The End From the Beginning: Last Things First

The End From the Beginning: Last Things First
Vol: 90 Issue: 31 Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure:” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

A one-week tour of Israel is all that is necessary to prove the pinpoint accuracy of that statement. We’ve stood on Tel Megiddo where the children of Manasseh failed to drive out the Caananites who dwelt there. It was on Tel Megiddo that Kings Ahaz and Solomon stabled their warhorses.

When one stands upon Tel Megiddo and looks out over wide green valley below, it is obvious why this was once the most strategic military outpost in the known world.

In Hebrew, a ‘Tel’ is an artificial hill created by layers of previous civilizations. As such, Tel Megiddo bore witness to the story of the Israelite conquest of the Land of Promise in the beginning of the story of Israel.

Tel Megiddo will also bear witness to the story’s conclusion, when the all the world’s armies gather together one last time in that same valley the Apostle John called the Valley of Armageddon.

The end from the beginning. Not such an easy trick as one might think. It is one thing to predict the New York Yankees will win the pennant in any given year.

It is another thing altogether to predict how each game in that season played out in order to get them to the Series, first.

The winning game is at the end of the season, a contest between two teams, one of which could be the New York Yankees. It would be a good guess.

But predicting how the third game of the season would ultimately bring the Yankees the point where they would even compete — before going on to predict all the details of all the subsequent games, showing at each point along the way where one outcome affects another, and how they all come together at the end. . . I think you get the idea.

Everywhere one goes in Israel one sees elements of the beginning, the middle, and the end. And somehow, they all blend together into a timeless harmony.

There seemed no conflict in standing in the midst of a 4,000 year old ruin, looking out over the Valley where someday the world’s greatest battle will be fought out over who owns Jerusalem.

Particularly since dotting the area are the shells of destroyed tanks and other military equipment; rusted monuments to previous efforts to force Israel to give up Jerusalem.

The end from the beginning. That is the theme of our series of reports from our fact-finding mission in the Holy Land, for that is what it turned out to be.

In keeping with the theme, our first report will be about the end of our trip, so we can get the unpleasant parts behind us.

Assessment:

Our guide, Boaz Yuval (much more about him later) cleverly deduced that we would need more help navigating Ben Gurion airport at 2:00 AM than even an experienced world traveler like myself (with one previous trip in 1994) might be able to provide.

Our departure from Jerusalem was like a snapshot of our entire visit. We arrived at the airport where our driver handed us off to the airport guide Boaz had assigned to meet us. He whisked us into the airport to the first line of security.

There were four lanes filled with travelers. And this was just the first layer. Not to worry. A few words from our guide, and suddenly a brand new lane was opened.

I was motioned forward by an Israeli official who asked me a few questions about the group and our activities. Our entire group then slid through security in less time than it took to process one person in the line beside us.

After we had arrived in Israel, Alitalia decided to consolidate two flights into one in order to fly a full aircraft. This created a cascading series of problems that began at the next layer of lineups to secure boarding passes.

Once again, our airport guardian slipped up, spoke a few words to the officials, who then quickly resolved our problems as if we really were the Very Important Persons we were made to feel we were throughout our time in Israel.

From there, we were processed through final security to our gate, still in Israel — but no longer in Israel — as we waited to board our flight to Rome.

It soon became obvious that we had left the city of God and touched down in the city of Satan. (And he evidently wasn’t happy to see us.)

Let me begin by saying Alitalia’s flight crew could have given rudeness lessons to New York cabbies, (with apologies to New York cabbies for the slur.)

If they’d ever run an airline before, it was hard to tell. It certainly seemed like this was their first day.

Alitalia overbooked the aircraft, and was trying to force the elderly couple in front of us to leave the aircraft because they weren’t on Alitalia’s ‘list.’

The old man was defiant: “That’s your list, not mine. I’ve paid for our seats and we’re not leaving.”

The airline seemed equally determined. First came a stewardess. Then, two progressively larger stewards. Finally, the pilot himself came out, to no avail.

The old man stood his ground.

The plane sat on the tarmac.

The sun came up.

Finally, the pilot made an announcement in Italian that made everybody groan except us. So he repeated it in English so we could groan too.

It seems that while Alitalia had overbooked its flight with passengers, it simultaneously under-staffed it’s flight crew. So we were going to have to wait for Alitalia to find sufficient crew to man the plane and then get them there.

About four hours after we boarded the aircraft with too many passengers and not enough crew, the captain announced we were ready to depart from Rome.

Which by that time was good news only in that we didn’t have to sit there anymore — nobody had a prayer of making their connecting flights in New York.

The flight took three hours longer than usual; the TV screens displayed a GPS navigation screen from time to time that gave us flight information, airspeed, location, and so forth.

At 11,000 meters, the headwinds were more than 205 km/h. (Translation: 33,000 feet/127 mph: Our airspeed was therefore a third less than it had been on the flight over when we had a favorable tailwind.)

The flight from Rome began at sunrise. When the sun set, we were approaching the coast of Newfoundland. Since we were chasing the sun, that day had an extra six hours in it.

We touched down at JFK in fog so thick that when the GPS said we were at 100 meters, I couldn’t see the ground.

Most every incoming flight that day had been canceled, those planes going out were going out full of passengers from previous flights.

Gayle had cleverly scheduled us with a six hour layover in New York so our connecting flight hadn’t left. We got there in time to board, but our luggage couldn’t go.

So we got bumped and handed standby tickets for the next day. Some of us were blessed to find hotel rooms, others spent Sunday night at the airport.

Between the storms in New York and the storms in the Midwest, some of our group hasn’t made it home yet.

We got home just after noon on Monday morning. I ended up with a mild case of food poisoning and am still unable to stray far from what the Israelis call the WC.

That was the end. Tomorrow, after the jet lag cobwebs begin to clear, we’ll go back and start from the beginning.

But last things first. If we ever do this again, it won’t be with Alitalia.

There’s Something About Mary. . .

There’s Something About Mary. . .
Vol: 90 Issue: 30 Monday, March 30, 2009

Quietly, and without a lot of fanfare, Roman Catholic and Church of England leaders have been holding high-level meetings aimed at reconciling the two denominations and merging them into a single mega-church for both Anglicans and Catholics.

Recently, the Times of London reported hat the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches have studied the possibility of joining forces under the authority of the Pope.

A 42-page document called ‘Growing Together in Unity and Mission’ outlines how the two churches could re-unite, hundreds of years after the Church of England emerged from its Roman Catholic roots.

