to corroborate what their messiah said would happen?

We do know it happened; it is a plain matter of history, a mere 40 years after Christ died and rose again.

This is strong evidence that the entire New Testament was finished, before 70 AD. We can be certain that these writers, who included details about who among them was martyred, who went to jail, and who even included embarrassing details in their telling, for example their cowardice at times, would have at least noted this siege, if not dedicate entire chapters to it!

History records this later, and yes, Christ was proven to be right, fulfilling yet another prophecy, and further verifying the truth of the word of God. But this realization also proves to us something else. How soon after Christ these events were recorded. Within less then 40 years, the new Christian church was copying, and circulating the very words you have today. Remarkable!

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Our Walk in the Nation of Israel

At the end of Luke, it says that Christ “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45)

This great “Ah-ha!” moment for the apostles indicates a revealing of the secrets of scriptures. How Christ Himself was prevalent in all of church history.  Seeing real recorded history with not only so many prophecies fulfilled, but also so many parallels and perfectly recorded cross-references to our salvation journey is mind-boggling.

I have mentioned in several of  these articles, but today, we will highlight the Christian journey as it parallels the journey of the Israeli nation. You will see that this nation’s actual history reflects our lives in some very interesting ways, and that this journey therefore was no accident, but was painting a picture of the journey of each individual in the church.

Think about it. Conception, an ordained promise that God makes with Abraham, calling him out to grow a nation, conceiving it. These few parts of what will be the whole nation, move down into the protection of Egypt. Egypt, the safest place in world to grow, to be protected, just like a womb if you will, a civilization powerful enough to ensconce a budding nation and offer if the protections it needs to thrive. Remember, Abraham was respected by Egypt, as shown by how they honored him in death.

This nation grows from 75 people (a few cells) to approximately 2 million, a full nation, (full body) over a period of 430 years (pregnancy). Then birth, into their own country, but of course, as we follow the living metaphor, you cannot have birth without labor pains. Suddenly it seems even the pain of childbirth points to a profound and awesome plan.

Childbirth of course was the exodus, labor was slavery, pain-filled time, heartache, trouble, tumult. Fear as to whether or not they would survive, if things would be okay.

A quick aside, there are many verses about water in the bible. Part of creation of course, well of salvation, out of the side of Christ upon His death. But in our salvation story, there is also two births, being born, and as Christ says, you must also be born again. Birth into the world is accompanied by the water breaking. And our second birth, being born into God’s kingdom, accompanied by baptism.

Success in the birthing of a nation, a miracle (much like a birth today is a beautiful miracle), was as we know accompanied by water, the crossing of the Red Sea. Safely on the other side we have a new creature, a new nation. What God calls a stubborn, stiff-necked people, just like us, prone to complaining, idolatry, etc.

Then, next we have our 40 years in the wilderness. Consider, after you are born, there is a period of time you are not saved, learning, building faith, learning to trust God. You are not saved, you are convicted by laws, figuring out how to get to the promised land. 40 is part of biblical numerology, suggesting a time of trial, patience, storm.

Then, at long last, they are saved, as Joshua, a Christ-figure, leads them to the promises of God, and yet again, through a river, this time the Jordan, the baptism and second birth of the nation.

Like our own salvation and relationship with God, this is not paradise. There is war here in this promised land. There are enemies. But there is a relationship with God. This is our sanctification period. This does not remove you from the troubles of the world, as the prosperity gospel preachers would suggest. But the nation, the Christian is armed and is part of a nation, a family, a history, a body of Christ.

We have walked to the promises of God, to salvation, from birth, with Israel, and it is so like our own journey, an undeniable parallel, that the church’s salvation journey is literally prophesied and lived out by the nation of Israel for all to see in their history.

Such an amazing wonder, and testament to the plans of God.

