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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Life applications from Revelation's teaching on the future tribulation period

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Revelation 6:1 "Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.”
Introduction:

The Apocalypse of John (also known as "the Book of Revelation"), details the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ with respect to present realities and future events. We explored in the last post what we can expect to take place as we move forward in history. We noted in particular an event called "the rapture of the church" and distinguished it from its closely related larger event: "the second coming of Jesus". Readers may click on the following link to review the last post here:

http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2019/02/grasping-future-events-of-rapture-and.html 

In that last post, mention was made of another future time period that, per this author's understanding of eschatology or "doctrine of last things", occurs in between "the rapture of the church" and "the second coming of Jesus", namely, "the tribulation period". One could define the tribulation period as follows:

"The tribulation describes a time, yet future, in which God will pour out wrath to judge the nations, defeat Satan's kingdom and prepare Israel for the arrival the Lord Jesus Christ."

In past posts on this site, I have written more detailed posts on the subject of the tribulation period, which the reader can click on here:


also, readers may click on another post-link concerning Jesus and Paul's teaching on the tribulation here:


How can a Christian find any encouragement for godly living or any relevance from the doctrine of the tribulation period. As noted in the last post, those believers who hold to a "pre-tribulation" view of the relationship of the rapture to the tribulation, assert the church's absence during that future cataclysmic event. Revelation 6-19 contains the most detailed description of this future seven-year period, expressed in a series of cyclical descriptions that retell the sequence of predicted events. How can Christians apply such texts to their lives to bring about godliness and encouragement today? Below are some thoughts on how one may apply the teaching of the tribulation period as it is expressed in the Book of Revelation.

Drawing applications from Revelation's teaching on the Tribulation

1. God's plan for dealing with the problem of evil. 

Revelation 6-19 is undoubtedly the fullest treatment we know of regarding the Tribulation period. The whole period is future, representing God's prophetic clock for executing final judgment on this world and, as seen in Paul's writings, the destruction of evil forces as personified by Anti-Christ. Revelation 6-19 unfolds a repetition of this time period in four prophetic visions that function as transparency slides on top of one another to complete a very detailed picture of the tribulation period. With respect to how God will deal with the problem of evil, we can note the first three of these visionary sequences....

a. Vision #1 - Revelation 6-11. 

The tribulation will be Jesus Christ's theater through which He will conquer the evils of the world. This particular depiction of the tribulation period is important because God, in His Ultimate Will, has ordained that time to deal with the world in justice. Acts 17:30-31 states:

Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

b. Visionary sequence #2 - Revelation 12-14

Revelation 12 is the introduction to John's next revelatory sequence of the events of the tribulation. The tribulation will be Christ's way of preparing Israel to meet Him. In Revelation 12-14, Satan and his man, Anti-Christ, will conspire against Israel by leading a rebellion of unbelieving nations during the tribulation period. Like a set of transparency slides, Revelation 12-14 fits on top of the same time frame portrayed in Revelation 6-11.

c. Visionary sequence #3 - Revelation 15-19  

The tribulation (especially the final 3 1/2 years or Great Tribulation) will be the time in which Jesus brings an end to Anti-Christ and the system of evil which will had gripped the future world.  This fully functioning future world system, described in Revelation as: "Babylon the Great", will function in the tribulation as the religious, economic and political web spun out by Satan, the Anti-Christ and the False Prophet of Revelation 12-14. After the half-way point of the tribulation period, the world system will begin to grow hostile toward the Anti-Christ and his regime. A final war, (known as "Armegeddon"), will feature all the forces of evil arrayed against Jesus during His second coming at the end of that period. Like a transparency slide once again, Revelation 15-19:10 fits over the previous visions of Revelation 6-11 & 12-14, completing for us the most detailed treatment of the tribulation period in the Bible.

2. God's promises are true

We have observed how God will deal resolutely with the problem of evil and suffering which plagues the greatest minds and hearts in this current age. So what guarantee do Christians have in the "nasty-now-and-now" that God will keep His promises? One only has to look at how He will bring to pass His promises to Israel. 