Jointly led by the Right Rev. David Beetge (an Anglican bishop from South Africa) and the Most Rev. John Bathersby, (Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, Australia), the commission’s recommendations are being considered by the Vatican and the meeting in Dar es Salaam.

(Maybe it’s just me. But Dar es Salaam as the choice for a Christian religious summit seems a bit off-key, but in this context, somehow, not.)

If the Commission’s recommendations are accepted, the world’s approximately 1 billion Roman Catholics and 78 million Anglicans could find themselves as one big church.

Efforts on both sides to unite the two have been ongoing in a semi-formal manner since at least 1965, when the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States was established, but it went global in 2000 with the establishment of the International Anglican – Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission.

(Again, maybe it’s just me. But the fact that it went global in 2000 kinda makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.)

But the big stumbling-block to unification is the Vatican’s elevation of Mary to the status equal to that of a goddess. Even the Anglicans have trouble with that.

And, without being unduly unkind, the Church of England was created by Henry VIII who declared himself its head, because the Pope wouldn’t grant him a divorce from Anne Bolyn.

The establishment of the state Church of England tore British society apart and the conflict created what remains the longest word in the English language.

The word, ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ was coined to describe the movement that was opposed to Henry VIII’s dis-establishment of papal supremacy in English Christianity.

But the principle doctrinal difference between the High Anglican Church and the Vatican is what non-Catholics call “Mariolotry” or the worship of Mary.

The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission issued a joint statement called, “Mary: Grace and Hope” addressing the problem.

The Anglican side agreed to “reject any interpretation of Mary that would obscure the unique mediatorship of Jesus Christ.”

In other words, Mary can still be a “co-Mediatrix with Christ” — in keeping with Vatican teachings, provided the “mediatorship of Christ” remains “unique.”

Since even the Vatican doesn’t teach that Mary went to the Cross for the sins of mankind, the statement on Mary makes a distinction without a difference.

In essence, the new Trinity would be a quartet with a silent partner.

Assessment:

Addressing the Vatican’s doctrines concerning Mary is always difficult to do without diminishing Mary’s actual role in the Greatest Story Ever Told.

The two Marian doctrines that create the most division are those of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception.

In 1950, Pope Pius XXII issued the ex-cathedra (“infallible”) statement that Mary did not die a normal human death, but was bodily assumed into Heaven.

By this Papal Bull, (that’s not an editorial comment — that’s what papal pronouncements are called) Pius XXII declared this to be a doctrinal truth of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Second Vatican Council in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium added a new doctrine in 1965, that of the “Immaculate Conception.” This doctrine concluded that Mary was, “the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things.”

Wow. Quite an elevation from the humble picture of Mary presented by the Bible. The Mary of the Bible never saw herself as Queen of Heaven. Indeed, the Scripture records that pretty much every idea Mary presented to Jesus drew from Him a stern rebuke.

When Jesus was twelve, she lost Him in Jerusalem and didn’t realize He was gone until they were halfway home to Nazereth.

Since Joseph and Mary traveled for a full day before discovering Jesus wasn t with them, it took another day for them to return to Jerusalem, which means Jesus was left alone with no apparent place to sleep or food to eat during those two days.

(It was part of God’s plan, and I don’t fault her for it, but had it happened in 2007 instead of AD 12 or so, Jesus would have been raised by social workers.)

Having lost her Son in the first place, when she found Him, the first words out of her mouth were to blame Him for getting lost.

“And when they saw Him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto Him, Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? behold, Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.”

Jesus rebuked her by reminding her Who His Father really was:

“And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought Me? wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:48-49)

The Catholic Mary might be sinless and Divine, but she didn’t seem to ‘wist’ much at all. Then there was the time when He was teaching and Mary sent word summoning Him.

“While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, His mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to Him. Someone told Him, Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to You.”

So Mary, Ever Virgin, was not only standing outside, but she was accompanied by His brothers.

Jesus refused to see her, rebuking the messenger by saying, Who is My mother, and who are My brothers? Pointing to His disciples, He said, Here are My mother and My brothers. For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother. (Matthew 12:46-50)

Jesus wasn’t denying that Mary was His mother, so it doesn’t wash that He was denying He had brothers — instead He was using the occasion to teach a wider truth about what Hal Lindsey calls “the forever Family of God” of which the Church are all members.

The dilemma facing the Anglican Unification Squad is the same one that faced the Vatican.

For a Christian to reject the perpetual virginity of Mary is no insult to her. In fact, for a married woman (including Mary) to remain a virgin after being married, is unscriptural:

“Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. . . The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” (1st Corinthians 7:5)

So, which is it? Was Mary sinless? Or was she a married ever-virgin? According to Scripture, you can’t have it both ways.

The Anglican Roman Catholic Unity USA disagrees, concluding in a statement:

With regard to the definition of the Immaculate Conception (MGHC 59), the assertion that Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, preserved immune from all stain of original sin means that she never contracted the inherited guilt of original sin, and implies that she began her human existence in the state of supernatural grace. On the other hand, as a member of the human race she shared the universal need of redemption. Her redemption was accomplished, through a singular privilege of grace, by being preserved from contracting the guilt of original sin, rather than by being justified during her lifetime. Her immunity from original sin was due to the merits of Jesus Christ, the sole Redeemer of all humankind. The gift of supernatural grace with which she was endowed was essentially the same as ours, the difference being that she never lacked what we receive in baptism.

In other words, Mary could be both sinless and in need of Redemption, but since she got her immunity from sin from Jesus Christ . . . oh heck, I can’t make sense of it.

The document similarly got around the problem of a virgin having three sons and two daughters in addition to Jesus, and her bodily assumption into Heaven.

But you see what the problem is. It is impossible to contrast the Biblical picture of Mary with the Vatican’s Mary without sounding like one is disrespecting her.

Let me try and balance the record. Mary was a godly women, “blessed among women” and uniquely privileged to bear the Savior of the world.

She risked both her marriage and her life to obey God. In Mary’s world, adultery was punishable by stoning. She was a woman of great faith and great courage and one highly favored by the Lord.

But Mary is never presented by Scripture as more than that.

I am reluctant to pronounce the present-day Roman Catholic Church as the Whore of Babylon of Revelation, because at the present time, it is not. But it is in the process of constructing the edifice on which it will be based.

Despite the Vatican’s doctrinal flaws, I believe that there are many sincere, born-again Catholic Christians, and their presence is what makes the difference during the Church Age.

But the system, on the other hand, is a letter-perfect match for the system described by the Apostle John in the Book of the Revelation.

