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Jesus said, “Your Word is truth; make them holy by Your truth.” (John 17:17)

Filed under: Blog,Leadership — Pastor David May 16, 2014 @ 5:44 pm

We have learned that Prophecy is a strong argument as to why we can trust that the Bible is what it claims to be: the Word of God.  The next reason I give for us to trust that the 66 Books given to us are truly from God is the very process, itself,  used in copying the original manuscripts.  This careful process has handed down to each generation a faithful copy of what was originally given.  There is no other book that even comes close to how carefully the originals were copied, as the Bible.

  1. The Copies Themselves, of the Originals

The original manuscripts have long ago disappeared.  How, then, do we know that we have what was originally stated? The copies have confirmed that what we now hold in our hands is exactly what the original authors said and wrote.  Let’s discuss the Old Testament books first, and then we will discuss the New Testament books and the process of how they were copied to establish the credibility that what we now have is most certainly what the authors wrote. The copies make it very clear that there has been little variation from the originals. Jesus said, “Your Word is truth; make them holy by Your truth.” (John 17:17)

  1. Old Testament Books

The process for the Old Testament copyist provided an incredible safeguard for them to write exactly what had been written, the reason for such carefulness was their highest regard for what was being written. Every document copied went through an exacting process. The Old Testament was copied with such great precision that if a finished scroll was edited and even one mistake was found they would destroy the entire scroll. Their editing process was to count the letters on every section, all the a’s then b’s, etc. if the count was different then the original being copied, they destroyed the complete scroll as well. The copy was to be only copied from an authentic original or that copy was not regarded as an “authentic” copy. In contrast, the Quran, was written by nine different men who heard the visions of Mohammed (he was illiterate). There are copies of these nine authors available today. The variants in each copy are so many and so different that we virtually do not know if what the Quran says is at all what Mohammed said. Why? Their process of copying was not nearly careful enough to guard from someone adding or taking away what was originally said by Mohammed.

 Every copyist agreed to the following:

  1. Every scroll would be written on a new writing surface prepared in a special way to be a certified copy.
  2. Every copy had a certain number of columns with 30 letters width, with every letter written right above the other in order to see mistakes immediately.
  3. Every copy was written in a certain color and quality of ink.
  4. Not even the tiniest letter could be written from memory.  Every letter was written letter by letter, not word for word. No letter could overlap or touch another letter.
  5. Every letter of every page was counted and compared to the original. They would count to the middle letter of each page, and then to the entire book, and if it was not the same as the original, they destroyed the scroll. Every book copied had this scrutiny behind it. These copyist’s dedicated their lives to producing just a few copies in one lifetime, due to this scrutiny.

This process protected the scrolls from any variation so much so that when the Dead Sea Scrolls (written about 400 BC to 300 AD) surfaced,  scholars thought that they would find numerous errors and discrepancies between the copies and the Dead Sea copies since there was only a 30 year gap from the originals compared to the copies we had that were 900 years later. They found no discrepancies at all. The accuracy astounded scholars and added a new respect for what copies we already had of the 39 books of the Old Testament.  This set of books is unparalleled in the world for accuracy in the copies!

  1. New Testament Books

The New Testament manuscripts were written in Koine Greek from three major areas. The manuscripts written around the area of Jerusalem to Egypt were called, the Caesarian copies. There were copies made in North Africa called Alexandrian. And there were copies made in Asia Minor or near Rome the capitol in the first century called, the Western copies. Thousands of copies were made in a short time, unlike the Old Testament copies which were written in a much slower process. Surprisingly, only one tenth of one percent is different in all of these copies. The variations are not regarding the teaching of the books, but in the numbers or city names and small details like that.

These three sets of copies were taken and joined making another copy which combined all the variations into one. This copy is called the Byzantine copies. So a verse will say “Jesus answered and said….” Instead of “Jesus said” or Jesus answered.” Using all three of the major copies I spoke of above the results are put together into one.

Today there are still over 24,000 copies available to compare each other with and verify for anyone who wants to take the time to compare and inspect and verify that the copies are the same as each other. The accuracy is still there, with only  a few questions remaining. Items that are in discussion for those studying this are, for example, in the ending of Mark 16, or 1 John 5:7 and others which are under scrutiny seeking to authenticate what was actually on the original manuscript. These questionable sections are noted in most translations today so the reader is aware that they are reading a disputed part of the book or chapter. Look at the chart below and compare the ancient documents to others ancient documents to see the unparalleled comparison that we have for the 27 books of the New Testament.

