Jesus tells us in John 17:17 "sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth." But there are so many different versions of the Bible out there, with so many times of it being translated, how can we know the Bible is true?
Ultimately it comes down to faith, that we believe in God and believe that He has given us His perfect Word and preserved it throughout the generations, and that it is His Word for us.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 -- 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Hebrews 4:12 → 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
God has preserved His Word though, and given us evidences throughout His Word that help reassure us that we can trust what it says.
THE FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY
There are over 57 direct prophecies about Jesus specifically from the Old Testament that He fulfilled in His life on the earth. There are countless references to Jesus coming and time on the earth throughout the Old Testament as well, all of which were written 400+ years before Jesus came to the earth.
*** The Birth of Jesus Prophesied***
***The Crucifixion of Jesus Prophesied***
Click here for a complete list of the prophecies of Jesus that were fulfilled.
THE EFFECT JESUS HAS HAD ON THE WORLD
Think about it this way, Jesus was a carpenter from a town of less than 1,000 people, and He never went more than 200 miles from His home, yet people all over the world know about Him.
We know about Bethlehem, a town of less than 1,000 people in another country. We know about a carpenter from another country. We know have holidays that celebrate His birth and death and resurrection. Not only do we celebrate aspects of His life throughout the year, but His life has effected how count time. 2000+ years ago, there was something that happened that changed our counting of time from BC (commonly Before Christ) to AD (anno domini, in the year of our Lord). Even attempts to remove Jesus from time and go BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) still fail to explain what happened 2,000 years ago that would make the shift from BCE to CE.
THE ACCURACY OF THE TEXT THROUGHOUT THE CENTURIES
In recent history, there have been discoveries that prove the accuracy of the Scriptures from the original writings. God promised this in His Word even, John 10:35, "Scripture cannot be broken", Matthew 5:18, "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished."
In 1947, a set of scrolls was found called The Dead Sea Scrolls. They were hidden in caves by some Jews, and contain manuscripts of every Old Testament book except Esther, and they were 1,000 years older than any existing Old Testament manuscript. So here we have discovered a source of the Bible that was 1,000 years older than any current source we had currently seen, and it proved the accuracy of the current translations that we had. Throughout the centuries of copying the Bible, the text had stayed the same. The only "differences" were minor spelling variations or the transposing of certain words in a few places.
THE OVERARCHING THEME OF THE BIBLE
The Bible was written by 35 different authors, spanning thousands of years, but yet their consistency and accuracy throughout that time stayed true. There is a harmony of the Bible, with everything pointing to Jesus. Jesus said this about the Old Testament even, John 5:46, "46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me." Everything in the Bible points to Jesus in some way or another, and the Bible never contradicts itself. It gives different views of what happened, but the overarching theme remains the same.
There are many other proofs of the accuracy of the Bible, that God has preserved through time. Some other resources that you can look into are GotQuestions and CARM.
At this moment, everything is perfect, and through the course of Creation, the Bible continues to tell us that it was good. God continues to create, and He finally hits the high point, creating man in His own image.
Through this creation, and everything being good, Adam and Eve were able to stand before God and before each other naked and unashamed. But just like that, one decision sets the world on a chaotic path, heading towards destruction.
From this point, pain, sweat, toil, ache, and death enter into the world. But there is something interesting in this passage:
So the question arises here, why did God do this? Why do bad thing happen to good people? Why did God allow evil to enter into the world?
Before answering the question, I want to make sure we understand the heart behind the question, in case you are ever asked this question. People usually ask this predominately in association with a devastating event. It comes in connection with the recipient being someone that we feel didn’t deserve what happened to them. We see that in the very fabric of the question, why do “bad” things happen to “good” people?
We see "bad" as being whatever happened to them that we didn't feel that they deserved (abuse, neglect, death, disease, trauma, etc). We call them "good" because we see them as someone who is nice, kind, caring, compassionate, and maybe even innocent.
The reality is, whenever faced with this question, there is probably not an answer at the moment that would bring relief. Even if God gave you the why behind what is happening, would it really make any difference?
If God said that the reason you lost a loved one, you went through that trauma, you were abused, you were neglected, whatever happened to you, was because some time down the road it would work out for good, would that make it any better? Maybe, but I’m doubting it actually would. So we have to realize that there is a time to just be present if asked this question, and that there is no answer that will help, but rather we give them someone to hear them out, to just be there for them.
But, there is still the question that is asked and people wonder why bad things happen. The simple answer, that is yet complex, is because sin is present in this world.
