Attempting to promote the Bible texts, the veracity of the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth, and the love God has for each and every one of us, it seems that some have honestly considered my words, but most blow me off as just another mindless cowering sheep. I know this from reading online what they have to say, and what they are saying usually does not take the form of civil conversation nor edifying interaction.
Perhaps my approach has been too polite, but probably, people’s experiences in life have left them bitter and resentful, cynical about many things, but especially about God, Christians, and the Bible. The latter is most likely true, because they don’t know me personally whatsoever. They automatically associate me and those like myself with the horrible behavior of others who claim they know God. Neither truly know me personally nor God, other Christians nor the Bible and therefore, are rather unqualified to be so judgmental. However, I do understand. We are, after all, easy targets, being passive and all.
It’s their inner hardness, and it should never be taken personally. Everybody may have the first response to blame something or someone for the hardness and hypocrisy in life and have given up the search for honest answers and pragmatic solutions.
There is this, Jesus counseled, “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first.” John 15:18. But that is little comfort when trying to express God’s love when writing to others. But Jesus still died for everyone.
To save us from ourselves.
Therefore, no one should allow hate to rule. No one, especially Born Again Christians, should allow others’ attitudes and behaviors effect their own perspective and conversation.
For Christians in particular, Jesus said, to put in the proper context of the complete text above, “This is My command to you: Love one another.” Then he continued to let His followers know that it may not be so easy to love: “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first. If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” John 15:17–19.
Jesus has much more to say about all of this…
There was a brief time in the 60’s and 70’s when young people, at least, were spending a lot of time searching, questioning the status quo, and seeking for some transcendent purpose in this life. They looked at the way things were and instead of becoming disgruntled and throwing in the towel, they persisted in their upward journey.
Oh for the revival of that attitude!
When Jesus was confronted with questions and doubts, and even hate, He took the time to patiently answer, to have mostly gentle conversations, and give explanations, sometimes in parables, attempting to paint a picture for people to clearly understand the things of God.
Sometimes He was less gentle and patient, particularly with the religious leaders who He knew were leading the nation in the wrong direction. And He also knew the fate they had in store for Him, but “…who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame…”
Now, sometimes the portrayal of the Jews is that everybody hated Jesus and couldn’t wait to be rid of Him. The picture of the thousands who followed Him to listen to His teachings is left on the back of the canvass, out of sight and out of mind. There is a verse that says, “…the large crowd listened to Him with delight.”
We need to turn that canvass over to appreciate the truth. It is a much more detailed panorama, conveying a much richer and realistic work of art. The culmination of God’s work on Earth is a beautiful exhibit of love which should be considered the epitome of creativity we all want to view in all the best Art Museums.
Let me review some ot the corrections I have attempted in persuading a change in people’s perspectives. Many have in their minds errant teachings, from who knows where and who knows when, that have discouraged people from calling on God.
Here’s a challenge often repeated: Where did God come from? Well, let me ask also, where did outer space come from? Did nothingness always exist in a state of dormancy? The essence of both theories of Creation, Genesis and the Big Bang, start with nothingness and suddenly energy bursts onto the scene. The Bible calls it “light.” Neither theory explains why it suddenly happened — just that it did. Perhaps that is why someone created the word “mystery.”
Now, I know some will say that there has been extensive scientific and mathematical explanations of what happened and even how it happened, but never an explanation of why it happened. So, it just happened? It always existed? God, gods, or what exactly are they saying?
Beyond that question, I would respond with the challenge, “Where did you come from?” Ever watch the TV series, Star Trek: Picard? One character is a synthetic person with memories of family and childhood implanted in her matrix. How do we know that we are not like that? How do we know the Earth isn’t still flat? How do we know the history of America, the story of Civilization, the existence of of other Nations and Peoples of the World?