Author Written in Earliest copies Time span No. of copies
Plato 427-347 BC 900 AD 1200 years 7
Sophocles 496-406 BC 1000 AD 1400 years 100
Homer 900 BC 400 BC 500 years 643
Euripides 480-406 BC 1100 AD 1500 years 9
Aristotle 384-322 BC 1100 AD 1400 years 5
NT 40-95 AD 125 AD 30 years 24,000+

 The comparison is shocking is it not? Once again, the things from God have been lavishly provided for and demonstrate the credibility of these ancient copies above any other groups of manuscripts.  This is scientific evidence for all to see!  It helps remove any doubt as to the fact that the Bible you hold in your hand is a Book that is exactly what was first written by the original authors!

Is the Bible really a book from God? Can we trust the Bible?

Filed under: Blog,Leadership — Pastor David May 9, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

Is the Bible really a book from God?  Can we trust the Bible?

            “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction (healing or transforming), for training in righteousness;  so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  2 Tim. 3:16-17

There are 66 Books that make up today’s Bible, 1189 chapters. The Bible refers to Itself as “the Word of God” 3800 times.  It is not like any other holy book; the Quran, the Hindu writings, or even any other cultic source of authority like the Watch Tower (Jehovah Witnesses),  The Pearl of Great Price (Mormons) or even the Book of Mormon, itself.  No other book refers to Itself as God speaking to humanity.

The most important question we ask regarding the Bible :  “ Is the Bible trustworthy, and should we regard it as a Book from God?” There are 6 reasons  to assure us that we can and should answer these two questions with, “Yes!”

  1. Prophecy

Prophecy in the Bible provides the proof that this Book is not merely the words or writings of men.  One third of the Bible is prophecy.  The prophecies written must be without error, for they  are “inspired by God.” Unlike the Quran, which are the words of Mohammed a suggested “prophet”, who does not give even one prophecy in the entire 39 Surats (revelations he said he received from God, or Allah).  On the contrary, the Bible predicts one event after another and these events are now documented as a reality in our history. If a person said they were “speaking from God” and what they wrote or spoke did not come true, they were to be executed for being a false prophet (see Deut. 18:20-22).  If the person is stating something that the Infallible God has told him to say,  then his words must also be infallible! These words that are spoken or written as Prophecy must pass the highest critique!

Specific names are used in the prophecy of the Bible.  For example, Josiah and what he would do was prophesied 400 years before he was born (1 Kings 13:2 and fulfilled in 2 Kings 23:15-16). Cyrus the king who would come and help Israel was prophesied 200 years before he was born (Isaiah 45:1-3). Specific nations were prophesied to rule the world, Babylon, Media Persia, Greece, and the Roman empire (see Dan 2 and 7,8). Other nations are now extinct that were at one time flourishing  when a prophet would foretell of their overthrow.

Jesus, Himself, was prophesied about in over 300 prophecies that were fulfilled from 4Bc to 32ad. His place of birth, the ranting of Herod, the location He grew up in, where He started His ministry, etc. etc. how He died and what was said at the cross event was fulfilled to the letter! The cross execution was prophesied during a time when this form of execution was not yet even used.  

So far, in history, the Bible has a perfect record when it comes to prophetic fulfillment, 100 percent accuracy!  No other source of predicting the future has anything close to that. This reality gives credibility to the Words said and written as having come from God.   No man has the ability to predict the future with 100% accuracy.   This level of accuracy gives us confidence to believe what God has also said about things still not fulfilled or what He has told us about things we do not see or understand like the realities of heaven and hell. These places only He knows. No man can talk about the reality of heaven with credibility for he has never seen it or been there. God can talk about heaven and hell with authority because it is His world and realm.  One reason that we are able to trust God regarding these places is because of His accuracy revealed in prophecy.

Every word of God is true. His promises can be trusted. His warnings must be taken seriously. He speaks with truth. We believe His words are truthful because He is truthful. Prophecy is a very important proof of that!  

What Is The Greatest Gift a Leader Can Give to Their People?

