Friday, February 8, 2013
Thursday, November 22, 2012
During the American Revolutionary War the Continental Congress designated days of thanksgiving each year. The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was made in 1777:
"FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success: It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost."
Of that proclamation, Samuel Adams wrote to another Declaration signer, Richard Henry Lee, noting the specificity of the language that, "the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and join ... their supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ." Patriot Post, 11/22/12
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice."
Monday, December 19, 2011
There are more than 24,000 partial and complete manuscript copies of the New Testament.
Manuscript Evidence for the New Testament
These manuscript copies are very ancient and they are available for inspection now.
There are also some 86,000 quotations from the early church fathers and several thousand Lectionaries (church-service books containing Scripture quotations used in the early centuries of Christianity).
Bottom line: the New Testament has an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting its reliability.
In the many thousands of manuscript copies we possess of the New Testament, scholars have discovered that there are some 150,000 "variants."
The Variants in the New Testament Manuscripts Are Minimal
This may seem like a staggering figure to the uninformed mind.To begin, we must emphasize that out of these 150,000 variants, 99 percent hold virtually no significance whatsoever.
But to those who study the issue, the numbers are not so damning as it may initially appear.
Indeed, a look at the hard evidence shows that the New Testament manuscripts are amazingly accurate and trustworthy.
Many of these variants simply involve a missing letter in a word; some involve reversing the order of two words (such as "Christ Jesus" instead of "Jesus Christ"); some may involve the absence of one or more insignificant words.Thus, in the Bible as we have it (and as it is conveyed to us through faithful translations) we do have for practical purposes the very Word of God, inasmuch as the manuscripts do convey to us the complete vital truth of the originals.
Really, when all the facts are put on the table, only about 50 of the variants have any real significance - and even then, no doctrine of the Christian faith or any moral commandment is effected by them.
For more than ninety-nine percent of the cases the original text can be reconstructed to a practical certainty.
Even in the few cases where some perplexity remains, this does not impinge on the meaning of Scripture to the point of clouding a tenet of the faith or a mandate of life.
By practicing the science of textual criticism - comparing all the available manuscripts with each other - we can come to an assurance regarding what the original document must have said.
Let us suppose we have five manuscript copies of an original document that no longer exists. Each of the manuscript copies are different. Our goal is to compare the manuscript copies and ascertain what the original must have said. Here are the five copies:Most of the manuscript variations concern matters of spelling, word order, tenses, and the like; no single doctrine is affected by them in any way.
Manuscript #1: Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole worl.Could you, by comparing the manuscript copies, ascertain what the original document said with a high degree of certainty that you are correct? Of course you could.
Manuscript #2: Christ Jesus is the Savior of the whole world.
Manuscript #3: Jesus Christ s the Savior of the whole world.
Manuscript #4: Jesus Christ is th Savior of the whle world.
Manuscript #5: Jesus Christ is the Savor of the whole wrld.
This illustration may be extremely simplistic, but a great majority of the 150,000 variants are solved by the above methodology.
By comparing the various manuscripts, all of which contain very minor differences like the above, it becomes fairly clear what the original must have said.
We must also emphasize that the sheer volume of manuscripts we possess greatly narrows the margin of doubt regarding what the original biblical document said.
If the number of [manuscripts] increases the number of scribal errors, it increases proportionately the means of correcting such errors, so that the margin of doubt left in the process of recovering the exact original wording is not so large as might be feared; it is in truth remarkably small.
By comparing the manuscript support for the Bible with manuscript support for other ancient documents and books, it becomes overwhelmingly clear that no other ancient piece of literature can stand up to the Bible. Manuscript support for the Bible is unparalleled!
The New Testament Versus Other Ancient Books
There are more [New Testament] manuscripts copied with greater accuracy and earlier dating than for any secular classic from antiquity.Norman Geisler makes several key observations for our consideration:
Rene Pache adds, "The historical books of antiquity have a documentation infinitely less solid."
Dr. Benjamin Warfield concludes, "If we compare the present state of the text of the New Testament with that of no matter what other ancient work, we must...declare it marvelously exact."
No other book is even a close second to the Bible on either the number or early dating of the copies. The average secular work from antiquity survives on only a handful of manuscripts; the New Testament boasts thousands.From this documentary evidence, then, it is clear that the New Testament writings are superior to comparable ancient writings. "The records for the New Testament are vastly more abundant, clearly more ancient, and considerably more accurate in their text."