What Are Students Taught about the Death of Dinosaurs?

dinokiller

A giant, life ending, asteroid is the common theory, yes? 65,000,000 years ago, teachers confidently espouse, that the most “likely” scenario was an asteroid that our dragon friends could not survive. Despite no evidence for such an event, there are a surprising amount of specifics taught to children about this make-believe impact. It is a model that fits the bill, when one is needed to prop up faith in evolution, and allows evolutionists to maintain their pre-supposition in molecules-to-man, despite the observable data at hand.

The asteroid was apparently 6 miles wide, the needed girth to cause an impact great enough to change the weather, which would have created a crater 110 miles across. There are no craters in the surface of the Earth that show evidence of such an impact, though scientists have tried to pigeon-hole the data from the Caribbean Sea to imply that this event must have happened there. This impact, according to the theory, first proposed by geologist Walter Alvarez in about 1980, wiped out the dinosaurs, along with 80% of the Earth’s animals.

This theory is mostly propped up using the discovery  of a higher content of  of iridium in the Caribbean,  and coupling it with the made-up geologic column which exists no where on Earth. (Iridium is a mineral found in many meteorites, but is also heavily prevalent in volcanic events, which occurred during the flood.)

It is worth noting that though this is a prevailing theory, it is not the only one. Many scientists believe that alternate events killed the dinosaurs. Some of these include mammals eating dinosaur eggs,  the evolution of narcotic plants, climate change,  diseases, loss of plants causing herbivores to starve, which in turn caused the carnivores to starve, lowering of oxygen partial pressure in the atmosphere.

There are excellent articles and evidences addressing reptile size, geologic column, radiometric dating, etc, from a creationist perspective. But the important point here, and the crux of this article, is to note that none of these theories indicate a global flood. None of these indicate a drowning event, or water at all, as a catalyst for bringing about the extinction of large reptiles.

Why is this important? We can safely agree that academia in general has a strong bias against the bible, and its historical narrative, so we certainly wouldn’t expect the default opinion of secularism to match the global flood history recorded in genesis.

But what is telling is the actual observable data.

Certainly we know about finding buried dead things all over the Earth, including large pre-flood dinosaurs, or dragons. IMG_9378We have discovered billions of dinosaur tracks over the last 20 years, across the globe in over 1500 different locations. Scientists are slowly agreeing that these fossil graveyards, soft bodied (jellyfish) animal fossils, and fossils buried mid-meal, or mid-birth indicate a quick catastrophic burial, rather than some slow burial lasting millions of years.

But even more telling is that we have scientists themselves admitting that these finds were originally deposited due to water. For example:

World’s Largest Dinosaur Graveyard Linked to Mass Death, By Charles Q. Choi, Live Science Contributor – “The way the fossils are linked together in the same layers of earth within these bonebeds suggests all these Centrosaurs were wiped out simultaneously. The likely culprit in this scenario was a catastrophic storm, which could quickly have routinely made the waters flood up as high as 12 to 15 feet.”

Drowned dinosaur eggs’ fossil remains reveal embryos grew fast, Los Angeles Times, April 10, 2013|By Amina Khan

Publication in Yellowstone National Park – “Mammoth Site in South Dakota. Mammoths and other megafauna got trapped in a sinkhole and drown about 26,000 years ago.”

This is just a sampling. All over the world, and in article after article, scientists observe the data that these fossils were drowned at the time of death.

Now, look at these pictures of dinosaurs discovered buried:

Struthiomimus_skeleton_jconwaydownloaddeath_pose-lgcompsognathus_fossil

Notice they exhibit this peculiar contorted position popularly called the “death pose.” This pose of many fossilized dinosaurs, with wide-open mouth, head thrown back and recurved tail, likely resulted from the agonized death throes typical of brain damage from asphyxiation, according to paleontologists. If they were buried in rock slides, or were buried after death and then fossilized, they would not have this position. These animals were obviously suffocating as they were being buried by mud and water. These animals drowned.