In an Old Testament prophecy about the tribulation period, Ezekiel 20:38, we find the following promise:

"and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the Lord." 

During the tribulation period, judgment of the earth will occur while God prepares and purifies Israel to anticipate her Messiah - Jesus Christ - right before the end of the tribulation. The Apostle Paul in the New Testament affirms this promise of Israel's restoration as a proof for the assurance of God's promises to Christians in Romans 11:25-26 - 

"For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
 
The Great Tribulation will be a time in which the evils of man and the Anti-Christ's regime is brought to a close, with Christ's return marking the end of the tribulation -i.e "the day of the Lord". The church will be with Jesus in the marriage supper of the Lamb, protected from wrath and return with her Lord who Himself will fight and defeat the armies of the world in the battle of Armegeddon. We can therefore trust God's plans and promises. Now let's consider one final application for understanding the doctrine of the tribulation as found in Revelation 6-19....

3. God's powerful motivation to do missions

Revelation chapters 7 and 14 feature a group of Jewish evangelists called "144,000" who will share the Gospel with all the nations. In Revelation 7, we find multitudes of people getting converted during the tribulation. The consequence of converting to Christ will lead to their deaths for Jesus. Both chapters have statements that tie present motivation for sharing the Gospel to what will be that innumerable throng of people getting converted out of the nations. Revelation 7:10b records: "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb". Revelation 14:13 records an even more remarkable statement that has clear application to the church now and to the future tribulation martyrs: 

"And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”  

For those who evidence no concern about the pending tribulation period or spiritual matters in general, this truth can expose their false profession. The motivation to carry the Gospel to as many people as possible is reinforced by what the world can expect when it comes to the final moments of world history. We may wonder why God delays such events as He urges us to have an awareness about them. We know that God delays the return of Jesus to grant people everywhere the time and space to repent and turn to Him in faith (2 Peter 3:9). We also are told by Jesus Himself that the course of history is regulated by the amount of people that get to hear the Gospel in every nation (see Matthew 24:14).  

Closing thoughts

Today's post aimed to provide life-application of the Biblical doctrine of the tribulation period to current Christian living. We focused in particular on Revelation 6-19, since the Apostle John provides for us the most detailed treatment of the subject. We reached the following three applications:

1. The tribulation period reminds us that God has a plan for defeating evil and suffering.

2. The tribulation period reminds us that God's promises are true.

3. The tribulation period reminds us that God has provided a powerful motivator for sharing the Gospel.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Grasping the future events of the rapture and second coming of Jesus

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1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."

Revelation 19:11 "And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war."

Introduction:

I recently began preaching a series of messages that involve describing how Jesus will return to take back history. I began by describing what Bible teachers refer to as the "rapture of the church". In the message, I defined the rapture as follows:


"A predicted event, of unknown date, in which Jesus appears in the clouds to resurrect dead Christians and transform the bodies of living Christians to catch them up to Himself." 

The doctrine of the rapture is often associated with another doctrine that figures more prominently in the Bible's presentation of prophecy (also called "eschatology" or "study of last things"), namely, Christ's second coming (also called "second advent" and "return"). In today's post, I want us to briefly consider these two doctrines. Although the rapture and Christ's return are related to one another (like a "part one" and "part two" of Christ's efforts in bringing the church and Israel respectively to Himself at the end of this age), there are distinctions. 

Defining what we mean by "pre", "mid" and "post" tribulation views with respect to the relationship of the rapture of the church and second coming


Over the passing of time, I have found that noting the differences and similarities between the rapture and Christ's second advent aids greatly in understanding what the Bible has to say on whether or not the rapture will occur before, mid-way through or after the tribulation period. For readers who may not have familiarity with the term "tribulation" and the prefixes describing viewpoints that attempt to explain the rapture's relationship to it, some definitions are in order. The tribulation describes a period of time, yet future, in which God will pour out wrath to judge the nations, defeat Satan's kingdom and prepare Israel for the arrival of her Messiah at the end of that period. The prefixes "pre", "mid" and "post" respectively argue for the rapture as occurring before, midway or near the end of the tribulation. 

