As late as 2014, 70% of Americans were still professing Christians.
In 2009, a Barna Research Study found that just 0.5% of American adults between the ages of 18 and 23 held to a biblical worldview. Some of the results of that study included:
- Just 28% of adults (and 47% of born again Christians – less than half) believe that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior.
- 27% of all adults (40% of born again Christian adults) believe that Satan is a real force.
- 34% of adults (46% of born again Christian adults) believe in absolute moral truth.
In an article just released on May 9, 2017, Barna wrote:
- Only 17% of Christians who consider their faith important and attend church regularly actually have a biblical worldview.
- 61% of practicing Christians embrace at least one of the following ideas rooted in New Spirituality…
All people pray to the same god or spirit, no matter what name they use for that spiritual being.
Meaning and purpose come from becoming one with all that is.
Karma – i.e. if you do good, you will receive good, and if you do bad, you will receive bad.
- 54% resonate with postmodernist views such as…
No one can know for certain what meaning and purpose there is to life.
What is morally right or wrong depends on what an individual believes.
If your beliefs offend someone or hurt their feelings, they are wrong.
- 36% accept ideas associated with Marxism.
- 29% believe ideas based on secularism.
Based on all of the above information, it is reasonable to conclude that our culture is at the peak of a post-Christian Era.
Why the disconnect? I believe that the answer lies in generations of Americans failing to impart their faith to their children and the next generation via apologetics and intentional discipleship. This may be the result of simply taking our faith for granted, assuming that our children will follow in our footsteps.
More often than not, though, I believe it is something far more serious.
- We don’t know what we believe.
- We have a general idea of what we believe, but we don’t know why and cannot defend it.
- We don’t fully believe – i.e. we have doubts that we have done nothing to resolve, scriptures that we don’t agree with, and/or doctrines that we believe are outdated.
This is where apologetics comes in. If you are new to apologetics, it comes from the Greek word, “apologia” which means, “to give a defense” as used in 1 Peter 3:15,
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…” (NKJV)
In other words, we are commanded to be prepared to give a defense of our faith to all who ask. I don’t know if you have ever noticed, as I have, how much more prepared are people of other faiths in this respect than are we who serve the one true God and the Savior of the world. Muslims, Jews, Jehovah Witnesses, and others – especially atheists (yes, I consider atheism a faith) – can shut most Christians down very quickly in a religious discussion. To combat this and bring glory to God and people into His kingdom, we must study the scriptures daily and become skilled in apologetics. Read articles and watch videos produced by apologetics ministries, enroll in some online apologetics courses if you can afford it, but more than that, heed Luke’s words in Acts 17:11…
“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (NKJV)
Luke commended the Bereans because, after listening to Paul and Silas, they would go home and study the scriptures diligently for themselves, which is how many of them came to faith in Jesus. The best way that I have found to do this is to download both a Bible app (I love You Version) as well as an app with a Bible Concordance (Blue Letter Bible is a great one that is available on both Android and iPhone – ask someone for help if you’re not sure how to use it) and read and study daily.
When I am reading, if I come across a verse that I don’t understand, I will look it up on my concordance app and look at each significant word in the original language, examine other scriptures that contain the word and try to get an understanding for myself of the verse (I learned this method from Chuck Missler). If I am still confused, I will do a Google search on the topic or verse and read articles and commentaries from trusted sites. If, after that, I still don’t understand, I will make a note in my Bible app (you could do the same in a prayer or devotional journal) and ask God to help me understand. It may take some time, but you can depend on God’s faithfulness to illuminate your understanding of His Word – after all, that is why the Holy Spirit came. This process will help you to become more solid in your faith with every passing day and enable you to defend your faith instead of wavering every time a challenge is raised.
Second, we cannot be afraid to ask questions. Some are raised to believe that questioning makes us “bad Christians,” but ignoring our questions can take us down a road toward rejecting Christianity altogether. God is not afraid of our questions, but tells us time and again to ask (Mt. 7:7; 1 Pet. 5:7; Phil. 4:6-7; Jer. 33:3). The error comes when we question with the wrong motivation – out of skepticism and doubt, in an attempt to rationalize our disbelief rather than in a quest for truth. The Pharisees were somewhat infamous for this kind of questioning, but one of them broke the mold.
John 3 records a late night conversation between a man named Nicodemus and Jesus of Nazareth. Nicodemus believed that Jesus came from God because of the signs that He performed, but was still unconvinced concerning Jesus’ identity. As Jesus expounded on why He came, Nicodemus asked many questions. Jesus did not rebuke Nicodemus as He did so many others, but patiently answered every question because He knew what was in his heart. It is believed by most scholars that Nicodemus became a disciple of Jesus, most likely as a result of this discussion (John 7:45-53; 19:38-42).