Filed under: Leadership — Pastor David Nov 1, 2013 @ 10:15 am

“We build more quickly in wood, hay, and stubble than we do in gold, silver, and precious stone.”   - Amy Carmichael

Which is greater? To give, or to receive? The clear answer is that to give… is greater than to receive. “Without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater” (Heb. 7:7). Who is greater? The one served or the one serving? Jesus said, “The one being served is greater, but I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27). Jesus said that even though the one being served is greater He choose to serve because serving others is a greater use of one’s life.

So what is the greatest thing a leader can give to his or her people? It seems clear that the leader must be able to bless their people with a life that is blessed by God, that is, to live a life that is an example of what God can and will bless.  This life will be a life of service to the people! After all, what is it we long to hear from our heavenly Master? “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21, 23).

So, let’s break it down into two parts…

One; that we give our people a life that is blessed by God.  What does this mean? It means that Grace is abundantly evident in our lives. This great reality reminds us that God’s love and favor pour out on us, and then… through us! This life of overflowing love spills out on all those who are around us. As Apostle Paul stated, “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:5). We give to our people a life of divine love… we love them and we care for them.

Two; that we give our people a life of service. What does this mean? It means that we help them to know and serve the Lord even as we know and serve the Lord. We educate and equip them with all the tools we have been given by others so that they can serve the Lord to the best of their ability. We are multiplying our life into their lives, one by one… and over and over. This is a daily calling to those we serve!

What can happen to leaders is that we may get tired of loving and serving people. People can be a huge disappointment and often appear to be a wasted effort. Paul worried that the Thessalonian followers might have been tempted by the Tempter and that as a result of this, his labor would be in vain.  ie: a huge waste of time and effort! (see 1 Thess 3) No leader called by God wants to waste his time and efforts. Our time and energy are precious gifts that we freely give to fulfill this calling we have as leaders.   We must also love the people as we serve them. Otherwise we can fail them and become protective of our time and energy, cynical, and even question if anyone will ever become a trained and effective leader. We may complain, “They just don’t not make them like they used to.” We become unwilling to spend time “on them”, or “with them”. We refuse to waste our energy training them and showing them how to serve the Lord.

To guard against this risk of wasted time and effort, we must be careful who we select to train, and who we end up pouring so much of our love and energy into. This selection process is so important that Jesus spent the whole night in prayer before choosing the twelve He would train. Have we done this preliminary work of prayer (and even fasting) before investing hours and hours, even weeks and weeks into someone?  Paul tells us that we should look for “faithful men who will teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2). Your careful attention to this is all important! No one but the leader can train up the next set of leaders. John Maxwell noted, “Those closest to the leader will determine his level of success.”  Who will you invest in and bring close to you? This is a whole study in itself. Simply put, we look for people who are willing to be a team player, work with us and others to accomplish something greater than themselves. We look for someone willing to change whatever God asks us to change in order to make His dreams become a reality. We look for obedient followers of Christ, for they are the ones we can trust and develop. We train them to be strong and full of the motivating power of faith, hope, and love. This is grace based leadership training.

What is the greatest gift I can give to my people? A life that can be duplicated and a life that is being duplicated. See that? Can it be multiplied and is it being multiplied? This is the combination of the greatest gift a leader can give to those he serves!

Here is a great question: Is what I am doing, feeling or thinking, something that can or should be multiplied over and over? If it were to be duplicated, would it make the church or organization stronger and better or would it make weaker and more ineffective?

List out the things that you desire to be in your church or organization. Prayer life, discipline, compassion, unselfishness, sacrificial attitude and habits, focus and visionary efforts, sharing my faith, etc. is that what you practice every day? What will daily practicing of these choices do to your church or organization? Would these practices create more of a contrast to choices of complaining, criticizing, ignoring others, refusing to help or give a listening ear, holding back wise counsel, etc.?

If you want a successful ministry it is made up of years of loving service. Years are made up of months and months are made up of weeks and weeks are made up of days that consistently show this love and service. Get the idea?

What are you doing today that will result in a lifetime of great leadership? Today is where and when it all starts. Today is the all-important “right now” for you and your work. What are you doing today to promote your greatest gift to your people? A life of loving service…

Father, thank You for calling and enriching us in so many ways. May we be like You, full of love, and eager to serve those we have been entrusted with by You. We are working for the day when we see You and bow before You in grateful worship. We long to hear Your words that we did our job well and that we were faithful to You. May we multiply our lives over and over to the last breath.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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