Answer those questions and the challenge of God’s existence and the Bible’s truthfulness, and the nature and works of God, and the reliability of the Gospel of Jesus of Bethlehem, of Jerusalem, of Calvary, and of the empty tomb all will be answered.
But one thing remains: you have to accept it and act upon it. Or you can try to find some other theories. It’s always a choice.
Here’s another complaint: People have posed the historical conundrum of Bible history which begins around 6,000 years ago. Yet other civilizations have 10,000 year histories, or more. As for me, the archaeological record is undeniable. Does this truth hurt? Does it somehow diminish the veracity and purposes of the Bible? Not really. So, is the Bible the complete history of the world? Yes and no… No, it isn’t supposed to be a World History book, and yes, it’s the revelation of God’s existence and His rewards in store for people who seek Him.
Genesis, chapter One, verse 26, says, “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth,” and “then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.’”
End of chapter one. Full stop. God rested… took the next day off.
Mankind was brought into existence. That’s a lot of people. Since we are like God, just maybe He likes the idea of variety, too, and He made all the different races. “Vive la différence!” Why not?
However, many Europeans like to think God just created white people. Why, I don’t know. I guess everybody likes to think of themselves as special… in the superior sense of the word. It’s the human tendency toward arrogance, I would surmise…false pride, at least.
Separately, in Genesis, chapter Two, verse 7, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” That’s just one guy… another mystery, but nevertheless, there is the probability of thousands of years between the creation of Mankind and the creation of Adam. The timeline is not detailed extensively. The point is that it happened, Adam — and Eve — created separately from and after the creation of all Mankind.
Why do I think that is so?
First of all, chapter two comes after chapter one. Also because that is the initial example of God using a “separate people” to reveal Himself to the rest of Humanity. And I might as well note here: “In this way, the Hebrew word for ‘holy’, kodesh, comes from the root word ‘Kadash’. In simpler terms, it means to be set apart for a specific purpose (Ancient Hebrew Lexicon, vituralbookword.com publishing, Jeff Benner) Feb 7, 2016.)”
It does not mean “special” in the sense of superiority as it is sometimes used facetiously. It simply means, “designed for a particular purpose or occasion,” as defined by Merriam Webster on line.
Now, many have the idea perhaps that they were taught from childhood that Adam and Eve were the first humans, because Eve has come to mean in English, “the mother of all living.” Wikipedia explains, “originating with the Hebrew חַוָּה (Chavah/Havah — chavah, to breathe, and chayah, to live, or to give life). The traditional meaning of Eve is life or ‘living’. It can also mean full of life and mother of life.”
Here’s the rub: God did not give her that name. Adam gave her that name. Genesis 3:20, “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.” You see, up until their fall from grace, Adam and Eve lived secluded lives in the Garden of Eden, totally unaware of the outside world. They had no idea other people existed!
What difference do these details make? Simply to reassure people that the Bible records are not only accurate but are accurate in every way, no matter how we look at them, and no matter what we were told in Sunday School.
Beyond that, this pattern of separating persons or peoples towards the goal of revealing God’s purposes is going to be repeated throughout the Bible — from beginning to end… From the origins of Mankind to the coming of the Son of Man… From Adam to the arrival of the Son of God… From Abraham, the “father of faith,” to Christians who are extolled to believe in justification by that very same expression of faith. “Abram believed the LORD, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:6.
Another controversy is that there is nothing found in the geological record of a flood that covered the entire Earth. However, there is evidence of a regional flood in Mesopotamia resulting from Ice Age melting. The warming climate created an earthbound inner sea that burst forth (probably in a monsoon season) that seemed to the author to cover the entire world — the world that he lived in, the only world he knew about. So Noah’s Flood is a honest account. As an aside, the animal rescued were also regional… and not just two by two, but “clean animals” by sevens, one being male, in order to save the species and make provision for Noah and his family.