We find this data all over the globe, and yet, I would remind you that all of the deep time, secular speculations taught in schools do not involve water! I would say that I remain curious as to why that is. But I know the answer. It puts science a little too close to a biblical theory that must not be allowed in the door. But, as it has many times before, the bible continues to be shown as the most accurate explanation of our early Earth. Is the story fantastic, and amazing? Absolutely. But it so easily explains so many geological features that it puts secular theories to shame. Academia will of course continue to scoff at the bible, regardless of how well the data matches the history. But it is quite faith-building to know that when you put in the time and research, you can stand on a great deal of evidence to support the biblical narrative.

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2 Peter 3:3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.

What are the Odds, Layperson?

In the last article on dragons, I eluded to a default acquiescence that people engage in if they are laypeople, and are faced with advanced degrees and elite status. It is important to discover what science, and experts have learned, of course. But that is not to say that laypeople cannot engage in common sense considerations in regards to the creation vs evolution debate.

Often, we lay down against an opposing force with initials behind their name, and automatically assume that we are ignorant, or even stupid, if we disagree with them.

I have experienced this myself, when speaking to an astrophysicist. He talked circles around me, and was light-years (haha) smarter than me about Big Bang Theory, star formation, accepted postulations, lunar regression. But when I walked away, I couldn’t dismiss the fact that many of his postulations were deep time scientific models i.e. made up. The Biblical history described in Genesis was not only more logical in the end, but much more intellectually satisfying.

The point is, and this is just my opinion, laypeople have every right to engage in healthy debate, and if done cordially, and with respect, they can depend on their own sense of logic and common sense when it comes to the both biblical, and evolutionary studies. On the biblical side, we must ascertain if miracles are possible, for example. On the evolution side, we must decide if it is logical for us to believe in abiogenesis, or life from non-life. Another example may be that both camps have a huge problem with explaining starlight distance against time. One camp doesn’t have enough time for it to reach Earth, the other doesn’t have enough time for it to be observably equal across galaxies.

We have all heard the old example of monkeys pounding out Shakespeare on a typewriter. If not, it goes something like this:

If several hundred monkeys were lined up at typewriters, and were coerced to start pounding on the keys, and if this experiment went on long enough, we would eventually get the complete works of Shakespeare. This is evolution to a tee. It is a sold probability, and is supported by the elite of academia, regardless of whether or not it passes the smell test of our collective common sense. It is an accepted truth. It is technically possible, and so we add deep time, and conclude that without any guidance what-so-ever, a bacteria can through natural selection become a giraffe. This means that an unintelligent cause, literally beyond a simple-mindedness into the reality of no-mindedness, which knows nothing of giraffes, transforms a bacteria into a giraffe.

Must you be a technical expert in genetics, or biology to understand that this does not hold water?

The theory is perpetuated like this:

Can our monkeys accidentally hit the ‘T’ and then the ‘O’ one after the other? Sure, it is possible. One might say, hey neat, this monkey accidentally made a small word, the word “To”.

Is it technically possible that the space bar is hit next? Of course. Then, the odds would be small, but again technically possible for that monkey, assuming we had enough monkeys, billions of monkeys, hit ‘B’, ‘E’, ‘space’, ‘O’, ‘R’, ‘space’…

And then, ‘N’, ‘O’, ‘T’, ‘space’, ‘T’, ‘O’, ‘Space’, ‘B’, E’.

Is it technically possible? Given billions of monkeys, and billions of years, that eventually you would get the sentence, “To be or not to be”? It is a stretch. I’m going to say the answer is an obvious no. This is based on what I observe. I am not a geneticist. Not a biologist. But I know that based on my experiences this cannot happen.

We as logical, rational laypeople, realize that if I toss a handful of letters up in the air, it is possible that two letters may land next to each other, and spell ‘be’, or ‘to’, or ‘is’. If I actually got a three letter word, I’d probably laugh in amazement. “Holy cow, look, I tossed these letters up and it spelled bat! I mean, the ‘T’ is a bit crooked, and the ‘B’ is backwards, but still, that’s crazy!”