Below are a series of charts one typically can find to illustrate each of these views:

Image result for tribulation views chart


As a general rule, post-tribulational Christians will focus only on the similarities and virtually equate the rapture and Christ's second coming. Mid-tribulational Christians and pre-tribulational believers (like myself) will note the similarities between the two events while also noting the clear differences between the two.   

Noting the similarities between the rapture and 2nd advent of Jesus Christ

Below I will simply list the similarities and verse references pertaining to the rapture and second coming of Christ.

Similarities between rapture & 2nd Advent 

1. Both have the Lord appearing in clouds (1 Thess 4:17 vs Matthew 24:30; Luke 21:27; Rev 11:19, 14:14). 

2. Both have righteous people being raised from the dead (1 Thess 4:16-17 vs Rev 20:4) 

3. Both are described in the language of Jesus “coming” (John 14:3, 1 Thess 4:13 vs Matt 24:42; Lk 21:27). 

4. Both have an uncertainty as to when they will begin (1 Cor 15:52, 2 Thess 2:1-3 vs Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). 

5. Both will affect the entire world (2 Thess 2:7 vs 2 Thess 2:8). 

6. Both mark the end of things, the rapture will conclude the church age and 2nd advent will mark the end of the tribulation.


Although both events do have similarities, we must recognize that "similarity" does not equate to "sameness". For instance, as a native-born Pennsylvanian, I can tell you first hand that though the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles might be "similar" in that they are football teams, which are in the NFL and which are stationed in PA, nonetheless, their similarities cease and the differences are far more contrasting (ask any of their respective fans). Similarity does not mean "sameness". To illustrate another way, apples and oranges might very well be fruit, however, they must be distinguished, since an apple is not an orange nor an orange an apple.

Differences between rapture & 2nd Advent

1. The rapture (per a pre-tribulation view) occurs before the tribulation (Thessalonians 4:13-16 & 5:1). The 2nd advent occurs at the end of the tribulation (Revelation 19:11-21).

2. The rapture is taught in roughly 1/2 dozen passages in the New Testament. The 2nd advent is taught in hundreds of passages, Old and New Testaments.

3. The rapture deals exclusively with the church (1 Thess 4:16-17). The 2nd advent or second coming impacts everyone else and entails Christ's restoring and raising Israel (Daniel 12:1; Matt 24:30; Luke 21:28).

4. The rapture is aimed at comforting the church (1 Thess 4:18), whereas the main theme of the 2nd advent is Christ returning in judgment (Revelation 19:11).

5. Christ appears in the clouds but does not come down to the earth in the rapture (1 Thess 4:13-16). In His second coming at the end of the tribulation, He descends all the way down to earth (Revelation 19:11-21).

6. There are no definitive signs to indicate the exact moment of the rapture. On the other hand, in the 2nd advent, the purpose will be for Christ to war against and defeat His enemies and will be preceded by definitive signs of increasing frequency.

Closing thoughts

In many ways, such an issue as the relationship of the rapture to the tribulation may not be as  weighty for the Christian faith as the Deity of Christ, the inerrancy of scripture and the virgin birth (this author knows many wonderful believers and respects many wonderful Bible teachers who differ on this point). Nonetheless, it is important for Christians to know where they stand on any doctrinal issue. If for anything else, the above comparisons and contrasts will serve to invite the reader to search the scriptures for themselves and to get better acquainted with what the Bible teaches on these subjects.
   

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Demonstrating: "if God does not exist, life is absurd"

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Ecclesiastes 12:1 "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them.”

Introduction

The opening passage for today's post derives from the pen of King Solomon - the wisest and wealthiest king who ever lived. He had it all - lineage (son of king David of Israel); wisdom (there was hardly any area of knowledge he had not mastered); fame (kings and queens traveled from all over the globe just to hear him speak); untold pleasures and wealth. Yet, despite having experienced (at least by human standards) near-heaven-on-earth, Solomon's life became morally and spiritually bankrupt. He was brought to the brink of despair. Solomon's counsel is a word to any young person dazzled by the temptation to live a life as if God didn't exist.

