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Is the Bible Reliable? 4

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

Thought for Today

Another reason I find the Bible to be trustworthy is the unique way it impacts people who read it. Someone once said that the Bible both sings and stings. That is to say, the Bible can make you say, “Yes!” and “Ouch!” at the same time. The Bible has a way of breaking us down, revealing what we thought was long hidden from God. To be clear, the Bible is not a guidebook on how to be good. It certainly tells us what true goodness and love look like. However, the Bible is designed to help us see just how woefully short of the mark we are. It will not tell you what to do to save yourself. The Bible will tell you what God did to save you, because you are incapable of saving yourself. This is both bad news and good news. It is bad news because we so desperately want some credit for our own salvation. It is good news because, while you get no credit, Jesus did all that was necessary to make up for your failures in goodness and love. All you have to do is receive the free gift of His grace. You cannot run or hide from the truths of Scripture, they are living active. The real question is, what will you do when God shows you who you really are? Shake your fist at heaven or throw yourself on His mercy?

 

Prayer

Holy Spirit, thank You for telling me the truth about myself, not because I didn’t know, but because I did, and now that I know You know the real me and still choose to love me, I will forever trust in You. Amen.

 

Devotional Quote

Sharper than any double-edged sword." A sword with two edges has no blunt side; it cuts both this way and that. The Word of God is edge all over. It is alive in every part, and in every part keen to cut the conscience and wound the heart. Depend on it: not a verse in the Bible is superfluous or a chapter that is useless. ― Charles Spurgeon

 

Quote of the Day

We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior. ― John Stott

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Is the Bible Reliable? 3

Wednesday

Zechariah 11:12-13

Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter.

 

Matthew 26:14-16

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

 

Matthew 27: 3-7

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter's field as a burial place for strangers. 

 

Thought for Today

One of the most powerful demonstrations of the truthfulness of the Bible is found in the myriad prophecies fulfilled within its pages. In the Old Testament there are 60 major messianic prophecies and about 270 minor prophecies. These were written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, yet He fulfills every single one of them. Many of those prophecies were completely out of Jesus’ control. He had no way to determine the price the Pharisees would place on His head. If He could He certainly wouldn’t have set it at the insulting price equal to that paid for a slave. However, Zechariah said it would be 30 pieces of silver. He told his audience that they would be cast on the floor of the temple and used to pay the potter. No one could know what was going to happen at that level of detail…except God. And lest you think the disciples engaged in a little revisionist history, remember that they declared the price Judas took to betray Jesus when the Pharisees were still around and they never refuted it. There was likely documentation demonstrating its use to buy the potter’s field. The evidence is overwhelming that it happened just as it was predicted. And this sort of thing happens 330 times in the Bible! Its truthfulness is clearly seen in the fulfillment of prophecy.

 

Prayer

Lord of time, I praise You for making Yourself known as You revealed what was to be over and over in Your Word. Help me to trust all that it says about Your Son’s love for me. Amen.

 

Devotional Quote

Some, who doubt that the Bible is the true Word of God, doubt it because they are unwilling to ascribe to God anything they cannot themselves achieve. ― Billy Graham

 

Quote of the Day

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,

At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,

When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,

And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.” 

― C.S. Lewis

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Is the Bible Reliable? 2

Psalm 19:7-8

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;

the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

 

Thought for Today

There has been a great deal of confusion and misinformation about the reliability of texts of the New Testament. Opponents have claimed that they were written in the second or even third century. They have claimed that we cannot trust the manner in which we received them. Others have said that the writers were making up the miracles and resurrection of Jesus. All of these claims have been debunked. Having closely examined all of these concerns, historian Dr. Clark Pinnock concludes, “There exists no document from the ancient world witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies, and offering so superb an array of historical data on which an intelligent decision may be made. An honest person cannot dismiss a source of this kind. Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational bias.” From a scholarly perspective the documents of the New Testament are accurate accounts of the events that took place regarding Jesus and the early Church. However, accurate is not the same as true. We will look at why we can believe they are true the rest of this week.