But if I go up in a helicopter, and toss out millions of letters, and I do that millions of times, will I ever spell, “To be or not to be, that is the question”?

Now imagine doing that and putting several million in the right order – the amount of base pairs in one bacteria cell’s DNA (cell of a human is 3 billion base pairs).

Another logically huge difference is evolution’s need for trillions of monkeys, to pound on that keyboard non-stop for billions of years. As if the universe, by chance through a series of non-intelligent causes with no agenda, is somehow trying to make order from chaos an infinite number of times. Not only this, but the universe must by chance continue to create new information, beneficial mutations, in order, at the right place, in a habitable zone, and with precise timing, all in order to bring about a result it does not desire in the least. Again, the mindless universe does not know what a giraffe is.

This is what we are taught. And despite our teachers telling us this is how it happened, we know instinctively that this cannot be the case. In fact, one could say, that we are “Without excuse.” It is my opinion, that people must train themselves into this belief, regardless of its absurdity. People wanted to believe it, wished for it, sold it, and of course now it is prevailing and acceptable. So much so that theistic evolutionists have adopted its processes as some warped way that the God of the bible would have created us. It is handed to us by an increasingly secular, man-centered society, and it is a gift for people to latch on to who hate the idea of God.

When Christ said ‘the truth shall set you free’, to those that sought to kill Him, they argued about accepting His truth about God the Father. He told them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did… If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.” (John 8: 39-45)

We know that an anti-God position is presented to allow for the greatness of man and his theories, but more so for his flexible morality. But I reiterate, a layperson should have every right to test what is being taught against their common sense,  about macro-evolution (molecules to man), abiogenesis (life from non-life), and all random chance creating perfect order (anthropic principle) out of chaos for literally no reason, and with no intelligence.

I speak out about it to hopefully lend courage to those on the fence, or who are too scared or intellectually bullied by science elitists. It is okay to disagree with a prevailing theory that makes no sense, and is completely un-observable. It is okay to speak up and say that you don’t believe you came from a sub-species of ape, or from a fish, or from a bacteria, or the now infamous ‘we all came from stardust.’ It is okay to believe that billions of monkeys doing random things will never create the genius of a play, or the genius of a hummingbird, or the genius of you, who are made in the image of something wonderful. It is okay to believe you are worth more than happenstance, built upon random pointlessness.

It is more than okay. It is obvious.

 

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Romans 1:20 – For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse

 

 

Atheism: Definition

Regarding the term atheist, there is commonly an adoption of this identity by people who don’t want to consider God, or who don’t necessarily choose to believe in a god, or any god for that matter. It is often stated as a philosophy, which acts as a barrier against the need to consider morality, origins, afterlife, etc, and serves to reject the consideration of “religion” in its entirety.

People will claim, “I am an Atheist,” and when pressed, will define it as “I don’t believe in a god,” or “I lack a belief in God.”

This is not comprehensive enough to be considered ‘atheism’, in my opinion, and is hopeless as a definition.

It is no longer a position, or viewpoint, but rather becomes merely description of your psychological state. You are stating that you, personally, do no choose to believe in a god at this time. “I don’t believe in a god” is not a truth claim about the existence of God at all, and can neither be right or wrong. It is simply a belief.

If I say, God is real. That must be either true, or false. There is no getting around it. I can believe what ever I want as a subjective individual, but the moment I make a truth statement, I have to open myself up to evidences, and the possibility that I am incorrect, based on the law of non-contradiction.

In much the same way, a true atheist could categorically state,”I believe there is no god.” This is a truth statement, which now must be verified, scrutinized, held up along side evidence, and considered against opposing views as either true or false.