Third, we have to know what we believe. As evidenced by the statistics at the beginning of this article, it is far too common for Americans to call themselves Christian while rejecting many of the core tenets of the faith and accepting worldly teachings. Often, we don’t even realize that we are doing it. We see this as aspects of Eastern religions have infiltrated the church and the majority of Christians embrace Darwinian Evolution and other philosophies that stand in direct opposition to the Word of God. Some argue that things like this don’t matter, but these are the very things that have led many astray. Once we accept one concept or practice that goes against the Word of God, whether it be the age of the Earth, the method of God’s creation or anything else, it becomes easier to accept more and more until we are far away from God and don’t know how we got there. This is what Peter was talking about in 1 Peter 3:15. Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. “Sanctify” means to separate from profane things and make holy or to revere. Because God made Himself so accessible to us through the cross and the resurrection, it can be easy to forget about His holiness. Peter did not forget. Earlier in chapter 1, verses 13-16, he writes…
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
The Israelites of the Old Testament were chastised for adopting the practices of the foreign people that lived near and among them. This was not about race or ethnicity, but about the gods they worshiped and the pagan practices they engaged in. Throughout the Bible, especially the New Testament, we are called to sanctify ourselves, to behave as pilgrims and sojourners in this world, to be in the world but not of it, to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, etc. Separation from the world is something that God has always called His people to and it cannot be accomplished apart from knowing what the Word of God teaches and making every word a part of our belief system. Apologetics and discipleship are an integral, but too often cast aside, part of our faith. It is not enough to go to church on Sundays. If we want to please God and to develop an unshakable faith that will sustain us through any trial or challenge, we must become engaged with His Word, find out what it says and learn how to defend it. Can you imagine having a relationship with another person who refused to listen to you, who dismissed half of the things you said as nonsense, or who allowed other people to slander you without ever raising their voice in your defense? It would be impossible and so it is with God.
Finally, and most importantly, we have to find a way to impart our faith to our children and the next generation. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says,
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (NKJV)
This verse is echoed verbatim in Deuteronomy 11:18-20 and in similar verses across all of Scripture (click here for more). Herein lies the solution to breaking through all of the competing voices that our children have to deal with on a daily basis. First, we are to love God with all of our being, with everything we have. Our children (and others that we influence) will see that and for better or worse, they have a tendency to imitate our behavior. We will never be perfect, but if they see us repent when we mess up and do what we can to correct it, then they will not see us as hypocrites but as fallen people who love God and are doing our best to serve Him.
Then, everything that we learn from God and about God, we are commanded to teach to our children continually – when we are sitting in our homes, driving to the store, out fishing or on a family vacation, before we go to bed each night and when we get up in the morning. This means placing God at the center of our lives and using every possible opportunity to talk about Him and His Word – not in a self-righteous manner as the Pharisees did, but with humility, reverence and love.
When we put all of this together – apologetics and intentional discipleship – it will give us and future generations our best shot at reclaiming our culture for God and becoming the people that He has called us to be.
Few things have touched me as deeply as the book, The Hiding Place, which I read at the age of 15 as a part of my homeschool curriculum. It is the story of Corrie Ten Boom’s life during World War II, following her from the years that her family spent hiding Jews in their home through her time in a Dutch prison, a Dutch concentration camp and finally the German concentration camp where her sister, Betsie, died. Throughout their trials, Betsie’s faith was a constant inspiration to Corrie, who understandably struggled with feelings of hatred and anger toward the Nazis.
The part of the story that has always stayed with me was when Corrie and Betsie were moved to a barracks that was plagued by swarms of fleas. Betsie had a Bible that, because of God’s grace, she was able to keep hidden from the guards. The women in their barracks regularly gathered around Betsie for Bible studies in the midst of that terrible place. One day, Betsie read out of 1 Thessalonians 5: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” Joyfully, she told Corrie and the others that they were to give thanks for everything and even in the most dire of circumstances. The women began to pray together, thanking God for literally every single thing about their situation, concluding with Betsie thanking God for the fleas. While this prayer was inconceivable to Corrie, who didn’t believe that she would ever be able to be thankful for fleas, they later found out that it was this very annoyance that kept the guards out of their barracks, granting them freedom from the constant abuse that faced other prisoners as well as allowing them to continue with their Bible Studies.