Review from last post

In our last post, we introduced what I called: "an argument for God's existence from the non-absurdity of life". Reader's can click here to read the last post: 

http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2019/02/if-god-does-not-exist-life-is-absurd.html 

We noted that in the history of human thought, a consensus has emerged that many non-believers and believers in Christianity assert as a truism: "If God does not exist, life is absurd." We crafted the following argument:

Premise #1: If God does not exist, meaning, value and purpose does not exist

Premise #2: Objective Meaning, value and purpose exist as part of our world

Therefore: God exists.

In today's post, we want to unpack this argument, premise-by-premise, to offer evidence that leads to the conclusion.



Demonstrating the "non-absurdity of life" argument for God's existence

As we develop this argument, we need to lay out some definitions: "objective", "meaning", "value" and "purpose". 

First, consider the term "objective". Its not too difficult to prove Premise #2 (objective Meaning, value and purpose exist as part of our world) when you think about it. When I say "objective", I mean that which is universally the case, whether you and I believe it or deny it, or whether we like it or despise it. 
When we refer to "meaning", the concern deals with what is considered "significant". Whenever someone mentions the idea of "value", this chiefly is concerned with the areas of morality (right, wrong) and duty (good, bad). The final element, "purpose", is that element of reality that points to an ultimate end to which everything else is moving. 

Whether someone believes the universe and life to have ultimate meaning (i.e significance) or not is to assign some sort of meaning. A couple of illustrations will serve to show how atheists cannot abandon an ultimate belief in meaning - despite the fact that they deny it. 

1. Atheist author and Zoologist, Richard Dawkins, may claim in his book - "The God-delusion" - that life is "pitiless indifference", yet, Dawkins' public foundation: "The Richard Dawkins Foundation", makes its mission to promote science and the secular worldview. Despite affirming the meaningless of life, Dawkins shows himself inconsistent in touting a worldview that places human flourishing as the centerpiece of life's meaning. 

2. Physicist Steven Wienberg in his classic book: "The First Three Minutes", draws out implications from his reflections on the initial moments following the beginning of the universe. In his estimation, since the universe is all that exists, assigning meaning is pointless. However, Weinberg obviously doesn't consistently hold to such a notion, since he spent countless hours co-developing a scientific theory that has become the Standard Model for describing the sub-atomic realm (thus netting him the Nobel Prize in physics in 1979). To say that the universe is without meaning is to assign a meaning to it!

As these two examples demonstrate, the atheistic worldview is inconsistent, resulting in it not having practical application.

When we speak of "value" in premise #2, we are referring to moral values and duties. Morality deals with right and wrong and duties deal with good or bad. To quickly illustrate, a doctor that saves a person's life is performing their moral obligation, since watching a person die, just for the fun of doing so, is morally wrong. It is the duty of my children, once reaching adulthood, to get a job and make a living. However, if they decide not to become a doctor, they're not committing an immoral act. In other words, it is good for people to have jobs. The question we must raise is: 
"are moral values and duties immaterial, universal and abstract or are they material, personally subjective and concrete?" 

Once again, the atheistic worldview cannot remain consistent. Sam Harris, a vocal author, philosopher, scientist and one of the so-called "New Atheists", affirms that there are objectively right and wrong values and right and wrong actions. Harris argues in his book: "The Moral Landscape", that moral values and duties arise from physical brain states and are measured by human well-being. The problem with this idea is when we raise the following question: "did moral values and duties exist prior to the existence of human beings?" If such values emerged at the advent of human beings, then Harris' definition of "good and evil" does not escape the trap he so desperately tries to avoid: namely, that morality is a matter of personal taste or what culture so defines it to be. Practically put, we only need to raise the follow-up question: "who is to say, such-and-such is right or wrong?" Contrary to Harris' claims, we find that meaning and values cannot be grounded in this material realm.

What about purpose? Does the universe, life and humanity have a purpose? Just like the previous two observations, purpose is connected to meaning and value. If meaning and value are derived from outside our material universe, then purpose is as well.  