 

Prayer

Holy Spirit, I praise You for preserving and protecting the accounts of Jesus life, death and resurrection so that I can know all that He did for me. Amen.

 

Devotional Quote

It is fashionable in some academic circles to exercise scholarly criticism of the Bible. In so doing, scholars place themselves above the Bible and seek to correct it. If indeed the Bible is the Word of God, nothing could be more arrogant. It is God who corrects us; we don’t correct Him. We do not stand over God but under Him. ― R.C. Sproul

 

Quote of the Day

In real terms, the N. T. is easily the best attested ancient writing in terms of the sheer number of documents, the time span between events and the document, and the variety of documents available to sustain or contradict it. – Ravi Zacharias

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Core Questions: Is the Bible Reliable? 1

Matthew 4:4

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

 

Thought for Today

Many people today struggle with believing the claims of Christianity because they have been told that the Bible itself is untrustworthy. Since the beginning of the Church people have accused the followers of Jesus of playing fast and loose with the texts of Scripture. They often say they were recorded too late to be accurate, and the like. All of these challenges have been healthy for the Church, because it has forced us to be very deliberate and serious about the texts of the New Testament. This is an important conversation for us because Jesus tells us that the Word of God is as important as food to sustain us. So many people in our lives are spiritually starving and anemic because they do not know that the record of God’s words, the Bible, is trustworthy and true. This week we will strive to sharpen our ability to help them trust the Words of Life.

 

Prayer

Holy Spirit, guide me this week as I wrestle with Your Word. Help me to grow in confidence and my ability to help others trust its message. Amen.

 

Devotional Quote

The soul can do without everything except the word of God, without which none at all of its wants are provided for. ― Martin Luther

 

Quote of the Day

If you cut[John Bunyan] he'd bleed Scripture! ― Charles H. Spurgeon

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Is Christianity too Narrow? 5

Luke 18:31-34

And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” But they understood none of these things.

 

Luke 24:1-3

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

 

1 Corinthians 15:14

If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

 

Thought for Today

Let’s face it; if Christianity is just the well intentioned dream of its earliest adherents, it is too narrow. If Christianity is a philosophy filled with heady ideals, it is too narrow. However, if it is true, it is not narrow at all. For if it is true it stands alone among the religions of the world.  How can we know if it is true? The earliest followers of Jesus staked everything on the belief that Jesus not only predicted His death and resurrection, but He actually died and rose again. They emphatically stated that they had seen Jesus, spoken to Him, and eaten with Him after He had been executed by the Romans (who had a success rate of 100% according to historians). All of the other religions of the world are built on the heady philosophy of their founders who subsequently died. You can visit their tombs around the world. You cannot visit Jesus’ tomb. The evidence for the truth of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is overwhelming and readily available. If Jesus did not rise from the dead you cannot trust anything else that He said. However, if He is the only person in history to rise from the dead, just as He said, then you can trust everything else He said. The resurrection is the ultimate argument for the truth of Christianity. And if it is true, it is not narrow. It is simply true.

 

If you are not familiar with the basic evidence I invite you to take a few minutes and review Josh McDowell’s summary here: http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html

 

 

Prayer

I praise you, Lord Jesus, for not only speaking God’s wisdom and love into our world but letting us know for that it is all true by rising from the dead. Help me to live each day confident of Your love and grace for me. Amen.

 

Devotional Quote

Optimism is a wish without warrant; Christian hope is a certainty, guaranteed by God himself. Optimism reflects ignorance as to whether good things will ever actually come. Christian hope expresses knowledge that every day of his life, and every moment beyond it, the believer can say with truth, on the basis of God's own commitment, that the best is yet to come. ― J. I. Packer

 

Quote of the Day

If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn't rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead. ― Timothy Keller

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Is Christianity too Narrow? 4

1 Corinthians 5:9-10, 12-13

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral. . . In that case you would have to leave this world. . . For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.