Several thousand years ago, another group of people were faced with the choice to grumble or be grateful. They chose the former. As the Israelites made their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, they saw countless miracles, yet every time God tested them, they failed. They failed to remember how God brought them out of Egypt, with an abundance of wealth, given willingly to them by the Egyptians as they prepared to leave. They failed to remember the Red Sea Crossing and the drowning of Pharaoh’s army as they came out safely on the other side. They failed to remember how God had never failed to provide for them, from manna to quail to water, first by miraculously making bitter water sweet and then by twice providing water from a rock. They failed to notice how their clothes and shoes were not wearing out. In short, they failed to recognize the power of Almighty God and made every problem bigger than the One who created them. Moses wrote this about their trials:
“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you.”
Just like King Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32), the trials that the Israelites went through in the wilderness were not unforeseen by God, but tests intentionally given to them by Him to know what was in their hearts and whether they would obey Him, honor Him and praise Him no matter what. Both the sin of Hezekiah as well as that of the Israelites lied in not being thankful – Hezekiah in his prosperity and the Israelites in their trials.
During this Thanksgiving season, we would do well to learn from the stories of Corrie Ten Boom, King Hezekiah and the Israelites. Be thankful in all circumstances. Sometimes this means to be thankful, as Betsie instructed Corrie, for every circumstance and other times it means to be thankful in our circumstances, no matter how bleak, remembering the miracles in our lives, how God has cared for us in times past or how He has used difficult times for good. And sometimes, it means honoring God with our success and guarding against a prideful heart that robs God of the glory due only to Him. Whether you are currently experiencing good times or bad, take time throughout your day, every day, to honor the King of the universe with your unwavering gratitude. He is the only One deserving and He will always remain faithful even when we are not.
There are many voices in the wind. It is an old saying that has found it’s way into countless books, movies and song lyrics and a sentiment that has never rung more true than in our lifetime. As 7 billion people roam the planet searching for answers to life’s biggest questions, the chatter of so many voices can becoming utterly perplexing at times. Unfortunately, some of those voices have found their way into the church. The most shattering of these is Charles Darwin’s theory of Evolution. With its beginnings as an atheistic (and quite racist) alternative to the Genesis account of creation, it is astonishing how many Christian preachers and scientists espouse Darwinism. And, while some, like Hugh Ross, have no qualms with believing in both Christ and Evolution, the consequences of the latter have been catastrophic to humanity as well as the church. Darwin’s teachings have inspired such atrocities as the Jewish Holocaust in Nazi Germany and the legalization of abortion on demand in the United States, which led to 60 million abortions in the United States to date (Margaret Sanger).
The theory is still taught in schools today and believed by the masses despite the overwhelming evidence of its error, but what is more disturbing is how much of the church has placed the “wisdom” of man above God’s eternal Word. Many theories of science and philosophy that stood in opposition to God have come and gone, but His Word has always been vindicated and found to be truthful and infallible. In our time, when Christians should be fighting against this destructive and unproven doctrine, many have instead manipulated the Bible to make (as Ken Ham often explains) Evolution and Old Earth theories “fit” into the text.
The Gap Theory
The first of these manipulations is the Gap Theory. Espoused by respected Christian leaders such as Dr. James Dobson, Pat Robertson, John Hagee and Chuck Colson, this baseless theory is widely supported by Christians who have accepted Evolution and the Big Bang/Old Earth teachings to be scientific fact. The premise of this theory is that there is a gap of billions of years between the first 2 verses of Genesis 1. While I could write an entire blog on the fallacies of this theory (and many others have), I will highlight a few.
First, Exodus 20:11 tells us, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” This directly contradicts both the Gap Theory as well as the accompanying proposition that each day in Genesis represents millions of years (Day Age Theory). In giving the law, God reiterated for all of us that He created everything – the heavens and the earth and everything that is in them – in just 6 days. This was to be the model for the Jewish people when God commanded them to work 6 days each week and rest on the seventh day. If the 6 days of creation were really millions of years, that model would be illogical at best and hypocritical at worst and our God is neither.
Sin Led To Death Not The Other Way Around
Next, the primary message of the Bible is that sin led to death and Jesus came to give His life for humanity’s sin and thus conquer death, Hell and the grave. If there were billions of years between the first two verses of Genesis and millions of years covered by the 6 days of creation, then death would have had to come before sin, thereby contradicting the Gospel message. As I touched on before, while the Bible is never in conflict with scientific fact, there have been many times when scientific hypotheses have contradicted God’s Word, only to be disproven later as the Bible was proven true. When we place God and His Word in their proper place, we can be assured that anything proposed by man that contradicts the Biblical texts will eventually be exposed as false.