Again, on atheism there is no purpose to the universe, life and humanity. Atheists like the late philosopher and mathematician, Bertand Russell, asserted that life had no purpose. Yet, he wrote volumes of philosophy that  despite life having no purpose, we have to "bravely hold onto the despair of it all". If Russell's philosophy is held to consistently, it all but begs the question: "why even bother to be brave?"

Closing thoughts:

Therefore in reflecting on philosophical (Camus, Russell) and scientific authorities (Dawkins, Harris, Wienberg), we can see that even among foremost atheistic thinkers, the reality of objective meaning, value and purpose is inescapable. Furthermore, any attempt to ground meaning, value and purpose in anything but God is fruitless. Thus, premise #2 holds in the following argument:

Premise #1: If God does not exist, meaning, value and purpose does not exist

Premise #2: Objective Meaning, value and purpose exist as part of our world

When we consider how both premises together are logically valid (the form of the argument follows the rules of logic) and sound (the premises say something true of our world), the conclusion thus follows:

Therefore, God exists.

Friday, February 8, 2019

If God does not exist, life is absurd

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Edvard Munch - "The Scream" -  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scream


Isaiah, prophet in ancient Israel,  Isaiah 22:12-13 

"Therefore in that day the Lord God of hosts called you to weeping, to wailing, To shaving the head and to wearing sackcloth. 13 Instead, there is gaiety and gladness, Killing of cattle and slaughtering of sheep, Eating of meat and drinking of wine: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die.”

Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:32-33

"If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”34 Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame."

Albert Camus, French atheist and existentialist, The Myth of Sisyphus



"Here is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is

not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy."

The absurdity of life without God

What happens when people adopt a view of life that excludes God? In the three opening passages above we see the attitude and the outcome. Though Isaiah and the Apostle Paul wrote over 700 years apart from one another, their observations concerning the absurdity of life without God are identical. They each saw in their day the consequences that follow when entire cultures opt for living as if God didn't exist. The point of these excerpts is to show that if God did not exist, then the only alternative would be to "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die".

Albert Camus, a French atheist that was part of a movement in early 20th century existentialism called "The Absurdists", hits repeatedly upon the theme of "life's absurdity" in light of God's non-existence. The above quoted work of Camus - "The Myth of Sisyphus", develops how people try to function in a world they perceive as  without meaning. Camus defines "absurdity":



"What, then, is that incalculable feeling that deprives the mind of the sleep necessary to life? A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity."



For Camus, the key project of all human thought is to discover how to navigate between the impulse to kill oneself in the perception of life's absurdity and the impulse to live in revolt against the first impulse.

Whether we are talking of the "prince of the writing prophets", Isaiah, or the author of two-thirds of the books in the New Testament, Paul, or the prominent figure among French atheists, Camus, all three see what follows if we take seriously the belief in atheism. In the history of Biblical and philosophical thought, the consensus of believer and non-believer is this: if God does not exist, life is absurd. Such a startling observation can supply a powerful argument for God's existence.

What we're not saying about life's absurdity and the question of God's existence

Now let's make something perfectly clear: I am not saying that lack of belief in God means that one cannot discover meaning, value and purpose in this life. Many atheists and people who claim to have no belief in God are good parents and fine citizens. The issue at hand is not whether belief in God or lack thereof determines objective moral values and duties. Rather, the point made by these quotes is that if God did not exist, there would be no meaning, value or purpose to discover in this life. 

What we are saying with respect to life's absurdity and the question of God's existence

On atheism, we should not expect to discover such things as meaning, value and purpose. Atheism is incapable of simultaneously maintaining consistency and happiness. Per the atheist worldview, there is no meaning, value purpose, causes worth fighting for and value to life. Yet, atheists will still champion causes for justice, tolerance and the value of human life. Someone like an Albert Camus illustrated the contradiction that is atheism: assert that life is meaningless and God doesn't exist, while clinging to life, since living in revolt to such meaningless is the point.