John describes its doctrine as having two horns like a Lamb but the teachings of the Dragon. He describes the seat of that religion as a ‘great city’ that sits on ‘seven mountains’. To this day, Rome is known as the City of Seven Hills.

The Vatican teaches that anyone who is not a Catholic is not truly a Christian — but it welcomes its erring ‘brothers’ (like the Anglicans) to return to the Church, apart from which, Pope Benedict recently proclaimed, “there is no salvation.”

What we really see developing is a great, global religion, based on Christianity (two horns like a Lamb) but one that has embraced another gospel and another Trinity, a system that diminishes salvation by faith in Christ and re-introduces the ancient Babylonian practice of goddess worship as ‘Christian’ doctrine.

There are yet two remaining developments that must take place before the system attains the status assigned it by John. First, the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit must be withdrawn from its midst.

After that, it can take on its destined role as the spiritual herald that proclaims the new gospel of “him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:9)

According to the Scriptures, the reign of the antichrist lasts but seven years — not enough time to create a brand-new religion. But more than enough time to seize control of the one currently under construction.

It’s almost ready now.

Note to the Members:

We ran into a few travel problems at JFK so we’ll be getting in a day later than expected. Praise the Lord, this should be the last rerun. Please pray for journey mercies for all our traveling company — we certainly need it.

Refocusing the Big Picture: The Coincidence Theory

Refocusing the Big Picture: The Coincidence Theory
Vol: 90 Issue: 28 Saturday, March 28, 2009

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of His coming. . . ?” (2nd Peter 3:2-3a)

Those of us who view Bible prophecy as a literal outline of future events know all about scoffers. Unbelievers don’t merely scoff at the notion, they get downright scornful. (While books on Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce fly off the bookshelves)

But not as scornful as those Christians who believe that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70. They go right past scornful to plain old nasty. Anybody who has spent anytime browsing Christian Internet forums knows exactly what I mean.

When confronted with evidence, the scoffer generally dismisses it as either selective interpretation or ‘coincidence’.

We’ve already discussed the amazing series of ‘coincidences’ that led to Ezekiel’s prophecy of Israel’s restoration ‘in the latter times,’ as well as Jesus’ equation of the blossoming of the fig tree with the generation that will see His return.

Israel was restored on May 14, 1948. We noted that the fig tree is unique in that it bears its fruit before it blossoms with leaves. And that since 1948, Israel has blossomed, despite global anti-semitism, Arab boycotts and five wars, from a desert wasteland to a coastal oasis.

Coincidence? It would be amazing, but it is just the start of a chain of coincidences so long that it takes the faith of a martyr to accept them all.

The Prophet Daniel said the antichrist would be a prince of the empire that destroyed the city and sanctuary. (Daniel 9:27) Rome collapsed in the 5th century, so the historical view is that Nero was the antichrist and the Destruction of the Temple fulfilled that prophecy.

Since there was no Roman Empire and no Israel, it made sense for 1500 years. Until 1948, when Israel suddenly reappeared on the world stage. While Israel was battling against the jihadists bent on its still-birth, Europe was re-uniting under the terms of the 1948 Benelux Treaty.

The 1948 Benelux Treaty was followed by the 1957 Treaty of Rome, and eventually by the Maastrich Treaty that its supporters hailed as the ‘revival of the old Roman Empire’.

The simultaneous restoration of both Israel and a European Empire corresponding to that of Imperial Rome must now fall into the ‘coincidence’ category.

The Apostle John prophesied the antichrist will preside over a centralized, global economy so tightly controlled that the antichrist would be able to restrict ALL buying and selling to those who agree to worship him. From John’s day until 1948, such control was a technological impossibility.

Until Bell Labs invented the transistor, giving birth to the Computer Age in 1948, the same year the UN’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade globalized the world’s leading economies. The present World Trade Organization was created to replace GATT, truly globalizing the economy under a single authority. Another coincidence.

Eventually, John says the whole world comes under the sway of a single religious authority. The World Council on Religions, a UN NGO that embraces all religions as equal, was born in Amsterdam in August, 1948. Coincidence?

John prophesied of the ‘kings of the east’ a great invading army numbering two hundred million men. That is the approximate strength of the Communist Chinese military, born out of Mao Tse Tung’s 1948 Cultural Revolution.

And so it goes. Let’s recap the ‘coincidences’ that are unique to this generation.

Israel was reborn in 1948. The European Community was born out of the Benelux Treaty of 1948.

The Russian/Muslim alliances with Syria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and the rest of the Arab world, as well as the US support of Israel were the result of the 1948 Truman Doctrine that gave us the Cold War and set the stage for the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy of the Gog-Magog War.

The Gog Magog Alliance already exists, precisely as Ezekiel outlined it, and is directly rooted in the 1948 outbreak of hostilities between Israel and the Islamic world.

That is a lot of coincidences.

Assessment:

Bible prophecy’s ‘Big Picture’ was, until 1948, like a jig-saw puzzle that was still in the box. All the pieces were there to make the picture, but until some of them started coming together, none of them made sense on their own.

When you put a jigsaw puzzle together, you start with the edges, since they are the easiest to identify. From there, you work inwards. As this generation progressed, a few puzzle pieces began to fit here, a few more there, but most of the pieces were still in the box.

And, like a jigsaw puzzle, as the Big Picture began to fill in, the rest of the pieces started getting easier to connect. In 1948, the edges were done.

A few pieces were added when Yasser Arafat introduced the West to Islamic terror in the 1970’s. A few more with the 1990 collapse of the Soviet Union. A few more fit following the seven-year Oslo Agreement signed in 1993.

But the Big Picture really began taking shape as we entered the 21st century, when an attack on the seat of both the global government and global economy launched a global war between religions.

The aftermath of the attack laid bare old animosities, created new alliances, and reshaped the global geopolitical system in the space of less than five years.

The post-2000 political civil war in the United States filled in another puzzle piece. How could a nation as sophisticated and cultured as the United States ever fall victim to the kind of delusion the Bible describes as overtaking the whole world?

A quick perusal of the New York Times or a half hour of CNN dispels that question.

If not, the history of the 21st century so far should fill in any blank spots. In 2003, the world held a global popularity contest between George Bush and Saddam Hussein. Thanks to the non-stop efforts of the White House’s domestic enemies, Saddam Hussein won hands-down.

According to the Bible, in the last days, the most important country on earth will be Israel. The most important city on earth with be Jerusalem. Given that the world is about to be plunged into global war over the existence of Israel and her possession of Jerusalem, it is hard to dispute that assessment.