Replenish or Fill?
Christians often point to the word “replenish” in Genesis 1:28 (“…Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth…”) to support the idea that the earth had been around for billions of years and other creatures (such as dinosaurs) existed prior to the creation of man in the Garden of Eden. There are a couple of problems with this belief. First, the word, “replenish” comes from the original 1611 version of the King James Bible, not from the Hebrew root. We should never rely on a translation of the Bible to determine the original meaning of a word, but rather seek out the meaning of the word in the original language. The Hebrew word here is male’ (maw-lay’), which literally means, “to fill, be full.” Out of 249 times that this word is used, it is only translated as a form of “replenish” 7 times. Almost every other time, the translation is “fill” or a similar word, which leads me to the other problem with this argument. The word “replenish” in 1611 did not mean re-fill as it does today. In the Old English, replenish simply meant fill. It wasn’t until more than a century later that the dictionary was changed and people started using the prefix “re” to mean “again”. So, when the King James translation was published, the verse meant simply “fill the Earth,” just as the verse appears in many other translations today.
When we begin to compromise God’s Word in favor of human wisdom, it weakens and undermines our faith and the faith of future generations. The teaching of Evolution in public schools was fiercely debated for decades before the powers that be were finally able to use the fear of falling behind Russia in scientific advancement in the 1950’s to convince the people to allow the theory to be a part of the curriculum. Though opposed by many Christians for decades, the errant theory has indoctrinated generations into believing that science and God are not compatible. Now, in 2016 America, we have large numbers of Christian students abandoning their faith after graduation and gravitating toward humanistic agnosticism or outright atheism. If we are to reclaim future generations, we must educate ourselves on the fallacies of Evolution and the accompanying theories as well as the abundant evidence for Creation and Intelligent Design and pass this knowledge on to our children and grandchildren to equip them to respond whenever and wherever they find their faith under attack. I have included links below to some websites that will help in your study of Creation vs. Evolution. May God bless you and guide you in your journey.
(Many of these ministries as well as Quin Friberg, the founder of this ministry, are on YouTube as well.)
When difficult times come, they often lead to questioning. Sometimes the questioning leads to a good outcome, such as examining one’s course and making corrections that will ensure a better future. But sometimes the questioning can lead us down a road where darkness consumes and light becomes difficult to find. This is especially true in cases where there are no good answers as to why the suffering happened or why it continues. In these instances, some have fallen away from the faith and rejected the idea of God as they wonder how He could exist and allow the pain they have experienced.
None of us are immune to misconceptions about God and Scripture and they come in many forms, one being that when we come to Christ all of our troubles will cease as we begin a new life in Him. And, indeed, there are many promises of blessings throughout God’s Word.
“Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10
“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ Says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’” Malachi 3:10
“The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath…” Deuteronomy 28:12-13a
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
Unfortunately, far too many American pastors preach only on the good in the Bible. Blessings, favor and healing are what people want to hear. We want to be encouraged and lifted up on Sunday morning and we certainly don’t want to hear about trials and persecution or how hard times develop character. So, the pastors cater, neglecting the admonition to, “…declare to you the whole counsel of God,” (Acts 20:27). Thus, they become a part of fulfilling Paul’s prophecy to Timothy that, “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers…” (2 Timothy 4:3). Because of this, most church-going Americans have little to no knowledge of the nature of God, humanity and what the Bible has to say about life in general. God is seen as a type of Santa Claus whose purpose is only to give us gifts and wave a magic wand that will keep us shrouded in an invisible bubble, protected against all of the bad in the world. Misconceptions of this nature can lead to catastrophic disillusionment in the face of trouble.
Jesus addressed this very issue in The Parable of the Sower as recorded in Matthew 13.
“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”
Jesus warns that misunderstandings of the Bible or simply an incomplete knowledge of its teachings can cause us to stumble or fall away altogether. We must rightly divide God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15) if we are to have a complete understanding of Him and establish strong roots which will keep us firmly planted when trials and tribulations challenge our faith. Does the Bible promise blessings and favor, joy and peace? Absolutely! But, that is not all that we are assured of. Consider the following:
Joseph, a man whose destiny was to preserve Egypt and other people groups through what would have been a devastating famine, had to endure slavery, false accusations and prison. Despite all of this, his faith in God not only remained, but was strengthened, as his testimony became, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).
Moses, who was chosen by God to deliver his people from bondage, was torn from his family, raised by strangers, later lived in exile for 40 years before being sent back to accomplish God’s mission. Despite bouts with anger and impatience with an idolatrous people, Moses’ closeness with God never wavered.