A "non-absurdity of life" argument for God's existence


Authors such as the late Francis Schaeffer and theologian and philosopher William Lane Craig have illustrated how value, meaning and purpose are likened unto an upper story in a house, with man living in the lower story:

God
Meaning, Value, Purpose

--------------------------

Human beings

What can explain the impulse to spend years at university, preparing for a career? Or, what can explain mankind's insatiable desire to find his place in our vast and expanding universe? Is physics, energy, matter and chemistry enough to justify or provide grounds for the meaning, value and purpose of life?To find such a grounding, one must look outside the universe to it's Creator. If we were to construct an argument as to why value, meaning and purpose are only possible with God, it would go something like this:

Premise #1: If God does not exist, meaning, value and purpose does not exist

Premise #2: Objective Meaning, value and purpose exist as part of our world

Therefore: God exists


In the next post, we will expound further on this argument to see how well it does under close scrutiny. 

More next time....

Monday, February 4, 2019

What Jesus taught about scripture - making an argument to inerrancy

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Luke 24:44 "Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

Introduction:

In the last two posts, we presented the first two parts of an argument: "an argument 'to' inerrancy". When we speak of Biblical inerrancy, we mean that the writings of the Old and New Testaments contained no errors as originally written by the prophets and apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. To state the doctrine positively: the original documents of the Old and New Testaments are totally true in every subject, even to their very wording, as revealed by God through the words written by the Biblical authors. Since we no longer have the original documents (also called "the autographs), we have to rely upon the thousands of copies and ancients translations to reconstruct the wording of the original text. 

In our first post, we considered how through the science of textual criticism, we have an over 95% certainty in the Old Testament and 99.9% certainty of the original words in the New Testament, resulting in the preservation of the words of scripture. The first post in this series can be reviewed here:  http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2019/01/arguing-to-inerrancy-begins-by.html


The second post dealt with the historical reliability of the Bible - with particular focus on the New Testament Gospels. In as much as it is important to know that we have the wording of the original documents among copies and translations, the next issue to consider was whether or not these documents are historically reliable. By the combined disciplines of textual criticism and historical studies, the reader can arrive at the conclusion of the reliability of the the Bible in general, and the New Testament Gospels in particular. To see the details of the last post, the reader can click here: http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2019/01/p2-arguing-to-inerrancy-considers.html

Reliability is highly important, but, reliability does not get us to the goal of showing why the Bible as a collection of books is inerrant.  Today's post will conclude our three-part argument "to" inerrancy by noting Jesus' view of the Bible. Since we have established that we have access to the original wording of the Bible and that it is reliable, we can treat the Gospel records as first-hand sources of Jesus' life, teachings, death and resurrection. 

1. Jesus taught that the scripture is inspired, inerrant and revealed by God.

In Jesus' day, the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible, the Tanak, as it is sometimes referred) was the only Bible known. There were no New Testament books, since Jesus had not yet died, raised and ascended. The Old Testament books were revealed by God through the prophets in Hebrew (98% of the Old Testament text) and some Aramaic (2% of the Old Testament text). By the first century, almost every Jewish person in Israel spoke Aramaic, which meant that the copies of the scriptures read in the synagogues were Aramaic (called "Targums", meaning, "to interpret"). Other Jews throughout the rest of the Greco-Roman world had access to Greek copies of the Old Testament associated with the Septuagint Greek Old Testament (so-named due to the tradition that the project was translated by seventy Jewish scribes, symbolized by the Roman numeral LXX). The Septuagint (LXX) was translated over a period of a century, beginning in 275 b.c. It is likely that Jesus and the Apostles had familiarity with either the Aramaic Targums or Greek Septuagint. 