The Bible says revived Israel will live in a state of war until a leader from the revived Roman Empire confirms a seven year peace treaty — predicated on the principle of land for peace.

“Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall DIVIDE THE LAND FOR GAIN.” (Daniel 11:39)

The Bible represents the greatest threat to Israel in the last days as coming from an alliance led by Russia and consisting of Iran and the Islamic Mediterranean states of North Africa and the Middle East.

The Bible describes a great religious war during the Tribulation that will target Christians and Jews for forced conversion. The Apostle John says that those who refuse to convert to his economic-religious system will be executed by beheading.

The Bible predicts that war and pestilences emanating ‘from the beasts of the earth’ will kill a fourth part of mankind during the Tribulation Period.

Iran’s Ahmadinejad is planning the war, and the World Health Organization is warning of a coming global bird flu pandemic with a fifty percent mortality rate.

Note something. In the 21st century, one doesn’t need a Bible to predict exactly the same scenario foretold in the 1st century by the Apostle John .

The Islamofacist war, forced conversions, beheadings, the Russian-Iran alliance, the beast-borne diseases, Ahmadinejad’s obsession with starting Armageddon, the Arab-Israeli conflict over its existence, the global conflict over ownership of Jerusalem — these aren’t dusty prophecies, they are headline news!

Reading the same headlines 2500 years ago, the Prophet Daniel asked the revealing angel what it all meant. The angel told Daniel;

“Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed TILL THE TIME OF THE END. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. ” (Daniel 12:9)

In the 21st century, Daniel’s words are no longer sealed — they fill our daily newspapers. The wise understand what the signs of the times mean.

To the rest, it is all just a ‘coincidence.’

Exhibit #5 – The Testimony of the Heavens

Exhibit #5 – The Testimony of the Heavens
Vol: 90 Issue: 27 Friday, March 27, 2009

Long before there were any written Scriptures of which we are aware, men still needed to know about God and man’s relationship to Him, and in particular, about His plans for their salvation.

There were no written Scriptures, so far as is known, that predate the Flood, but there were prediluvian prophets; (Abel, Lamech, Enoch) and there were post-diluvian prophets of God prior to Moses; (Melchizidek, Abraham, Joseph).

So it is clear that God revealed Himself to men in various ways long before Moses wrote the Pentateuch. There are prophecies that predate the Flood; Genesis 3:15 contains the prophecy of a Redeemer Who would be the “seed of a woman.”

There are prediluvian prophecies still awaiting fulfillment to this present time, as well: “Enoch, seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints.”

It is interesting to observe that most ancient religions also have some similar promise of a Redeemer and an eventual Divine judgment, just as there are variations of both the story of Creation and the Flood.

They vary from one belief system to another, but share the same basic elements. Skeptics are fond of pointing to these as evidence the Bible is really based in ancient mythology.

Let’s try on a more logical explanation: They share the same basic characteristics because they’re based in primeval Divine revelation that was shared to some degree by all ancient people, at least up to the time of the Tower of Babel.

The Babel story is all about man’s effort to circumvent God’s will — God was no stranger to them.

So it is altogether possible — and perhaps even likely — that there were other revelations and prophecies that were not written down and preserved for us, but were important to those who lived in ancient times.

The various divisions within the Book of Genesis suggest it could well be the product of earlier, Patriarchal records edited into one Book by Moses.

After all, what ABOUT God’s interaction with men before the introduction of the Scriptures? We know that God DID interact with men prior to the delivery of the Scripture; just a partial list includes Adam, Lamech, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and, of course, Moses.

It is not logical to assume that God STARTED loving the world at some point after the Flood, or about the time of The Prophets, or at some other time.

“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6) If God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and if He loves me now, then He loved those who lived in the time of Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Joseph just as much.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the ancients is their fascination with the stars. Historians still scratch their heads at the mysteries of ancient structures like Stonehenge, the Pyramid of Giza and the various Mayan temples.

The Bible speaks of men like Joseph, Moses and Daniel as being highly educated men. Joseph and Moses were educated by the Egyptians, who used their knowledge of astrology to construct the pyramids with such precision that we probably couldn’t replicate such a feat even today.

The Prophet Daniel was numbered among the Babylonian Magi and astrologers:

“And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” (Daniel 1:20)

The Jewish historian Josephus reports of an ancient Jewish tradition that says that Seth and Enoch took it upon themselves to “inscribe revelation in the heavens” using the movement of star groupings in the heavens as a sort of hieroglyphics.

It is equally possible (and I believe, probable) that God Himself was the Author of this ancient form of revelation. According to Genesis 1:14, one of the purposes for the stars and the heavenly bodies was to indicate “signs and seasons”.

Both the Psalmist and the Prophet Isaiah say that God named each star individually. The Scriptures actually make reference to some of the constellations by name.

Job, (the oldest Book of Scripture chronologically) mentions the constellation “Arturus with his sons” (38:32) the “sweet influences of Pleiades (38:11) the “bands of Orion” (38:31) and so on.

The most interesting reference to astrology comes during Job’s reference to the constellation Arturus: “Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?”

In context, God is answering Job’s question, “Why me?” with a blistering comparison between the omnipotence of God and Job’s helpless estate, reminding Job which one of them is God.

God is the One Who can bring forth ‘Mazzaroth in his season’ and ‘guides Arcturus with his sons.’ Not Job.

That is the lesson, but there is a sub-lesson here as well.

The “Mazzaroth” refers to the twelve signs of the Zodiac and their associated constellations.

I said the Book of Job is chronologically the oldest book in the Bible. It is also probably the oldest book in the world, dating from around the time of the Flood.

Yet the constellations were already not only well-known to Job, they already bore the names by which we now know them.

Job sat around with his three friends, commiserating his fate, which his friends ascribed to a Divine judgment for sin. God was no stranger to Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.

“And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.”

Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite didn’t say, “What? You want us to do what? Who did You say you were, again?” Nope.

Instead, “Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them.” (Job 42:7-9)

Job, (whom I remind you, predates pretty much everybody else) knew of God’s plan for his eventual redemption — in detail: “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.”

Job not only knows of his Redeemer, Job speaks of Him ‘living’ — in the present tense — and yet Job says that He will ‘stand at the latter day upon the earth.’ These details predate Genesis 3:15 by hundreds of years.

Moreover; “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:25-27)

Not only does Job know about the plan of Redemption, he also makes reference to his ‘resurrection in the latter days’ — concepts that aren’t identified (chronologically) by Scripture for another thousand years.