David, called a man after God’s own heart, lived a life full of turmoil within his family and his kingdom. His sin created many problems in his life, yet, time after time he returned to God. His faith in the midst of his trials is recorded throughout the Psalms as we can clearly see that trials never caused him to question whether God was who He said He was.
Simon “The Rock” Peter was one of Jesus’ closest confidants. He was so committed to his Lord that he was willing to risk his life for Him. He was there when Jesus fed the 5,000, brought 4-days dead Lazarus back from the grave and was one of the first to see the risen Savior. Yet, just as Jesus promised (Luke 22:31), he was imprisoned and beaten because of the Gospel. Regarding trials, he wrote that we should, “rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings.”
Paul, the man who gave up his prestigious position as a Jewish religious leader to follow Jesus, had this to say about the trials he faced as a Christian: “…in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness — besides the other things, what comes upon me daily…” (2 Cor. 11:23-28).
In addition to the blessings and joy and goodness, we are promised trials and tribulation, persecution and hard times. Romans 5:3-4 tells us to, “glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” James urges his readers to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (1:2-3). Paul gives us this encouragement when we see nothing but darkness all around, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18). Again and again Scripture tells us that there will be trials. It is the nature of this world for which Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice.
There is nothing in Scripture that tells us that life will be easy. There is nothing about the nature of God that assures us that He will keep us from suffering. We live in a fallen world where sin and evil are rampant. Some arguments against the existence of God sound something like, “If there were really a God, He would stop all of the evil. People would not be hungry and cancer wouldn’t exist.” But, what they don’t understand is that God would be violating His own laws to accomplish this. He created a world based on free will and we daily suffer the consequences of our poor choices and the poor choices of those around us.
When Adam and Eve chose sin over obedience, they gave satan legal right to our world. Paul called him the prince of the power of the air and we are told that we are (perpetually and until Jesus returns) in a war with principalities and powers and rulers of the darkness of this world (Eph. 6:12). And, when some ask why God created people knowing that they would sin and knowing the suffering that would take place, I ask you – have you ever watched a loved one lose a battle with cancer? Think about the suffering they went through, the pain they experienced. If you had the power to go back in time and keep that person from ever being born, would you do it? I think I know what your answer would be because I can imagine that it would be the same as mine. I watched my grandmother suffer for months through stage 4 lung cancer. It was heart-wrenching, especially when she was in her final days. If I could prevent her from coming into this world, prevent her from ever being conceived, knowing that it was the only way to prevent her suffering, would I do it? Of course I wouldn’t consider it for a moment because I know that despite the pain, her life was invaluable to those around her and there are many who would have never existed if it wasn’t for her. And, while I know that God’s ways are so much higher than mine and there is so much that I will never understand, this is how I believe He feels about us. He so desired to be with us, people who freely chose to be in relationship with Him rather than a mindless people who have no free will and thus no ability to love, that He looked at the pain and the suffering and the grief that He would experience because of us, up to but not ending with the torturous death of Jesus on the cross in our place, and said, “They are worth it all.”
You see, our faith in God should never be based on what His hands provide, but on who He is. Those who turn to atheism embrace Evolution and The Big Bang, never questioning where the primordial elements came from in the first place, while never hesitating to question everything about God. If you are struggling with these issues yourself, I humbly invite you to examine the beliefs of atheism through the same microscope with which you view God and the Bible. Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, James Warner Wallace and others have done so and come out Christians on the other side. There are things about life and the world which we will never understand with our human mind, but no matter what comes, my faith will remain with the One who not only died for me, but for whom there is an abundance of evidence and Who has proven Himself to me time and again. And, while I am grateful for the many blessings in my life, my hope does not come from them, but from His promises for peace through life’s storms and eternity in His presence.
Today, we’ll look at some of the historical evidence for the Bible. Contrary to the claims of skeptics, the amount of evidence for the Bible should make it the most respected historical text in existence, far surpassing all others in accuracy and documentation.
One of the most important measurement of biblical reliability lies in the fulfillment of its prophecies. Two-thousand Bible prophecies have been fulfilled to date, a claim no other religious text can make. More than 300 of those came to pass through the life of Jesus Christ alone. The improbability of any one person fulfilling such a vast number of prophecies is statistically impossible. In fact, Dr. John Stoner demonstrated that the probability of any man fulfilling just eight of the messianic prophecies was one in 1028, or one in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. (Read more here.) Some other examples of Bible prophecies fulfilled and verified by history are:
- Israel’s captivity – Jeremiah prophesied (29:7-14) that Israel would remain as captives in Babylon for 70 years because of their rejection of and disobedience to God. When Daniel discovered Jeremiah’s prophecy, he began to pray and seek God’s forgiveness for his people (Daniel 9). As predicted, 70 years after the first captives were taken to Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree permitting the Jewish people to return to their homeland.