 

Thought for Today

The main reason Christianity is considered too narrow in our culture actually has nothing to do with anything Jesus said. It has to do with the way Christians behave towards those outside the Church. We read God’s expectations for our lives, that we would not be sexually immoral, greedy, dishonest, idolaters, drunkards and the like, and we immediately begin to judge people who do not know Jesus by the same standard. We are gracious towards Christians who struggle in areas of morality and condemning of non-Christians with the same issues. The world sees this hypocrisy and it informs their opinion of everything else we say. Paul tells the believers in Corinth that it is not our place to judge those in the world. For avoiding those who sin in the world would mean that we would have to withdraw from the world, which was ridiculous to Paul. For how then would they ever come to know the truth about Jesus’ grace and mercy? We are called to hold each other to the high standards of God’s Word, with an abundance of grace and care. Those outside the Church should not be held to the same standards. Instead, we should be exceedingly gracious and compassionate with them in order to win the right to share with them the Good News of the cross and empty tomb. This does not mean that we abandon the national conversation about what is good and right. It means that our conversations with and expectations of individuals are very different from our socio-political stances. God is the judge of non-believers not us. If we begin to deal more compassionately and less judgmentally with those in the world we will actually increase their desire to know what Jesus said and why He said it.

 

Prayer

Holy Spirit, help me to be gracious and compassionate with those who have not met Jesus yet. For, as Jesus lamented, they are like sheep without a shepherd. Instead of condemning them, help me to lead them to the Good Shepherd. Amen.

 

Devotional Quote

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. –Jesus Christ

 

Quote of the Day

If we judge ourselves only by our aspirations and everyone else only their conduct we shall soon reach a very false conclusion. ― Calvin Coolidge

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Is Christianity too Narrow? 3

John 8:31-32

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

 

Thought for Today

We need to challenge the premise of the question, “Is Christianity too narrow?” The question implies that narrow is bad. This is not usually the case. We build dams because narrowing the water flow allows us to use it to create hydroelectric power. We narrow our educational focus to make ourselves more knowledgeable and more valuable. We cast clear and compelling visions to focus the energy of people and move our cause forward. The diffusion of many possibilities is rarely a benefit outside of brainstorming. When Jesus declares that He is “the Way and the Truth and the Life,” His statement gives us clarity. How do I get to heaven? Jesus is the way. How can I know what is ultimately true? It is found in Jesus. Where can I find life beyond the grave? Jesus can grant it. The plurality of answers given by the religions of world do not clarify the matter, they confuse. I don’t know anyone who was offered the plurality of answers to these ultimate questions and was able to sort it out for themselves. It has always left them confused and frustrated. We don’t do our friends any favors when, in the name of tolerance and inclusion, we pretend like Jesus claims are one among many. People want clarity. We should be careful not to put down any other claims in the process of lifting up the Truth. We are called to proclaim the Good News, not tear down others. We can be confident in simply speaking the truth of Jesus, because the truth we offer will be the only one empowered by the Holy Spirit. Simply speak the truth and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

 

Prayer

Holy Spirit, help we to winsomely speak the truth of Jesus and allow You to use the words as You desire. Amen.