Michael Shermer, publisher of skeptic magazine even stated at the opening of his debate with Dr. Turek, “There’s two types of atheism, there’s weak and strong atheism, strong atheists say ‘I believe there is no God’, weak atheists say, ‘I don’t believe in God’.”

This weak position also prevents people who call themselves atheists from simply stating, “I am an atheist, prove me wrong.” In other words, “I don’t believe in a god, but you now have the burden of proof.” If the two opposing viewpoints are making truth statements, then both parties assume a burden of proof. Or else, I could just as easily state, “I believe in God, prove me wrong.”

Instead, I may say, “there is a God.” I made a truth statement. An atheist may then ask, “What evidence do you have to support that?” (For examples of evidence click here.)

This tactic of lacking a belief in a truth-claim is obvious during any research on the subject. For example, the atheists.org site asserts numerous times that a truth claim should not be pinned to the belief system. It rejects the idea of being a belief at all. Here is an excerpt from that site:

“Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes… Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods…. Despite the fact that atheism is not a religion, atheism is protected by many of the same Constitutional rights that protect religion. That, however, does not mean that atheism is itself a religion, only that our sincerely held (lack of) beliefs are protected in the same way as the religious beliefs of others. Similarly, many “interfaith” groups will include atheists. This, again, does not mean that atheism is a religious belief.” – American Atheists, www.atheists.org/activism/resources/about-atheism/

Notice the attempt to absolve all responsibility from making any truth statements, while maintaining religious protections. This is not an indictment upon atheist persons as a group, certainly not ones who are searching, studying, and determining their own belief paradigm, as much as it is upon an agreed upon definition which allows a group to straddle that line. To be simultaneously a belief and not a belief; a religion and not a religion; a people group that promotes unity and solidarity under the banner of a lack of believing. In other words, a people group who share a belief in no belief.

They state, “To put it in a more humorous way: If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.” (et. al.) This would of course hold water if persons who did not collect stamps were a politicized, and well organized people group who wrote, persuaded, and influenced the culture around them of the merits of not-stamp-collecting, as opposed to simply being people who do not collect stamps.

Imagine a group of people who have decided not to collect stamps stating , “We have more than 170 affiliates and local partners nationwide. If you are looking for a community, we strongly recommend reaching out to an affiliate in your area in order to continue not collecting stamps.”

Stating an opinion does not claim anything, or differentiate you from bananas, baboons, and babies, all who are considered atheists under the weaker, culturally accepted definition, i.e. they don’t personally believe in a god. Atheism is a truth claim, “there is no god.”

For the record, Merriam-Webster declares the definition to be a “belief that there is no god, or a strong disbelief in a god.” This is the point I am arguing here. Are we making a truth statement, or simply stating a psychological position, such as “I don’t like okra.”

No evidence for or against okra is likely to change my mind. But once we make that truth claim, we can now consider how the evidence stacks up; in the case of God, we can overlay the realities of objective moral law, design in nature, the existence of matter, the beginning of the universe, and see if science upholds the possibility that all of this was accidental and random, (a faith in and of itself).

This becomes important during debates, specifically because of the burden of proof. It is often placed upon the Christian nowadays during even civil and healthy debates, but rarely on the atheist, as if the lack of belief in a god should be obvious and universal. But, in times past, it was the other way, and belief in God was the norm, and therefore the default setting if you will. It was up to Charles Lyell and Thomas Huxley to campaign against the bible, much like Dawkins and Hitchens have done in modern times, precisely because they make a truth claim.

Remember, a true atheist must carry some of the responsibility of a burden of proof in a debate. It is not one sided. Learn to recognize the difference between someone making a truth claim, and someone just stating their opinion.

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Side note: Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s bulldog, was a devout campaigner for Darwin, outspoken, charismatic, and he drew in crowds like a rock star of today. He actually coined the term agnostic, the West’s new faith, a word he used as a stepping stone to drive doubt against the bible, and to hoist up Darwin’s ideas of all life having common ancestors. This quote by Huxley will give you some insight into the motivation behind such claims. It is fair to say personal philosophy, and not science, drove much of the campaigning for evolution, as it still does today.