The average gap between the original composition and the earliest copy is over 1,000 years for other books.
The New Testament, however, has a fragment within one generation from its original composition, whole books within about 100 years from the time of the autograph [original manuscript], most of the New Testament in less than 200 years, and the entire New Testament within 250 years from the date of its completion.
The degree of accuracy of the copies is greater for the New Testament than for other books that can be compared. Most books do not survive with enough manuscripts that make comparison possible.
As noted at the beginning of this chapter, in addition to the many thousands of New Testament manuscripts, there are over 86,000 quotations of the New Testament in the early church fathers. There are also New Testament quotations in thousands of early church Lectionaries (worship books).
Support for the New Testament from the Church Fathers
There are enough quotations from the early church fathers that even if we did not have a single copy of the Bible, scholars could still reconstruct all but 11 verses of the entire New Testament from material written within 150 to 200 years from the time of Christ.
The Dead Sea Scrolls prove the accuracy of the transmission of the Bible.
Manuscript Evidence for the Old Testament
In fact, in these scrolls discovered at Qumran in 1947, we have Old Testament manuscripts that date about a thousand years earlier (150 B.C.) than the other Old Testament manuscripts then in our possession (which dated to A.D. 900).A full copy of the Book of Isaiah was discovered at Qumran.
The significant thing is that when one compares the two sets of manuscripts, it is clear that they are essentially the same, with very few changes.
The fact that manuscripts separated by a thousand years are essentially the same indicates the incredible accuracy of the Old Testament's manuscript transmission.
Even though the two copies of Isaiah discovered in Qumran Cave 1 near the Dead Sea in 1947 were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (A.D. 980), they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text.From manuscript discoveries like the Dead Sea Scrolls, Christians have undeniable evidence that today's Old Testament Scripture, for all practical purposes, is exactly the same as it was when originally inspired by God and recorded in the Bible.
The 5 percent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling."
Combine this with the massive amount of manuscript evidence we have for the New Testament, and it is clear that the Christian Bible is a trustworthy and reliable book.
The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that the copyists of biblical manuscripts took great care in going about their work.
These copyists knew they were duplicating God's Word, so they went to incredible lengths to prevent error from creeping into their work.
The scribes carefully counted every line, word, syllable, and letter to ensure accuracy.
The Westminster Confession declares: "The Old Testament in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek, being immediately inspired by God and, by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them."
God's Preservation of the Bible
The Westminster Confession makes a very important point here.
The fact is, the God who had the power and sovereign control to inspire the Scriptures in the first place is surely going to continue to exercise His power and sovereign control in the preservation of Scripture.Actually, God's preservational work is illustrated in the text of the Bible.
By examining how Christ viewed the Old Testament, we see that He had full confidence that the Scriptures He used had been faithfully preserved through the centuries.Hence, the Bible itself indicates that copies can faithfully reflect the original text and therefore function authoritatively.
Because Christ raised no doubts about the adequacy of the Scripture as His contemporaries knew them, we can safely assume that the first-century text of the Old Testament was a wholly adequate representation of the divine word originally given.
Jesus regarded the extant copies of His day as so approximate to the originals in their message that He appealed to those copies as authoritative.
The respect that Jesus and His apostles held for the extant Old Testament text is, at base, an expression of the confidence in God's providential preservation of the copies and translations as substantially identical with the inspired originals.
The above article is an example of the quality materials produced by Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries. Write us for a full listing of other available free resources:
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Saturday, December 17, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
This is one small example of how complex we are. Chance or design? See for yourself.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said: "[W]hat we are talking about here is that Americans could be subjected to life imprisonment. Think about that for a minute. Life imprisonment. Without ever being charged, tried, or convicted of a crime. Without ever having an opportunity to prove your innocence to a judge or a jury of your peers. And without the government ever having to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I think that denigrates the very foundations of this country." Then Franken voted FOR the law anyway - go figure!
Friday, November 11, 2011
Should Christians be armed?
Should Christians enlist in the armed forces?
These and other questions are faced every day by believers who declare Christ as their Lord and Savior. This problem I encountered among some of my fellow church goers as I enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1971.
Some said that a Christian shouldn't bear arms. Others said that if I went in, it should be as a (concientious objecter) assigned to duties where I would not bear arms. That was unacceptable to me, and recalling the example of our (for the most part) Christian Founders, I ignored the advice of my fellow church goers. Thankfully, I never was in a position to use lethal force, and for that I thank my God.