- Triumphal Entry – Daniel prophesied the precise day the Messiah would be presented in chapter 9 verse 25:“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” The weeks in this chapter are commonly understood to be weeks of years (i.e. 7 years per week) and when calculated correctly, bring us to the very day Jesus entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, and was hailed as the Messiah. (Read more here.)
- Destruction of Jerusalem – Mark 13:2 records the prophecy of Jesus regarding the temple in Jerusalem that, “Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” In 70 A.D., the Romans marched into Jerusalem and destroyed the city, setting the temple on fire, and afterward prying apart the stones to take the melted gold.
- Restoration of Israel – There are a series of prophecies that the nation of Israel would be reborn in a single day, the Jewish people would return to the land, and that Israel would bloom and prosper. All of these prophecies were fulfilled (and continue to be to this day), the most significant being the fulfillment of Isaiah 66:8 on May 14, 1948. After being scattered (also prophesied) for nearly two millennia, the nation of Israel was literally born in a day.
If you would like to read more about fulfilled Bible prophecies, this website would be a good start.
Other Texts Confirm Biblical Accounts
In addition to the archaeological evidence for the Bible, some of which is presented in my blog post, Can You Prove The Bible?, other historical texts confirm biblical accounts. Ancient writings on palace walls and inscribed on tablets verify events recorded in the Bible such as the flood, the tower of Babel, the judgment of Nineveh and the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. From the time of Jesus onward, we have a variety of historical texts that corroborate what is recorded in the New Testament. The Jewish historian, Josephus Flavius, confirms not only the existence of Jesus, but the miracles that He performed and His life as a wise teacher whose crucifixion was ordered by Pilate. Josephus also mentions several other people recorded in the New Testament. Historical evidence for the life and death of Jesus, the development and severe persecution of Christianity and their acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah, can be found in the writings of Roman historian, Publius Cornelius Tacitus, the Roman Senator, Pliny the Younger, and historians Thallus and Phlegon, among others.
In 2013, it was estimated that more than six billion Bibles have been published throughout history. But how many early manuscripts do we have compared to other ancient texts? The number may surprise you, but is perhaps the most significant testament to the reliability of the Bible. There are currently more than 10,000 full and partial Old Testament manuscripts and over 24,000 full and partial New Testament manuscripts and early translations into other languages (such as the Latin Vulgate) available with the shortest time from the date written and the earliest known copy being less than 100 years. Contrast this to Homer’s Iliad, which is second to the Bible in both number of transcripts and length of time between the date written and the earliest copy available. The most up-to-date number of manuscripts of the Iliad available is 1,757 with 400 years from the date written to the earliest copy. All other ancient manuscripts are far less. This should leave no doubt in our minds as to the authenticity of our Bible and as with every other category, there is plenty of evidence to equip us to defend our faith.
Blind Faith No More
Throughout this series, we have examined the archaeological, scientific, and historical evidence for the Bible. While some may claim that Christianity is a crutch or a religion that exercises blind faith without the benefit of one’s mind, the opposite is true. Our nation is in a post-Christian era and if we are to fulfill the Great Commission, we must be prepared to answer the skeptics. Become equipped through apologetics websites and videos, read books by great apologists such as Josh McDowell, Dr. Michael Brown, Ravi Zacharias, Ken Ham, and others, and become a serious student of the Bible and then you will be able to say as Paul did, “I know whom I have believed.”
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” ~ Galileo
Modern science began, in large part, as a Christian endeavor. Galileo said that the Bible cannot err. Isaac Newton was a devout Christian who asserted that, “The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.” Newton saw God in everything and studied the Bible daily alongside his scientific pursuits. In addition to his achievements in the areas of science, math and invention, Blaise Pascal was a great apologist of the Christian faith. He said, “All who have claimed to know God and to prove his existence without Jesus Christ have done so ineffectively. . . . Apart from him, and without Scripture, without original sin, without the necessary Mediator who was promised and who came, it is impossible to prove absolutely that God exists, or to teach sound doctrine and sound morality. But through and in Jesus Christ we can prove God’s existence, and teach both doctrine and morality.” Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, William Thomson Kelvin, Johannes Kepler, Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur, and Samuel Morse and numerous other renowned scientists were Christians whose faith greatly influenced their work.