Job is firm in his conviction that he will again be in his own flesh when he sees God, that he will see Him through his own eyes, and not through someone else — these are all advanced theological positions yet to even be developed in Scripture.

I would go with ‘God told him’ — but that doesn’t explain the fact that Job’s friends were evidently from other countries, didn’t need to have God explained to them, or that, when God spoke through Job, they unquestioningly went scurrying to find a herd of sheep and a herd of bullocks to sacrifice.

So it is no stretch to believe the various star groupings and their movements across the sky were originally used, and perhaps even so designed by God, for the purposes of conveying a continuing message to all peoples of all times, of God’s plan for mankind and His promise of eventual redemption.

Make no mistake: astrology and the signs of the Zodiac have been corrupted over the ages; the Scriptures prohibit astrology as worship of the host of heaven. I know only enough to know I don’t know enough to fool with it.

Modern astrology is profoundly pagan in its interpretation, and we have the Scriptures to guide us. My intent isn’t to introduce astrology as a worship system.

My intent is to point out that it contains the entire plan of God for the redemption of mankind as a form of evidence, not an additional form of worship. Don’t let the enemy side-track you from the point.

All the ancients, (the Chinese, Greeks, Indians, Egyptians, etc.), used the Zodiac, and all used the same twelve signs; Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer and Leo. Each of the twelve signs is represented by a more or less universal symbol and interpretation.

Virgo: Virgo is the symbol associated with virginity. It corresponds with Genesis 3:15’s “seed of a woman.”

Libra: Libra is associated with the scales of justice. It corresponds with the Genesis story of the fall of man and his need for redemption.

Scorpio: The scorpion is symbolic of evil bringing death. It corresponds with the Genesis story of sin being responsible for death.

Saggitarius The symbol is the archer and corresponds with the Genesis story of Nimrod, King of the Nephilim, whom Genesis refers to as the ‘hunter of men’s souls’.

Capricorn: is symbolized by the goat-fish and tells the story of the corruption of the earth.

Aquarius: The symbol is the water-pourer and tells the story of the Flood.

Aries: Aries is depicted as a ram and is symbolic of sacrifice. It tells the story of the Crucifixion.

Taurus: Taurus is depicted as a bull, a universal symbol of power and life, and it tells the story of the Resurrection.

Gemini: The symbol for Gemini is ‘the twins’ and it symbolizes the dual nature of Christ as truly God and truly man.

Cancer: Cancer is symbolized by the crab and it tells the story of the Rapture, or the gathering of the Redeemed.

Leo: Leo is depicted as a lion and is symbolic of a king. It tells the story of Christ’s triumphant return at His Second Coming as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

So, to summarize, the entire plan of God, from the Promise of a Redeemer to His triumphant Second Advent — covering every single major point of Christian doctrine, I might add — is written in the stars.

The zodiac predates Moses, it predates Abraham, and as far as we know historically, it predates the written word. It tells the entire Gospel story, from the Genesis promise of a Redeemer to His Triumphant Return at the end of days.

Job 19:25-27 relates the Gospel message in almost exactly the same terms expressed by the Zodiac.

And since the symbols aren’t Jewish or Christian and they predate the written word, only a dedicated unbeliever could argue that they were co-opted later and made to fit the Gospel message.

The Gospel message, as it unfolded, corresponded the signs of the Zodiac, not the other way around.

You don’t need to take my word for it. You can take His:

“The heavens declare the Glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” (Psalms 19:1-3)

This isn’t simply beautiful poetry dedicated to the worship of God — although it certainly is that as well. It categorically states that God’s plan is written in the firmament (the stars).

It states that the Gospel message is there, day after day, night after night, and that “there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.”

It is a declarative statement of fact, one well-supported by historical, natural and logical evidence.

And as such, a powerful reason to believe.

Exhibit #4: The Influence of the Holy Spirit

Exhibit #4: The Influence of the Holy Spirit
Vol: 90 Issue: 26 Thursday, March 26, 2009

To this point, we’ve only looked at the Bible in its context as an historical document and seen the tremendous body of evidence, supported by both reason and nature, upon which Christianity rests.

Simply as a book of history, it is an amazing document. It begins before the beginning of the universe, and ends with its destruction and replacement. In between is the story of mankind.

There are those who recognize the Bible’s greatness but believe it is nothing more than that — a great book written by holy men. But they draw the line at calling the Bible the ‘Divinely Inspired Word of God.”

Indeed, that is the official position of the primate of the world-wide Anglican congregation, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams.

Dr. Williams believes the Bible is the foundational religious document of Christianity and Judaism, but he believes it was written by men. Not by God Himself.

(It must be terribly difficult to devote one’s life to serving what one believes in his heart is a lie. Or maybe not. Archbishop of Canterbury is a pretty good gig.)

But the Bible is more than a collection of historical documents and letters written by men. It claims of itself that every word contained within its pages is “God-breathed” — Divinely-Inspired by the Holy Spirit of God.

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2nd Peter 1:20-21)

The word ‘prophecy’ as used here, isn’t limited simply to foretelling the future. Prophecy actually means ‘speaking Divine Truth’ — or, more formally, “discourse delivered under Divine inspiration.”

In that sense, when Moses writes of events of the distant past, such as relating the Creation Story, he is actually delivering prophecy. It was not published as riddles subject to private interpretation by a cabal of wise men, as was the custom of the pagan religions of the time.

Neither was it something either invented by its authors nor by their whim. Peter tells us the writers of the Bible were ‘holy’ men — men ‘called out’ by God and ‘moved’ (inspired) by the Holy Spirit to record what they were told.

Thus, the Prophet Daniel could pen the entire history of the world from the perspective of Israel, from Babylon to Rome, and finally, through the Tribulation Period to come, and not have a clue what he was talking about the whole time.

(“And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” (Daniel 12:8)

Alone among the sacred writings of the world’s religions, the Bible claims for itself the mantle of infallibility. Even the Koran dare not make that claim — in fact — it’s writers knew it already contained contradictions and made allowances for them.

The Koran says that if a later verse contradicts an earlier verse, the later mention is Allah’s final word on the subject.

Thus, while the Koran says ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ that is nullified by the later verses that require non-Muslims to submit, either by conversion or dhimmitude, or be put to death.

But the Bible allows for NO contradictions, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. So, the Bible says of itself that it is infallible, Divinely-inspired and, most significantly of all, a completed work. When the Holy Spirit’s Divine dictation session was over, He ended it with a ‘period’ (Amen) and signed off with a warning:

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this Book.”