The result of sin is that bad things happen. From that moment in time, the earth has been trending toward destruction, awaiting that time to come.
Paul tells us that there is suffering in this life, but he also tells us that it isn't worth comparing to the eternal glory that is to be revealed, and that is what the earth groans for.
Not only does creation long for this time, but we ourselves long for it to happen to.
As a result of sin in the world, we live in a broken world, in which nature itself heads towards destruction. This is why there are tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, floods, and earthquakes.
Not only do we live in a broken world, we live among broken people, who make bad decisions that sometimes harm other people. Not only are other people broken, we ourselves are broken as well. This is something we need to realize, there are no “good” people in the world, we’re ALL sinners.
The question may pop in your head, why doesn't God just wipe out all the evil in the world? That day is coming, but think about it a bit deeper. If God wiped out all the evil in the world, that would include US as well. To wipe out evil would be to send people to hell, so if He wiped us out, we go hell, But God in His mercy and grace hasn’t done so, that more may come to repentance and find salvation in Jesus. Because in that, God is glorified, and that’s His goal.
Here's my view on this, in order for God to be glorified, He has to be chosen. A robot cannot bring glory because there is not choice, it is forced to do what it is told. In the same way, love creates a choice, and God gave us the choice to choose Him. In order for there to be a choice though, there have to be two things to choose between. Therefore, we are allowed to choose between God and the world, which is sin. And that's the answer to the question, we choose sin, and our choices have consequences.
But we can find hope beyond the bad things that happen, because God has given us hope.
Hope that God can use bad things for good results
Hope that God’s always good, faithful, praiseworthy
Hope that through struggles, it strengthens our ministry
The events of our lives build our testimony, in which we are then able to help those who go through what we have.
Hope in knowing that Jesus knows what we go through
We don’t have a God who is far off, but one who in Jesus knows what we are going through, and sends help
Hope that we are not alone
Hope that this earth is not our home, we have an eternal dwelling
Jesus has gone to prepare our eternal dwelling,
Jesus will return to take us home, and there is ONE way to get there
The reality of the answer to the question is this: There was only one good person, Jesus Christ, and the worst suffering ever happened to Him, so that through that bad thing, we might experience the greatest thing, eternal life
This is an important question, because there are many people who distort the Gospel of Jesus. This has been the tactic of Satan since the beginning of time, where he was able to take something God said and twist it, thereby deceiving mankind.
Jesus promises that the gates of Hades will not be able to overcome the church, so if Satan can’t defeat the church, he will try to become a part of the church, to divide and weaken the church.
So the question is, how can we tell the difference between a false prophet and a man of God?
Jesus gives us a warning as to how we can identify a false prophet in the Sermon on the Mount:
Peter even warns us that they weren’t just during that time, but that they are still going to come:
During the Tribulation, there is going to be the second beast that will be a deceiver, causing people to make an image to it.
So we know they are coming, and we know that we will know them by their fruit, but what kind of fruit is it that we will be able to recognize them by?
Paul tells Timothy that they are going to come, and the way to know them by their fruit is to hold firm to what he was taught. What is it that he was taught?
God’s Word is the litmus test as to whether a teaching is true or false. Therefore, we hold firm to God's Word.
There is a time where people will give up on the Bible, seeking higher enlightenment. But what John and the writer of Hebrews tells us, is that it is all about Jesus. He will never change, and He will always be the source of truth.
We are to follow the Word of God over anything that man says, and Paul warns that we are to not follow manmade traditions.
So how do we do this? We test what we hear, and make sure it lines up with God’s Word
Paul & John both tell us that even if an angel preaches something different, it is to be accursed
If you want to be able to tell a false prophet, study your Bible and know what it says.
In the FBI, they are trained to be able to recognize a counterfeit bill. The problem is, there are hundreds of different counterfeits out there. Instead of studying each different counterfeit bill, they simply study the real bill so well that they know everything about it, so that when they see something that isn't right, they are able to know that it is a fake.
Are you studying your Bible well enough to be able to tell truth from a lie?
When Jesus was tempted, He quoted Scripture, and knew Scripture even when the devil tried to manipulate it. This is why it is important to find a Bible believing and preaching church, in which you will be guided in the Word of God. This is why it is important to be a part of Biblical Community, so that you are able to receive Biblical guidance. And this is why it is important to daily be in God's Word, meditating on it daily so that you know what it has to say.
God's Word is what will direct you in the path that you are supposed to go, and anything that goes against God's Word should be thrown out as an imposter.