 

Devotional Quote

Truth, according to the Christian faith, is God's love for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, truth is a relationship. — Pope Francis  

 

Quote of the Day

If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. ― Mark Twain

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Is Christianity too Narrow? 2

Luke 13:23-25

And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’

 

Thought for Today

One of the challenges our culture has with any religion is that a religion is based on truth claims. Truth is by definition narrow; it excludes anything contrary to the truth. Modern American culture believes in the oxymoronic “relative-truth.” That is, a truth is only true for those who hold it to be true and those who hold a contradictory position can be equally correct. While logically impossible, relative-truth makes us feel compassionate and inclusive. The narrowness of truth is not bad as our culture supposes. Rather, it clarifies and shines light upon how things really are. When Jesus says, “enter through the narrow door,” He is telling us that the way to heaven is narrow. Many misunderstand this to mean that heaven is only for a select few. However, what Jesus is actually saying is that if you want to enter heaven you have to come before God empty handed. You cannot carry your diplomas, trophies, or resume. Those who demand to prove that they are worthy of God’s respect or love will not be able to get through the narrow opening. Only those whose empty hands are reaching out to Jesus on the other side of the narrow door will make it through. While some may see this truth as exclusionary, it is actually incredibly inclusive. You don’t need the right good works or the requisite amount of hours caring for others to get into heaven. Everyone can come in.  You just have to be willing to lay down your trophies and enter heaven on Jesus all sufficient merit.  

 

Prayer

Blessed Jesus, thank You for opening heaven to everyone. Help us to understand that it is open on Your terms to all who put their trust in You. Amen

 

Devotional Quote

Only through repentance and faith in Christ can anyone be saved. No religious activity will be sufficient, only true faith in Jesus Christ alone. — Ravi Zacharias

 

Quote of the Day

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence. — Henry David Thoreau  

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Core Questions: Is Christianity Too Narrow? 1

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

Thought for Today

This week’s question is a difficult one because our culture is very sensitive when it comes to questions of tolerance and inclusivity. However, that does not change our response. Jesus made very specific claims about who he is and what he came to do. He was convinced that he was sent by God the Father to reconcile the world to its Creator. He would do this by giving up his life so that the rest of humanity wouldn’t have to. He claimed to be the only way to the Father. His claims were very exclusive. However, as we will discover, they were also the most inclusive claims of all the religions of the world. This paradox of the inclusive exclusivity of Christ is what we will explore this week. Those who already have faith will be built up. Those yet to find faith will be challenged. Both places are healthy places to start the conversation.

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, reveal Yourself to me and all who read these devotions this week, that in finding You we all might find the truth. Amen.

 

Devotional Quote

I am sure that God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. ― C.S. Lewis

 

Quote of the Day

Wisdom is oftentimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar.  – William Wordsworth

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Why Does God Allow Suffering? 5

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 

 

Thought for Today

If God is good and all-powerful, why does He allow evil to persist? Isn’t He morally obligated to use His divine power to eradicate evil? The answer to those oft asked questions is “YES!” God must do something about the problem of evil or He cannot be truly good. The good news is He did tackled the problem of evil by coming personally in the person of Jesus Christ and taking sin and every evil and nailing them to the cross. He poured out His precious blood to pay the debt left behind by the wickedness of our hearts and lives. If this is true, why is there still evil in the world? While God has disarmed sin and evil at the cross, however, He has not brought about the final judgment upon them. When He does He will have to do away with everything that causes evil. Those who have not passed under the cross of Christ, leaving behind their sin and shame, will have to be removed from God’s presence permanently, for sin and evil will still reside in them. Jesus’ dear friend Peter tells us that God is “slow” to do this because He doesn’t want to lose any of His beloved people. So He delays the Day of Judgment on sin and evil in the hopes that more of His children will turn to Him and, repenting, walk under the cross of Jesus and leave their evil behind. Evil still exists because God holds out hope for those who don’t know or believe what He has done for them. So while we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.” The Father stays His divine hand to keep the judgment at bay one more day. He is willing to leave evil in the world temporarily so that eternal life is still a possibility for those who are far from Him today.  

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, use me to draw those I love to Your cross and the gift of eternal life. While I long for the day when everything will be perfect again, I praise You for Your patience for their sake. Amen.

 

Devotional Quote

God is never late and rarely early. He is always exactly right on time--His time. ― Dillon Burroughs

 

Quote of the Day

I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done. ― Elisabeth Elliot

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