My personal beliefs, as both a Christian and an American, if called upon I would fight and pay whatever price necessary to uphold the Constitution that guarantees our freedoms, our inalienable rights for which I and every military person swore to defend.
After honorable military service, I decided to be a California Peace Officer. At my oral interview, the issue about my religious beliefs were again raised by the interviewing panel. "What if you had to use lethal force? In view of your religious background, could you?" My answer was that I would exhaust all reasonable means before using deadly force. Though I participated in quelling numerous disturbances and was involved in altercations, I was blessed never to have been in a situation to employ deadly force.
For over two decades now, I've carried personal weapons. I've never had to use them, since any weapon I have is strictly for my family's and my personal defense.
Now there were no fire arms when Jesus walked the earth, but they did have swords. Those were their deadly weapons and soldiers were highly trained in their use.
It is interesting that Christ made this statement to his disciples: "But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one."
In the Old Testament, believers were involved in some really bloody battles. One time Elijah, God's prophet, slew 450 of the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:40).
Another time, following an all night prayer meeting, godly Samuel chopped an evil king to pieces with a sword.
1Samuel 15:33 "And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal."
Ultimately, it is up to the individual's conscience and personal beliefs, but there are two sayings that I keep in mind as I live in America.
1. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away, and
2. I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Please understand that I was seeking the Baptism in the Holy Ghost - not speaking in tongues or any other gift. Kneeling at a chair with the dozen or so members of the congregation laying hands on me, I was verbally thanking the Lord for saving me, when I began to stutter and speak words that made no sense to me. When I pray in tongues today, I still have no idea what the meaning is. One thing I'm sorry to say is that there are many Christians who do not believe in the baptism of the Holy Ghost as a second work of grace, and some of the ones that do, really don't believe it is for believers today but passed away with the Apostles.
Such was the case with my Baptist partner Smitty, when we worked a housing unit in the California Department of Corrections.
We had just received a busload of new prisoners and among them was a voodoo practitioner nicknamed Jamaica. Smitty and I were sitting just outside of our upstairs supply-room monitoring housing unit floor activities while distributing toiletries to the new arrivals. In the meantime we had been casually talking about faith in God etc. and I referred to my experience with the Baptism in the Holy Ghost. I could sense Smitty's skepticism, and declined his urging for a personal demonstration, which no doubt added to his skepticism.
Meanwhile we were observing Jamaica going about to the day room making hand gestures and generally attracting a lot of unwanted attention among the units population. One of inmates came to Smitty and I saying that Jamaica was putting voodoo curses on the guys and word was one way or another, Jamaica was going to be stopped.
In the next few minutes, Jamaica himself came running up the stairs, looking wild eyed he began speaking curses on Smitty and me. "I rebuke you Satan in the Name of Jesus Christ" I said - followed by speaking in tongues at which Jamaica fell down prostrate pleading for me to stop. I instructed him to go to his assigned cell and quit bothering others; and he obeyed.
Afterwards, Smitty asked, 'was that tongues?' (Obviously he was re-evaluating his thoughts on the matter). Praise God for the power of the Holy Ghost in the Name of Jesus!
I could recount many incidents regarding tongues, but what matters is what the Bible says.
At this time, I'm addressing only the fact that there is a further experience beyond salvation, available to any believer, and it is commonly known as the 'Baptism in the Holy Ghost,' with the common evidence of speaking in 'tongues.'
Here's what the scripture says:
Isa 28:11: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. [cf. 1Co 14:21]
Mat 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Mar 1:8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
Luk 3:16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
Mar 16:17: And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
John 7:38, 39: He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Acts 1:4, 5: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Acts 2:4: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Act 2:33, 38-39: Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
Act 10:44-48: While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, ‘Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Act 19:5, 6: When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
1Co 14:18a: I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
Act 8:14-22: Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
Note: Three of the five times in the book of ACTS where people were baptized in the Holy Ghost, it specifically states that the recipients spoke in tongues. The other two times are when Saul (Paul) received the Holy Ghost, and of that his testimony is "I speak in tongues more than you all." In the incident "when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given," it is obvious that some sort of visual demonstration was given, and we're left to decide what that might be for ourselves. For me there is no question - and perfectly consistent with the Bible, that tongues is the immediate evidence.
Also, since Jesus Christ is the one who Baptizes in the Holy Ghost - according to John the Baptist - it is also proof positive that Jesus lives and is baptizing believers today - Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!