Even if one has never actually read it, the mere continued existence of the Bible stands as the most convincing and undeniable proof of its contents. No Book in history has withstood greater opposition, both to its existence and to its purported accuracy. Uncounted millions have perished in fires kindled by stacks of Bibles.

Over the centuries, the Bible has been sliced and diced and pureed and dessicated by philosophers, scientists, panels of experts, self-appointed ‘rationalists’, religious unbelievers, writers, lecturers and thinkers, all seeking to become that most famous of all thinkers — the One Who Proved The Bible Wrong.

My own journey to Christ began along that same road. One of my sisters had read Hal Lindsey’s “Late, Great Planet Earth” and started babbling on about Jesus and salvation.

I determined to set her straight by proving Lindsey’s conclusions were as wrong as the Bible he based them on. The harder I tried to disprove either, the more obvious it became. One cannot disprove the truth.

The history of the Book itself defies any claim of human inspiration. The Old Testament consists of 39 separate ‘books’ — the New Testament another 27.

The story of man’s rebellion against God is equal to the ‘number of man’ — 66 books. The authorship of 55 of them are well-accepted by history and tradition.

The other 11 (Judges 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ruth, Samuel 1 and 2, Kings 1 and 2, Esther Job and Hebrews cover such long periods of time they likely represent collections of ancient records brought together and edited the way that Moses ‘edited’ the Pentateuch covering the period from Creation to the Giving of the Law. Psalms and Proverbs also have several authors.

All the authors were Jews except possibly Luke, and all wrote from the context of Judaism. But the Bible has more universal appeal to all men in all nations across all time frames than any words ever written.

David and Solomon were kings. Jeremiah and Ezekiel, priests. Luke was a doctor, Paul a Pharisee, Matthew a tax collector, Daniel a politician, Peter and John fishermen, Ezra a scribe, Joshua a soldier and Nehemiah was a butler.

Some, like Moses, were highly educated. Others, like Peter and John, were probably semi-literate at best. The various ministries of the writers of Scripture cover a period of more than 1,500 of the most violent and turbulent years in human history.

With all this diversity, the books they wrote are necessary elements in a perfect whole product; each book seamlessly flowing to the next, each developing the same original theme, never contradicting each other, with such perfect economy of language as to speak to the hearts and minds of men with every single word.

Not only does it relate God’s Word as it applies to human conduct, it also contains historical, scientific, medical and ethical data centuries ahead of its time, and some of the best dramatic and poetic passages ever written.

It is therefore unique among all the sacred writings of all the religions of the world from antiquity to the present in six distinct ways.

1) It is the only sacred text to give an account of what came BEFORE the creation of the universe and the future account of its destruction.

2) It is the only book of antiquity to contain a running narrative from the first human being to the present era.

3) It is the only sacred text that not only relates history, but EXPLAINS its purpose in detail.

4) Ethically, the Bible stands alone among all the ancient and modern texts of the world in terms of standards of pure morality.

5) The Bible is the ONLY text among the world’s religions that contains detailed prophecies of future events.

6) The Bible is the ONLY Book that has the power to convict men of their sin and lead them to the ONLY One Who can free them from that sin.

According to somebody who took the time to count, the Pentateuch (the first five Books of Moses) claim Divine inspiration 680 times — the Prophets, 1,307. The Historical Books make 418 claims of Divine inspiration, Poetical, 195.

In all, according to Dr. Henry Morris, the Old Testament makes more than 2,600 claims of Divine inspiration. We already noted the warning not to add to the Scriptures at the end (Revelation 20:19) — note also that Moses gave a similar warning at the beginning. “Ye shall not add to the Word that I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it. ” (Deuteronomy 4:2)

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2nd Timothy 3:16-17)

The Bible could NOT have been written by men. Neither could it have been edited after the fact. It was preserved miraculously through the centuries, and then, just as the Final Generation was about to kick off, its preservation was confirmed by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

There is NO ‘rational’ explanation for the Bible. No historical explanation. In fact, apart from Divine inspiration and preservation, there is no explanation at all.

The only way it COULD be explained would be if it could somehow be compared to a similar book of antiquity. Out of all the literary works of all the men who ever lived from the beginning of time to the present era, the Bible remains unique and incomparable.

Ray Comfort once quoted the great 19th century evangelist, Charles Haddon Spurgeon; “Scripture is like a lion. Who ever heard of defending a lion? Just turn it loose; it will defend itself.”

Said Comfort, “Notice that it does not deny that lions sometimes need defending; it merely recognizes that the best way to do that is to turn a lion loose and it will defend itself.”

Tomorrow:

Reasons To Believe: Exhibit #5 “The Testimony of the Heavens”

Exhibit #3 Absolutely God

Exhibit #3 Absolutely God
Vol: 90 Issue: 25 Wednesday, March 25, 2009

“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalms 14:1). It seems rather harsh to call someone ‘a fool’ for what at first glance appears to be ignorance.

A person who doesn’t know God is clearly ignorant, since the word “ignorance” means ‘not knowing’. Ignorance is not a pejorative, although it is often hurled as an insult.

Babies are ignorant. People are ignorant of those things they haven’t either discovered for themselves or been taught by others. But the Bible uses instead the word, ‘fool’ which means, “a person who acts unwisely or imprudently.”

The word ‘fool’ is independent of educational background or innate mental acuity. And by its application, it means ‘only the unwise and imprudent would say there is no God’.

“For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse,” Paul writes in Romans 1:20.

It is obvious to any unbiased observer that the earth is too intricately and perfectly designed not to have a Designer. It is at the minimum, ‘imprudent’ to deny the obvious.

Paul anticipated the evolution vs creation argument (1850 years before Darwin first articulated it) and dismissed it out of hand as ‘foolishness’:

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” (Romans 1:23)

Read it in reverse order. From creeping things to four-footed beasts, to birds, to man — Darwin’s ‘Evolution of Species — the sacred text for secular humanism.

Which culminates precisely as Paul predicted, with the elevation of man to the role of supreme being.

There are five unassailable arguments that demand the existence of God, not the least of which is the ontological argument offered in Romans 1:20.

In brief, the ontological argument for God is that the existence of the idea of God can only be explained if God really exists.

In other words, it is beyond man’s intellectual ability to imagine the existence of something for which there is no frame of reference.

There are but four prime colors for example, red, yellow, green and blue. All the rest are shades and hues of these four obtained by mixing these four.