There were of course copies of the Hebrew text, however, very few Jewish people knew the Hebrew. Despite various translations of the Old Testament in circulation by Jesus' day, His view of the Divine authority carried by such translations did not alter. Several key phrases that Jesus used to describe the scriptures attest to His views, which ought to inform us as to how to view our translations of the Old and by extension, the New Testament. 

a. "It is written" 

Jesus would sometimes use the phrase "it is written" to assert the Divine authority of the Old Testament (Matthew 4:4, 6, 7, 10; 11:10; 21:13;  26:24, 31 /  Mark 1:2, 7:6, 9:12, 13; 11:17; 14:21, 27 / Luke 4:4, 8, 10, 17, 7:27; 10:26; 18:31; 19.46; 20.17, 22, 22:37; 24.44, 46 / John 6:31,45; 8:17; 10:34; 12:14, 16; 15:25; 19:19, 20, 22. At least 16 times in the Old Testament do we find this phrase used to refer to the words of other Old Testament books as being God's word

b. "Scripture"

Jesus used another closely associated term, "scripture", to describe the Old Testament (Matthew 21:42, 22:29, 26:54, 56/ Mark 12:24, 14:49 / Luke 24:27, 32, 45, John 5:39). In these instances, Jesus describes the scriptures as fulfilled, having Divine authority, without error or "inerrant" (Matthew 22:29) and incapable of failure or "infallible" (John 10:35).

c. "It is fulfilled"

The third term used by Jesus in His teaching on scripture is His often used phrased it is fulfilled (Matthew 4:14; 
5:17; 8:17; 12:1; 13:14,35; 21:4; 26:54, 56 / Mark 1:15; 14:49 / Luke 4:21; 21:22, 24 / John 12:38; 13:18, 25; 17:12). In John 17:12, Jesus uses the phrase: "scripture is fulfilled". In John 18:9 and 19:28, reference is made to scripture "being fulfilled". Jesus' teaching about scripture's ability to accurately predict the future spoke to it's prophetic function. He saw himself as the basis of fulfillment. Fulfilled prophecy is the most unique mark of  divine revelation - with the Old and New Testament books uniquely possessing such a property among any other religious text.

d. "Truly, Truly, I say to you"

The fourth set of phrases that Jesus used to teach about the Bible was where he would either say "but I say" or "truly truly". These particular statements refer to Jesus's own self understanding of his Divine Authority as delivering the very words of God. He would often contrast himself with the Jewish traditions as found in the teachings of the Pharisees and Scribes. Hence, Jesus used the phrase "truly truly" in John 1:51; 3:3, 5, 11; 5:19, 24, 25; 6:26, 32, 47, 53; 8:34, 51, 58; 10:1, 7; 12:24; 13:16, 20, 21, 38; 14:12; 16:20, 23 and 21:18. 

We then find Jesus using the phrase "I say" with reference to his own Divine Authority in Matthew 5:18, 22, 22, 26, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44; 6:2, 5, 16, 25, 29, 8.10, 11; 10:15, 23, 29; 11:23, 24; 12:43; 13:30, 37: 14:9, 14, 18, 25, 30 / Luke 4:24 and Luke 5:24. In Luke 6:25, Jesus would use the phrase "but I say" to contrast himself to the Jewish traditions, as seen in Luke 7.9, 14, 26, 28, 47.10:12; 11:8, 9, 51; 12:5, 22, 27, 37, 44. 

As Jesus proclaimed His own self understanding, He claimed the ability to forgive sins (Luke 7:47; 12:8) which is something the Old Testament taught that Yahweh alone could do (see Isaiah 43:10,11; Jonah 2:9-10). Finally, we this phrase "but I say" used in John 1:51 and in Matthew 5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44 / Luke 6:27 / John 5:34.

e. "Word of God" 

The final major term that Jesus used to describe the scriptures was the phrase "the Word of God". Whenever we use the phrase "word of God" to describe either the writings of the Old and New Testament or Jesus Himself, we are describing something or someone who speaks in God's place. Thus, Jesus used this phrase "word of God" in places such as Matthew 4:4; 15:6 / Mark 7:13 / Luke 8:11, 21; 11:28 / John 3:34; 8:47 / John 10:35.  In John 10:35, Jesus uses the particular phrase: "the word of God cannot be broken" to refer to scripture's infallibility (that is, it's incapability of ever being wrong or ever failing to be right).