“No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathous relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller-jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried out by thoughts and not by bites.” – Thomas Huxley.

Endurance Through Trials

Romans 5 : 1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Been meditating on this verse lately. Trying to, though counter-intuitive, be grateful for sufferings. Each of us bears his or her own loss, or bitterness of heart. Having been broken in love, or denied goals, having drank the anguish of defeat, often it causes us to resolve ourselves to hopelessness.

Charles Spurgeon said, “The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in 10,000 ways, and die over and over again each hour.”

But, in wading through these things, we do good to remind ourselves of a couple of key truths. Firstly, For by him [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Col 1:16)

Also consider, John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

God has given us creation to enjoy, to be sure; love, wine, nature, a myriad of pleasures, but that only works if our hope and focus is on Him. When we look to the world to make us happy, finding sustaining life in the world is impossible. Welch put it this way:

“When you observe life and listen to wise people, you will quickly find that it is not about us, which hurts our pride but is a welcome relief. We simply can’t invest our hopes, dreams, and love in the self because it was never intended to carry such freight. For that matter, there is nothing created that was intended to sustain such hopes. Creation is to be enjoyed, but we don’t put our trust in it. The only alternative is God himself.” -Welch, Edward T.. Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness (Kindle Locations 913-916). New Growth Press. Kindle Edition.

If we face bitterness and continue to long for that which we feel we are owed, even owed by God, then our resentment towards Him would distance us from that which is most important, would it not? If Christ is the door, the way, the truth, if indeed the greatest command is to love God above all else, then it could be determined that any trials, though not caused by God, are allowed to happen, in order to bring about the truth of this reality.

Paul said, it is better for you to lose your life and save your soul. Again, very counter-intuitive with how the world thinks. But imagine a world where every pleasure and desire was realized, and those pleasures kept you perpetually from seeking God. That life is still subject to entropy, and eventual death. Would it not be better to endure trials that “produce perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope?”

This has led me to conclude, rather reluctantly, that I am grateful for my trials. I say this carefully, not wishing certainly to evoke more, God forbid. But, my bitterness has certainly exposed the worst parts of me, it has exposed all of what I need to work on, and all I have put my hope in other than God Himself.

If the rest of my life, hypothetically, were devoid of all joys, stripped of all hope of love, and robbed of all entertainments, and ego-boosting assurances, understanding this one fact, that it is God’s love that will sustain me, then it is not a life wasted.

That is not to say, that nothing should be enjoyed. You won’t see me moving to a stone-built monastery in the Alps this year leaving my LOTR extended addition behind, or selling my car and living with the Amish (though I am sure they are much happier than many of the people who are plugged deeply into the world). But the folly of dependence upon people or things is lessened, as I focus my hope on Him, who has promised to sustain me, not just now, but always. John 5:24 “Truly, Truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes in Him who sent Me, has eternal life…”

Yes it is counter-intuitive. But I am grateful for my trials.