Since no fifth prime color exists, whatever color we might imagine it to be, it would actually be a mixture of the four prime colors. There is no frame of reference upon which to imagine a fifth.

For example, we can imagine pink elephants only because elephants exist and pink exists.

Human beings have no frame of reference upon which to imagine the existence of a Personal Being Who exists outside of space and time, that is all powerful, all knowing, present in every atom of the universe, yet intimately concerned with the well-being of the inhabitants of one of the billions of created planets in the universe on a personal level.

We could not have imagined Him; yet the most widely-read Book of all time is all about Him. Just look at the very word, ‘history’ – His Story.

The second unassailable argument is the one from cosmology. Cosmology is the study of the processes of the cosmos, whose fundamental operating law requires that the cosmos be in motion. And for the cosmos to be in motion, there had to be a Prime Mover.

Cosmology points to the Big Bang, but in so doing, ignores its own fundamental law. Something (or Some One) had to light the fuse that set it off, first.

The third unassailable argument is that of teleology. Teleology is the study of goals or ends and it presents the argument that the evidence of order and design in nature indicates purpose, which in turn demands a Designer.

The fourth unassailable argument is that offered by aesthetics. Aesthetics is the study of beauty and truth. It argues that there exist relative standards of beauty and truth. That is to say, some things are more beautiful than others, some truths, more absolute than others.

The aesthetical argument demands some absolute standard against which all things must ultimately be compared, or the concepts of ”beautiful’ and ‘ugly’ could not exist.

The fifth unassailable argument for the necessity of the existence of God is that of morality. Morality is also subjective, but still, some actions are considered more moral, or immoral, than are others.

For there to be a concept of morality demands an absolute standard of morality against which the relative standards can be measured.

For each of these systems to work, there is an absolute necessity for the existence of an absolute God of absolutes.

“Absolute” means, “not subject to any limitation.” God IS the ultimate Absolute. Without the existence of God, the word ‘absolute’ has no meaning.

It takes willful rejection of simple and unassailable evidence to say in one’s heart, “there is no God” because if such were true, there remains no explanation for the existence of beauty, truth, morality, science or logic.

Despite the evidence, however, if somebody’s mind is set against believing in God, all the evidence in the world won’t convince them. Faith still plays a critical role.

The Scriptures say, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

So, no matter how strong your argument, or how unassailable your evidence, no argument or combination of arguments will move the truly dedicated unbeliever to submit to God.

All we can do is offer the evidence and pray the Holy Spirit will impart the necessary faith to receive it.

To summarize the five unassailable arguments, they are:

1. Ontology: The evidence for the existence of God is that the existence of the idea of God can only be explained if God really exists.

2. Cosmology: For the cosmos to be in motion demands a Prime Mover to set it all in motion in the first place.

3. Teleology: The evidence of order and design in nature cannot be explained apart from a Designer.

4. Aesthetics: For both beauty and truth to exist, there must first exist absolute standards against which relative beauty and truth can be measured.

5. Morality: The argument from morality also demands absolute standards of morality against which relative standards can be measured and judged. As in the case of beauty and truth, morality as a concept cannot exist apart from the assumption of the existence of absolutes.

A Creator God MUST exist to explain the existence of these abstract concepts. To argue otherwise is obviously both imprudent and unwise. It is imprudent because it is a irrevocable judgment call that defies the evidence and it is unwise because any argument against the existence of God is illogical. It is illogical because one cannot KNOW there is no God.

Given all that we know, and all that we don’t know, the best an unbeliever can say is “don’t confuse me with facts. My mind is made up.”

Romans 1:22 anticipated that, too.

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”

Tomorrow:

Reasons To Believe: Exhibit #4: The Influence of the Holy Spirit

Exhibit #2 – The Historical Authenticity of the Scripture

Exhibit #2 – The Historical Authenticity of the Scripture
Vol: 90 Issue: 24 Tuesday, March 24, 2009

As pointed out during our examination of Exhibit #1, one of the attributes unique to Christianity is that it is founded upon actual, historical events rather that just on its ethical teachings. If Buddha were proved to have been a compilation of ancient figures, it would have little effect on modern Buddhism.

It is what Buddhism teaches that is important, not its founder. And while Islam’s founder is the key element to that religion, both the Koran and Islamic Law were written and developed by followers of Mohammed after his death.

But the details of the life and death of Jesus Christ are critical to Christianity.

If Jesus did not live, then He did not die on the Cross to pay the penalty due for your sins. “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (1st Corinthians 15:17)

If He was not condemned by Pilate — despite Pilate’s own proclamation of His innocence — then He was condemned for cause, and could not die for your sins, since He would have had His own on account.

If He were not raised from the dead — after three days in the grave — and subsequently seen of more than five hundred witnesses — then death and the grave have not been defeated, and you remain dead in your sins.

The effect of Christianity over the past two millennia is apparent in every place where it has taken root. Consider the things that divide the world up into the four spheres of global power they are today; the ethical, economic, political, and moral standards derived from their dominant religious worldview:

The Western nations, [Christian] the Gog-Magog nations; [humanist/Islamic Africa and the Islamic Middle East [Islamic] and the Far East [animist/Eastern mysticism].

Where is all the prosperity and freedom centered? That historical fact alone argues strongly for the effect of Christianity upon culture. And for there to be an effect, there must first be a cause.

If a single historical fact regarding the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is not true, the entire structure of Christianity collapses.

Now, think about this. That was even more true in AD 50 than it is today.

It is an historical fact, attested to by extra-biblical extemporaneous sources like Flavius Josephus, that Christians were routinely rounded up and murdered as part of the Roman coliseum spectaculars.

The life of Jesus Christ was no more distant to them than the life of Ronald Reagan was to us.

Suppose a book were published last year about Ronald Reagan attributing him with specific miracles, including publicly raising someone from the dead, and claimed that Reagan was resurrected after a public death and given the power to cleanse mankind from sin.

Do you think such a book about such a great man as Ronald Reagan could spawn a viable religion in a matter of decades? Reagan was a great man, no doubt of that.

But Reagan died less than a decade ago in his nineties. I know such claims could not be true.

I’m not likely to willingly face the lions rather than deny that Ronald Reagan was the Son of God. I was there at the time. I know better.

But the ones who not only faced the lions, but embraced their deaths, were the ones who were there when Jesus Christ did all the things attested to in the Gospel of Mark, already in circulation in Jerusalem in AD 50.

They knew the claims WERE true. Because THEY were there at the time.