Again, the Bible is true, but our perceptions are ill conceived. The traditions passed down to us are often inaccurate. So, of course there are challenges to the veracity of the Bible. But the challenges are misdirected. They should be directed at the religious leaders who perpetuated the incomplete, the inaccurate, and the outright lies which were taught throughout generations.
The challenge question becomes, “Why didn’t they tell us?”
However, God told us. He went to great lengths to tell us.
But who’s listening? Who’s seeking the truth? Rather than complaining and blowing a lot of smoke about what they have not actually found, why not try just a little bit harder to find what you are looking for? Have you even really looked? Did you ever realize you are looking for something?
Anyways, in the great chapter about individuals living out Faithfulness with God, Hebrews 11, there is this phrase in verse 32, “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about…” the multitude of the many other individuals living for God.
I don’t have the time right now either. The point is everybody, including you, can learn from the people who God separated out for revelation of His purposes for all of Humanity.
Those people of faith were all ordinary people who became extraordinary because they believed God and acted in harmony with their belief in God’s promises.
They were real and not made up. If they were made up fables, and if God wanted everyone to understand and believe and act like they did, why wouldn’t the Bible have whitewashed all the errors, all the personal faults of these “heroes” like is done in fables? Why wasn’t the Bible history whitewashed to make it more attractive, easier to live, simpler to understand… One reason is that we can learn from their mistakes. They learned the hard way so we don’t have to run into the same consequences.
Maybe the reason the Bible is not a whitewashed history can be partially understood when Jesus confronted the Hypocrisy of the religious leaders who confronted Him… “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs — beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27–28. I strongly recommend reading the whole chapter in the New Living Translation Bible, because you should know, putting it in the vernacular, “what pisses God off.” Apparently, religious leaders are not always reliable sources for truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth… But there are Bibles everywhere and the cheapest way to obtain them is online: Biblehub.com, biblegateway.com, biblia.com, etc. :lease read one.
Nonetheless, what remains is how people understand that the Bible is the “inspired word of God” or as some say “God breathed.” Does that mean God dictated it word for word? Sometimes, in the Prophets, yes. “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21. So, yes there are direct quotes from God as well as from people, but it wasn’t like dictation at all times. What always was inspired were those people performing in obedience to God. Also, the history, warts and all, was diligently recorded.
People shouldn’t “get their shorts all up in a bunch” when Christians claim the Bible is God-breathed. The point is everything about the Bible is accurate.
People’s memories and conclusions are too often inaccurate. That is why such diligence was taken to put down in writing even the earliest verbal records and copying with utmost diligence onto the scrolls and then the parchments and so on until the printed Bible pages of today.
Then, where do inaccuracies come from?
We are, generally speaking, in the dark. We feel the need to speculate, because instinctively, we are afraid of the dark, and we want something to hold on to.
But we don’t have to speculate. God, for the fulfillment of His purposes, provides the remedy which is clearly revealed in the Bible. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3, and “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.” John 12:46, and Jesus claimed “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
The question then becomes, “Is this true?”
So we all have to begin at the beginning. We have to put our foot in the water.
And where is that?
Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptizer, declared “Repent.” and “…flee from the coming wrath… Produce fruit, then, in keeping with repentance.” Matthew 3:8.
It means to turn, to turn away from darkness, your darkness, and turn to seek light, the Light. Turn from your chosen direction to the pathway Jesus has provided. Recognize your need to turn from your way of living to the much better plan that God has for you. Most importantly, demonstrate your sincerity by what you do, how you live, how you learn and from whom you learn, by reading the Bible and seeking His presence in your life…talking to God about stuff and listening in earnest.
Try starting with a little self analysis, like “Do I really like where I’m at?”
The Bible says that everyone falls short.
Start seeking God by thinking about higher things like righteousness.
Start directing your thoughts and talking to the invisible God.
Sure. You might think that at first. Maybe that is one reason why Jesus suggested you do so in private!
Furthermore, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved.” Romans 10:13.
It just might be worth a try.