Too often we make America heaven, and we don’t live with an eternal perspective, but an earthly one
We see throughout the Scriptures that we are to lift our eyes to heaven, taking on an eternal perspective, not an earthly one
List 10 things in your life that you love
We will come back to those later
One thing that keeps us from wanting to leave, we hold on too tightly to this world
Especially in America, where life is actually not too bad
Jesus tells us multiple times that we are to let go of everything in this life
— throw off the sin that entangles
— love wife > Jesus ≠ worthy
— leave all for Jesus, Jesus blesses
— gain whole world = forfeit soul
So much of our lives are spent seeking after perishable things, where Jesus tells us to work for the eternal
— work for eternal life Break down your week of the amount of time that is spent on things that don’t matter
Some of it is important (hygiene, eating, sleeping, working)
How much is taken so far to the extreme, that it is not important?
How much is spent on eternal things?
Gathering of God’s People
Have we fallen in love with this world?
— do not love the world
We are called to throw it off, and then Hebrews goes on
— fix our eyes on Jesus
Too often, we aren’t looking to Jesus, but to our own desires/life
Jesus tells us that we are to hate our lives compared to Him, and that in doing so, we will find it
Crazy thing: in order to find true freedom, we must become a slave to Christ
Too many people claim that they believe in Jesus, but they don’t see the abundant life that He promises
People will say what they think, but they will do what they believe
Abundant life is found in Jesus, eternal life is found in Jesus, LIFE is found in Jesus
— this is eternal life
— You have the words of eternal life
Is there anything on that list of 10 things that you would not give up for Jesus?
— Rich young ruler
He had the key to eternal life right in front of him, but yet he missed it completely
He allowed for his things to become a god to him
There is a part of us that desires to be home, with Jesus
Even creation is groaning for that time to come
— creation groans
— we desire to be home
— for me to live is Christ
This is all easier said than done though
Observations as to why we don’t want to go
We are holding too tightly to this life
We don’t truly trust Jesus that there is a better life waiting for us in the next
We don’t truly trust Jesus that there is even a life after the next
We don’t truly trust Jesus that living for Him is best
We make ourselves our gods, instead of making Jesus our LORD
— treasures in heaven
— those who died in faith
— rejoice in our sufferings
— throw off, fix eyes on Jesus
— come Lord Jesus
Have you ever heard someone say, or even been told yourself, don't judge me? the Bible says not to judge others. As much as they are correct that the Bible does say not to judge others, it is not the correct context. The world is beginning to yell louder and louder that we are not to judge, but what is it that the Bible actually says? What is the Christian's responsibility to seek out a believer living in sin?
First off, Paul tells us that we are not to cast judgement on those outside the church, but that it is actually the responsibility of the believers to judge those inside the church.
Why are we to judge those inside the church? Because the end goal of believers is sanctification, becoming more and more like Christ. This is difficult on our own, and so we need fellow believers to help us out and push us towards living like Christ.
Humans are able to justify our actions, and we can make a lot of things that are wrong seem right. But in the end, those actions lead to death, and so we need fellow believers to step in and point out our folly, pointing us back to Jesus.
So, what is my responsibility to seek out a believer living in sin?
The first thing that we have to do is check our own hearts. That was the point of Jesus in Matthew 7.
Before we go and we point out what the other person is doing wrong, we need to inspect our own lives and hearts and make sure that we are living according to God's Word.
We also check our hearts to make sure that we are seeking the person's best. The goal is restoration and sanctification, not us proving ourselves wrong or molding them into living according to our standard.
During Jesus walk on earth, disagreements with Pharisees, who were the religious elite that put laws on other people that they themselves were not willing to live up to. In Matthew 23, Jesus gives the Pharisees 7 woes, and one of them was that they don't do the very thing they tell others to do.
Jesus calls them hypocrites, following manmade traditions (and holding others to that standard) rather than following God.
So the first step to always start with is to pray that God reveal your heart and work in your own heart first.
We are told to make sure that everything we do be guided by love.
After you have prayed about your heart and the situation, it might be worth looking to see if you are able to overlook the situation. This is more in the sense of an offense, not in sin. We are called to point out sin, but often we are offended and it may not actually be sin, we took offense to something.
If you are not able to overlook the situation, or if it is sin that needs to be addressed, you are commanded to go to that person. Too often, we want to go to someone else and talk with them about it. Often we can do this under the disguise of seeking guidance or venting, but God's Word doesn't give us room to do this. Instead, God gives warnings against taking part in this type of discussion.
Paul modeled this for us when Peter [Cephas] was behaving differently around the Greeks as he was around the Jews.