The early Church Fathers, those who wrote in the years immediately following the Apostles, from AD 90 – 160 quoted so extensively from the Scriptures in their writings that skeptics suspect that they were the real authors of Scripture.

Textual scholars say that if the entire New Testament had been lost, it would be possible to reconstruct it altogether from the writings of the early Christians.

The Apostolic Fathers lived just after, or in some cases, overlapping the times of the Acts of the Apostles. Not only were they commenting on events that happened within living memory, their writings are concrete evidence that the New Testament we have today is essentially identical to the manuscripts commented on by Jerome, Augustine, Eusebius, etc.

The various books of the New Testament provide indirect confirmation of each other, as well as the identity of the writer. For example, in 2nd Peter 1:16-18, Peter refers to his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. (Matthew 17:1-5)

The Apostle John is credited with authorship of the Gospel of John, the three Johanine Epistles, and the Revelation of Jesus Christ. For example, the Apostle John uniquely uses “the Word” as another name for Jesus Christ. (John 1:1, 1 John 1:1, Revelation 19:13)

Luke identified himself as the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts (Acts 1:1), Paul opened his Epistles in his own name, etc. If any of these authors were not whom the books identify, then the early Church Fathers would have been aware of it.

There is absolutely NO documentary evidence that anyone from the era disputed a single point of historical fact.

In the course of His ministry, Jesus traveled extensively in His tiny country, performing miracles in front of thousands.

In one celebrated instance, when the synagogue in which He was teaching was too crowded, the roof was ripped off — mid-service! — to lower a well-known local paralytic into the room.

In full view of the crowd, Jesus told him to pick up his bed and walk, which he proceeded immediately to do. This is a spectacular event of the sort locals would still be talking about twenty years later — if it happened.

The Gospel of Mark said it happened. There is no record of any literate Jerusalemite of the time, not even a rabbi, who said it didn’t.

Each of the writers of the New Testament were eyewitnesses to the events they described except the Apostle Paul, who was personally instructed by Jesus Christ.

If YOU had witnessed what they did, would you believe it? Of course you would. On the other hand, if you were an eyewitness and you KNEW it didn’t happen that way, would you die for what you knew was a lie?

Every one of the writers of the New Testament was given the choice between denying his testimony of Christ or a slow, torturous death.

Not ONE of them denied their eyewitness testimony, not even to save themselves from such fates as being cast from the pinnacle of the Temple, crucified upside down, boiled in oil or beheaded.

A ‘deathbed’ confession is considered under the law to be the most reliable of all possible testimony on the premise that a person who knows he is going to die has no reason to lie.

Yet every one of them faced death with the Gospel on their lips.

Is it possible that all the Apostles were the victims of a mass hallucination, perhaps some form of unknown hallucinogenic drug? Or maybe they were all crazy? The events they refused to repudiate shared four things in common:

1) They occurred in the open, among crowds of people, not all of whom were necessarily friendly eyewitnesses. But He fed 5000 with five loaves and seven fishes, and took up twelve baskets of fragments of food.

2) The events were widely reported at the time by people of different backgrounds and characteristics; Jews, Romans, Samaritans, etc.

3) The authors themselves; Luke, a highly trained physician and historian, Matthew, a politician, James and Jude, early leaders of the Church, Paul, a Pharisaic lawyer and among the best educated of his day — these are not local dropouts or riff-raff from the bad side of town.

4) Their testimony was accepted by great numbers of people who, because of the risk of persecution and death, obviously weighed their testimony very carefully before accepting it as valid.

Until 1965, critics of the New Testament pointed to the fact that there was no archeological evidence supporting the New Testament story. There was no record among Roman documents of the appointment of a man name Pontius Pilate as Governor of Judea, for example. Then a plaque dedicating an amphitheater to Pilate by King Herod was discovered in Caesarea.

When I was in Israel in 1992, they were still talking about the recent discovery of the tomb of Caiaphas, the High Priest of the Sanhedrin who presided over the trial of Jesus.

While I was there, another tomb was discovered containing the ossuaries of Mary, Martha, Lazarus and one believed to be that of Matthias, the Apostle chosen by lot to replace Judas. All were from the first century, and all were emblazoned with a cross.

Turns out the New Testament record was true after all.

As to the historical authenticity of the Old Testament, until recently, the skeptics argued the Old Testament had been translated and copied long before the existence of even the oldest manuscript fragments.

But the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran in 1947 slammed the door shut on that argument. Scholars who translated the documents found, for example, a complete copy of the Book of Isaiah, buried in the earth since AD 70, reads exactly as does the Book of Isaiah we study today.

Finally, there is the testimony of the Bible itself about itself. The Bible says the test of a prophet is 100% accuracy 100% of the time, because the test of God’s Word is 100% accuracy, 100% of the time.

No body of literature in all history has been as throughly studied, vetted, picked apart, argued and debated over as the Bible.

Entire religions have sprung up for the express purpose of disproving the Bible; rationalists, atheists, humanists, etc. Their entire doctrine depends on there being a Bible for them to reject.

They don’t spend much time debating the sacred writings of other faiths — it is Christianity and the Bible that give their doctrine meaning. Most atheists, rationalists, humanists, etc., could find at least some common ground with most other world religions. It is the Bible alone that raises their hackles and fires up their evangelist fervor.

Finally, there is the evidence of Bible prophecy. Even if one could make the logical leap of the skeptics and attack the Scripture as a forgery, that attack collapses under the weight of prophetic fulfillment.

Skeptics argue that Daniel was really written in AD 163 by Judas Macabeus to explain Daniel’s amazing prophecy concerning the Babylonian, Persian and Greek Empires, and even the rise of the Roman Empire.

But Daniel predicted that Rome would eventually consist of an alliance led by ten ‘kings’ whose unified ‘kingdom’ would be like ‘iron mixed with clay’ — partly strong and partly weak.

That is a perfect description of the modern EU, fractured and paralyzed by the admission of the 17 associate and observer members whose democratic vote continues to thwart the intentions of the ten FULL members to unify under the leadership of Western Europe.

So, even if the skeptic wants to believe Judas Macabeeus really wrote Daniel, Daniel STILL got it right. Can you ‘forge’ a prophetic fulfillment in advance? Isn’t that called ‘prophecy’?

Given the weight of all the evidence pointing to both the historical accuracy and Divine inspiration of the Scriptures, it seems to be that it would be much more amazing if it weren’t all true.

“For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Tomorrow: Exhibit #3 The Evidence of God

Marantha!