2. Jesus' resurrection validates everything He taught and accomplished (including His views of scripture).

Having looked at Jesus's teaching on the character scripture,  we finally turn our attention to Jesus' resurrection from the dead. In making the historical case for Jesus resurrection, scholars refer to "facts" or details which they conclude are fundamental to verifying any historical event and it's meaning. There are four main facts that virtually all New Testament historians (whether believing or unbelieving practitioner) have arrived at as a consensus regarding Jesus's life and death. 


A. Jesus died by crucifixion. 

In almost a dozen sources outside the New Testament as well as the multiple attestation of his death in the four gospels and throughout the New Testament Epistles as well as Acts of the Apostles, there's hardly no debate that Jesus death by crucifixion occurred. Passages such as Deuteronomy 21:22 and Galatians 3:10-13 signify that Christ's death on the cross was viewed as a curse. On almost 10 occasions throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus predicted that he would be handed over to both the Jews and the Romans to be tried, falsely accused, and crucified.

B. The second fact that is agreed upon by the majority of New Testament historians is the discovery of Jesus's empty tomb three days following his crucifixion. 


Whenever one reads all four gospel accounts in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20, all four counts record that Jesus is empty tomb was discovered by his closest women followers. The testimony of women in the ancient world was viewed as inadmissible in a court of law. Yet, the fact that women are recorded as first-hand eyewitnesses attest to the genuineness of the accounts (referred to by historians as the "criterion of embarrassment). 

C. The third fact surrounding the events of Jesus resurrection are his post-resurrection appearances. 

Forty days following his resurrection from the dead, Jesus appeared on a dozen occasions to various groups, from believers to unbelievers, to individuals to all twelve of the Apostles and to even 500 Witnesses at one time. These eyewitnesses claim encounters the risen Christ despite there being no Jewish teaching of resurrections occurring before the end of the world. Virtually all New Testament historians count these claims by the eyewitnesses as a fact of historical investigation. 

D. The fourth fact concerns the sudden change from skepticism to faith among those who were eyewitnesses of Jesus's post-resurrection. 

We see for example the disciples who were hiding in fear at the end of all four gospels suddenly becoming robust evangelists of his resurrection in Acts of the Apostles. Jesus's own half-brother per Jesus' humanity, James, was converted to the belief that Jesus had raised from the dead (see 1 Corinthians 15). The persecutor of the early church, Saul of Tarsus, had a profound encounter with the Risen Christ and Acts chapter 9, and our accounts such in Acts 22, and 26.

The best explanation of these facts derives not from naturalistic theories (such as someone stole the body, or that Jesus's appearances were just hallucinations, or that the disciples somehow mistook the location of the tomb, or that it was a mass hoax). Instead, research has borne out in the last 200 years that the explanation: "God raised Jesus from the dead", has shown itself to be the most consistent explanation of all the facts just mentioned. And what does this have to do with the teaching of biblical inerrancy? 


As we've already seen, Jesus taught that the scriptures are inerrantly the Word of God. He also taught that God, being perfect and thus incapable of lying, was the scripture's main Author (along with the human authors). Inerrancy follows from God's character (see Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). As we've seen in the foregoing historical argument for Jesus's resurrection from the dead, Jesus resurrection validates everything that He taught and lived. Therefore, by basing the doctrine of inerrancy on Jesus' teaching and resurrection, we have a firm foundation for the inerrancy scripture itself. 

When we consider this foundation in addition to statements the Old Testament New Testaments makes about themselves make with reference to their inerrancy and historically verified fulfilled prophecy, we find  a two-fold foundation for stating the inerrancy of scripture: namely, what the scripture says about itself as well as Jesus's on teaching and resurrection. These twin pillars provide for us proper justification for firming the inerrancy of scripture. 

Conclusion:

Thus our argument to inerrancy is complete. We have seen that the words of the original manuscripts are preserved in our copies and translations. We've also seen that the biblical documents are reliable with respect to their recording of history and other matters. Then by seeing what Jesus taught about the scriptures, God, as well as his resurrection from the dead, we now can bridge to the conclusion that the Bible is inerrant as originally given and that this authority carries down to all our copies and translations.