Fast forward to 2016 when belief in God and Creation can cause even the most accomplished scientist to be shunned by his or her colleagues. While there have always been people who reject God, a concerted effort to portray God and science as incompatible began in the 19th century. Following the publication of Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species in 1859, Thomas Henry Huxley (known as Darwin’s Bulldog) formed the X-Club, a group of influential scientists who claimed, “devotion to science, pure and free, untrammelled by religious dogmas.”
Darwin’s theory (still unproven) and the opinions of the members of the X-Club significantly impacted both science and culture and created an environment where any scientific research that pointed to God was quickly discarded and discredited. This practice not only continues more than a century and a half later, but has become increasingly hostile. Thus Christian students who grow up in the public school system and proceed to secular universities must be grounded securely in their faith. They must not be taught to rely blindly on the beliefs of generations past, but rather discipled in apologetics, particularly the scientific and historical accuracy of the Bible. Then, when pummeled with an onslaught of questions posed by those who seek the destruction of belief in God above truth, they will be prepared to answer with unshakeable faith.
Now, let us consider a few of the scientific facts that are found within the pages of our Bible.
- The Earth Suspended in Space
For much of history, people believed that there was something holding the Earth up. Explanations included Atlas (Greek), elephants (Hindu), a giant turtle (Native American Tribes, China, India), a snake (Ayida-Weddo in West African Vodou) and a giant whale (Islam). It wasn’t until the 17th century that Isaac Newton discovered that gravity was the mysterious force holding the Earth in space. However, the Bible got it right approximately five thousand years ago. Job 26:7 states, “He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing.”
Note: Some claim a contradiction between Job 26:7 and 1 Samuel 2:8, but as Erik Lutz points out, one must distinguish between poetic language and literal statements. You can read more by clicking here.
- The Universe Is Expanding
People used to believe that the Universe was fixed and unchanging. This belief contradicted the Bible, which repeatedly declares that God stretches out the heavens (Isaiah 40:22, 44:24, 42:5, 45:12, 48:13, 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12, 51:15; Job 26:7, 9:8; Psalm 104:2). In 1929, Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding, thereby confirming the Biblical text.
- Mountains On The Ocean Floor
Jonah describes mountains on the ocean floor (Jonah 2:6). In 1925, scientists indeed found that there were mountains along the ocean floor with ranges longer than any on land. Later, active volcanoes were discovered as well as a 40,000 kilometer long mountain range in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
- The Hydrologic Cycle
“For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man.” Job 36:27-28
“All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; to the place from which the rivers come, there they return again.” Ecclesiastes 1:7
Job and Solomon both describe the water cycle perfectly, thousands of years before science discovered it. In the first century B.C., Marcus Vitruvius was the first to develop an accurate theory about the water cycle, but it did not become proven science until the seventeenth century. This is one of many instances where the Bible was generations ahead of science.
- Life Is In The Blood
Leviticus 17:11 tells us that “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” In 1628, William Harvey published his book, “Anatomical Studies on the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals,” in which he explains his findings about circulation and it’s necessity to sustain life.
- Air Has Weight
Scientists once believed that air was weightless, which seems to be a logical conclusion. However, Job declares (28:24-25), “For He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heavens, to establish a weight for the wind, and apportion the waters by measure.” In 1643, Evangelista Torricelli performed experimentation during which he was able to create a sustained vacuum and prove that air had weight. Today, we know that the weight of air is approximately 14.7 pounds per square inch at sea level.
- God Formed Man From the Dust of the Earth
In Genesis 2:7, Moses writes that God formed man from the dust of the Earth and breathed life into him. In Genesis 3:19, God tells Adam that he would return to the dust from which he was formed. In 1982, NASA informed the world of their findings that every element in the human body could be found in the Earth’s crust.
Over the centuries skeptics have often accused the Bible of contradicting science. Yet, time and again widely held scientific beliefs that stood in opposition to God’s Word have been disproved and the biblical text found to be true. I have given you just seven examples today, but if you delve into the subject, you will find that there are many more. I hope that you will check back next month when I will conclude this series with “Historical Evidence of the Bible.”
“You can’t prove the Bible.” “Science and religion opposing forces.” “You must check reason and logic at the door of the church.” These are all claims put forth by skeptics, atheists and others who, for various reasons, have made it their life’s purpose to bring about an end to all religion, especially Christianity. Their claims, however, are unequivocally false. In this post, we will examine some of the archaeological evidences for the Bible. Following that, we will continue our quest with a look into the scientific and historical evidence that the Bible cannot be considered equivalent to ancient mythology, but is, in fact, a reliable source of information and the inspired and true Word of God.