We are called as believers to help hold each other accountable and walk according to God's Word. This is why it is important to be involved in Biblical community. We all desire to be fully known, and the best way to do that is to live in Biblical Community, doing life together.
Through all of this, we need to see the common goal, which is not having other people become more like we are, but having other people becoming more like Christ (sanctification). Too often we want people to measure up to our standards, but it is God who sets the standard for us.
Jesus went on in Matthew 18 to tell us that after we have gone to them, if they refuse to listen to us, then we are to go and bring someone else with us to them.
If they still refuse to listen, then you are to bring it before the church, and then if they refuse to listen to the entire church, then it is time to cut off ties with them and treat them as if they were unbelievers.
A lot of times, the initial instincts are to go to someone else or to write the person off completely. This is the easy thing to do, not the right thing. God's Word tells us that we are to go directly to the person, and the final step after everything else is that we cut the person off, for their benefit. The goal of all of this is sanctification
The last thing that we must do through all of this is we must walk in grace, just as God gives us grace.
We do not cast stones, we seek the persons best relationship with God. We do everything possible to help them in this. But, in order for this to happen, we must REPENT, turn from our sin and turn to Jesus.
This is a question that many different religions hold views on.
Thankfully, for the believer, God's Word gives us a glimpse of what heaven will be like. Regardless of what our language is able to describe it as, it doesn't come close to the reality of what heaven will truly be like.
Here is how God's Word describes heaven though.
There is often another question associated with heaven, where do animals go when they die? Will there be animals in heaven?
The Bible never talks about animals having souls, that is what is unique about man from all the other animals. We are set apart, made in the image of God. Animals do not have a soul, they are not on the same level of humans. But just as in the Garden of Eden there were animals, my personal belief is that there will be animals in heaven as well. I believe that the Garden was supposed to be a glimpse of heaven. There will be a New Heaven and a New Earth, and I believe that on this New Earth there will be animals as well.
The original question posed here is since we are predestined to be Christians, why is so much emphasis put on evangelism instead of discipleship? In order to answer this question, we need to first look at the first part of the question, and view what the Biblical concept is of predestination vs free-will. This is a question that has been debated and discussed at length throughout the generations, so we are going to look at the different views that are held, as well as Scripture that those views use to support that view as well as Scripture that is used to oppose that view.
View #1: God is the Master Puppeteer
This is the view that God is in heaven and He is pulling every single string. This is the complete view of predestination. That every thought we have, every action we make, has already been decided for us and we have no choice or free-will in life.
View #2: God chooses to save certain people (elect)
This is one of the five points of Calvinism, Unconditional Election, which means that God will save whoever He wants to save, regardless of who they are or what they do.
View #3: God chooses everyone, but we must also choose Him
This is the view that God has a desire that everyone be saved, but that in order to be saved we must also “choose” Him by receiving His gift of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
View #4: God takes a hands off approach, living in heaven just watching us on television
So the question might remain, which view is correct? The answer is that God knows, and we can trust in Him. The personal belief of myself is that there is Biblical evidence that supports free will, us having a choice, but at the same time we see that God is at work and has specific calls for specific people. There is a mystery in it, and Scripture supports that we may not always know the answers to these questions.
It is possible that after reading those passages, you land in one of those views specifically. That’s ok, because what we also see in God’s Word is the answer to the second part of the question, why do we focus on evangelism instead of only discipleship? The answer is because God has commanded us to “go” out into the world (evangelism) and “make disciples” (discipleship).
Jesus even shares a parable about sending out the harvesters into the harvest.
Paul tells us that he was sent to preach the Gospel
The church is called to be the light of the world, and to go out and actively play a role in bringing souls to salvation in Jesus Christ. Being the church is not about just coming and sitting on a pew, but about actively obeying the commands of Christ.
So we are commanded to go and preach the Gospel, but it isn’t just about filling empty chairs or converting people to a belief in God, it’s about filling empty hearts with God, making disciples of Christ.
Disciple: a follower of someone. The disciples of Jesus gave up everything to follow their teacher
The emphasis should never be on one of these aspects over the other, the church is called to do both.
We are called to live life with others, pointing them towards Jesus.
So back to the question, are we predestined or do we have free-will? Both, because the Bible discusses both, and it is wrapped up in the mystery of God. Should we focus on evangelism or discipleship? Both, because the Bible commands us to do both. To evangelize is to disciple someone, and to disciple someone is to evangelize. They are one and the same thing, we cannot do one without involving the other.
Here are 5 steps to evangelize and disciple someone.