God vs god

I welcome discussion on this, and look forward to thoughts, so please share, and invite people to like the page, and join the discussion:
I asked  fellow Christians about whether or not the God of the bible and the gods of other religious writings were the same, and got some scary answers, as if Americans got to heaven one way, and the Japanese another, and Islamic states another. The crux of the issue is, are other religious writings from God too? Let us take a look at the Quran as a comparable.
We launch from the pre-supposition that the bible is fact, and was inspired by a holy creator, and we look at the question logically. God cannot contradict himself or lie, and therefore another holy book that contradicts the bible cannot be inspired by the same God. We could do this with the Vedas or Buddhist writings easily, and no one would challenge that they are speaking of the same paradigm. But what about Islam? Some verses to consider:
Does the Quran agree with the bible that Christ is God in the flesh, the only son of God, a considerable doctrinal truth in Christianity to say the least.
Surah 4:171 – …The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son…
Surah 23:91 – No son did Allah beget, nor is there any god along with Him: (if there were many gods), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have lorded it over others! Glory to Allah! (He is free) from the (sort of) things they attribute to Him!
Furthermore, where is it that Christ will spend eternity according to the Quran?
Surah 3:45 says – Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah
yet
Surah 21:98 says – Indeed, you [disbelievers] and what you worship other than Allah are the firewood of Hell. You will be coming to [enter] it.
indicating that believers “and what (they) worship” will be firewood for hell, which would include worship of Jesus Christ.
Let us remember that Jesus was worshiped by the apostles as Lord, and
John 1:3, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
Col. 1:16-17, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Rev. 1:17, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.’”
Rev. 2:8, “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.”
John 8:24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (NKJV)
John 8:58, “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I AM!”
Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
I would ask, with this disparity between the two works, would they both be written of the same God? would one so fully exalt Christ above all things, and the very same author deny His deity, position, omnipotence, and importance?
Whether you follow one school of thought or the other, that is your choice, but we must logically conclude that when it comes to what the author was trying to convey, the two are diametrically opposed. We also must conclude that since God cannot lie or contradict Himself, the Quran cannot contain the same god as the God found in the bible.
puts it this way, which I thought was a most logical and succinct way of viewing the entire issue:

Premise 1: Either the Bible is the Word of God or it is not.

Premise 2: If the Bible is the Word of God, the Qur’an is not.

Premise 3: If the Bible is not the Word of God, the Qur’an is not.

Conclusion: Therefore, the Qur’an is not the Word of God.

For a link to his article explaining this in greater detail,  click here.
(For reference, here is a list of Quran Scriptures that affirm the bible:

Surah Al-E-Imran 3: “He has revealed to you the Book with the truth [i.e. the Qur’an], confirming what has been before it, and has sent down the Torah and the Injil.”

Surah An-Nisa 136: “O you who believe, do believe in Allah and His Messenger and in the Book He has revealed to His Messenger and in the Books He has revealed earlier. Whoever disbelieves in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and the Last Day has indeed gone far astray.”

Surah An-Nisa 163: “Surely, We have revealed to you [i.e. Muhammad] as We have revealed to Nuh and to the prophets after him; and We have revealed to Ibrahim, Isma’il, Ishaq, Ya’qub and their children, and to Isa, Ayyub, Yunus, Harun, and Salaiman, and We have given Zabur [i.e. the psalms] to Dawud.”

Surah Al-Isra: “Your Lord knows best about all those in the heavens and the earth, and We have certainly granted excellence to some prophets over some others, and We gave Dawud the Zabur (the Psalms). Say, “Call those who you assume (to be gods), besides Him, while they have no power to remove distress from you, nor to change it.”“

Surah Al-Anbiya: “And We have written in Zabur (Psalms) after the advice that the land will be inherited by My righteous slaves.”

The Qur’an  also assert that the prophet Muhammad is prophesied in both the Old and New Testaments, although he is never mentioned. Consider the following verses:

Surah Al-Araf 157: “Those who follow the Messenger, the Ummiyy (unlettered) prophet whom they find written with them in the Torah and the Injil and who bids the what is fair and forbids what is unfair, and makes lawful for the good things, and makes unlawful for the impure things, and relieves them of their burden, and of the shackles that were upon them. So, those who believe in him and support him, and help him and follow the light sent down with him, those are the ones who are successful.”

Surah As-Saff 6: Remember when Isa, son of Maryam, said, “O children of Isra’il, I am a messenger of Allah sent towards you, confirming the Torah that is (sent down) before me, and giving you the good news of a messenger who will come after me, whose name will be Ahmad.” But when he came to them with manifest signs, they said, “This is a clear magic.”)