Walls of Jericho
The sixth chapter of the book of Joshua records the first conquest of the Israelite Army. Joshua was instructed by God to command his soldiers to march around the city of Jericho once everyday for six days and seven times on the seventh day. After completing their final lap, the priests were to sound a long trumpet blast and the army was to give a loud shout, after which God promised that, “the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in” (Joshua 6:5). The Israelites did as instructed, the wall fell, they entered, conquered the city and burned it to the ground. This record was confirmed by several archaeological digs, beginning in 1867. From 1930-1936, a British archaeologist by the name of John Garstang, explored the ancient site. He believed that his findings were perfectly in line with the Old Testament account. As he explained,
“In a word, in all material details and in date the fall of Jericho took place as described in the Biblical narrative. Our demonstration is limited, however, to material observations: the walls fell, shaken apparently by earthquake, and the city was destroyed by fire, about 1400 B.C. These are the basic facts resulting from our investigations. The link with Joshua and the Israelites is only circumstantial but it seems to be solid and without a flaw.”
At his request, Kathleen Kenyon studied Garstang’s research and then launched a six-year excavation of the site in 1952. Despite her skepticism, she nevertheless provided substantial evidence for the Biblical account. Her conclusions include the following:
“The destruction was complete. Walls and floors were blackened or reddened by fire, and every room was filled with fallen bricks, timbers, and household utensils; in most rooms the fallen debris was heavily burnt, but the collapse of the walls of the eastern rooms seems to have taken place before they were affected by the fire.”
When I was 16 and working at a restaurant, one of my assistant managers contended that the stories of King David were myths as there was no evidence that he ever existed or that the wars of his time actually happened, a talking point used by many to undermine the accuracy of the Bible. However, several archaeological finds prove otherwise. The first major discovery was of The Tel Dan Inscription in 1993, which told of the defeat of the “King of Israel” and the “King of the House of David” by an Aramean king. In recent years, archaeologists have found what they believe to be the remains of King David’s palace and royal storehouse as well as architecture and artifacts that support his reign.
The Amarna Letters
In 1877, an Egyptian woman stumbled upon a collection of cuneiform tablets, which included letters from Canaanite rulers to the Egyptian Pharaoh, pleading for help defending against the Habiru (believed to be another word for Hebrew) who were attacking their land. The timing, location, and details of these tablets parallel the Israelite conquests in The Promised Land. The letters went unanswered, which makes perfect sense in light of the biblical account of the destruction of the Egyptian Army in The Red Sea.
Pool of Bethesda
The Pool of Bethesda is mentioned in John 5 when Jesus healed a man who had been crippled for 38 years. Skeptics once used the lack of evidence for this site to prove that the Gospel of John was written by someone else at a much later date. But, in 1888, the pool was found and it is now listed as an historical site and frequented by tourists.
Pontius Pilate is known as the man who sentenced Jesus to crucifixion after the crowd refused to relent. In 1961, proof of the ruler’s existence was found on a block of limestone with the inscription:
To the Divine Augusti [this] Tiberieum
…prefect of Judea
…has dedicated [this]
The Galilee BoatThe New Testament records several times when Jesus and His disciples sailed boats on the Sea of Galilee. It was the very place where He instructed
Peter to cast his net on the right side of the boat. Having been working all night without a catch, Peter was skeptical, but lowered his net anyway. The subsequent load was so full that he could not bring it in on his own. In 1986, a small boat was discovered on the Galilee shore by Yuval and Moshe Lufan. The boat was dated back approximately 2,000 years and could have easily belonged to one of Jesus’ disciples.
There are numerous other archaeological discoveries that support biblical claims. I encourage you to spend some time researching the subject of biblical archaeology yourself. You will be amazed at the wealth of evidence you will find and, in the process, your faith will be strengthened and your heart and mind prepared to give a timely answer for the hope that is within you.
Top Ten Biblical Discoveries in Archaeology – #3 Jericho
The Walls of Jericho
The Tel Dan Inscription: The First Historical Evidence of King David from the Bible
Ancient Rock Adds Evidence of King David’s Existence
Archaeologists Say They’ve Found One Of King David’s Palaces
Evidence of Canaanite Jewish Rituals in Reign of King David
The 382 Amarna Tablets of the Hebrew Conquest
Historical Evidence For Joshua and The Promised Land
The Habiru and the Amarna Letters
Pool of Bethesda
The Pool of Bethesda – First Century Jerusalem
The Jesus Boat Discovery